New York/New Jersey Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye is one of the few heroes emerging from the #Bridgegate scandal. He's the guy who got fed up with excuses coming from the Christie Administration and did the right thing for by opening up the three closed lanes leading to Fort Lee on the George Washington Bridge. Yesterday was the first time the Port Authority has met for a public meeting since all of this hit the fan.
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From the Press Conference with the Port Authority Executive Director
Pat Foye: I believe I took the right action when I learned about the lane closures, promptly opened them. I stand by my email and my decision. I believed then and I believe now - and given the multiplicity of law enforcement investigations underway there's some question - that there was a question of violations of federal and state law.
Question: Has the Chairman (of the Port Authority, David Samson) ever apologized to you for his emails or whatever attacking you?
Foye: The answer is no, don't expect one.
About that "special" job created by Chris Christie just for David Wildstein, which has now been eliminated by the Port Authority:
Steve Kornacki: The title that David Wildstein had created for him - Director of Interstate Capital Projects - what was your understand of what his job was? And now apparently that role isn't going to exist in the future, so functionally how will the Port continue without a Director of Interstate Capital Projects?
Pat Foye: Well, look - the decision to eliminate the position was a joint one....we made that decision. I think it was the right one. The absence of someone in that position, whether David Wildstein or someone else, will have zero, nada effect on the Port Authority.
Kornacki: What was his (Wildstein's) job, since there was no formal job description that we have been able to find? What in your understanding did you think his job at the Port Authority was?
Pat Foye: I understood he was primarily interested in politics. Next . . .
On behalf of the board of commissioners, we are deeply sorry for the inconvenience caused to our travelers.
. . . Recently, there have been many comments and concerns about how the Port Authority operates. I cannot allow this agency to be mischaracterized by the actions of a few individuals when the day-to-day work of so many, including this board, is so important.
. . . While I would like to comment more specifically about some of the outstanding issues, I recognize there are established efforts to examine the events that occurred. I defer to these procedures and I trust when the facts unfold, and they will unfold, the public will have a complete picture.
~ Port Authority Chairman, David Samson, via the Star-Ledger
While Samson's law firm worked for NJ Transit, he cast a vote authorizing the Port Authority to lease a park-and-ride lot in North Bergen to the transportation agency for $1 a year, the report said.
. . . Before the 49-year lease was approved, NJ Transit paid the Port Authority $900,000 a year for the Hudson County lot. Commuters pay $9.50 per day for a parking space and a round-trip bus ticket to the Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan.
NJ Transit paid Wolf & Samson as much as $1.5 million to "advise" it how to generate additional revenue from its parking facilities, the Record reported.
~ From NJ.com
Over the years, the Port Authority has often served as a political candy jar, providing patronage jobs for political allies. Mr. Christie has been particularly skillful at doling out well-paid jobs at the authority to his supporters. By most counts, there are at least 50 agency employees who owe their jobs to the New Jersey governor.
The traffic scandal that has resulted in numerous investigations and two resignations of Christie appointees is just the latest example of how governance of the Port Authority is tainted by personal politics. And because two states share executive control, and thus responsibility, there is no meaningful oversight.
~ New York Times Editorial
(State Attorney Philip) Kwon, it has been reported, spent four or five days counseling one of Bridgegate’s chief players, Bill Baroni, the Port Authority’s deputy executive director, when Baroni was preparing to testify before a New Jersey state legislative committee investigating the lane-closing affair last November. That’s important because Baroni, a close ally of Christie’s, told the legislators that the closings were due to a “traffic study” being conducted by the Port Authority, which manages the bridge. But if there was no traffic study—and by now it’s widely known that there wasn’t any such thing—then what did Kwon tell Baroni to say? Did he counsel him to lie? Was he unaware that there was no study underway?
~ From "Christie Watch" on The Nation