Lawmakers May Subpoena Port Authority, Seek Answers About Finances
Assembly panel to consider subpoenaing agency officials and financial records.
New Jersey lawmakers will consider issuing subpoenas to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which they called “troubled,” at a meeting next week, the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee announced Thursday.
The committee, which is chaired by Deputy Assembly Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-19) is considering a resolution to issue subpoenas to the agency requiring Port Authority officials to appear before the committee and produce books, papers, emails and other documents detailing the agency’s finances.
The Assembly voted in March to grant the panel subpoena power over the Port Authority, according to lawmakers.
“This step was made necessary by the Port Authority’s hubris and abject failure to respond to basic questions about its operations,” Wisniewski said in a statement. “The Port Authority has blatantly shirked oversight and clearly forgotten it exists to serve the public.”
Wisniewski also contends the agency has “hidden information” about its toll hikes last year, wasted money on overtime, engaged in cronyism, failed to respond to requests for public records and declined invitations to hearings.
“It’s time for the committee to consider how best to get straight answers for the benefit of toll payers,” Wisniewski said.
The bill, which is sponsored by Wisniewski and fellow Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37), Linda Stender (D-22) and Ruben Ramos, Jr. (D-33), was “prompted by scathing reports and questionable decisions by the Port Authority during recent months,” the committee said.
In March, Bergen County Democratic legislators, including Huttle, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) and Sen. Bob Gordon (D-38), were in Fort Lee calling for “swift passage” of legislation that would require greater accountability and transparency on the part of the Port Authority.
Wisniewski joined them against the backdrop of the upper level tollbooths of the George Washington Bridge, saying commuters shouldn’t have to suffer for the agency’s “lack of oversight, insufficient cost controls and poor capital planning.”
“If the Port Authority is not willing to take control of their finances, somebody must,” Wisniewski said at the time.
The Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee meeting is Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 10 a.m. in Committee Room 11 on the fourth floor of the State House Annex in Trenton.