Committee Empowered to Subpoena Information, Testimony from Port Authority
(TRENTON) — Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) issued a multimedia package Thursday in which he discusses the next steps following the General Assembly’s 43-30-2 vote to grant the Assembly transportation panel subpoena power so that it may compel answers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on the operations of the bi-state agency.
The legislation (AR-61) was prompted by scathing reports on, and questionable decisions by, the Port Authority over the last six months. It grants the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee the ability to issue subpoenas to compel the attendance and testimony of individuals and the production of requested books, papers, correspondence and other documents relevant to the Port Authority’s operations and budget.
The multimedia package consists of a video of the Deputy Speaker discussing how his committee will utilize its new power going forward to ensure the bi-state transportation agency is appropriately employing its resources to serve travelers using its crossings and mass transportation services and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of Deputy Speaker Wisniewski’s comments is appended below:
Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee Chairman:
“The Assembly today adopted a resolution that gives the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee power to issue subpoenas for documents and for testimony. The Assembly Transportation Committee subpoena power is limited to the Port Authority.
“What we intend to do as a committee, is use that subpoena power to first obtain the documents that we’ve been unable to get thus far; to look at those documents and understand the questions we need to ask of people, such as Executive Director Foye or Deputy Director Bill Baroni, or any other people who are involved in the management and the day-to-day affairs of the Port Authority; to ask the questions that will get to the root cause of our concern, which is ‘How does an agency consume so much of our money, through tolls and fares, and do so little for the people of the State of New Jersey in terms of real results.’
“We see people sitting in traffic.
“We see fares going up.
“We see tolls going up.
“There’s a sense of frustration. And there’s a sense of – the people I’ve talked to, who deal with the Port Authority as toll payers, as fare payers — that it’s an agency that’s accountable to nobody.
“We need to use this tool — again, which I said is an extraordinary tool — but we need to use this tool to make sure that we’re doing the job our constituents: the taxpayers; the fare payers; the ratepayers, have sent us here to do.”