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Robins Says GWB Investigation Should Be Eye-Opener For Port Authority

1-20-14

With the George Washington Bridge lane closure investigation underway, Alan Vorhees Transportation Control Founding Director and former Port Authority official Martin Robins told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the investigation should be an eye-opener for the Port Authority and cause legislators to form a bi-state commission.

Robins said that he is not surprised about what has happened to the Port Authority because he has heard from people at the agency for several years that there has been a degradation of integrity.

By “degradation of integrity,” Robins said that he meant that there have been 60 people that were added to the agency at the insistence of Gov. Chris Christie and that was unheard of at the Port Authority previously.

“I heard that people were being kind of monitored and being ordered to do things that they didn’t think that they should do. It was clearly a very serious change in the way business was conducted there,” Robins said.

Robins worked at the Port authority in the 1980s and said that there was a healthy interplay between the staff and the governor’s office at that time.

He said that a fateful step happened in the 1990s when there was a compromise made that there would be a deputy executive director that would be appointed by the New Jersey governor, which was a problematic solution, according to Robins. He said that initially it was not a harmful arrangement because for several years it went smoothly, but then things changed.

“When you mix in people with the apparent attitudes of those who were serving presently, things could go totally awry,” Robins said.

Robins said that the solution is not to totally tear the Port Authority apart and start over. He thinks what needs to be done is re-describe the agreement that exists in this region. He said that a board should be appointed in order to care for the agency’s needs and how the agency serves the region.

“I think that this incident with Bridgegate should be the eye-opener that should cause the legislators to form a bi-state commission that should analyze exactly what has gone wrong with this agency and come up with solutions so that social compact is renewed,” Robins said.