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N.J. should not pay fat Port Authority salaries

hayneMichael080311_optBY MICHAEL HAYNE
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY

It was just two months ago when Governor Christie dismissed the public outcry—including his own—and agreed to the Port Authority’s massive $1 billion toll and train fare hike. But an examination of salary and overtime records for 2010 and 2009 obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request showed that the authority, which increased tolls and PATH train fares this fall, spent $5 million more on salaries in 2010 than it did in 2009.

Wait, so in a time when school teachers are so greedy that they are taking on ever-so glamorous summer jobs such as baby-sitting and cleaning houses, a Port Authority police lieutenant made an obscene $236,564 and Christie castigates teachers for the states budget woes during an economic recession? Unless the Port Authority police attendant performs open-heart surgery on motorists, he’s lucky if he’s making $15 an hour.

Despite the fact that the Port Authority gutted a plethora of jobs (IE, lowly peasants who can’t manipulate the system to their own financial gain), three Port Authority police lieutenants and four sergeants out earned Superintendent of Police Michael Fedorko’s $215,098 because of overtime pay, according to Port Authority salary records. Could this be another instance of shared sacrifice for certain people (IE, lowly public workers and teachers)?

Well, representatives of motorist groups were naturally outraged by the salary increases in the face of approved bridge and tunnel toll hikes and PATH fare increases.

“In the midst of their crying poor mouth and having to implement toll hikes, we see a rise in salaries. It’s incongruous,” said Robert Sinclair Jr, spokesman for the AAA New York clubs, which filed suit in federal court with the AAA clubs of North Jersey to have the toll increases overturned. “They’re supposed to be watching the purse strings and they’re in the midst of socking it to drivers and rewarding themselves.”

Bloated Public Sector executives misappropriating tax dollars for their own selfish greed? Wow, who would’ve thought? I’m beginning to think the only difference between these people and the actors from the Sopranos was that the actors from the Sopranos were good looking.

It seems the bi-state AAA clubs will have tier chance to overturn the toll hikes in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday.

Even driver advocates weighed in on the grossly unacceptable salary increases and overtime costs coming as motorists struggle with the economic downturn and paying higher tolls.


“It is the motorists who are hardest hit from the economy, and the (toll) increase only adds to that burden,” said Tracy Noble, spokeswoman for AAA MidAtlantic. “When Port Authority salary data is brought to light, it is a proverbial slap in the face to the motorists and truckers who are already struggling to pay these increased costs, but do not see the benefit of necessary infrastructure improvements.”

The outrageous salaries come amid a budgetary review ordered by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the wake of the toll hikes in August. According to Christie spokesman Micheal Drewniak, Christie ordered an audit of the bi-state agency’s 10-year-capital plan and to review its management and operations to cut fat as part of the toll hike deal. As of right now, it looks like a classic example of greedy and corrupt high-ranking officials lining their own pockets with taxpayer funds. Hopefully Christie will become Boss Hog and shout down these greedy high-ranking bureaucrats on YouTube like he does with school teachers.

Michael Hayne is a comedian/VO artist/Columnist extraordinaire, who co-wrote an award-nominated comedy, wrote for NY Times Laugh Lines, guest-blogged for Joe Biden, and writes a column for MSNBC.com affiliated Cagle. Follow him (or yell) on Twitter and Facebook.

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Comments (1)
1 Wednesday, 30 November 2011 09:53
Joe Schmo in the Know
The PA doesn't get any tax revenue, so it's not taxpayer money. More like, toll payers money. Christie also has no control over how PA money is spent since it's a bi-state agency.

Also, most of these "greedy and corrupt officials" that are grossly overpaid are UNION employees (many of them PA cops). I'm not sure how any politician can decide to reduce "homeland security" spending without being run out of office, which is what they must do to "cut the fat" (aka overtime pay). Say anything bad about the labor unions (except the teachers of course), and they also get run outta town.

Also, if you're truly upset with toll hikes, start carpooling or using mass transit. Hey, it's good for your wallet, and the environment!

P.S. The PATH is still sucking millions out of the PA coffers each year even with the fare increase. For the PATH to recover all operating costs from fares, the price would need to be hiked to about $6.

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