Matt Taibbi Apr'03 Unfair Hike plus a reader comment re corruption, going back to its secret-deal creation by Nelson Rockefeller (governor) and David Rockefeller (head of Chase Manhattan, the biggest bondholder). George Pataki had plenty of reasons to have confidence in the MTA leaders. According to New York State Election commission data, eight of the MTA board members, including Chairman Peter Kalikow and Vice Chairman David Mack, donated a total of $135,670 just to George Pataki's campaign in the last election cycle... "The MTA.is a shadow government," says Democratic Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, who's been organizing hearings on reform of the MTA. "Its finances are off budget. It's just not subject to the normal oversight of democratic institutions." Brodsky is the latest in a line of politicians who have tried over the years to break the spell of Robert Moses, the great builder who was the architect of the legal anomalies known as the New York City authorities... the MTA by itself is, according to some estimates, the fifth-largest bond floater in the UnitedStates... The MTA's unique quasi-governmental legal structure makes its finances even more impenetrable than your average publicly traded corporation. The authorities have evolved over the years. Once upon a time, a bridge was built, it paid for itself in tolls, and that was it. Then there were innovations in the structure of authorities that allowed high-earning projects to pay for the losers. Nowadays the MTA as a whole doesn't even completely pay for itself: It can borrow money for its own projects, and through "service contract" bonds, part of its debt can be paid off by general tax revenue. Despite this, its books are more or less closed, both to voters and to investors.
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