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Port Authority oversight bill falls to Christie veto: What happened?

portauthority031212_optBY GINA G. SCALA
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Shy five votes, state Senate Democrats failed again to overturn Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill increasing the lucidity of how the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey does business.

Democrats needed 27 supporters to win, but they scored only 22. The Democrats control the state Senate 24-16 and have not been successful in overturning any of Christie’s veto, the Star-Ledger of Newark reported.

Sen. Bob Gordon (D-38), who sponsored the bill, called his party’s failure and the Republicans reluctance to break party lines disappointing, adding, “This veto is nothing less than a hoax on hard-working, middle-class commuters.”

In July, Christie vetoed the PANYNJ Transparency and Accountability Act, S1761, following a 29-0 vote supporting the bill.

Gordon maintains Christie sees the bill as a threat to his power. Christie, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, oversees the organization together.

“Senator Gordon’s sudden awakening to the problems of the Port Authority has been absolutely remarkable. All those years when the problems grew at the Port Authority, he and his Democratic colleagues never made a peep, never lifted a finger,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said in a statement. “This bill was unnecessary, redundant and deeply partisan. If they had any interest in bringing real reform and transparency to these independent agencies, they wouldn't do it piecemeal or for partisan benefit; they would act on the governor's comprehensive reform proposal to expand this type of accountability to these types of authorities, boards and commissions collectively.”

Separately, an appellate court ruled Oct. 4 the agency was not included in the New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act in the case of a Vesselin Dittrich, a Hoboken man looking for records of the tickets and summonses issued by a Port Authority police officer who arrested him at a Hoboken PATH station in August 2010, the Star-Ledger reported.

"The definitions contained in OPRA do not suggest any intent on the part of the Legislature to extend its application to bi-state agencies," the ruling said.

Walter Luers, Dittrich’s attorney, noted “there’s no real transparency when the Port Authority is the only body that decides what documents you get to see.” He told the Star Ledger he was considering appealing to the state Superior Court.

 

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