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Codey introduces Port bill to avoid conflicts and encourage transparency

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Codey introduces Port bill to avoid conflicts and encourage transparency

TRENTON — State Sen. Richard Codey introduced disclosure legislation intended to end conflicts of interest, encourage whistle blowing, and invite public input involving the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and other bi-state agencies.

Codey’s legislation, introduced on Monday, comes amid a flurry of reform proposals prompted by revelations that September’s George Washington Bridge lane closures were carried out by political appointees of Gov. Chris Christie for what was widely suspected to be a political retribution against Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor. A report by a law firm hired by Christie’s office asserted there was no evidence that the governor had advance knowledge of the closures.

Under the Codey legislation, agency board members and executives would be required to disclose whether they or family members have a financial interest in any company doing business with the agency, and would prohibit their participation in related discussions or votes when conflicts arise.

Prosecutors are now looking into whether former Port Authority board members were in conflict involving agency actions that benefited their private firms or clients.   (Strunsky/Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/05/codey_introduces_disclosure_bill_to_avoid_conflicts_by_port_authority_officials_and_others_1.html#incart_river

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Acting Port Authority chair cautions against splitting up agency in ‘heat of the political moment’

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Acting Port Authority chair cautions against splitting up agency in ‘heat of the political moment’

The acting chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said a recommendation that the agency should be broken up is something that “should be considered,” but represents a challenge fraught with complexities that should not be taken likely.

“A wholesale splitting up seems challenging, but it’s something that should be considered, like everything should be considered,” said acting Port Authority Chairman Scott Rechler, who leads the agency’s board of commissioners following Friday’s resignation by David Samson. “But that’s a pretty meaningful, material change, and I would not take it likely.”

Rechler had been asked by The Star-Ledger to comment on remarks last Friday by Gov. Chris Christie, who said he was “intrigued” by a recommendation contained in a report on September’s George Washington Bridge lane closures that his office had commissioned from the law firm Gibson, Dunne & Crutcher. (Strunsky/Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/04/acting_port_authority_chairman_cautious_of_splitting_agency.html#incart_river

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Port Authority Business Model is Broken, Report Says

VenessaatPA_theridgewoodblog.net_

Port Authority Business Model is Broken, Report Says

NEWARK — The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is broken, according to a report issued yesterday, and unless its mission is drastically reshaped, the bi-state agency’s fortunes are more dubious than a ride on the Pulaski Skyway.

The George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal has ignited a debate over the role and behavior of the 93-year-old authority. But the 28-page report by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University claims the agency’s business model — which includes $800 million in pet projects for the governors of New York and New Jersey — is inherently flawed and its financial woes have been decades in the making.

“The critical problem facing the Port Authority today is not mismanagement, political abuse or rivalry between New York and New Jersey,” Mitchell Moss and Hugh O’Neill, who authored the report, wrote. “The fundamental challenge is that the business model under which the Authority has operated for the past thirty years is no longer sustainable.”

When it was created in 1921, the authority had a simple enough business plan, the report states. Big money generators like the George Washington Bridge and Idlewild Airport — now John F. Kennedy International Airport — helped fund capital projects at other port facilities that did not generate much revenue. (Giambusso/Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/04/port_authority_business_model_is_broken_report_says.html#incart_river

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BREAKING UP PA WOULD SOLVE CHRISTIE’S TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND PROBLEM

Portauthority_theridgewoodblog.net_

BREAKING UP PA WOULD SOLVE CHRISTIE’S TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND PROBLEM

Tapping Port Authority toll revenues would enable the governor to avoid racking up massive debt or raising the gas tax — two bad moves during the 2016 presidential primaries.

Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal to dismantle the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in order to give each state control more than $1.3 billion in annual tolls would solve his biggest fiscal headache: where to find $1.6 billion a year in state revenue to renew theTransportation Trust Fund (TTF) without adding massive state debt or raising gas taxes right in the middle of the 2016 presidential primaries.

New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statement this weekend that he might support Christie’s proposal to break up the Port Authority caused consternation among transportation experts, who believe that splitting the agency in two would lead to more dysfunction in transportation development and less long-term regional thinking and planning.(Magyar/NJSpotlight)

http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/14/03/31/breaking-up-port-authority-would-solve-christie-s-transportation-trust-fund-problem/

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Bridgeaplooza : Port Authority chairman David Samson steps down

David Samson

Bridgeaplooza : Port Authority chairman David Samson steps down
March 28, 2014, 03:45 pm
By Keith Laing

David Samson, the chairman of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, has resigned in the wake of a scandal involving lanes being closed on the busiest bridge in the United States.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has been under fire for months since it was revealed that high-ranking officials in his administration were involved in a decision last year to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., by closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey and New York.

Christie said Friday that Samson, a political mentor to the governor, agreed with the findings of a report that was released by his administration earlier this week finding that knowledge of the bridge scandal did not go hired that the officials who have already been named.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/transportation-report/highways-bridges-and-roads/202060-nj-port-authority-chairman-resigns#ixzz2xLu29qSO
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‘Fragile’ Port Newark/Elizabeth weighs on N.J. economy

ports-topper

‘Fragile’ Port Newark/Elizabeth weighs on N.J. economy

MARCH 27, 2014    LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, MARCH 27, 2014, 12:28 AM
BY CHRISTOPHER MAAG
STAFF WRITER
THE RECORD

When the movement of cargo through the shipping terminals in Port Newark/Elizabeth seized up this winter, causing long truck lines that nearly spilled onto the New Jersey Turnpike, people at the port started pointing fingers. Truckers said the longshoremen were lazy. Longshoremen accused the truckers of being disorganized.

And everyone blamed the weather. This past winter’s snowfall “is the root cause of the delays,” said John Nardi, president of the New York Shipping Association.

