TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Another New Jersey board member on the Port Authority has resigned.
A Port Authority spokesman has confirmed that Anthony Sartor submitted his resignation Monday. That comes less than three weeks after the resignation of board Chairman David Samson, and it leaves New Jersey with four board members at the bistate agency. Both men were appointed by New Jersey governors to the bistate agency, which splits its board and executive positions between the two states.
In his letter to the Port Authority, Sartor said he was retiring after 15 years. He has been under fire for numerous apparent connections between his engineering firm and Port Authority contractors. Sartor is CEO of Paulus, Sokolowski & Sartor, an engineering and environmental consulting firm.
The Asbury Park Press, which first reported on Sartor’s resignation, found that the board member recused himself from 36 out of 85 motions in the past year because of potential conflicts of interest, the most of any commissioner. His resignation letter doesn’t mention any of the recent controversies.
Sartor, who was reappointed in 2008 chaired the World Trade Center redevelopment subcommittee, among other duties.
His departure means New Jersey will now have to fill two positions, likely by this month’s board meeting at which members are re-elected.
Gov. Chris Christie’s office didn’t return a message seeking comment Monday.
The Port Authority has come under scrutiny from state and federal authorities in the wake of a scandal over lane closings at the George Washington Bridge last fall that were orchestrated by a Port Authority official.
Gov. Chris Christie announced March 28 that Samson was resigning. Several published reports in recent months suggested that businesses represented by Samson’s law firm may have benefited from Port Authority actions.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, said Monday it was time to rethink Port Authority appointments.
“It’s obvious that the Port Authority needs to be depoliticized,” Lesniak told WCBS 880. “It’s done the bidding of the governors of both states, many times to the detriment of the public.”
Lesniak said he is asking that one of New Jersey’s vacancies be filled with someone from a public interest group, preferably AAA.
“It’s an organization that represents over 600,000 motorists in the state,” he said. “And if we have someone on the board with the eyes and ears of the public, instead of eyes and ears of the governor, we wouldn’t have the shenanigans we’ve seen with the fake toll increases and with the bridge closings. It’s a reform that’s time to come.
Adding to the agency’s potential problems, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has reportedly began investigating the relationship between Christie’s administration and the Port Authority.
Vance’s office has issued a subpoena for documents related to several projects, including the rebuilding of the World Trade Center and nearly $2 billion in road construction contracts, according to reports. The Pulaski Skyway, which is undergoing a two-year rehabilitation, is among the projects being scrutinized.
The DA’s office is particularly interested in the voting records of Christie-appointed Port Authority commissioners and potential conflicts of interest, sources said.
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