A coalition of activists rallied at Penn Station on Tuesday, accusing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump of putting Wall Street interests before the needs of the region’s deteriorating rail system.
“No more delays! Cuomo fix the MTA,” chanted some dozen supporters with the groups New York Communities for Change, Alliance for a Greater New York, and Every Voice.
The protest coincided with the release of a report from NYCC and Every Voice that alleges that Cuomo is diverting funds from critical infrastructure repairs to his “cosmetic pet projects.”
“The most important piece here is to be proactive and not reactive in trying to do a quick fix,” said Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly Felix Ortiz.
The report notes that Steve Roth, the CEO of Vornado, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Cuomo’s election campaigns over the past decade, and in May was named a member of the new Penn Station Task Force.
Pete Sikora, a senior adviser with NY Communities for Change, said that Cuomo is simply taking a page out of the Trump playbook of privatizing infrastructure with flashy announcements that provide no real substance.
“It’s hard to imagine the governor doesn’t realize how big a political problem he’s facing,” Sikora said. “These fixes won’t deliver any results except to the insiders in his circle.”
Rather, Sikora said, they would like to see taxes raised on Wall Street corporations to pay for necessary infrastructure changes.
Instead of privatizing the adjacent post office, Sikora raised the possibility of relocating Madison Square Garden, whose permit expires in six years, as a way to open up space for the redevelopment of Penn Station proper.
A spokesman for Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but during an interview on NY1 Monday, when asked to respond to criticism of the MTAs spending priorities, Cuomo said his administration had put $8 billion toward the MTA’s capital improvement plan, which he said was more than other past administrations.