Tag Archive: Port Authority

Blue Jersey Focus – Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle – Part 1

I interviewed Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle in Trenton today. The interview is posted in two parts. In today’s installment (below), she talks with Blue Jersey about her accomplishments with Anti-Bullying legislation, the status of legislation on women’s health, education, and the Port of New York New Jersey Authority.

The second half of the interview will be posted tomorrow night. There Assemblywoman Vainieri-Huttle talks about the environment, education, affordable housing, marriage equality, and the political landscape in Trenton.

Hypocrisy! And Let’s Slow it Down!

Seems to me I write about “Hypocrisy” alot lately. This week, we must again look at the Port Authority. In papers filed in the AAA case against the toll increase, the PA changed its “tune”. Seems they didn’t really mean it when they claimed the toll increase was in part to pay for the completion of the Freedom Tower. Really, it’s to pay only for transportation related projects.  The PA Commissioners were also startled to find out how much their senior administrative staff really earn. How were they to know about all those “secret” salary perks? What’s “really” wrong with imposing the toll increases and then doing an audit to find out where and how they might save dollars? And where really is Governor “Get Rid of Waste or I’ll Veto Your Minutes” on all this?

Charter Schools. I have been a supporter of appropriate charter schools in appropriate places. But it’s become abundantly clear, that it is time to slow down the application process and study those already in existence. How successful are they? How do they compare to other similar schools? Are the entrance standards truly equal? So many questions, and apparently no studies or data to judge. It’s now time! And if you think we shouldn’t start developing some data, just look at what happened in my own hometown of Teaneck the last couple of weeks.

Towards A Newark Declaration of Economic Independence

This was written by Ron C. Rice with Allen Patterson, CEO of Patterson & Fraser, and posted by Newark Councilman Rice. – Promoted by Rosi

Since 1967, the City of Newark has economically struggled. In 44 years, real development did not take place until the early 1990s – the construction of New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The development of this edifice started the energy of citywide “new” construction throughout the ’90s. In 2006 and 2007, there were signs of economic retraction possibly leading to a recession and as the recession loomed, the City of Newark began to experience an even more critical condition of its economic pulse: the foreclosure rate elevated to historic highs and the city continued spending more than it was generating despite cutting substantially into the structural deficit.

Recently, the Newark Municipal Council voted for a $616M spending plan thereby ratifying a 2011 budget for the city. In doing so, the council lowered the tax increase originally proposed by Booker’s Administration from 7% to 4.6% and maintained the budget’s commitment to no furloughs or layoffs. Historically, however, Newark’s budget solutions have not tackled the main systemic problems of spending and investing.

It would be easy to say that as the structural deficit grew in our budget, the problem was masked by the use of Port Authority settlement monies to fill budget holes for a decade. It would be easy to say cut all directors’ salaries, get rid of all city perks, end all legal contracts, etc. and those cuts alone would annually balance the budget. It would also be easy to merely state that other cities in America are experiencing the same maladies and worse, from laying off half of their police forces to declaring bankruptcy. But all of those arguments hide the fact that we have real assets in our city that we have not had the collective will or the statewide support to use for the benefit of our city’s progress.

Obfuscation of the Week

I’ll just give this to you in the form we got it, via live tweet from @GingerGibsonSL, that’s Star-Ledger’s Ginger Gibson, live tweeting a presser from Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth:

Christie insists that the toll hike is not a tax increase, “it’s a user fee.”

Port Authority toll hike: theatrics & reactions

First, we had Gov. Christie’s seemingly startled response to the whopping toll & fare hike proposal from Port Authority. Christie: “You’re kidding, right?”

Next, came the inevitable: truth out; Christie knew for months the toll hike was coming. Sometimes, the theatrics fail.

Then, the theatrics behind the theatrics. Port Authority announces a huge spike in fares. New Jersey goes ballistic. Christie, and his sometimes brother-Governor Cuomo, step in like heroes to keep the increases affordable for already-strapped commuters. All kinds of political cover, with a Jersey bonus of making a governor with a rep of screwing the little guy to pad the rich guy’s cushion, look like he gives a damn about you … after all.

