Gov. Chris Christie Calls Former Port Authority Chief Chris Ward ‘A Disaster’

TRENTON, NJ (WCBS 880) – As the Port Authority looks to get its fiscal house back in order, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had a few things to say about the agency’s old leadership.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney On The Story

“You heard me talking about, alluding to, the practices of the former executive director of the Port Authority – Chris Ward – was a disaster and this is another example of the secret deals he was making to reward his cronies,” said Christie on Wednesday. “It’s gonna stop and Gov. Cuomo and I are both absolutely committed to that. That’s why we ordered this full audit to be done.”

Christie has accused Ward of rewarding “cronies” by using toll money.

“I want every rock looked under,” said Christie.

He says this cronyism is a big reason he and Cuomo felt their hands were tied in having to allow September’s toll increase on the Hudson River crossings and fare hike on the PATH rail system.

“That makes me angrier about it. It should make the public even angrier about it,” said Christie. “Gov. Cuomo and I are going to fix it.”

The Port Authority’s new executive director, Patrick Foye, says the agency should have been more transparent about hundreds of thousands of dollars in yearly perks given to executives.

Ward is credited with being a key part of getting the 9/11 Memorial completed in time for the 10th anniversary.

Ward had also been considered a viable candidate for New York City mayor, but has already said he doesn’t see himself running.

What do you have to say about the Port Authority? Sound off in the comments section below!

  • Margaret Donovan

    Larry Silverstein couldn’t have said it better himself. Bernie Goetz is certainly right about the arrogant clique. The comments from Pataki and Whitehead are perfect examples of the pot calling the kettle black, but the quotes do not serve his position well… Just because the pot is black too doesn’t change the color of the kettle.

  • Bernie Goetz

    Silverstein was told what to build and where to build it, and it wasn’t twin towers. Here’s what happened:

    “Larry Silverstein has betrayed the public’s trust and that of all New Yorkers.”— George Pataki (NY governor)

    “We have the right to take over properties if they refuse to abide by our standards.”— John Whitehead (LMDC chairman)

    An arrogant clique decided what was going to built on the site and they weren’t going to let anyone stand in their way, including Larry Silverstein. Donald Trump argued, “Throw it all away.” But In time Chris Ward came into the picture and actually started building the nonsense that caused the recent toll increases. And its far from done yet.

  • Margaret Donovan

    Bernie Goetz makes some great points, but he is mistaken about Larry Silverstein. Mr. Silverstein is no less to blame than Gov. Pataki. Pataki had his political considerations and Silverstein his commercial considerations but they owed it to the nation and the world to foremost observe their civic responsibility.

    When Gov. Pataki went rogue at the start, Silverstein could have stepped up and insisted on being allowed to rebuild the Twin Towers, as a majority of Americans and many 9/11 families thought was most fitting.

    Mr. Silverstein has admitted that he received an overwhelming response from people around the world to do just that. Instead he chose to let the King of NY PR, Howard Rubenstein, practice his “strategic communications” on a site that belonged to the public in every sense of the word.

    Mr. Silverstein is no victim here. He is a virtual squatter on public property. He even took back his initial down payment from the insurance proceeds and has been paying his annual rent with money that he received to rebuild the Twin Towers. That is the basis upon which the policy was written, the policy on which he would have only paid one or two premiums.

    Paying his rent with that money, while insisting that the public keep kicking in, is hardly defensible behavior. The answer to how much non-insurance, non-publicly-backed or publicly-derived money is building the project the answer is zip. How many people know that? Why don’t they?

    And yet, when we met with Chris Ward in September, 2008, and Ken Gardner introduced him to the Twin Towers II plan, he buried a project that was not only what most people would have rejoiced to see adopted, but that would have at that point been built for billions of dollars less and completed years sooner.

    The malfeasance is staggering. The dirty little secret is the two stumps may well never be built any higher. And none of this swindle would have been possible if the media had asked the obvious questions, as they are paid to do, instead of leaving it to private citizens to pursue. Thanks for nothing…

    Margaret Donovan | The Twin Towers Alliance

  • Bernie Goetz

    Richard Hughes is right about most things. The 50% emergency toll increase is only because of the costs of the ridiculous and impractical plan at the WTC site. The GW bridge is not going to fall down tomorrow. To make Staten Island residents and NJ commuters pay for the WTC mess is immoral. I don’t think NY will get away with this. And most Manhattan residents don’t even know about the toll increases.

    I disagree with Richard about Larry Silverstein. About 7 years ago when Silverstein wouldn’t agree to build the ridiculous plans, Pataki went to the media saying Silverstein betrayed the public’s trust. Remember? Actually it was Pataki who betrayed the public’s trust. In response Silverstein now praises the plans to high heaven, but rigged things so the PA now pays for everything. He had to do that. Any sane builder would do the same. The plans were a product of ignorance, arrogance, and corruption. If they insist on bad plans, make them pay for it. And now of course nothing Silverstein says can be believed.

    The site doesn’t serve the public and is such a bad deal that the public would be better off if the PA got rid of the site and rescinded the toll increases.

  • Vernier Boocannon

    “Gov. Chris Christie Calls Former Port Authority Chief Chris Ward ‘A Disaster’” The P.A. of N.Y. & N.J. is a disaster from the top down, but Christie also is a disaster. I have to believe that someone had to tell Christie that the PA is a disaster as he’s not qualified to make that judgement on his own. His only area of knowledge is centered upon how to become morbidly obese and then how to maintain that condition. Fired dough anyone???

  • Richard Hughes

    Ward was only part of the problem. As Margaret Donovan and I of The Twin Towers Alliance have been saying for years, the Port Authority operates in such a state of secrecy that cronyism is inevitable. Our numerous Freedom of information requests to the PA have repeatedly been brushed aside. Their Open Meetings policy is a farce. Everything significant is done behind closed doors.

    They refuse to release any information pertaining to how Larry Silverstein was let out of his WTC lease agreement, which required him not only to rebuild the Twin Towers if they were destroyed, but also to clean up the site, all at his own expense. Instead, for reasons the PA has never revealed, Silverstein was let out of his contract and the public has been paying for something the majority of us didn’t want at Ground Zero to begin with and to the tune, so far, of $11 billion.

    Is it any wonder the PA had to raise the tolls an extortionary 50%? Meanwhile, as I pointed out in my comments to the commissioners at their board meeting on Tuesday, their misappropriation of funds has meant they have neglected their core mission.

    According to the figures made public for the years 2008-2010, the PA had capital expenditures of $3.85 billion for their core mission: maintenance and improvement of their bridges, tunnels, terminals, the PATH train system, the airports and the port. Meanwhile, they spent almost exactly the same amount –
    $3.833 billion – at the World Trade Center.

    They claim that this 50% increase is needed for repairs and capital improvements on their bridges and tunnels. But in the past three full years they spent only $500 million on those bridges and tunnels while the tolls from them were bringing in $3 billion. That means they took in $2.5 billion more than they spent. The excess wasn’t plowed back into those bridges and tunnels. It went to Ground Zero – the money pit of all money pits.

    And what makes the situation so ridiculous is the $11 billion of the public’s money that has been committed so far at Ground Zero never had to be spent in the first place if only Larry Silverstein had been held to the terms of his original lease agreement.

    Richard Hughes
    The Twin Towers Alliance

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