PA 101 for Phil Murphy
We will rack up it to a beginner’s mistake: Newbie New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wants to bring back from the dead the Port Authority’s DED, the agency’s deputy executive director. And in the process restore one of the worst pieces of a terribly dysfunctional bistate bureaucracy.
Since Murphy was just wrapping up his time as U.S. ambassador to Germany when Bridgegate exploded in fall 2013, he may need a refresher course on how incredibly bad an idea the DED is.
The job, a separate fief for Jersey-only interests within the PA, was most infamously held by Bill Baroni, soon to begin his two-year sentence in federal prison for Bridgegate.
The mastermind of Bridgegate, where Chris Christie’s henchmen closed lanes on the GWB for political retribution, was David Wildstein. His Port title was: Director, Interagency Capital Projects, Office of the Deputy Executive Director. The DED duo also concocted a fake huge toll and fare hike scare to make Christie look heroic.
After the Bridgegate crime was exposed by Executive Director Pat Foye, the bistate consensus was to abolish the DED as part of a set of reforms. That was until the Jersey Legislature killed the package, including having a single CEO.
Wildstein, who pled to two counts of conspiracy, was sentenced to three years’ probation, among other punishment. Apparently his probation officer lets him run a political blog, where he broke the news of Murphy’s move.
Gov. Cuomo is justifiably shocked and is refusing to go along, as the DED is appointed by the PA board with Albany’s consent. Cuomo cannot back down and should push for the single CEO.
Murphy can have plenty of say at the Port without the DED. It’s great, for instance, that Murphy is getting the board to raise the minimum wage at Newark Airport to that of LaGuardia and JFK.
He must next force the Port to install cashless tolling, which will help Jersey drivers more than anyone. And fill the vacancy of ousted board member Caren Turner, who tried to fix a traffic stop.
After the Port’s top cop — a Jersey guy — gave a police escort for Rush Limbaugh, he was canned.
Turner instantly vanished off the PA’s website; the fired cop hasn’t yet. Murphy can fix that, too.