The Senate Judiciary Committee has just commenced confirmation interviews for Jamie Fox as Transportation Commissioner, Richard Mroz as Chair of the Board of Public Utilities, and Upendra Chivukula as a member of the BPU. (You can listen here.) Both Fox and Chivukula are Democrats, a surprising step for Governor Christie. Fox has worked in the past for leading Democrats (he coined the powerful phrase “I am a gay American” for the resigning Gov. McGreevey), but has also served as a former Transportation Commissioner and Deputy Director at the NY/NJ Port Authority. Rumor has it that Christie, whose transportation fund is calamitously broke, may surrender his “no new taxes” policy and with help from Fox promote a gas tax increase. It is hard to remember when Christie nominations were scheduled so quickly before the Judiciary Committee. These appointments should sail through the vetting process today, and may even be presented this afternoon at a full Senate session.
At 2:00 pm there is a Senate voting session which includes a bill to reform the NY/NJ Port Authority, sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. This bill will have teeth as an identical bill has already passed the NY legislature. The PA – a bi-state agency – will be required to follow these regulations which call for increased transparency and accountability. The Assembly should act promptly to hold a committee hearing and schedule a vote. This bill is important but only a first step in reforming this complex, lone-wolf agency which in the past reported only to the two governors and even then was secretive about its actions and dismissive toward its customers.