Trenton, NJ - 50 people Hired by Port Authority Have Ties to Christie
Trenton, NJ - A newspaper’s review of records shows the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has hired 50 people recommended by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration during the past two years.
The review by The Record (http://bit.ly/yGyQYS) found that those holding the jobs — which range from federal affairs director to toll collector — earn about $4 million overall in annual salaries. Those who spoke with the newspaper said they were qualified for the jobs they held.
The jobholders include the former vice chairman of the Passaic County Republican committee, the former director of the state Republican committee, and the son of former Republican Assembly Speaker Garabed “Chuck” Haytaian. Others who were hired included a gourmet food broker who became an $85,000-a-year financial analyst, while an author and actor was named employment publications editor — a three-day-a-week post that pays $50,000 and provides full benefits.
Port Authority officials defend the appointments, noting they’ve sharply reduced overall staffing levels and have reduced their payroll by $10.5 million over the past two years. They say the authority’s 6,800-person workforce is the smallest it has been in 40 years, and its operating budget has remained flat for several years.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak says personnel changes at the agency “are ordinary, customary and necessary” when new governors take office.
“They are also the prerogative of any new Port Authority administration as it imposes new priorities, vision and direction for the agency,” Drewniak said. “In that regard, we are extremely pleased to see the Port Authority continue to address the mismanagement that occurred under prior administrations.”
The Port Authority is a large and complex agency that spends billions each year to run the region’s airports, PATH trains, seaports and Hudson River crossings. The governors of New York and New Jersey select the 12-member board of commissioners as well as the agency’s top two executives, but they have no official authority to hire other agency employees.
The list of Christie administration referrals was provided by the Port Authority as part of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed in federal court in Newark. Hannah Shostack, an appointee of former Gov. Jon Corzine’s administration, claims she was pushed out for political reasons. In the suit, her lawyers requested a list of all Christie referrals that had been hired by the Port Authority.
According to the document, the job referrals began about four months after Christie took office. They continued even as the agency adopted a 50 percent toll increase to shore up its bottom line.
Eleven of the employees on the list donated to Christie’s gubernatorial campaign or had an immediate relative who did, campaign finance records show. Five came directly from Christie’s administration or worked on his campaign, not including former state Attorney General Paula Dow, who was recently appointed and is not on the list. Others have ties to Christie’s two top appointees at the agency, Board of Commissioners Chairman David Samson, who is not paid, and Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni.
Shostack’s lawyers did not seek the names of Port Authority jobholders referred by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Several senior officials at the agency said the total number of hires referred by Cuomo’s administration was measurably lower, although he has been in office one year less than Christie.
More of today's headlines“Paris, France - To all who knew him, he was the most devoted, benevolent doctor in Nazi-occupied Paris. Dr Marcel Petiot provided free care for the poor and risked his...” France - New Documents from The Butcher of Paris Who Mutilated Jews at Wartime “Albany, NY - Assembly Democrats Monday will propose a hike in the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, the Daily News has learned. The plan also will include a provision...” Albany, NY - Assembly Dems To Push $8.50 Minimum Wage