By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Like the other witnesses before him, Port Authority Commissioner Pat Schuber said he had no knowledge of the GWB lane closures and deplores the deed.
Assemblyman Paul Moriarty asked, “When Bill Baroni said it was a traffic study, what did you think of his claim?” Schuber answered, “I had great respect for Bill Baroni, no need to question him in regard to that that. He was always a valuable staffer I thought.” Moriarty asked, “Did you do anything to investigate whether the bridge lane closure was proper?” Schuber answered, “No.”
“Do you believe that in your failure to raise these issues you fulfilled your fiduciary responsibility to the Port Authority?” asked Assemblyman John Wisniewski. Schuber said, “Yes. I believe that I have served the commission professionally and ably.”
Schuber is the former Bergen County Executive and a former Republican assemblyman.
Gov. Christie asked him to serve on the Port Authority Board of Commissioners in 2011.
It’s a prestigious position but it doesn’t include a salary and lately it’s brought headaches.
When asked if he was glad he took the position, Schuber said, “I wish my battery had been depleted when I took that call from the governor.”
Schuber is the first Port Authority board member subpoenaed by the Select Committee on Investigation.
Like the Republicans on the committee, he’d rather talk about Port Authority reform than any misdeeds.
He was asked about Gov. Christie’s suggestion in March that the PA maybe be split into two agencies.
“Having gone through what I’ve gone through the past couple of months I almost thought was a good idea,” Schuber said. “Are there significant changes that need to be made? Yes. Does the authority need to be blown up and removed? I don’t think so. And I think it’s throwing the baby out with the bath water. My experience with the authority in my short time there has been all its employees are extremely professional.”
One reform he supports is ending the practice of the executive director coming from New York and the deputy executive director from New Jersey.
“It creates two different lines of authority that goes in two different directions — one goes to Albany and one goes to Trenton,” Schuber said.
Committee Democrats also focused on the large Port Authority toll hike that was reportedly orchestrated to protect the two governors. And on a letter Sen. Loretta Weinberg sent Schuber requesting some follow-up.
Schuber shared Weinberg’s letter with former PA Chairman David Samson, who emailed back, “What a jerk.”
Weinberg asked why he ignored her. Schuber said, “I saw this very quickly becoming a political football and from my perspective I just did not want to be involved in that.”