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Cuomo, Christie appoint panel to look into Port Authority management after ‘some traffic problems’ at GWB

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in Trenton, N.J.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in Trenton, N.J. on April 29, 2014. Christie and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, appointed a panel to evaluate the operations and management of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Photo Credit: AP / Mel Evans

ALBANY -- Govs. Andrew M. Cuomo and Chris Christie on Tuesday appointed a panel to evaluate the operations and management of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in part as a response to the intentional traffic snarls of last fall at the George Washington Bridge.

The panel will look into the authority controlled by appointees of both governors as the New Jersey Legislature investigates the incident last fall in Fort Lee, N.J. The scandal has ensnared Christie’s administration, which is accused of ordering lane closures as political payback against the mayor of Fort Lee.

The governors’ panel is made of insiders, two authority commissioners and each governor’s top counsel who reports directly to the governor.

“Recent events relating to the George Washington Bridge have raised questions regarding management and governance that must be analyzed and addressed,” states the announcement by Cuomo and Christie. “The accompanying legal issues must be fully researched considering the laws of both states, as well as federal legislation and the laws governing the financial structure of the port.”

The order calls for the panel to meet “as soon as reasonably possible” and report to the governors in 60 days with recommendations. The order says the review is “appropriate” because this year is the Port Authority’s 100th anniversary.

The New Jersey Legislature continues to investigate the role of officials in both states. Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye was appointed by Cuomo. In September, Foye had written an email after he found out about the traffic problems created when lanes were intentionally closed: “I believe this hasty and ill-advised decision violates federal law and the laws of both states.”

On Tuesday, a former aide to Christie told New Jersey legislators she had no knowledge of any political payback scheme at the George Washington Bridge, according to The Associated Press. The former aide, Christina Renna, resigned in February and Christie had fired his chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, who was wrote in an email, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

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