Vows Further Inquiry by Committee
Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Assembly transportation panel, released the following statement Monday after hearing testimony from Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials on the questionable closing of George Washington Bridge access lanes from Fort Lee in September:
“Several things are clear after today’s hearing.
“Bill Baroni has outlived his usefulness as the Port Authority’s deputy director. The testimony showed that Mr. Baroni has not been honest with the public and this committee about these lane closures and his mythical traffic study.
“Mr. Baroni must go. No one can have any confidence in his abilities.
“We also understand an atmosphere of fear apparently envelopes the agency, with career employees afraid to speak up for fear of retribution, even when questionable activity is taking place that puts public safety at risk.
“We also heard first-hand about the rampant dysfunction prevalent throughout this agency, in which staffers feel free to go rogue and purposefully hide their activities from the executive director. We have a staffer implicated in wrongdoing who is sitting around making $150,000 a year with no responsibilities. We see no accountability for high-ranking staffers. We hear of laws possibly being broken with no follow up action taken.
“Mr. Wildstein must also go, and Mr. Foye must do better.
“Indeed, the operations within this agency seem too bizarre to be true, but the testimony indicates otherwise. That’s frightening, considering this agency’s responsibilities.
“Our work is not complete. I expect more hearings to be scheduled, with more subpoenas certainly possible.
“The dysfunction of this vital agency cannot be allowed to stand, and the public deserves answers on what actually happened here. Otherwise, the public can have no confidence political appointees won’t run amuck again, treating this agency like a local sewer authority with no accountability or consideration given to public safety.”