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Panel updates PANYNJ findings, reforms

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A panel commissioned by Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to recommend reforms at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey released a status report Thursday that called recent events at the agency “unacceptable failures.”

George Washington Bridge
The George Washington Bridge, connecting New Jersey and New York, is operated jointly through the Port Authority. (John Moore, Getty Images

The report’s release came 60 days after the two governors formed the panel to look at the agency in the wake of recent turmoil. The Port Authority is the subject of a criminal probe over politically-motivated lane closures last fall at the George Washington Bridge last fall and an SEC investigation into the $1 billion Pulaski Bridge renovation.

The recent events show the Port Authority “lacks an effective culture of compliance and accountability,” the report states.

Representing New Jersey on the panel are John Degnan, recently nominated by Christie to be Port Authority chairman; current Port Authority commissioner Richard Bagger and Christopher Porrino, the governor’s counsel. Representing New York are current Port Authority vice chairman Scott Rechler and Cuomo counsel Mylan Denerstein. A third New York member was expected to be named after the initial announcement in May but has not been selected.

The report praises reform efforts already underway, but says it will look at significant changes including how top leadership positions are filled. Currently the Port Authority’s chairman and deputy executive director are nominated by New Jersey’s governor and the executive director and vice chairman are nominated by New York’s governor.

The structure “often encourages the split of the organization into competing regional interests and the creation of fractured lines of authority within the agency,” the report concludes.

The panel also will look at whether some of the Port Authority’s assets and operations should be shifted to the control of either state.

The review is expected to be completed within six months.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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