Vainieri Huttle Calls on Christie to Sign Port Authority Reform Bill Amidst Latest Patronage News

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) on Wednesday called on Governor Christie to sign the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Transparency and Accountability Act sitting on his desk to help institute real reform at the embattled agency amidst the latest news that a $1.2 million contract has been awarded to a politically-connected firm.

Behind closed doors without a formal public hearing, the agency recently agreed to extend the already existing no-bid contract to former Bush administration Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff’s consulting firm.

“This crucial bipartisan legislation passed both houses of the legislature with overwhelming support and was sent to the Governor nearly three weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Port Authority continues to play spendthrift with commuters’ money.

“It’s critical that we get this legislation in place swiftly to protect the best interests of commuters and avoid any future abuses of power by the Port Authority. Governor Christie has rightly made the clean up of independent authorities a hallmark of his tenure. I hope he will continue to fight against government waste and mismanagement by signing this bill soon,” said Vainieri Huttle.

The legislation (A-1011), which is also sponsored by Assembly members Connie Wagner, Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. and John S. Wisniewski, would implement reforms at the bi-state agency to ensure that it operates as an open, transparent, and accountable authority.

The bill was inspired by a series of increasingly alarming news reports in recent months, which have prompted sharp criticisms about how the multi-billion dollar agency conducts its business. Concerns have been raised over overtime costs in excess of $90 million; contradicting statements about where the majority of the money raised by the agency’s September toll hike was being spent; and exorbitant perks for authority members and retirees.