Port Authority CEO Search Comes Up Empty

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The search for a CEO for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has come up empty.

The bistate organization began the search after a 2014 special panel recommended a restructuring in the wake of the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal and other missteps.

Board chairman John Degnan told a business conference on Wednesday that the search hasn’t yielded a candidate who has been acceptable to the governors of both states.

Degnan is an appointee of Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, while executive director Patrick Foye is an appointee of Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Under the panel’s recommendation, the CEO position would not be a political appointment. Also, the executive director and deputy executive director positions would be eliminated, and the chairmanship would rotate between the two states.

Reform legislation that would formalize the changes to the agency’s governance structure has been passed by New York lawmakers, while similar legislation hasn’t passed the New Jersey Legislature. Under the Port Authority’s charter, identical legislation must be passed by both states to take effect.

The Port Authority was already facing criticism over steep toll hikes at its bridges and tunnels when details emerged about the role two agency officials played in closing lanes at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 in an alleged political payback scheme.

Former deputy executive director Bill Baroni eventually was convicted of fraud and conspiracy, and former director of interstate capital projects David Wildstein pleaded guilty.

Also this year, former Port Authority Chairman David Samson was sentenced to probation and home confinement after admitting he used his position to pressure United Airlines to revive a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to South Carolina, near his weekend home.