Assemblyman Sean Connors Slams Gov. Christie for Amending Port Authority Transparency BillBy Matt Hunger • Jul 30th, 2012 • Category: Blog, News
Additional oversight for the oft-criticized Port Authority has hit a wall after Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the bipartisan Port Authority Transparency and Accountability Act by changing language that would have made the law apply to the authority.
The legislation, which was sponsored by a number of legislators including Jersey City Assemblyman Sean Connors, sought to better account for the financial doings of the authority after questionable practices related to overtime and toll hikes caused a stir among politicians and commuters.
“Once again, Governor Christie exhibits his do as I say not as I do style of governing. Now at a time when the residents’ faith in a more open and transparent government is questionable, Governor Christie slams the door on a more transparent and accountable Port Authority,” Connors said in a statement.
Senator Bob Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Assemblywoman Valerie Vanieri Huttle were the lead legislators sponsoring the bill.
“In effect, the governor announced that reform at the Port Authority will not happen under his watch,” Gordon said in a statement. “I would be happy to discuss with the governor additional reforms we can bring to New Jersey’s ‘shadow government.’ But we can’t let the Port Authority slip away scot-free, as the governor is letting it.”
“This is an insult to commuters who were hit with record toll hikes last year,” Huttle (D-Bergen) added in the statement. “There is no disputing that transparency and accountability should be applied to every government agency. In fact, the Assembly has already advanced similar legislation pertaining to other bi-state transportation authorities. But, by changing the language of this bill, the Governor has effectively killed any reforms at the Port Authority. It’s beyond puzzling as to why he would turn a blind eye to an agency with a $7 billion budget that affects millions of tri-state area commuters while making it a priority to crackdown on other authorities. The big question is why the Governor is continuing to protect the Port Authority instead of the hardworking commuters of this state?”
Indeed, the authority has been called a “patronage mill” for governors, and the AAA filed a suit at the beginning of the month in which they alleged the authority used toll money to help pay for the construction of a transportation hub at the World Trade Center where the PATH stop is located. Toll money cannot be used for funding this project according to federal law, and the AAA is requesting detailed financial information to demonstrate it hasn’t been.
The law would have specifically required open public meetings for the authority’s Board of Commissioners, public hearings for questions of toll hikes and fair increases, an audit of finances, as well as other means of keeping a closer watch on how the authority is spending its money.
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