Claims MTA Squanders Millions

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A former MTA auditor says if the Authority wasn’t negligent and had been collecting millions of dollars owed by numerous contractors, there would be no need for fare hikes and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) would have no need to declare strikes.

Arthur Harman says in 2003 he conducted an audit that showed that the MTA is owed several millions of dollars by contractors and that some of the money has gone uncollected.

Harman says prior to being called in to conduct the 2003 audit, he had once worked for the MTA for nine years as an auditor. “I reported directly to the head management, finding millions of dollars owed by contractors,� he recalls. “The eight million riders of the MTA should know there is no rule of law at the MTA and there should never have been a fare increase or a strike. One contractor had to pay the MTA about eight million dollars,� in monies owed.

According to Harman, senior MTA officials stopped the auditors from doing their jobs, thereby costing the city millions in uncollected money. Six-million dollars owed by another contractor was completely overlooked, he says. “A fraudulent IG report was then submitted,� Harman adds, referring to a report by the MTA Inspector General instead of his audit.

If this was all true why didn’t Harman report the matter to an investigative body?  “That’s a good question,â€? he says. “I called State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer’s office and told them everything. They did nothing with my complaint.â€? A spokesperson for the AG’s office would just say they did a “follow-upâ€? on Harman’s complaint, but did not do an investigation.

Harman complained about “blatant corruption� at the MTA. The MTA Inspector General’s spokesperson dismissed Harman’s allegations. “He’s crazy,� the spokesperson said, adding that Harman has been peddling his story to dozens of newspapers.

“That’s good—that’s good,� Harman says, when informed about the MTA’s conclusions about his state of mind. “Let them prove that I’m not telling the truth.�

Just 10 weeks ago, the City was rocked by the TWU’s 2½ days (60 hours) labor strike – right before the major Christmas shopping was to begin and there is still no sign of a contract. Toussaint and the Executive Board agreed to a contract with Peter Kalikow head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) which had to be ratified by the TWU membership – that turned into a three ring circus.  

One third of the TWU workers voted, “Yes,â€? for the contract – while another third did not bother to cast a vote at all – and the final third voted, “No.â€?  The union was forced to go back to the table with the MTA.

A dissident group within the TWU was working against the union telling members to reject the agreement—but it failed to give an alternative for a “noâ€? vote.  Many TWU workers pointed to a lack of information from the union for not understanding the health part of the contract. Others were saying the dissident group did not sway them to reject the contract. If given a second opportunity, most stated they would vote, “Yes.â€?

The strike exposed how clerks are not given personal breaks and forced to piss in a cup while in the booth. Women eight and nine months pregnant are still working on the bus and train – putting themselves, their unborn child and the general public at risk. And we all learned how important the transit system is and how much we depend on it to get to our own jobs.

Is the MTA indeed negligent in collecting on millions of dollars owed that might preclude some of the labor problems as Harman contends? Is there cronyism in awarding these contracts, as other insiders also contend? More on this in my next column.

If you have any comments or have a matter that needs to be exposed please contact Winkfield for his consideration by writing to:  On The Spot, Post Office Box 230149, Queens County 11423. Email: [email protected] or [email protected]. You can also call (212) 481-7745. Speaking Truth To Power.

Black Star News Editor’s Note: Earlier versions of this article had the incorrect spelling of Mr. Harman’s last name. Our regrets.


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