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Samson Out, Christie Endorses PA Overhaul

Gov. Chris Christie surprised a Friday afternoon press conference by announcing the resignation of David Samson as chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and endorsing recommendations for structural changes in the PA.

The on-ramps to the George Washington Bridge
The on-ramps to the George Washington Bridge, administered by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, shown here on January 9, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Burton / Getty Images)

The report of the Christie Administration’s internal probe into Bridgegate, released Thursday, includes a recommendation that a bi-state commission be created to consider greater transparency and other reforms at the Port Authority.

The scandal created by last September’s unannounced lane closings at the George Washington Bridge has drawn greater scrutiny of the PA and also resulted in the resignations last December of Christie appointees Bill Baroni and David Wildstein.

Read the full report

“I agree with the main thrust of the report and the need for fundamental structural change at the Port Authority,” Christie said.  “I’m particularly intrigued by the idea of dismantling the Port Authority operations from under one roof to two.”

The internal report, prepared by the law firm Christie’s office hired to investigate Bridgegate, cites the dysfunction at the Port Authority, and called for drastic reforms.

“As the George Washington Bridge incident demonstrates, divisions between the Port Authority’s New Jersey and New York counterparts have historically resulted in communication failures, rivalries, and duplication,” the report states. “This Bi-State Commission should address whether there should be a fundamental restructuring of the Port Authority, either by recognizing separate New York and New Jersey divisions going forward, to permit each State to have primary responsibility for completing projects within their jurisdictions, or otherwise reorganizing to ensure independence and professionalism.”

Christie had nothing but praise for Samson Friday, saying the PA chairman assured him in January that he had no knowledge of the GWB lane closings and that he had indicated a desire to step down from the Port Authority during last year’s election campaign. “He’s 74 years old and he’s tired,” Christie said. “That’s what he told me.”

The governor also defended Samson’s handling of the relationships he and his law firm, Wolff & Samson, have with entities doing business with the Port Authority. “I have every confidence in David’s integrity,” he said. The relationships have been widely criticized as posing multiple conflicts of interest.

 

 

Christie also announced the resignation of Port Authority chairman Sampson, “effective immediately” and also said he agreed with the internal report’s recommendations for change at the Port Authority, including “dismantling” the current shared operation with New York in favor of a complete reorganization. However, he said he has not yet discussed the possibility with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The governor said Samson first raised the possibility of resignation during his re-election campaign last fall. “He’s 74 years old and he’s tired. That’s what he told me.”

Christie said he discussed the Bridgegate matter with Samson on Jan. 8 and was told the PA chairman knew nothing about the lane closings. He also defended Samson’s handling of the relationships he and his law firm, Wolff & Samson, have with entities doing business with the Port Authority. “I have every confidence in David’s integrity,” he said. The relationships have been widely criticized as potential conflicts of interest.

Samson issued a statement confirming the resignation. “Over the past months, I have shared with the Governor my desire to conclude my service to PANYNJ. The timing is now right, and I am confident that the Governor will put new leadership in place to address the many challenges ahead.”

Read More: Gov. Christie Announces Samson PA Resignation | http://nj1015.com/watch-gov-christie-holds-news-conference/?trackback=tsmclip

 

Read More: Gov. Christie Announces Samson PA Resignation | http://nj1015.com/watch-gov-christie-holds-news-conference/?trackback=tsmclip

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