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Calls Renewed for Reform at Port Authority in Wake of GWB Scandal

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Though similar efforts have failed in the past, calls for reform at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have been renewed in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal, as questions continue over what New York officials knew about the scandal and how quickly they moved to put a stop to it. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

When it became clear that lane closures at the George Washington Bridge had been orchestrated by Port Authority appointees of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as part of a political payback scheme, Governor Andrew Cuomo stayed mostly silent.

When it became known that Christie's office ordered the closures, we heard even less about what Cuomo knew and when he knew it. He wasn't pressed about it until last week.

"When it hit the papers or the radio or became public," he said.

Critics of the agency, particularly those who rely on the Port Authority crossings, say that there needs to be greater transparency.

"I bet people who travel that way, many of whom are my constituents who use the Turnpike to get home, I think they'd be eager to find out what the New York State governor knew," said Assemblyman Joe Borelli of Staten Island.

Calls for reform at the Port Authority are nothing new. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island is sponsoring a bill that reforms the processes for Freedom of Information Act requests within the agency.

"In order to change the laws that govern the Port Authority, they need to pass both the state Assembly and the state Senate of both New York and New Jersey, and so that's what makes it very difficult to do," Malliotakis said.

There is a larger package of bills currently making its way through the Assembly that would reform the agency's ethics laws and establish better procedures for toll increases among other reforms. Critics of the agency say that the Bridgegate scandal makes those reforms more important than ever.

"I think overall, it shows that the Port Authority so desperately needs to be reformed and that it is a political agency," Malliotakis said. "Both governors appoint all of the members of the board. They all political appointees, and they control the fate of not only the tolls but so many other issues that affect the citizens of New York and New Jersey."

The reform package is scheduled to be taken up by the Assembly codes committee next week. It could pass the full Assembly by the end of the month.

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