Afternoon Bulletin: MTA Almost Out of Money, Former FDNY Commissioner Dies

The MTA will run out of money by June 30 if the state budget isn't approved.
The MTA will run out of money by June 30 if the state budget isn’t finalized. (Photo: Spencer Platt for Getty Images)

On Wednesday, MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast informed reporters that the MTA will run out of money for new capital projects by June 30 unless the state finalizes its proposed budget of $7.3 billion for the authority’s 2015-2019 capital plan. However, even if the budget fails, projects that have been given the green light but have yet to be developed will be able to advance. In the past year, the MTA has allocated cash funds―comprised mainly of federal money and smaller sources of revenue independent of government agencies―for new capital projects in the 2015-2019 plan. “The MTA is basically juggling pots of money and moving things around so that they can keep operating as close to normal as possible,” said William Henderson, director of the watchdog group Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. “The problem is they are getting to the end of that. When you get to that point you make sure that the safety-critical work gets done, whether or not anything else gets done.” If reserves run out, the MTA will be forced to decide which projects to continue―new subway cars and buses versus track maintenance versus an extended Second Avenue Subway―and which to abandon. Mr. Prendergast, a Cuomo appointee, said that the authority has “prioritized the awarding of an East Side Access project contract so as not to hold that up.” (Gothamist)

This morning a large crane raised a tugboat that collided with a stationary construction barge near the Tappan Zee Bridge. One of three tugboats that was accompanying a crane-laden barge from Albany to Jersey City, the vessel, called Specialist, sunk into the Hudson and killed three crew members on March 12. The U.S. Coast Guard was also able to recover the body of crew member Harry Hernandez, 56, after water conditions calmed enough to facilitate the action. The bodies of the other victims, 63-year-old Paul Amon and 29-year-old Timothy Conklin, had been salvaged at the time of the crash. It remains unclear why the tug hit the barge. Wreckage from the accident will be analyzed in a storage facility. “The structural integrity held up―no additional damage or stress or strain caused by the raising of it. So we have a good ‘crime scene’―if you will—to investigate,” a U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson said. (CBS Local)

Nicholas Scoppetta.
Nicholas Scoppetta. Fernando Leon/Getty Images

Nicholas Scoppetta, a former FDNY commissioner, has died, officials said. Mr. Scoppetta, 83, had been recently diagnosed with cancer and was a hospice patient at Bellevue Hospital. He passed away at the medical facility at 3 AM Thursday. In 2002, Michael Bloomberg appointed him as the FDNY’s 81st commissioner. Additionally, he served as deputy mayor and headed the city’s Department of Investigation. An orphan, Mr. Scoppetta was also dedicated to helping New York’s foster children. From 1996 to 2001, he was the first commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services. “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Nicholas Scoppetta,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Nick was a dedicated and brilliant civil servant whose commitment to public service spanned five administrations and six decades.” (DNAinfo)

Marsha Gay Reynolds, a 31-year-old JetBlue flight attendant who allegedly abandoned 70 pounds of cocaine at LAX, was arrested Wednesday at JFK, according to U.S. attorney’s spokesman Thom Mrozek. Authorities said that when Transportation Security Administration officials selected Ms. Reynolds for a random security screening at LAX on Friday as she was preparing to board a LaGuardia-bound flight, she slipped off her Gucci heels and fled barefoot down an escalator. In her bags, LAX police found 11 cellophane-wrapped packages of coke. After surrendering to federal authorities at JFK, Ms. Reynolds is expected to be arraigned in Federal Court in Brooklyn on Thursday, charged with cocaine possession with intent to distribute. (Daily News)

Gowanus’ Coignet Building, located at 360 Third Ave., is among the historic structures to be recognized with a Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy this year. The Coignet Building was constructed around 1873 from Coignet-Beton concrete, an innovative, European-imported material. The Brooklyn landmark was in decline until Whole Foods opened its first outpost in the borough adjacent to the building and purchased the surrounding land. “We’re very pleased to have completed the exterior renovation of this historic property for our community and honor the commitment we made when purchasing our lot,” said Whole Foods spokesman Michael Sinatra. “We love the Gowanus community and are very proud to be able to serve them each and every day.” Although Mr. Sinatra did not mention how much the grocery store contributed to restoration costs, Department of Buildings filings price the job at a minimum of $1.3 million. (DNAinfo) Afternoon Bulletin: MTA Almost Out of Money, Former FDNY Commissioner Dies