Larry Schwartz, an MTA board member and close ally of disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo, won’t get a post in Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration, she said Wednesday, Sept. 8.
“Larry Schwartz is not part of my administration,” Hochul told reporters during a press conference when asked about future appointments.
Hochul has been in office for just over two weeks after her predecessor stepped down due to a slew of sexual harassment allegations, and she has given herself a 45-day timeframe to decide on which Cuomo-era officials to keep and which to ditch at several state agencies.
Schwartz has served on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board since 2015 and up until April volunteered as Cuomo’s “vaccine czar,” tasked with distributing the life-saving shots to local governments across the Empire State.
During that time, Schwartz was directed by Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa to call county executives across the state to gauge their support for the scandal-scarred governor amid mounting sexual harassment allegations, according to the bombshell probe by state Attorney General Letitia James.
He previously served as secretary to Cuomo in 2011 as well as former Governor David Paterson before that, and became chief strategy officer of the airport concessions company OTG in 2015, a firm which recently drew scrutiny for charging sky-high prices for products like beer and fries.
Hochul did not specify whether she would ask Schwartz to step down from his MTA board position.
He previously told the New York Post he was “tired of being on it,” but that he would stay on the 21-member board if the governor wants him to.
Schwartz did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.
The new governor vowed to “professionalize” the boards of both the MTA and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
“I have already asked for leadership of the MTA, the Port Authority, anyone else who oversees an agency in the State of New York: Give me the names of the best and brightest,” Hochul said. “Tell me who are the most respected in these fields, and I want a diverse group of individuals to represent all New Yorkers, especially people who are the ones who are the consumers of our transportation services, whether it’s airplanes, trains, subways, buses.”
She said she has confidence the two Cuomo-appointees leading those massive agencies, including Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton and acting MTA chief Janno Lieber.
Large projects left in limbo after Cuomo’s departure last month are also on the docket for Hochul, including the LaGuardia AirTrain and the Empire Station Complex near Penn Station, and she teased more announcements on those schemes soon.
“I support many of those projects, there are others I have some questions about,” she said. “I believe in big projects. I also know that there’s a way we can get it done where we can be collaborative, reach out to people, understand what’s going on in neighborhoods, listening to their concerns, but also let New Yorkers know we’re going to keep building, we’re going to keep building our way out of this crisis, it’s how it’s always been done.”