Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Assembly Transportation Panel Authorizes Use of Subpoena Power to Compel Testimony from Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Panel Seeks Information on Bi-State Agency’s Troubled Finances
(TRENTON) – The Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee on Wednesday adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance of subpoenas in order to further the committee’s investigation into the finances of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority).
Wednesday’s action by the committee is the latest in its ongoing effort to seek information and clarification of the bi-state agency’s finances and expenditures. The General Assembly voted in March to grant the Transportation Committee subpoena power over the Port Authority, following months of bad press for the agency, two scathing audits of its practices and discrepancies in its explanation of how the additional revenue from the recent series of toll hikes would be expended.
“For months, the Port Authority has ignored or refused our repeated requests for information explaining their finances,” said Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski, chairman of the Assembly transportation panel. “Yesterday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report that all but stated Gov. Christie killed the planned ARC rail tunnel under the Hudson River for political purposes. The Port Authority portion of that project was to have been $3 billion. Where did that money go? Were toll hikes necessary after this project was canceled? With the subpoena power granted this committee, maybe we can finally get some answers.”
The bill granting subpoena powers was sponsored by Wisniewski, Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Linda Stender (D-Union) and Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. (D-Hudson).
“This is a multi-billion dollar agency that has quite simply forgotten that it exists to serve the motoring public, not the narrow interests of some of its executives and employees,” said Stender, the Transportation Committee’s vice chair. “We are asking for some simple answers to some troubling questions and since the Port Authority has failed to provide them, we now have the ability to demand them.”
“We have given the Port Authority every opportunity to come before this committee or provide us with the documentation needed to explain their side of things,” said Ramos. “In every instance they have flatly refused, or simply ignored, our requests. So, we are left with no choice now but to compel their cooperation.”
“North Jersey commuters who work in New York will be soon be facing 50 percent toll hikes on all the major thoroughfares,” said Vainieri Huttle. “And for what? We don’t know and, until now, the Port Authority has refused to tell us. Being able to subpoena information from the Port Authority will help ensure that our toll dollars are being spent appropriately.”