March 21, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Jersey City, NJ—At Wednesday’s Port Authority Board of Commissioners meeting here the public and some New Jersey officials joined the chorus of organizations and editorial boards calling for the PA’s chairman, David Samson, to resign. Video
Meeting in New Jersey for just the second time in over 10 years, the board convened to publicly review, discuss and vote on a number of items. One of them was the NJ Transit parking lot deal in North Bergen, which Samson voted on to reduce the transit agency’s lease from over $900,000 to $1 a year in 2012 when the agency was a client of his private law firm.
But before the board could discuss the day’s agenda, Samson excused himself from the meeting, explaining he was recusing himself from the items up for discussion, even the issue of raising wages at Port Authority-owned airports.
“When this issue first arose a couple of months ago, I formally recused myself from and have not participated in any consideration or discussion of this issue,” said Samson. “In light of the subject of today’s public comments and the possibility of responses by some commissioners on this issue, given my recusal, I will now excuse myself [from the meeting].”
The board’s Vice Chairman Scott H. Rechler then chaired the meeting. But members of the public still expressed their wishes for Samson to resign as the Port Authority chairman.
Sandra Dock, a Newark resident, who has advocated for the Port Authority to hold more board meetings in New Jersey, called for Mr. Samson’s resignation.
“Tell Mr. Samson his Goliath is here. He needs to resign. Would he allow, if he were attorney general, somebody else to give NJ Transit, instead of paying $900,000 for a lot and now only pay a $1?” said Dock.
Following Dock, Bergen County Freeholder, James Tedesco, also called for Samson’s resignation.
“Mr. Foye questions the ability of Mr. Samson to run this agency. Most of the major New Jersey newspapers have called for Mr. Samson to resign. The Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders have taken action to ask the same thing,” said Tedesco.
He also proposed a solution to the Port Authority to mend relations with commuters.
“Today I propose to you a Host Community Bill of Rights which will allow the Port Authority and host communities to work together in overcoming the bad blood that exists today between the Port Authority and those communities,” said Tedesco.
In February, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, Newark-based The Star-Ledger, editorialized on February 20 for Samson’s resignation.
The Record, the paper first to report that lane closures on the George Washington Bridge might have been for a purpose other than a traffic study, also called for Samson’s resignation.
And New York’s hometown paper, the Daily News, criticized Samson for too many conflicts of interest as chairman and therefore no longer capable of leading the authority’s board.
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