Here is an expanded version of the second item from my “Albany Insider” column from Monday’s print editions:
Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye has withdrawn his name from consideration to head the MTA, sources told the Daily News.
Foye was recently was one of two finalists interviewed for the job by a search committee created by Gov. Cuomo. A third candidate, Nuria Fernandez, a former MTA top official, pulled out before the interview for personal reasons, sources said.
Foye’s decision leaves acting MTA Executive Director Ronnie Hakim as Cuomo’s likely pick, insiders say. She would be the first woman to head the massive mass transit system.
A source close to the process said the search committee, which was created to make a recommendation to Cuomo, who will have the final say, found both Hakim and Foye very qualified for the job, “though if we had to put our thumb on the scale, it would be for her.”
Two sources couldn’t say definitively why Foye, who couldn’t be reached for comment, pulled out. But they noted the decision came after the MTA on May 15 announced it would push legislation to separate the chairman and CEO positions.
“If I were Pat Foye I would not want that job if I weren’t also chairman, especially with all that’s going on right now,” one source close to the process said. “You end up with all the aggrevation and all the responsibility but with no, or divided, authority. It’s not worth doing.”
If the top jobs are split, one name being mentioned as a possible board chairman is Larry Schwartz, Cuomo’s former top aide who is a current MTA board member.
Asked about Foye and Schwartz, Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said that “the process is ongoing and you shouldn’t believe every rumor you hear.”
But a source familiar with the situation insisted Foye has withdrawn his name from consideration and likely wouldn’t reconsider unless the plan is dropped to split the chairman and CEO posts. “I just don’t see him reconsidering short of that,” the source said.
If Cuomo and the MTA are serious about splitting the positions, they would have to get it done before the June 21 end of the legislative session.
And anyone named MTA chairman would also need to be confirmed by the state Senate.