Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Sunshine at the Pa

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Sunshine at the Pa

Article excerpt

THE PORT AUTHORITY of New York and New Jersey became more transparent this week. Governor Christie, on the day before he officially declared his candidacy for president, signed legislation that will require the Port Authority to comply with the Open Public Records Act in New Jersey and the Freedom of Information Law in New York.

This is good news on two fronts: One, it ensures that the operations of the bi-state agency will be transparent to the public. And two, the transparency is mandated by law, not subject to the whims of the governors of New Jersey and New York or their appointees on the Port Authority board.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had already signed similar legislation, so with Christie's signature, it is now law in both states.

For too long, the Port Authority operated -- intentionally -- behind closed doors. Decisions were hashed out far from the public eye, and the public votes were often just rubber-stamp gestures. Or worse, the voting process was so sloppy -- perhaps intentionally -- that a former chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson, was able to cast a vote for a lease deal benefiting a client of his private law firm.

Samson would later say his vote for a 2012 deal between the Port Authority and NJ Transit was a clerical error, that he should not have been recorded as voting yes. As first reported by Staff Writer Shawn Boburg, the whole process of this lease-reduction agreement was murky at best and hard to comprehend, given Samson's legal expertise. The deal enabled NJ Transit to reduce its rent for a park- and-ride lot in North Bergen from $907,000 to $1 a year.

Last week, the Port Authority under new leadership reversed course. The new lease is for $875,000 a year. NJ Transit will not have to make any retroactive payments to the Port Authority, but the new lease will become another financial burden for the cash- strapped transit agency. …

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