Senator Flanagan Joins Long Island Senate Delegation To Call For Long Islander To Head The Lirr

John J. Flanagan

August 18, 2006

In light of James J. Dermody's intention to retire as the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) President, Senator Flanagan recently joined with his eight Long Island colleagues to call for consideration of a Long Island resident for the position. 

"The voice of Long Island is best represented by a member of the community and I feel that this would be a great place to begin the search for James Dermody's replacement.  While I know that the best qualified candidate should and will be chosen, the consideration of a local voice will greatly enhance the trust in and the vision of the future LIRR president," stated Senator Flanagan.

The position of the Long Island Nine was presented in a letter to Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Chairman Peter S. Kalikow.

                                                                       August 15, 2006

Honorable Peter S. Kalikow
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
347 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10017

Dear Chairman Kalikow:

As you know, Long Island Rail Road ("LIRR") President James J. Dermody is scheduled to retire on September 1, 2006, thereby concluding nearly five decades of distinguished service to the LIRR’s patrons and the region’s 2.8 million residents.

Collectively, we represent Nassau and Suffolk counties in the New York State Senate and are deeply concerned that Mr. Dermody’s successor possess a similar personal commitment to our region. Like his predecessor, Kenneth J. Bauer, Mr. Dermody resides on Long Island and respects the LIRR’s unique role in its history. As you consider qualified candidates for this important position, we are writing to encourage you to select a Long Island resident as the next president of the LIRR.

Chartered in 1834, the LIRR was indispensable to the evolution of our region. Predating Long Island’s transformation from rural farmland to the nation’s leading suburban area, the LIRR has served generations of commuters, travelers and tourists. With more than 280,000 riders each day, it continues to be an integral component of Long Island’s economy and culture.

Given this intrinsic relationship, the LIRR’s president has a responsibility to both the Rail Road’s customers and, equally important, the broader community. As with Mr. Bauer and Mr. Dermody, the LIRR president must be responsive to local needs and advance the interests of all Long Islanders. Moreover, the next president must share their intimate knowledge of community issues, relationships with appropriate elected officials and labor leaders and understanding of the region’s political dynamic.

Although New York City Transit’s average fare remains 11% less than its 1995 base fare, successive fare increases have detrimentally impacted the LIRR’s annual ridership. As dictated by the laws of economics, subway ridership achieved a five-year high in 2005, while LIRR ridership has declined by nearly 6.5%.

Unfortunately, the next LIRR president will be similarly constrained by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s ("MTA") discriminatory fare policy decisions. That said, the president will be singularly responsible for championing LIRR issues within the MTA’s executive management and his/her commitment must engender the confidence of Rail Road patrons.

Two centuries ago, Thomas Jefferson advised that good relationships with your neighbors are "almost the most important circumstance in life, since nothing is so corroding as frequently to meet persons with whom one has any difference." In this context, the selection of a qualified Nassau or Suffolk County candidate would help allay the concerns of Long Island commuters and ensure the LIRR’s responsiveness to its customers.

Thank you for your consideration and attention to our shared position. Similar correspondence has been sent to Governor Pataki, MTA Executive Director Katherine N. Lapp and Secretary to the Governor John Cahill.

                                                                           Dean G. Skelos                       Owen H. Johnson
                                                                             Senator, 9th District              Senator, 4th District

                                                                           John J. Flanagan                     Kenneth P. LaValle
                                                                              Senator, 2nd District             Senator 1st District

                                                                           Caesar Trunzo                        Carl L. Marcellino
                                                                              Senator 3rd District              Senator, 5th District

                                                                           Kemp Hannon                          Michael A.L. Balboni
                                                                              Senator, 6th District             Senator, 7th District

                                                                                               Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr.
                                                                                                 Senator, 8th District