It seems implausible
to me that Gov. Christie didn't know his top people were using the Port
Authority to do dirty tricks in Fort Lee. But I like Christie, so I'll give him
the benefit of the doubt on “Bridgegate”. Christie is not a crook, yet.
To me, the crime is obvious. This is about the political class breezily taking control of one of the great technocratic agencies in America at the expense of innocent bystanders who were robbed of 16 hours over four days waiting to pay their $11 toll.
It's also about these small-minded political operatives playing with the operation of one of biggest economic development engines in the United States—the GWBridge generates close to $700 million a year in revenues. That supports a $3.6-billion capital budget, pays bondholders, and keeps its huge transportation network operating smoothly.
The Port Authority
capital budget pays for heightening the Bayonne Bridge, rebuilding the Pulaski
Skyway, and possibly, extending the PATH from Wall Street to Newark Airport and
building a new terminal B there. Together these New Jersey projects represent
roughly 50,000 trade union jobs in a state whose unemployment rate, at 8.4%, is
well above the national average.
You don't intimidate the technocrats who run this mighty engine in order to jam an obscure mayor.
How did this happen? The overly insular Gov. Andrew Cuomo has never had much to do with his half of the Port Authority, leaving his top appointee, Patrick Foye, with little executive power there. With nobody to stop them, Christie's people have had unchecked access and control of the hallways at the Port Authority for way too long. Righting that imbalance should put some guardrails around the political operatives from both sides of the Hudson, and keep them away from the technocrats who make the Port Authority work.
William G. Reinhardt, editor
Public Works Financing newsletter, Westfield, NJ www.PWFinance.net