Monday, February 24, 2014

Christie pal David Samson is the wolf at the door

The Record says Port Authority Chairman David Samson "has faced scrutiny in the wake of the scandal involving the September lane closures at the George Washington Bridge," above, in what is being called Bridgegate for short.


The Record publishes a detailed story today on the boom in public lobbying and legal work at David Samson's law firm after Governor Christie named him to the powerful post of Port Authority chairman.

The Page 1 account goes over a lot of the same ground as earlier reporting by New Jersey Public Radio (WNYC-FM).

Samson is head of Wolff & Samson, the West Orange law firm whose clients have included some of the biggest corporate names in New Jersey, plus NJ Transit, PSE&G and South Jersey Gas.

Samson, a former state attorney general, also was legal counsel to Christie's 2009 campaign and led the GOP bully's transition team.

Political arm

Now, he is helping turn the bi-state patronage mill known as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey into a political arm of the Christie administration.

If closing two of three local-access lanes to the bridge was payback to Fort Lee's Democratic mayor, who didn't endorse Christie for reelection last year, the resulting gridlock sheds light on other administration decisions.

Middle-class commuters suffered when Christie killed the Hudson River rail tunnels, which would have been the biggest expansion of transit service in decades.

Christie grabbed leftover federal money held by NJ Transit and the Port Authority to repair roads in New Jersey, allowing him to keep his conservative pledge not to raise taxes, in this case the low gasoline tax.

Tolls and fees

And not only did Christie rubber-stamp huge toll hikes at the Port Authority's Hudson River crossings, he hasn't brought any pressure on the agency to expand its PATH commuter rail system or bus operations (A-11), despite increasing traffic congestion.

Expanding mass transit would ease traffic, but deny the Port Authority some of the crucial toll revenue that sustains the transportation behemoth, along with port and airport fees.

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