The Real Deal New York

New role gives Cuomo more influence over Port Authority

Critics say new inspector general's office is a power grab
April 11, 2017 09:30AM

The George Washington Bridge, One World Trade Center and Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York State’s latest budget potentially gives Gov. Andrew Cuomo a bit more command over the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The budget creates the “office of the inspector general of New York for transportation,” whose boss would be the governor, Politico reported. Critics of the governor, who have accused him of jockeying for more control over the bistate agency, see this position as another power grab.

Port Authority Chairman John Degnan, appointed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, noted that the governor largely stayed out of the Bridgegate scandal. The prosecutorial power of the inspector general, Degnan said, is another way to intimidate officials at the Port to agree with the governor.

“There’s incredible irony,” he told Politico. “This is a governor who never spoke about corruption at the Port Authority … until he was frustrated by the Port Authority in its refusal to submit to his demands.”

A spokesperson for Cuomo said the new position is aimed at monitoring agencies that oversee major infrastructure projects.

“Fighting corruption and rooting out wrongdoing shouldn’t be controversial — unless, of course, someone is only interested in continuing the status quo,” the spokesperson said.

There’s been talk that the bi-state agency could sell some of its non-core real estate holdings, such as the Red Hook terminal site.  [Politico]Kathryn Brenzel