More oversight sought for Port Authority of NY and NJ

| Monday, October 30, 2006

State lawmakers in New Jersey and New York said Oct. 24 that tighter oversight of the Port Authority is needed from the two states. The bi-state agency has a budget of nearly $5 billion a year.

Since its inception by Congress in 1921, the agency has not had to answer to lawmakers in either state. The agency, which is only subject to legislation approved in both states, built and operates many of the most heavily traveled bridges, tunnels, airports and seaports in the New York Harbor region.

New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Greenburgh, said he plans to introduce a bill to improve oversight from the states. A similar version also is being considered in New Jersey.

Brodsky's effort would create an independent inspector general's office to police Port Authority officers and employees. It also would create a budget office to review the financial activities of the agency.

The proposed inspector general would be jointly appointed by the governors of both states and would serve a five-year term.

A spokesman for the Port Authority said they support more scrutiny.

"We look forward to working with the governors and both state legislature's in accomplishing this," Port Authority spokesman Marc LaVorgna told The Star-Ledger.

In New Jersey, Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, is eyeing similar legislation that would make reforms go farther and be permanent.

"They spend a great deal of our money," she told the newspaper. "We would like to make sure all of their business is transparent and open."

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