Yesterday I wondered aloud just what they might have been colluding over as they broke bread.
Today the NY Times reports it may have been the Port Authority reform bill that was passed by all four houses of the legislatures in both states - 612-0 - that neither Cuomo nor Christie want to sign into law:
ALBANY — On its surface, the bill known here as A3944C — less of a mouthful than the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Transparency and Accountability Act of 2014 — would seem to be a slam-dunk.It was intended to overhaul operations at the Port Authority, even as prosecutors continue to investigate last year’s politically motivated lane closings at the George Washington Bridge and other allegations of misconduct. Identical versions of the legislation were unanimously approved by all four houses of the New York and New Jersey State Legislatures. Newspaper editorial boards spanning the ideological spectrum and on both sides of the Hudson River have pressed for it to be signed into law.Yet the later the hour grows for the bill’s approval by the two governors, the more skittish its sponsors are growing about its chances of becoming law.Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo faces the first deadline: He has until Saturday night at midnight to decide on the New York bill. If he approves it, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey will face heightened pressure to do the same; his deadline is in mid-January. But because the authority is a creation of the two states, approval of the legislation by only one state would have the same effect as its rejection by both.Supporters of the bill say they now fear that the governors will reject the bill because it would erode the control they share evenly over everything the Port Authority does — whether running airports and bridges, hiring politically connected officials or awarding billion-dollar contracts to benefit political allies.
The Times reports that Cuomo is likely to be the governor to take first action to put the shiv into Port Authority reform - and he'll use another one of his jive panels to do it:
Backers of the legislation say they fear a pre-emptive strike on the New York side of the river.
In early May, Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Christie formed a special panel on the Port Authority’s future.Were that panel to release findings before Saturday, the theory goes, it could give Mr. Cuomo a rationale for vetoing the legislation, which in turn would spare Mr. Christie the decision.
Cuomo's done this kind of thing before - he just used the release of APPR teacher evaluation system results as the rationale for why he's not signing the Common Core "shield bill" into law.
This was a bill that he called for back in the spring, but some teachers were skeptical it was anything other than a pre-election political maneuver.
Last year, NYSED released evaluation ratings in October, but for some reason this year there was a delay on the ratings release until the end of the calendar year, when the "shield bill" had to be either signed into law or vetoed.
The APPR evaluation results - with few teachers statewide found "ineffective" - gave Cuomo the excuse he needed to not sign the bill - something Jessica Bakeman reported he may have always wanted in the first place.
He also used his Common Core panel as an excuse for why the NY legislature did not need to address parent concerns over testing and Common Core - he claimed his CCSS panel was going to handle the issue.
This was the panel, btw, that panel member/teacher Todd Hathaway said was rigged from the outset for a particular finding that Cuomo wanted - just like his public corruption and LIPA panels were rigged.
So let's not be surprised if the Port Authority special panel that Cuomo and Christie set up issues a Christmas Week report that Cuomo and Christie want issued this week that gives Cuomo the excuse to help himself and his buddy, Chris Christie, out on PA reform.
Cuomo doesn't want to sign this reform bill into law, he knows Christie doesn't want it either, and they may be choosing Christmas week to kill it, a time when many people are not paying attention to the news.
I'll have more on this later, because from an education perspective, one of the best things that can happen here is for Cuomo to veto the bill.
While I want Port Authority reform and think it's much needed (I'm a daily PATH rider), if Cuomo puts the political shiv in PA reform after politicians in both NY and NJ voted for it 612-0, it's going to start the year off with the narrative frame that "Reformer Cuomo" talks a good game about reform but doesn't really want any except for the kind that enlarges his own power.
If he vetoes the PA reform bill, it will also put him on the defensive at the start of the legislative session just as he is set to argue that large-scale reform for the education system is needed.
It will also undo some of the goodwill he's engendered from liberals over his ban on fracking in New York.
One thing I know - we want him on the defensive as he starts the legislative season out, that's for sure.
He would be a fool to veto something that passed both state legislatures 612-0 without some political cover for himself, so if this thing plays out the way Times games it may, with Cuomo using the panel as excuse to kill the PA reform bill, we'll have to make sure that cover ends up in tatters.
At any rate, in just two days, we'll know what they're planning on doing.
We know Cuomo and Christie have colluded before over the Port Authority - the Bergen Record reported that they hatched a secret plan to raise Port Authority tolls and PATH fares while shielding themselves from the decision - so you can bet the lunch in Carlstadt this week between these two wasn't just a social call.