Officials Encourage Christie to Sign PA Reform Bills

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

Sen. Bob Gordon wants Gov. Chris Christie to sign the bills.

“he’s spoken about bringing transparency and accountability to New Jersey. This is yet another opportunity for him to do that. I think it’s an opportunity for him to put Bridgegate behind him and to have something positive come out of this whole episode,” Gordon said.

One bill subjects the Port Authority to New York and New Jersey Open Public Records laws.

The other would require Port Authority leaders to appear before legislative committees, require commissioners to recuse themselves from voting if they have a conflict of interest and change the way land deals are done.

The bills passed unanimously in Albany and Trenton. The cumulative vote on both bills — 612 to zero.

The Port Authority board met today and heard more support for the bills.

“There is no reason for either of them not to sign this. They were passed unanimously by the Senate and the Assembly in both New York and New Jersey,” said Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

Gov. Christie has until Dec. 28 to act.

His office won’t comment until then.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has 10 days from when he gets the bills, which is supposed to be any day now.

New Port Authority Chairman John Degnan says under him the PA has already implemented some of the proposed reforms.

“I have some concerns about the bill. I think in some ways it might restrict the PA in its ability to take certain actions. But I defer to the governors with respect to whether they intend to sign them,” Degnan said.

Other commissioners seem generally supportive.

“I support the bills. I think they’re a good effort to help us along in the things that we need to do, but that’s really the prerogative of the governors, so we’ll see what they do,” said Port Authority Commissioner William “Pat” Schuber.

“I think they should definitely consider signing them. Both legislatures passed the thing. Obviously there’s a reason why they did so,” said Commissioner George Laufenberg.

“I think they’re gonna give it a lot of consideration based on the fact that these are unanimous bills from both their legislative bodies in both states. And I am just gonna take a wild guess and say that they probably will,” said Commissioner Ray Pocino.

Meanwhile, former Port Authority Chairman David Samson is suing the state ethics commission for exceeding its jurisdiction in seeking documents from him, since he headed up a bi-state agency.

If Gov. Christie were to conditionally veto the Port Authority reform bills — as he did a similar bill two years ago — it would scuttle the entire effort. The New York legislature goes out of session at the end of this year, so getting a changed bill through in both capitals would have to start all over again.