By David Cruz
The Port Authority Board seemed unprepared for the interest its monthly meeting generated in New Jersey. The waiting crowd of more than 100 was corralled uncomfortably into the lobby of the downtown Jersey City office building where the meeting was held. Outside, demonstrators called for the resignation of chairman David Samson.
When the meeting finally began — 45 minutes late — Samson almost immediately recused himself, citing potential conflicts with agenda items. Had he returned, he would have gotten an earful.
“He needs to resign, I need for Mr.Samson to put on his attorney general’s hat because he is a former attorney general for New Jersey. He understands evidence, he understands prosecution, so I want him to put himself on the stand,” said Cassandra Dock of NJ Monitors.
“Nothing has been above board, not one thing. You just keep going and going and going on with the same darn stupid, I want to say dishonest way of doing things. Open the doors, open the windows,” said Richard Hughes of Twin Towers Coalition.
Board members listened without comment. Earlier in the day, a committee of the board approved a motion to establish a committee that would recommend increasing wages for Newark Airport workers to match their New York counterparts, a move that pleased the many union workers on hand.
“I would like to say thank you and also to at least give the people, the hard working people a chance to some how be able to send their kids to college off of this increase that you’re giving,” said baggage handler Demetrius DeBiase.
Board member David Steiner appeared to speak for a number of board members of the notoriously press-averse agency when — during a public session of the oversight committee earlier in the day — he blasted the press for its handling of news concerning the Port Authority.
“I’m appalled by the press with all their inferences, they have no idea how hard we work to be impartial and fair and I think it’s a disgrace the way the press has filed this report,” Steiner said.
The board did take some actions that were popular today, but Chairman Samson recusing himself from the full board meeting did not sit well at all. The message from demonstrators: We’ll be back.