The Jay Walder Compensation Confirmation Circus Gets Underway

Jimmy Vielkind at the Politicker files a dispatch from the first State Senate hearing about MTA chair nominee Jay Walder's severance package (yes, there will be more than one).

At today's hearing, in Mineola on Long Island, Regional Plan Association President Bob Yaro said that Walder's pay is fair (and low, if you compare it based on ridership) and the severance package is justified "given the volatility that is unfortunately associated with the position."

"We are also aware that some have questioned the extra compensation Mr. Walder would receive in the event that his contract were terminated prematurely," Yaro testified. "We would argue that this provision reflects the risk Mr. Walder is taking in coming to the MTA at this time, with little more than a year to go in the current governor's term, and given the volatility that is unfortunately associated with the position. It will also encourage the MTA Board and the governor to think twice before discharging Mr. Walder for frivolous or purely political reasons. Keeping him in place for his whole contract would provide the continuity of leadership that this important agency urgently needs."

If Albany weren't such a cesspool of cronyism, in other words, we wouldn't need to slip such a big hedge into the chair's contract to attract top-tier talent. Meanwhile, is the State Senate even aware that the MTA released its draft capital plan a few weeks ago? There's a $10 billion hole, and the agency is still rudderless. If we're going to have a confirmation hearing, you'd think something like the future of the transit system would figure into it at some point, but I suppose that doesn't have anything to do with "transparency and accountability".

Only a handful of people on the planet have the chops to steer an agency as large and complex as the MTA, and Jay Walder is one of them, by all accounts. We'll know if the State Senate is satisfied on September 10, when they render their final decision.