Cuomo and Christie Veto Port Authority Reform Bill. But Is It Permanent?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


I’m as distant from the politics of New York and New Jersey as it’s possible to get, but I’m puzzled about today’s news that the governors of both states have vetoed legislation that would have reformed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Here’s a typical piece from the New York Daily News:

Rather than sign the bill supporters say would have opened the bi-state agency to much needed transparency and accountability, the two governors crossed party lines to announce they would push a reform package recommended Saturday by a panel they had created earlier this year.

….The bill’s Assembly sponsor James Brennan (D-Brooklyn) and other critics argued there was no justification for the veto of legislation passed unanimously by the legislatures in both states.

Some, like former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat who in 2009 sponsored a public authorities reform bill that did not cover the Port Authority, suggested Cuomo, a Democrat, and Christie, a Republican, were more interested in protecting their own power than actually reforming the agency. “It’s shameful,” Brodsky said. “They ripped the heart out of real reform in order to maintain their control and power.”

….New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said the vetoes were a slap in the face to commuters who “rightly expected more from the governors after the revelations at the Port Authority over the last year.”…Cuomo and Christie say the reforms they are recommending embrace “the spirit and intent” of the legislation….But critics suggest the recommendations were meant as a smokescreen to distract from the vetoes. “Power trumped good government,” Brodsky said.

Wait a second. The bills were passed unanimously in both legislatures. It should be a snap to override the vetoes, right? And yet, none of the stories I read so much as mentioned the possibility. The best I could find was the last sentence of an AP dispatch:

New Jersey Sen. Loretta Weinberg said the decision was a “cop-out,” and Assemblyman John Wisniewski said he’s disappointed the bill didn’t become law…..Both Weinberg and Wisniewski predicted that overturning a veto would be difficult.

Can someone fill me in on the inner workings of New York and New Jersey politics? Do legislators’ loyalties to their governors really carry that much weight? I mean, everyone knew Cuomo and Christie were opposed to the bill from the start. So if the legislatures passed it unanimously to begin with, why can’t they now muster a two-thirds vote to override? What am I missing here?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest