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Last Build Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:14:23 -0400


Once They Figure Out Who Runs the MTA, They Will Still Have to Fix It

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:14:23 -0400

It's hard enough trying to make your way across a crowded subway platform on a hot summer day.

But subway commuters have another issue to navigate, too: the political wrangling between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over just who is responsible for running the MTA — and solving its problems. 

It's not an easy question to answer: The MTA is an independent agency with six board members nominated by the governor, four nominated by the mayor, and the others by the executives of seven suburban counties. 

"The short story is, the MTA is controlled by the MTA, " Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute explained. "Both the state and city have a role here, but the governor has a much bigger role in that he names the chairperson, and he names more board members than anybody else.

Part of the battle is over money, but Gelinas said the MTA has more than enough — $32.5 billion over five years.

"Their real problem is that they can't spend this money fast enough or well enough," she said. "Even if you walked over there today with an extra $2 billion, they can't go out and shut a subway line down and start the re-signaling process. They haven't figured out how to do this without undue disruption to people."

In this interview, WNYC's Jami Floyd talks with Gelinas about the inner workings of the MTA. 

Sign up for We the Commuters, WNYC's collaboration with Patch and Gothamist, to receive tips, notifications and quality reporting on the region's transit system.

Once They Figure Out Who Runs the MTA, They Will Still Have to Fix It

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'Girls Trip' Delivers Laughs, Leaves Feminism Behind

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:07:50 -0400

Girls Trip hits the box office this weekend, featuring a big-name director and a star-studded cast. The film follows four longtime girlfriends who have a wild time, and rekindle their relationships, at the New Orleans Essence Festival.

Malcolm Lee has been lauded for directoring films depicting the black experience, such as The Best ManThe script comes from a group of writers that includes Kenya Barris from the television show Blackish.

Dr. Mia Mask, Professor of Film at Vassar College, spoke to WNYC Host Jami Floyd about her take on the film's comedic endeavors and whether or not it is successful in empowering black women.

Mask says the film delivered laughs, but fell short on an empowering message about feminism.

"I wouldn't call it feminism. I would say there's sisterhood here and there's a lot of raunchy comedy here," Mask said.

According to Mask, the film relies on the current flavor of Hollywood humor and less on empowering character development.

Listen to the whole interview with Dr. Mask where she discusses Blaxploitation, black sexuality, and feminism.

'Girls Trip' Delivers Laughs, Leaves Feminism Behind

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'Legit Fear on People's Faces': Takeaways From Week 2 of We the Commuters

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 12:14:52 -0400

The subway system is officially in a "state of emergency," and it lived up to the hype this week. A track fire broke out at 145th Street Monday morning, causing extensive delays and exceptionally crowded platforms. The man in charge of the subways blamed the situation on littering. And the other man in charge of the subways is being hammered for spending state money to put colorful lights on bridges and tunnels. On our end, we've been collecting your comments and questions about the subway, which our We the Commuters ambassador will deliver at the MTA board meeting next Wednesday. Turns out, the trains have given you plenty to comment on. Here are We the Commuters' three major takeaways from week two. 1. Heat's On Commuting is so hot right now, and not in a fun way. Second most popular reason rush hour train car has seats: No air-conditioning #WeTheCommuters — Jen Chung (@jenchung) July 20, 2017   Kelly and Baroni were sentenced to 18 and 24 months in prison, respectively, in March. Both have appealed their convictions. Prosecutors told the judge there likely would have been no prosecutions in the case if Wildstein didn't cooperate. Both assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Cortes and Wildstein's attorney, Alan Zegas, asked the judge not to send him to prison. "He walked into the U.S. attorney's office and said, `I did this, this is why and this is who I did it with,"' Cortes told Wigenton. Cortes said "there's no excusing the conduct of David Wildstein. His efforts propelled it forward, he came up with the cover story" and his actions were a "gross abuse." But he noted Wildstein did not delete emails like Kelly and turned over "smoking gun emails and text messages." He said Wildstein then told the truth during eight days of testimony and spoke with "remarkable candor" about incidents that were personally embarrassing to him. Zegas said Wildstein provided more information than any other client he's had in 30 years of practicing law and that he was "vilified in the press, vilified in this very courthouse almost daily," partly because of information he provided. Wigenton told Wildstein he was entitled to a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines because he provided truthful information, including context to the emails that Kelly had deleted and cooperation that led to a separate bribery charge against another Christie ally, former Port Authority Chairman David Samson. Samson was sentenced to probation and home confinement earlier this year after admitting he used his position to pressure United Airlines to revive a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to South Carolina, near his weekend home. Samson is a former New Jersey attorney general and longtime mentor to Christie, who appointed him to head the powerful Port Authority in 2011. Wildstein and Christie went to Livingston High School together in suburban Newark. Christie played catcher and dreamed of playing for the New York Mets but went on to become a federal prosecutor and governor. Less athletically inclined, Wildstein was the baseball team's statistician who became a behind-the-scenes political player with a bagful of dirty tricks he was unafraid to use. Years later their paths came full circle in the saga known as "Bridgegate," the bizarre tale of traffic-jams-as-political-payback that took aback even hardened observers of New Jersey's bare-knuckle political arena. Wildstein was a political blogger and operative who admitted engaging in chicanery that included stealing the suit jacket of an opposition candidate right before a U.S. Senate campaign debate. Christie, who claimed the two weren't friends in high school, approved hiring him to a position at the Port Authority ostensibly overseeing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects in the New York area. While defense attorneys and some Port Authority officials characterized Wildstein as lacking in relevant experience for the job — and being universally disliked for his abrasive style — a court fil[...]

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