We finally found the one thing more infuriating than the constant service failures that subway riders in Brooklyn have been dealing with for months on end.
That is the very public feud between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio over responsibility for fixing the subways.
Last week, Cuomo and MTA Chairperson Joe Lhota maintained that the city bears the brunt of subway repair costs. They say de Blasio should have used a $4 billion city surplus to pay for better maintenance of the subways, which the city owns and leases to the MTA in an agreement more than 50 years old.
De Blasio, however, countered that the MTA has plenty of money to make the repairs on its own, and that because the state controls the MTA, it has the obligation to straphangers to improve the system with its own resources.
We’re stuck in the middle of an old-fashioned blame game. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. But this blame game threatens to paralyze the city and infuriate voters to the point that they may choose to derail the political ambitions of de Blasio and/or Cuomo at the polling booth.
Most polls indicate that de Blasio is heading to an overwhelming victory in November. However, those poll numbers could erode quickly with every new delay, every new derailment, every new episode of commuter chaos that grips the city.
Cuomo is up for a third term in the governor’s mansion next year, but there’s been speculation that he has an eye on a possible presidential run in 2020. Like de Blasio, his aspirations will take a hit every time there’s a problem affecting mass transit, and he can’t afford to lose urban or suburban votes.
We see enough dysfunction coming out of Washington, D.C., these days. We need our state and city leaders to step up and do something that officials in Washington have a hard time doing: taking responsibility for a problem and working jointly on a solution.
Maybe Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio should be forced to ride the trains every day until they figure out how to get us — and themselves — out of this mess.