The Bridge-gate scandal that forced the resignations of two of Gov. Chris Christie’s Port Authority appointees was the inevitable result of divided leadership, growing patronage, and increased gubernatorial meddling in the operations of the multibillion-dollar New York-New Jersey agency, transportation experts said yesterday.
In fact, Jameson W. Doig, who wrote the definitive history of the Port Authority, warned almost two years ago of the dangers inherent in the growing “politicization” of the bistate agency. He also cautioned against the transformation of its 12 commissioners into “obedient assistants to the governors, passively accepting patronage appointments and whatever actions fit a governor's short-term political needs.”
Doig said yesterday he was not surprised by the growing scandal that has enveloped the Port Authority, the mega-agency that oversees airports, bridges, tunnels, ports, the PATH light-rail system, and the World Trade Center in New York and New Jersey.
The scandal has already forced the resignations of Christie’s top two operatives at the Port Authority -- Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni and Interstate Projects Director David Wildstein. It has sparked a series of subpoenas and legislative hearings, and has been seized on by Democrats nationally to attack Christie, the GOP frontrunner for president in 2016.
Wildstein, a high school friend of Christie, created traffic havoc in Fort Lee for four days in September by closing two dedicated lanes heading into the George Washington Bridge for a phantom “traffic study.” He also ordered his subordinates not to inform the Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, who is an appointee of New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, or Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.
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