Legislature Acts to Make Port Authority More Transparent, Accountable

November 13, 2014
George Washington Bridge

The ACLU of New Jersey applauded the Legislature’s overwhelming approval of two key measures that will strengthen transparency and accountability within the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and urged Governor Christie to sign the bills that will move the PANYNJ’s work out of the shadows and into the sunlight.

New York lawmakers have already passed identical legislation, as is required for the bi-state agency.

The legislation (A3350/S2183 and A3417/S2181) would require the PANYNJ to abide by New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), as well as New York’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).  The lack of transparency within the agency was highlighted last year during investigations of a three-day shut-down of local lanes at the George Washington Bridge, which became known as “Bridgegate” in newspaper headlines.

 “The lack of transparency at the PANYNJ has been a concern to New Jersey citizens well before the lane closure incident,” said ACLU-NJ Legal Director Ed Barocas, testifying in support of the bills. “The legislation represents positive steps toward addressing this significant and long-standing concern.”

“The only thing now that stands between the status quo and these new public accountability measures at the PANYNJ are the signatures of Governors Christie and Cuomo,” `said Ari Rosmarin, Public Policy Director at the ACLU-NJ

“However, the work to reform this troubled agency is not done,” Rosmarin added.  “The legislative changes will fall short of their aim without follow-up legislation that creates stronger  enforcement mechanisms. The ACLU-NJ looks forward to working with lawmakers in both parties to make sure that these reforms gain the teeth they need to be a genuine check on the agency.”

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