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Codey: Toll Increase Process Disrespectful to NJ

3-4-14

A recent report claims Port Authority officials pushed through high toll increases so the governors of New York and New Jersey could scale them back. Former Governor and Sen. Richard Codey (D-27) told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the proposed increases were disrespectful.

“I think it shows an incredible disrespect for the people of the state of New Jersey,” said Codey.

Codey said that Gov. Chris Christie was aware that the Port Authority was going to propose an increase. The proposed increases were outrageous, according to Codey and that both Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were going to say they would not allow the increases proposed, but would approve a smaller one.

According to Codey, there were meetings to set up the increase and then public meetings were scheduled at places and times where many people would not be able to attend. Codey said it’s disrespectful to the public and all along, the Port Authority, Christie and Cuomo knew the increases were rogue.

During his time as governor, Codey said that he did not witness any behavior similar to what is occurring currently. Christie has added more people into patron jobs than any other governor in modern history, according to Codey, and Christie had said it was a part of his reform agenda.

“We don’t need any new laws, we need people who are working for the public doing the right thing,” Codey said. “You can pass all the laws in the world. You cannot always stop corruption. This is horrible. He sent people over there who ran a political operation and not a governmental operation on behalf of the taxpayers of both states.”

As for the George Washington Bridge lane closures, Codey said that the governor still believes there was a traffic study being conducted at the bridge. According to Codey, had it been a traffic study, the Port Authority police wouldn’t have told motorists to call the mayor of Fort Lee.

Although there is no mention of the GWB lane closures or the Port Authority at Christie’s town hall meetings, Codey said that he hears people talk about the scandal in public arenas.

“Look at the poll numbers. He’s dropped 20 something points in just two months,” said Codey. “I mean that’s almost incredible. People are not trusting of the governor any more and that’s sad. I don’t like to see that as a former governor, but the reality is they’ve lost faith in the governor at this point and in the people he put in high power to do the right thing.”

When it comes to gambling in the state, Codey has talked about the possibility of casinos in North Jersey, specifically the Meadowlands. According to Codey, New Jersey is losing about $600 million worth of tax dollars because people don’t go to Atlantic City like they used to.

Atlantic City should get help reinventing itself, said Codey, but he added that location matters and that’s why people go to places like Yonkers Raceway or the Poconos. Codey said people find it easier to go to other locations than Atlantic City because it’s easier for them to get to.

Codey said that slot machines should be placed at the Meadowlands and then officials should proceed to develop a plan for casinos in North Jersey.