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Port Authority Chair Samson, Under Fire, Voices Concern About Reform

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

David Samson at the March Port Authority Board Meeting (Andrea Bernstein)

Attempting to put Bridgegate and other scandals behind it, the Port Authority is inviting a group of past directors and outside experts to advise it on reform. But board chair David Samson, under federal investigation for conflict of interest, said it will be hard to find a group of "impartial and independent" experts without "personal or business relationships" to the Port Authority.

He added he was "concerned about the existing relationships or existing connections to the authority." The board is moving to set up the panel anyway. Former Port Authority executives Richard Leone and Anthony Shorris, as well as Rutgers University professor Martin Robins and author Jameson Doig, were mentioned as possible panel members.

Samson did recuse himself at the Port Authority's Wednesday board meeting during a committee-level discussion of New Jersey Transit parking lots, as well as wages for airport workers. And he made a brief appearance at the full board meeting in the afternoon, before announcing he was recusing himself because of "the airport issue" and a vote on replacing the suspender cables on the George Washington Bridge.  Samson then got up and left the meeting, thus missing the  lengthy public comment section. One member of the public who signed up to speak: Bergen County freeholder James Tedesco, who said he spoke on behalf of all the Bergen County freeholders in presenting a resolution for Samson to resign from the Port Authority Board. 

Outside the meeting, a group of people protested against Samson.

During the board meeting, the Port Authority's oversight committee did propose one new procedure: roll call votes. Now, for the first time, board members' votes will be public.

Speaking after the meeting, Port Authority executive director Pat Foye was asked how the internal panel tasked with reforming the Port Authority will work. His response: "There will be a panel, I think the list of names that was read today will be…those people will be on it. It may be added to, that will be up to the special oversight committee. And I think the Port Authority as an institution will benefit greatly from the candid exchange of views from those folks.”

And the Port Authority Board enacted another reform yesterday: abandoning the practice of voting "by consent," the Board implemented voice voting for the first time in recent memory.  But even that didn't go off without a hitch:  Vice Chair Scott Rechler, Governor Cuomo's appointee, took a vote on the George Washington bridge construction before hearing public comment.  Then he withdrew the vote.  But when it was retaken, it was the same -- all the votes in favor.  Indeed, in three votes Wednesday afternoon, there were no dissents. 

 

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Comments [6]

JOSEPH P. WALL from BRONX

Something needs to be done with the public transportation situation especially in the Southern part of Jersey City.New office buildings are being built and are opening rather fast yet New Jersey Transit and New Jersey Government in general are saying that the PATH train is the only train being considered for expansion into Liberty International Airport from roughly Exchange Place, Hudson Street in Jersey City. Why not extend the Hudson Bergin line through Linden, New Jersey into Liberty International Airport in the meantime? I think that there is a bus route that begins at the foot of Hudson Street Exchange Place that may be extended all the way into Liberty International Airport in the interum too. Financial problems keep delaying the extension of these projects but, the companies who fill these office towers with workers from New York City are not going to sit around forever waiting for these financial problems to clear up. Thus, all these new office buildings rising in the Southern part of Jersey City may one day be Ghost Office towers with nobody to fill them.B

Mar. 20 2014 03:49 PM
Ramu

This guy should go to jail.

Mar. 20 2014 01:02 PM
Guglielmo Spiaggia from Queens

When Samson recuses himself, does he give a part of his salary back to the PA? He is being paid to attend these meetings and vote on the meetings, not constantly recuse himself. He needs to resign. This is beyond the pale. The only purpose of him at the PA is to route PA money to his law firm, and therefore himself.

Mar. 20 2014 12:24 PM
Lacy

The guy has got to go. It's ridiculous he is still getting paid from taxpayer money. As taxpayers, we might as well go over the office of his law firm, and just leave a suitcase or two of cash.

Mar. 20 2014 10:36 AM

A little rich, that, Mr. Samson, under investigation for his own "personal conflicts of interest" is concerned that there are no people to join a reform panel without conflicts of interest to the PA.

Also, since "Bridgegate" is metastasizing in terms of its scope, how can the PA hope to "put something behind it" when it doesn't yet know what it's putting behind it beyond the personal sleaze of Governor Christie and Mr. Samson?

Mar. 20 2014 08:58 AM
Manuel Perez

"Too big to fail" seems to apply to Mr. Sampson with his multiple interests and Port Authority position. But is public interest one of his priorities?

Mar. 20 2014 07:23 AM

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