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Editorial: Follow through on effort to clean up Port Authority

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo walk together before a wreath-laying ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan. (May 5, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Ten months after a political stunt by N.J. operatives at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey exploded into a scandal that revealed many layers of nefarious goings-on at the bi-state agency, the early promises of reform by Govs. Andrew M. Cuomo and Chris Christie have stalled.

A "Special Panel on the Future of the Port Authority" the governors created in May -- a time of intense scrutiny and demands for accountability by the agency -- buried the release of its interim report at the start of the July 4 weekend. To be fair, there was nothing newsworthy in the report, which really was big news. For the record, the panel is still studying the issues.

The governors had justified big-footing the authority's own special oversight panel, saying it would take the representatives from Albany and Trenton only 60 days to come up with a plan to refocus the agency on its core mission. Both men have enormous control over an authority flush with tolls and fees from some of the world's busiest bridges, tunnels and airports -- money best used to fund regional transportation infrastructure projects and commerce. Why would they want to cede some of that power to their state legislatures or career professionals insulated from their control?

Those types of checks and balances, however, could have stopped the questionable N.J. projects at the center of ongoing federal criminal investigations that began with the closing of access lanes on the Fort Lee side of the George Washington Bridge in September.

The report by the governors' panel is promised by the end of the year -- yet another holiday time to bury its findings. As a sign of good faith, John Degnan, the incoming authority chairman from New Jersey should support resumption of the oversight panel's quest to clean up the agency.


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