Governor Christie has accepted the resignation of Bill Baroni as Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey


Governor Chris Christie announces Deborah Gramiccioni will be the new Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority at the Statehouse (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

Calling her "new leadership," Christie appointed Deborah Gramiccioni,  Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Cabinet Liaison as Baroni's his successor.

Baroni's resignation is effective today.

Christie  denied this move was in response to a brewing controversy involving a September traffic tie up of local traffic at the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee. He says this was a move he planned all along but made the announcement earlier since Baroni offered his resignation.

“The fact is that Senator Baroni said when he testified that a mistake was made. "They believe that the study needed to be done but they didn’t do it correctly within the protocols of the Port Authority,” Christie said. "“When mistakes are made, people have to be held accountable for them." The governor still has "great respect" for Baroni and continues to consider him a friend.

Democrats have been holding hearings into the closing that took place leading to the George Washington Bridge in September. Baroni said they were closed for a traffic study. Democrats claimed they were closed to punish a Democratic mayor for not endorsing the Republican governor's re-election campaign.

Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) in a statement says he is "glad to see Mr. Baroni agree with my suggestion that he resign" but says his investigation will continue. "We still don’t have an explanation as to what happened here. The resignations of Mr. Baroni and Mr. Wildstein – while welcome – do not put an end to the many outstanding questions. I expect the seven subpoenas I issued yesterday to be followed, and we will go from there once we review those documents.”

Wisniewski issued seven subpoenas Thursday to access documents and emails related to the unannounced lane closings that brought Fort Lee borough to a standstill for four days in September. Democrats suspect two local access lanes were diverted to punish Fort Lee's mayor for not endorsing Gov. Chris Christie for re-election.

Baroni was appointed  by Christie in February, 2010. He had previously served as a State Senator representing parts of Mercer and Middlesex counties.

 Not Out Of Control

Bill Baroni being appointed in February, 2010 to the post of Deputy Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Governor Photos/Tim Larsen)

Christie says the the Port Authority is not an "out of control agency."   "Does that mean they’re mistake free? No," answered Christie rhetorically and ticked off a number of projects undertaken by the agency and reforms he has brought.He said the Wall Street Journal story was "absolutely wrong" about his conversation with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) regarding the GWB controversy and cited a long standing policy to keep their talks private.



When asked about criticism from national Democrats over this matter, he called it part of a "new world...get used to it."

Christie echoed comments he made during the November Ask the Governor program and says that 3 lanes for one town is too much

Gramiccioni  previously served from June 2008 to January 2010 as the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice for the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Law and Public Safety, where she oversaw criminal investigations and prosecutions brought by the State of New Jersey.

DREAM Act, Tourism and the Super Bowl

Christie reaffirmed his support for the DREAM act but wants a "clean bill" to sign that does not include TAG (tuition aid grant/financial aid) equality.

He also is working on starting summer tourism advertising earlier than last year pointing out that the "Stronger than the Storm" campaign could not start until federal relief dollars were approved.


The Associated Press contributed to this report