Move Comes After Agency’s Stonewalling of Legislative Requests for Correspondence with Gov’s Office on Summer Commuting Plan, Revenues & Fares; Subpoenas Also Seek Info on Patronage
Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman John McKeon (D-Essex/Morris) on Monday served NJ Transit with subpoenas after the agency repeatedly stonewalled legislative requests seeking all correspondence between NJ Transit and the Governor’s Office from March 2017 forward regarding the summer commuting plan, along with information on revenue and fares.
McKeon’s committee first began holding joint hearings last October with the Senate into NJ Transit’s safety, operations and finances after a deadly September train derailment in Hoboken, more recently shifting focus to New York Penn Station repairs and the impact on commuters.
Information requests by McKeon, along with local mayors, were initially ignored in May, which prompted the Chairman to send letters to NJ Transit – one on June 12 and another on June 16. Despite the letters’ explicit request for information from March 2017 forward, McKeon’s committee received more than 1,200 pages dating back to 1984, with just one document dated after March 2017 – a May document on regulatory testing for locomotives.
“We have been more than patient, but unfortunately we’ve been forced to invoke the subpoena powers of the Assembly Judiciary Committee to force NJ Transit to be responsive.
“It is incumbent upon us to make sure we have comprehensive information available to us in our oversight capacity for the sake of rebuilding New Jersey Transit and putting an end to the constant headaches commuters have been forced to endure.
“I have real concerns that this stalling has been done with influence from Gov. Christie’s office, which is a question we need to have answered. To that end, we are also seeking information on patronage hiring at the agency.
“It’s unfortunate that it has come to this, but one thing we will not tolerate is the abuse of taxpayers’ dollars and the placing of secrecy over transparency,” said McKeon.
The subpoenas, which were delivered to NJ Transit Executive Director Steven Santoro, as well as the agency’s custodian of record, specifically request the delivery of the following:
All documents and records of any kind, including, but not limited to, any:
3) electronic mail transmissions,
4) text messages,
5) Blackberry Messenger messages (a/k/a “BBM messages”),
6) “instant messages,” whether sent via a personal computational device or cellular phone via any and all Web- or cellular phone-based messaging systems, and/or
7) any other electronically stored data or information which is currently stored on any and all personal computational devices to which the New Jersey Transit Corporation (“NJT”) has access or over which NJT has possession, dominion, or control, including, without limitation, devices commonly known as ‘desktops,’ ‘laptops,’ ‘smartbooks,’ ‘tablets,’ ‘smartphones,’ ‘cellular phones,’ or ‘iPads,’ whether used in a business, personal, or any other capacity, produced, created, sent, or received between the following dates relating to, regarding, reflecting, concerning, or constituting any of the following:
a. Between January 1, 2010 and the present date, information concerning all NJT personnel holding a position at a Senior Director or equivalent level and above, any positions reporting directly to the Executive Director of NJT or Deputy Executive Director of NJT, and all NJT personnel earning a minimum annual salary of $70,000, including the resumes or curriculum vitae of the employee hired for each position, the date of hire for each position, information regarding the educational background of the employee hired for each position, the job posting for each position, and a description of the roles and responsibilities of each position, current to the date of this subpoena;
b. Between April 15, 2017 and the present date, all documents and records related to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation’s (Amtrak) Infrastructure Renewal project at New York Pennsylvania Station (NY Penn Station) conducted or scheduled to take place between April 1, 2017 and August 31, 2017, and/or the NJT service and fare changes for the months of July and August 2017 related to the infrastructure renewal project at NY Penn Station during these months, including correspondence, electronic or otherwise, from or to Governor Christopher J. Christie, John Spinello, Commissioner Richard T. Hammer, Executive Director Steven Santoro, Jacqueline Halldow, Paul Wyckoff, Michael Lihvarcik, and Jai Patel; and
c. Corporate Policy 3.02B, current to the date of this subpoena.