Monday, September 15, 2014

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Cuomo Yet to Indicate Whether He'll Sign Port Authority Reform Bill

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TWC News: Cuomo Yet to Indicate Whether He'll Sign Port Authority Reform Bill
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A bill that aims to reform the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which comes in the wake of the "Bridgegate" George Washington Bridge scandal, has passed both houses of the state legislature, but so far, Governor Andrew Cuomo has refused to say whether or not he will sign it. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

FORT LEE, N.J. - Lane closures back in September on the Fort Lee side of the George Washington Bridge led to the scandal known as Bridgegate, which has threatened the once-promising presidential prospects of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

The incident resulted in several resignations, both at the Port Authority and within the Christie administration. It also prompted questions about whether Governor Andrew Cuomo and his appointees at the bi-state agency helped cover up the the lane closures by remaining silent. Last month, legislation to reform the agency passed both houses of the state legislature.

"This legislation would impose a duty on officers and employees of the Port Authority to report corruption, conflicts of interest, misconduct and other things to the inspector general," said Assemblyman James Brennan of Brooklyn.

The day before the July 4 holiday weekend, a special panel on the future of the Port Authority, commissioned jointly by Governors Cuomo and Christie, issued an interim report. It concluded that the agency has already taken several major steps to reform how the Port Authority operates, including greater transparency.

"Both governors have been silent, and so we need the governors to get behind this well-intentioned and much-needed piece of legislation," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union.

Critics say the Bridgegate scandal has helped shed light on the dysfunctionality of the bi-state agency, where New York and New Jersey are often at odds.

"The problem has been that the George Washington Bridge scandal exposed the patronage mill that the Port Authority has become and the kind of division within the Port Authority," Dadey said.

"One of the issues associated with Bridgegate is that one state's employees were hiding information from other state's employees," Brennan said.

Cuomo has refused to say whether he will sign the bill.

The Bridgegate scandal is now under federal criminal investigation. People familiar with that investigation say what began as a look at the lane closures has since been expanded to possible misuse of ratepayer money including no-bid contracts and projects that have nothing to do with the Port Authority's core mission.

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