Govs demand accountability from Port Authority

Govs demand accountability from Port Authority
June 16, 2007, Star Ledger

The governors of New Jersey and New York are demanding the Port Authority conduct its multi-billion dollar transportation operations in a far more open and ethical fashion, adhering to accountability rules that long have applied to other public agencies.

Jon Corzine and Eliot Spitzer want the bi-state agency to change some of its ways, after decades of being allowed to conduct most of its business behind closed doors with minimal oversight.

"Public confidence in government rests on governing bodies and officials conducting their affairs in a way that is fair, transparent, efficient and ethical,'' Corzine and Spitzer wrote in a letter being sent to the agency's board of commissioners that was provided to the press.

Among the governors' requests are: an annual audit of the Port Authority's accounting procedures by an outside firm; an open meetings policy consistent with those required of other agencies in each state; strengthening of procedures involving contract awards; and greater disclosure of outside business dealings by the agency's commissioners.

The letter from the governors follows an October report by The Star-Ledger, outlining a series of major financial and policy decisions the Port Authority took without public disclosure over the past decade.

Those secretive actions included the December 2005 authorization of $1.1 billion for a company to oversee construction of Ground Zero's permanent PATH hub, as well as the hiring of the agency's own retired executives for six-figure consultant deals, the award of 22-percent pay hikes and payment for a $300,000 party.

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