Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pa Toys with Reform

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pa Toys with Reform

Article excerpt

THE COMMISSIONERS of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey took a bold step last week: They decided they would not resign. They embraced parts of a report commissioned by the governors of New York and New Jersey, just not the parts that directly affect them.

If there was a clear sign that the Port Authority will remain much as it was for decades this was it. Because despite what Chairman John Degnan says, the agency would be none the worse for a complete change of leadership. Many of the current commissioners were sitting in the same chairs when the Port Authority decided to go whole hog over the nearly $4 billion transit hub at the World Trade Center. They did not raise a hand against deals that saddled commuters with higher tolls and disregarded the public's right to information. In fact, many of these commissioners did nothing at all when traffic was being diverted in Fort Lee at the George Washington Bridge.

Degnan has done much as a reformer, replacing David Samson as chairman. But too many of the sitting commissioners failed to rise to challenges prior to the GWB scandal.

So the news last week that the Port Authority will eliminate the governors' appointed jobs of executive director and deputy executive director and replace them with a CEO is more interesting than laudable. One leader is better than two, yes. And one leader chosen for his or her strengths as the director of an agency focused on transportation is better than the current formula of two political appointees. But there is a sleight of hand here. The 12 commissioners are political appointees. They will continue to be political appointees. And they will determine who will be hired as CEO, and they will vote among themselves to choose a chairman and vice chairman, if what was agreed to last week in concept becomes reality.

These 12 commissioners - many titans of industry - come with political connections. …

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