Theater or not, yesterday’s blitz of public hearings – 8 of them, announced just hours in advance – brought out some strong reactions. Some serious hell’s being raised, hard questions asked, and some mighty confused commuters are probably still trying to locate some of Port Authority’s more “obscure” (as Sierra Club called them) hearing sites.

Jump for the details.

Bill Baroni will leave the Senate


Gov. Christopher Christie has tapped State Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton) as the new Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, setting up a November 2010 special election for the politically competitive 14th district Senate seat.

Baroni, who distinguished himself this year as marriage equality’s standout stalwart in the GOP Senate caucus, will be missed. And the 14th District just got very interesting.  

GAO sides with Port Authority against auction of flight slots

Here’s a victory for the NY/NJ Port Authority, who fought the federal government’s plan to auction off flight space.  The Government Accounting Office offered this opinion after it was requested by lawmakers opposed to a test run utilizing Newark Liberty Airport:

“We conclude that FAA may not auction slots under its property disposition authority, user fee authority, or any other authority, and thus also may not retain or use proceeds of any such auctions,” GAO general counsel Gary Kepplinger wrote to lawmakers who had sought the legal opinion.

The GAO’s top lawyer concluded that for the first time in 40 years, the FAA claims it may assign airspace as its “property,” but the laws covering the FAA were never written to include such a definition of property.

The transportation department isn’t ready to give up on the idea it seems and says that the GAO just doesn’t understand:

Transportation Department spokesman Brian Turmail said the GAO was unfamiliar with aviation law, and had little time to study it before reaching its conclusion.

“Should Congress give the agency an opportunity to conduct a more thorough review, we are confident that GAO will better understand both the validity and the effectiveness of our approach,” Turmail said in a statement.

Turmail went on to say that the FAA’s own board had approved the auction idea prompting this reaction from Senator Lautenberg:

“Not only is this Bush Administration plan for Newark Airport wrong for fliers and New Jersey residents – this report shows it is completely illegal,” Sen. Lautenberg said in a statement. He called on the administration to abandon the planned auction and work with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on a separate plan to relieve congestion.

It’s amazing that any time someone opposes an administration policy, they just don’t have enough information to fully understand.  Maybe it’s actually the administration that’s wrong and doesn’t understand.

Will you be paying all $32,879 at once?

For those of you that have wanted to run the toll in the EZ-Pass lane, I give you this from the NY post:

Alleged deadbeat driver Catherine Cappelluti, 38, owes an astounding $32,879 to the Port Authority for not paying to use its E-ZPass lanes, according to a judgment against her in a Bergen County court.

The Weehawken resident used PA crossings 1,087 times without dropping a dime between 1998 and 2004, amassing 361 citations, according to court documents.

She says it was her ex-boyfriend who was using her car.  Talk about a parting gift.

Weinberg Joins NY Legislator To Demand Port Authority Accountability


Last week, Sen. Loretta Weinberg introduced legislation as a part of a two-state legislative reform effort to “end a culture of secrecy at the Port Authority.” S2475 holds the Port Authority — an interstate agency between New Jersey and New York — accountable for the billions of taxpayers’ dollars they dole out. New York Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky introduced a complementing bill in his state’s legislature.

The legislation notes that while the governors of both states have “recently implemented a significant set of reforms for other public authorities … these reforms do not extend to the Port Authority because it is an interstate authority.” This bill would change that by placing oversight on the Port Authority’s expenditures and the conduct of lobbyists seeking contracts. Furthermore, it would have the Port Authority adopt a code of ethics on matters like conflicts of interest — commonsense reform that lets the sun shine on shady deals.

Said Weinberg,

For too long, the Port Authority has functioned as a bi-state secret bureaucracy of insiders where billions of dollars worth of mass transportation projects get awarded with virtually no public input. We need a transparent Port Authority that’s in shape to fight terrorist threats, maintain our bridges and tunnels and improve our airports.

For continued progress in New Jersey, please show Loretta your support and rally for her this evening in Paramus.