ON THE PORTFRONT (Continued…)
As with most investigations, including those of political corruption, the culprits do not make it easy to unearth the truth. Typically they act slowly or not at all in response to requests for public information. They select an individual lower down the chain of command to be fired in hopes of saving the scalps of those higher up who also were at fault.
Were laws violated?: It appears that the failure to notify local and State authorities was a violation of the law. There appear to be other inappropriate actions in play.
Who did it? Not clear: David Wildstein ordered the lane closures, but did he act alone? He reported to Bill Baroni (who tried to defend the action as a “traffic study” and bears direct responsibility), and both individuals were appointed to their positions by Governor Christie.
Why? Not clear: As others testified, a traffic study could have been conducted without closing the lanes and causing the ensued chaos. Was Wildstein ignorant of the procedures to carry out a study or did he (and possibly Baroni) have other intentions, such as retribution against the Fort Lee mayor?
How: It appears Wildstein ordered the closure against the recommendation of other staffers and he falsely told them he would inform the Authority’s Executive Director and other officials of what was happening.
What punishment is appropriate? It would seem that rather than accepting Wildstein’s resignation, they should have fired him and possibly subjected him to criminal charges. (By Baroni not firing him, assuring his silence, and possibly offering him a job when the uproar subsides other potentially guilty parties could escape punishment.)
What will prevent it from happening again? The Port Authority is too big for its own britches. It acts in defiance of others by ignoring freedom of information requests and doing as it pleases. Such should be stopped. The importance of its work and the amount of money it collects should not allow it to act outside legal norms and escape scrutiny. While each governor should continue to appoint individuals to the Board, there should be independent members who are not aligned with a governor and who understand the broader mission of the authority. Furthermore, governors should be severely restricted in the number of political appointees they can make. The authority needs professionals on its staff not political hacks.
Congratulations to Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Wisniewski who have vigorously pursued this matter. Unfortunately, there is still more to learn.
Clergy women, religious activists and community members brave the weather today to say “Not One More person in detention or deportation.” Join them at the Elizabeth Detention Center starting at 7 am For more info on this event already in progress go here.
NJ Business & Industry Association Forum: 8;45am – 2:00pm, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is the keynote speaker, and receives an award. Other speakers include former U.S. Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa, Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr., Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and Sen. Paul Sarlo, at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin.