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State Senators move to confirm MTA acting chief Janno Lieber

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MTA’s Janno Lieber.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s leader Janno Lieber will soon be able to drop the “acting” title as New York State Senators advanced his confirmation Wednesday, Jan. 19.

Lawmakers pushed to accept Governor Kathy Hochul’s pick for permanent chairperson and chief executive officer of the 67,000-strong Authority almost six months after he first took over his role.

“I’m honored to be Governor Hochul’s nominee as chair and CEO of the MTA,” Lieber said during his hours-long confirmation hearing with three state Senate committees Wednesday. 

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Lieber on July 31 after the departure of then-MTA chief Pat Foye.

Cuomo originally tried to split the top role and give Lieber the CEO role and nominate then-New York City Transit interim President Sarah Feinberg as the first woman to chair the MTA’s 23-member board, but that effort failed to get support in the legislature.

Lieber soon had to manage repeated mass shutdowns of the public transit system over the summer due to storms and an accidental power outage.

He first joined the MTA in 2017 overseeing the agency’s construction projects and real estate assets.

Prior to that, he worked as an executive at developer Silverstein Properties, leading the firm’s effort to rebuild the World Trade Center after the September 11 terror attacks.

The governor also tapped New York Building Congress bigwig Elizabeth Velez to replace a vacancy on the 23-member board left by former state Department of Financial Services chief Linda Lacewell, who stepped down in August soon after the ex-governor announced his resignation.

Velez is the second-generation president of the construction firm Velez Organization and chairs the influential building trade group where Hochul at a breakfast event first publicly revived her plans to push forward Cuomo’s huge real estate deal around Penn Station. 

The Bronxite said she will bring her experience in the building sector to the MTA’s byzantine construction apparatus. 

“In my years of building in our region, I’ve continually worked in and around MTA points, TKTK cannot build in New York City without touching an MTA site,” she said. 

The MTA’s governing board is slated to get several new members recommended by Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, and executives from suburban counties outside the city.

Hochul indicated she wanted to replace board member Larry Schwartz, a close confidante of the former governor, but she hasn’t said when or with whom.

Mayor Adams has not released his four recommendations yet but told amNewYork Metro that he wants them to be regular straphangers, not car drivers.

State Senate committees voted to approve the two nominations, which were expected to get the approval from the full upper chamber during a floor vote Thursday morning. 

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