But a closer look shows that crises at Port Newark/Elizabeth, often called simply Port Newark, are increasingly common and stem from a complex mix of factors, including manpower problems, antiquated procedures and turf battles. The port has closed or nearly closed four times in the last 15 months, twice when the weather was not in play.

“This port is fragile,” said Rick Larrabee, director of port commerce for the Port Authority.

– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/fragile-port-newark-elizabeth-weighs-on-n-j-economy-1.751687#sthash.nh78g5FO.dpuf

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Analysis: Port Authority works under its own set of rules

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Analysis: Port Authority works under its own set of rules

MARCH 16, 2014, 12:01 AM
BY ABBOTT KOLOFF
STAFF WRITER
THE RECORD

Their bylaws allow spending millions of dollars of public money with just a quarter of their members voting. They almost always agree, but rarely say anything about their decisions in public. Even for people at their meetings, it’s sometimes impossible to know how they vote as individuals.

The Port Authority’s com­mis­sion­ers are under increased scrutiny as their board’s chairman, David Samson, has been the subject of a growing number of reports that he voted for projects that benefited his law firm’s clients. Agency officials recently said he meant to recuse himself two years ago from a vote to give a $1-a-year lease to one of those clients, NJ Transit, even though he was recorded as voting for it.

On Wednesday, sources have said, the Port Authority will put that lease up for another vote in an effort to quell controversies stirred when The Record reported on it last month.

Samson, an appointee of Governor Christie’s and a significant figure in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal, has not denied some of the other reported votes, including the authorization of $2.8 billion for two bridge projects that reportedly benefited two of his firm’s clients. But he has maintained that all of his actions on the board are for the benefit of the region and not for personal gain.

– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/analysis-port-authority-works-under-its-own-set-of-rules-1.743343#sthash.5aqmhiOo.dpuf

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Removing secrecy from Port Authority

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Kelly: Removing secrecy from Port Authority

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2014    LAST UPDATED: SUNDAY FEBRUARY 23, 2014, 9:57 AM
By MIKE KELLY
RECORD COLUMNIST

Mike Kelly is a Record columnist. Contact him at kellym@northjersey.com.

THE Port Authority is obsessed with numbers. It counts cars and trucks at its bridges and tunnels, riders on its PATH trains – even gallons of paint needed to cover every girder and cable on the George Washington Bridge.

But here is a number that the bi-state agency ought to be deeply worried about: 16.

That is the number of comments from the general public on the Port Authority’s plan to spend almost $28 billion over the next decade to upgrade its bridges, tunnels, airports and the PATH system. Those 16 comments came from nine people. An additional 20 comments were discovered by the Port Authority in various social media sites. It’s not clear how many people actually made those 20 comments.

Change needed

But one message is incredibly clear. The Port Authority goes about life in what seems to be a separate, unmonitored universe from the rest of life in the New York and New Jersey region. If the agency ever plans to reform itself, that needs to change.

The Port Authority’s aloofness is not a new story. But the issue has gained renewed traction recently because of the lane closure controversy at the George Washington Bridge that not only threatens to undermine Governor Christie’s second term but any possibility that he could emerge as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016.

At the heart of that controversy is a question of abuse of power by Christie’s aides and allies who allegedly orchestrated massive traffic jams in Fort Lee during four days last September as a way of punishing the borough’s Democratic mayor for his reluctance to endorse Christie’s reelection.

One of those allies, David Wildstein, was a high-ranking Port Authority executive, appointed by Christie. Without any oversight or even a hint of approval from anyone else in the Port Authority, Wildstein ordered the three access lanes from Fort Lee to the bridge reduced to one.

– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/columnists/kelly/kelly_022314.html#sthash.78i6V7rI.dpu

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Transportation Experts Urge Bistate Blue-Ribbon Panel to Fix Port Authority

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Transportation Experts Urge Bistate Blue-Ribbon Panel to Fix Port Authority

Robins, Doig say Assembly GOP plan ignores lesson of Bridgegate by giving governors too much power.

Calling for the creation of a bistate commission to reform the embattled Port Authority, two of New Jersey’s leading transportation policy experts yesterday said legislation proposed by Assembly Republicans ignores the lessons of Bridgegate by giving too much power to the state’s governors.

Martin E. Robins, director emeritus of Rutgers University’s Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Policy Institute, and Jameson W. Doig, author of the definitive history of the Port Authority, endorsed Assembly Republican proposals to enhance ethics, transparency, and financial disclosure at the Port Authority.

But Robins and Doig both sharply criticized the logic of the main reform the GOP legislators proposed to protect the agency from political interference. (Magyar/NJSpotlight)

http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/14/02/21/transportation-experts-urge-bistate-blue-ribbon-panel-to-fix-port-authority/

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Port Authority policies, structure to face scrutiny by special committee

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Port Authority policies, structure to face scrutiny by special committee

Monday February 3, 2014, 7:03 PM
BY SHAWN BOBURG
STAFF WRITER
The Record

The George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal and a pair of controversies that grew out of them have exposed ugly truths about the Port Authority, the agency that has earned a reputation for secrecy, imperialism, and now political high jinks.

One leading Port Authority official said Monday the crisis has also created an opportunity to tackle some of the root causes and consequences of the agency’s recently-aired problems, including political patronage, a culture of fear, and conflicts of interest by commissioners.

Scott Rechler, the vice-chairman of the Port Authority, said in an interview that a five-member special committee, composed of three governor-appointed commissioners from New York and two from New Jersey, will be created later this month to consider policy changes and significant structural reforms to the 93-year-old bi-state agency.

– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/Port_Authority_policies_structure_to_face_scrutiny_by_special_committee.html#sthash.j2mHXRBb.dpuf