Saturday, February 8, 2014
THE ISSUE IS CHRISTIE NOT THE MEN & WOMEN OF THE PORT AUTHORITY
PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY
BEING DRAGGED THROUGH THE MUD BY POLITICAL SCANDALS
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE AS SEEN FROM
TAGS: PORT AUTHORITY NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY, PA FACILITIES,
SURFACE AND RAIL TRANSPORT, HUDSON RIVER CROSSINGS,
FREIGHT TERMINAL, DOCKS, PIERS, PA POLICE DEPARTMENT,
PAPD 9-11-2001, LaGUARDIA, JFK AND NEWARK/LIBERTY AIRPORTS,
PATH TRAINS, CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE, WTC, NYC HARBOR
(Saturday February 8, 2014 JFK Airport, Queens, NYC) Since its formation in 1921 the Port Authority of New York / New Jersey (PANYNJ) has been a highly regarded and much emulated bi-state alliance. When the original charter was crafted, those involved in that process could never have envisioned what it would become. The Port Authority as locals refer to it daily fulfills a mission that has only grown in scale and scope in the post 9-11-2001 era. Much of this regions critical infrastructure from the three local airports to Hudson River crossings, road and rail transportation as well as properties on both sides of the Hudson they own and operate, the Port Authority is a vital element assuring the safety and security of their facilities while moving hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and commuters from the NYC Metropolitan Area.
Until very recently the PANYNJ was seen as a non-political Agency left alone to carry out their mission. Recent headlines regarding the alleged malfeasance of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his high ranking appointees to the PA have begun to tarnish an impressive reputation of efficiency, effectiveness and competence. Some of the most heavily travelled bridges and busy airports are often stricken by unforeseen events such as heavy surface congestion, power interruptions and other delay inducing events and those affected by such delays and inconvenience will complain to no end. However, these very same people are dependent on the Port Authority and, when the systems are functioning without any glitches are able to take the PA for granted. Given the density of the NYC Metro Area population, aging infrastructure in New Jersey and New York, the PA keeps the region moving by the dedication and expertise of their rank and file employees from their own Police Department to the legions of specialists charged with insuring the whole interconnected regional network runs as trouble-free as possible.
AN UNWITTING PAWN
One would be hard pressed to find incidents of corruption, political wrangling or run of the mill chicanery in the Port Authority. Actually the fact that in its almost 90 year history it has remained among the brand of political corruption, influence peddling, extortion and greed that has come to define the political landscape of this region, is in itself remarkable. To see the PA now to have been used as a pawn in the most amateurish spiteful manner as recent media reports suggest, is an insult to all who work or have every worked for the PA. It appears that Governor Christie installed a small cadre of loyalists into the hierarchy of the PA and used them to carry out some sort of retribution against Mark Sokolich, the Mayor of Fort Lee NJ, the host city of the western terminus of the George Washington Bridge. If these allegations are proven to be true everyone involved should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
AIR FORCE ONE AT A FAMILIAR DESTINATION – NEW YORK CITY
LANDMARKS AND ICONS
Some of this region’s most critical infrastructure and iconic sites fall under the control of the PA. From the majestic George Washington Bridge, the Bayonne Bridge the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, Outerbridge Crossing, The PATH trains, as well as Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Airports, such locales are almost as familiar to the millions who come to visit here annually as they are to those of us who live and work here. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were built, owned and operated by the PA under the vision of Austin Tobin who ran the PA for almost 30 years. There were political agendas to be addressed, no politicians’ egos to stroke; Director Tobin saw the value in each and every project he presided over not just as the head of the PA but also as an accomplished engineer. It was during his long, successful tenure that the Port Authority was planted in the fertile soil that allowed it to flourish unencumbered by petty politics. Some may argue this point as an inaccurate portrayal of the man Tobin and his Agency, the PA but extensive research into the PA yields no stories, rumors, innuendos or suppositions that credibly contest this point.
PORT AUTHORITY BY THE NUMBERS
Operating two bus terminals, one near the upper tip of Manhattan on 178th Street, the other on 8th Avenue and 42nd Street, these two locations transport upwards of 70 million people annually. Every work day the PATH Trains move over 29,000communters from Hoboken and Jersey City to the west side of Manhattan. Fleets of ferries that had long plied the Hudson but died away until the late 1990’s once again are plentiful from New Jersey and Brooklyn into lower Manhattan. Between JFK, LaGuardia and Newark/Liberty airports over 60 million travelers pass through these PA operated hubs.
Living in the NYC Metro Area sometimes it is easy to forget that NYC became what it is today due to geography. From Colonial days the value of NYC as a seaport, as a major deep water maritime harbor capable of handling heavy volume of immigrants and freight, made our waterfront the premier shipping destination between the fledgling United States and the rest of the world. After the introduction of containerized freight in the late seventies many saw the days of New York’s waterfront as over. But, ever adaptable to change the PA cast their gaze and attention to the rapidly increasing freight brought to dock at the Port Elizabeth/Port Newark complex. Today that complex is one of the busiest in the country. The Port Authority is also responsible for the safety and security of the piers in Red Hook Brooklyn and adjacent docks.
One of the more obscure but important numbers, a figure that illustrates the enormous domain of which the PA is responsible is that the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) is the 26th largest Police Force in the United States. Think about that for a moment. Hundreds of cities and urban centers have smaller Police Forces than does the Port Authority. Given that the PAPD does not operate within the well-defined borders of a jurisdiction, this fact is impressive. The PAPD are, in a sense, far flung being that they are deployed at facilities all across the NYC Metro Area. Their tasks have only gotten more difficult since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. On that day the PAPD lost 37 of her Members of Service (MOS), the single most lethal day in their history is another sad chapter in the stories of courage, duty and sacrifice exhibited so valiantly by all the Agencies involved as First Responders.
The initial claim at the beginning of Governor Christie’s now scandal ridden administration was a mysteriously authorized land closure of designated roads leading from Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge (GWB).The GWB is the most heavily travelled bridge in the United States and is the only link directly from Interstate 80 and 95 onto the Cross Bronx Expressway which links to the network of highways going north to New England. Sure, commuters in this area are more than familiar with traffic congestion and jams but the four days of lane closures in question affected far more than frustrated motorists; school buses and emergency response Agencies had their movements and response time impacted by the enormous gridlock that had, in effect, made Fort Lee a parking lot. If for no other reason than this the various legislative committees and federal prosecutor investigated this sloppy episode need to find answers. If Chris Christie did have ANYTHING to do with the lane closures he should either resign a la Sarah Palin and take a job with the other barking seals at FOX News or gut it out and wait to be impeached. Either way his once notable political potential is gone; the luster of a “straight-shooting” Republican Governor from a Democratic state has been sullied beyond repair.
EVERY OTHER DAY
Christie’s most highly placed appointees at the PA as well as his Chief odd Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Governor and about 20 others within Christie’s innermost circle have been subpoenaed, resigned orr have been unceremoniously fired. At some point the truth should emerge given the intense focus on the local and national media. However, no matter when and where fault is laid, regardless of which political hack or “no show” appointee is left holding the bag; the one truth that ought to be recognized is that this entire sordid tale is not about the PA. It is about politicians and pettiness, about hubris, power and corruption. It should not in any way reflect on the thousands of hard working men and women of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved