Christie's spokesperson admitted to the meeting though would not say what was discussed there.
Cuomo's spokesperson didn't return calls.
But given how the Port Authority reform bill sits on Cuomo's desk and must be either signed or vetoed by tomorrow night, you can bet the words "Port" and "Authority" came up a couple of times at the Cuomo/Christie meeting.
See, neither Cuomo nor Christie really want Port Authority reform (despite all four legislative houses in both states voting unanimously for the PA reform bill - 612-0!) and they're looking for a politically astute way to kill it.
Why don't either of these governors wants PA reform?
Well, that's an easy question to answer.
It's because the Port Authority is a cesspool of patronage, criminality and corruption - just the kind of place guys like Cuomo and Christie like.
Here's The Nation investigating some of that cesspool back in April:
When, in 2011, Governor Chris Christie did an end-run around Port Authority rules to siphon $1.8 billion in PA funds for pet projects in New Jersey, the New York side of the PA, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, went along. Why? As Christie Watch has learned, the New York PA officials had their own concerns—namely, getting the new World Trade Center built—and, worse, in the words of one former PA official, they didn’t want “to go to war with Christie.”
Read the rest - what you learn is that Christie killed a trans-Hudson tunnel New Jersey desperately needed so that he could steal the money from that project and use it for projects the bankrupt state transportation kitty was supposed to fund.
Two New York governors, Paterson and Cuomo, knew what Christie was doing was wrong, but neither wanted to do anything about it because they needed Christie to continue signing off on the insane gobs of money the World Trade Center complex was costing - especially the over-budget PATH transportation center.
The takeaway from this mess:
So with New York officials acquiescent, and the New Jersey governor determined to grab the ARC money to avoid tax increases, the use of the money for the Pulaski Skyway and related building went through. “The governors of either side don’t seem to have any qualms about committing Port Authority funds for their own purposes even though they may be non-Port Authority related,” says David Gallagher, a former executive at the PA. “But it’s not a regional piggy bank. It was intended to provide the transportation, business and commercial infrastructure to make the bi-state region grow.”
The Nation also reported the patronage that goes on at the PA, particularly from Christie's side of the Hudson:
Since 2010, Christie has installed dozens of cronies and favored operatives, including very high-level Christie insiders: David Samson, a real estate attorney, as chairman; Bill Baroni, now fired, a long-time Christie ally who was the PA’s deputy executive director; Philip Kwon, another key Christie ally is the agency’s deputy general counsel; and, of course, David Wildstein, Christie’s non-friend from Livingston High School, who was “director of interstate capital projects,” whatever that is.
Thanks to Bridgegate, most of those names are now well known not only in New Jersey but nationwide. What’s less well known is how Christie has used the PA to build his political machine, using its power to curry favor with a wide range of Democratic mayors, county officials and party bosses. In towns such as Hoboken, Harrison and many others, the PA is involved in or controls important development initiatives and transportation projects that are often entangled with cronies of the New Jersey governor and his friends.
Read the rest of that piece - some of what you'll learn is that Christie and Cuomo hit people with "massive" PA toll and PATH fare increases, then Christie stole the money for his own purposes:
The New Jersey legislative investigation may also finally bring to light the political dealings behind the enormous toll hikes the Port Authority enacted in September 2011, when fares on bridges and tunnels rose from $8 to $13. (They’re scheduled to go to $15 by 2015.) Usually such increases would only follow extensive public debate and discussions; instead, they were rushed through after only a single day of hearings that summer.
Linked to all this—and the committee is seeking documents on this, too—is Christie’s decision in 2010 to cancel the tunnel project. By then, the various agencies involved had already spent over $400 million on engineering property acquisition, construction and other expenses. New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Jon Corzine had broken ground on the project just before his defeat by Christie in 2009.
But a few months after Christie appointed Baroni to the PA, he and David Wildstein, who is at the heart of Bridgegate, looked for other ways to use the $2 billion in PA funds slated for the tunnel. Here’s what they came up with: to help Christie keep his promise not to raise gasoline taxes, they decided to use it to resupply the exhausted Transportation Trust Fund, which is usually replenished through the gas tax at the pump. In addition, they sloshed some of it to build a rail station in a town whose Democratic mayor later supported Christie for re-election. And it went for a new bridge project that won him the support of the powerful International Laborers Union at his first re-election campaign rally a year later.
The Nation also notes how the PA became a patronage mill for Christie:
The Bergen Record investigated who they were:
One was a gourmet food broker who landed work as an $85,000-a-year financial analyst at the Port Authority. Another got a $90,000 job to check maintenance contracts. An author and actor was hired as the employment publications editor—a three-day-a-week gig that pays $50,000 and provides full benefits.In an interview with The Nation, Jameson W. Doig, a professor at Dartmouth and author of Empire on the Hudson, a definitive history of the Port Authority, said that Christie’s appointments “show patronage at work.” He added: “Christie was willing to use his power as governor to insist that the Port Authority hire his friends and party workers, even if they were not qualified for the work they were expected to do.”
This is mob-like stuff Christie's engaging in - the creative accounting that allows him to steal millions meant for public projects and use the money for his own ends, the "no-show jobs" for his pals and cronies, the use of the PA to punish enemies (like when members of the Christie administration had traffic on the George Washington Bridge shut down for three days as political payback.)
You can see why Christie wouldn't want any of this stuff to end and why Cuomo might want to assuage his political pal until the WTC complex is finally completed and he doesn't have to worry about getting stuck with the bill.
And so, Cuomo and Christie met this week to talk over their Port Authority "problem" and figure out solutions.
Neither man completely trusts the other, so they picked a public place both know (which is why they were noticed by the press.)
Perdido Street School blog, via a commenter at NJ.com named Neilhow, has gotten exclusive video of Christie and Cuomo colluding over the Port Authority.
We have forwarded this tape to the proper authorities as well, the respective US attorneys offices in NY and NJ who are investigating these two criminals, but don't hold your breath that anything will happen to either of these two corrupt public officials.
About the best we can hope for is that these guys turn on each other and go to war publicly - something that could happen if this video of their lunch together means anything at all.
In any case, enjoy the video:
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