Two Dozen Assembly Members Skip Oversight Hearing on MTA’s $51.5B Constriction

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During a hearing on the MTA’s most expensive building program in its history, dozens of state lawmakers took the day off.

Only Assembly members Amy Paulin (D-Westchester) and Robert Carroll (D-Brooklyn) attended the in-person meeting in lower Manhattan, which attempted to provide light on the agency’s $51.5 billion capital plan, which officials said would substantially improve commutes for millions of New Yorkers in 2019.

The hearing was called by Paulin, who leads the Assembly’s Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions. The committee is made up of 26 people, however 24 of them did not show up.

The hearing was initially planned for Friday, but MTA officials requested that it be moved to Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving.

Members of Congress, according to Horner, should attend hearings held by their respective committees.

Assembly members exhibited no regret for abdicating their obligation to produce those policy solutions on Tuesday.

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The offices of all 24 committee members who skipped the meeting were contacted by the Daily News, and only two responded.

According to her chief of staff, Brian Romero, Assemblywoman Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas (D-Queens) planned to attend the public hearing when it was initially set for Friday.

When the meeting was rescheduled on Tuesday, Rojas elected to attend other activities she had planned, including a turkey distribution event at a public school in her area, according to Romero.

Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright (D-Manhattan) addressed a letter to Gov. Hochul on Tuesday, requesting that the state’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium be extended, according to her spokesperson, Michael Arena. It was unclear why she didn’t show up for the Assembly hearing because she wrote the letter.

During the meeting’s initial two-hour session, Paulin and Carroll made up for their colleagues’ absence by grilling interim MTA chairman Janno Lieber with a barrage of questions.

The capital plan intends to improve subway signaling in order to reduce commuting times. It also contains plans to make 66 more subway stations handicapped accessible, as well as plans to extend the Second Avenue subway to 125th Street in Harlem, nearly 50 years after the agency abandoned the project.

The MTA’s plans to rebuild Penn Station and finish its East Side Access project, which would bring Long Island Rail Road trains to Grand Central Terminal, were the focus of Paulin and Carroll’s queries. They also inquired about the day-to-day activities of the agency.

Following the hearing, Lieber did not blame the politicians for not attending, but applauded Paulin for stepping up and taking the lead.

Lisa Daglian, chief executive of the MTA’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, expressed optimism that additional Assembly members would be able to observe the meeting from afar.

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