(New York, NY) Chris Ward’s three-and-a-half year tenure as executive director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has come to an end. Patrick Foye, an aide to Governor Cuomo and a and former state economic development chief, is in.
Ward, 56, was appointed in 2008 by former New York Governor David A. Paterson. He will now be replaced by Patrick Foye, deputy secretary for economic development for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo announced the appointment in a press release today: "The Port Authority must meet its potential as a major economic engine that plans for the region and attracts business on an international scale. We must also improve its operations and maximize the value out of every dollar spent so that it is financially responsible and respects the tax and toll payers."
Cuomo also said he would propose rolling the Moynihan Station Development Authority and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation into the Port Authority. The move was immediately endorsed by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who has been an advocate of a redeveloped Moynihan Station.
Foye’s most recent job before that was deputy county executive for economic development for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. Foye left that job in January after Mangano decided, against Foye’s advice, to sue a state-appointed control board to prevent it from taking over the county’s finances. The county lost the lawsuit.
Foye, a lawyer who worked with Skadden Arps, is a former downstate chairman for New York’s Empire State Development Corporation. Since May 2010, he has sat on the board of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Unlike the other transportation post Cuomo has to fill -- head of the New York MTA -- Foye's appointment does not require approval of the New York State Senate.
In an interview, MTA board member Mitch Pally said Foye has been active in his role as the appointee from Nassau County in Long Island. “He’s delved into operating details of the system, communication issues with commuters and fare structure,” Pally said.
In a statement, Foye said "I am honored to be recommended for Executive Director of the Port Authority. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, we have begun to re-energize New York's economy and pave the way for job growth in the state. I thank Governor Cuomo for this opportunity and look forward to working closely with him and the Board of Directors at the Port Authority on maintaining and improving the New York metropolitan region's vital transportation, infrastructure and economic development assets".
By many accounts, Cuomo and Ward never forged a close working relationship. For example, Cuomo’s schedules show no meetings with the Port Authority executive director during the first eight months of 2011. By contrast Foye, as one of the governor’s deputy secretaries, attended three meetings and a staff reception with Cuomo in the past six months.
Ward’s time leading the authority was marked by controversy and achievement: controversy over recent toll and fare increases on Hudson River crossings; achievement, primarily, for cutting through political and legal disputes to ramp up construction at the stalled World Trade Center site.
In particular, Ward sped up the building of the 9/11 memorial to insure its completion in time for the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. He also helped convince publisher Condé Nast to sign on as a major tenant at 1 World Trade Center, formerly known as The Freedom Tower.
Ward said renaming the anchor skyscraper was crucial to lightening the site’s symbolic weight to focus on more mundane concerns, like construction deadlines. “We were free before 9/11, we were free after 9/11,” he told the New York Times. “New Yorkers don’t need a tower named ‘freedom.’ New Yorkers need to know that we built it, that there’s a place to go and work.”
Ward was less successful in navigating the sharp shoals of toll and fare increases.
He initially proposed to raise toll rates on cash-paying drivers to as much as $15 during peak times, up from $8. He also wanted to hike the PATH commuter train fare by a dollar. What he got—after weeks of criticism from the governors of New York and New Jersey and excoriation from some of the public—was far less. On tolls, he got a $1.50 increase on most drivers beginning last month, and then 75 cents each year for the next four years. On PATH, he got an increase of 25 cents a year for four years.
Ward contended the hikes were necessary to fund the authority’s $33 billion 10-year capital plan, $11 billion rebuilding of the World Trade Center and $6 billion price tag for increased security since the September 11 attacks. Losing that fight left him feeling, in his own words, “burned."
The lower toll hikes means Foye will most likely have to consider cutting some projects from the authority’s capital plan. And that, in the words of the outgoing executive director, will mean: “You’re going to be stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge. You’re going to be stuck on buses trying to get into the Port Authority Bus Terminal. You’re going to be stuck at LaGuardia and JFK because [they] don’t have enough runway capacity.”
In the 1990's, Foye, working closely with former U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato, helped put together the takeover of the Long Island Lighting Company, or LILCO, by the Long Island Power Authority. LILCO had acquired a huge debt constructing the Shoreham nuclear power plant, which was never opened do to safety concerns.
At the time, the deal involved the biggest issuance of municipal bonds in history.
Cuomo also announced the nominations of two new board members to the Port Authority: James Rubin, a Clinton Assistant Secretary of State, who worked until recently as the executive editor of Bloomberg View, and Rosanna Rosado, the publisher and CEO of El Diario La Prensa.