The Bergen County Democratic Freeholders today chastised County Executive Kathe Donovan for failing to demand accountability from Port Authority officials following the unexplained George Washington Bridge lane closures that put public safety at risk in Fort Lee.
Donovan is up for re-election next year and Democrats said she remains silent on the matter, even as Deputy Director Bill Baroni today resigned.
“We have been asking the Port Authority for two months to explain the mysterious lane closings which resulted in a Traffic Armageddon in Fort Lee.” said Freeholder Chairman David Ganz. “As the former Chairwoman of the Port Authority, I am shocked that Kathe Donovan would not be demanding answers to this senseless action,” Ganz continued. “Then again when she was a Port Authority Commissioner traffic congestion wasn’t an inconvenience for her since she was using a taxpayer funded helicopter or was chauffeured by a tax-payer funded driver.”
“Perhaps the County Executive has remained silent because the current Chairman of the Port Authority is politically connected attorney David Samson, whose law firm has been awarded over $500,000 in legal contracts by Donovan,” said Freeholder Joan Voss. “As a resident of Fort Lee I saw first hand how their reckless and unchecked decisions caused delays, inhibited emergency vehicles and forced many of the borough’s children to be late for their first days of school.”
“This just stinks of a potential political cover up,” said Freeholder Steve Tanelli. “It looks like we will never get answers from Former Deputy Executive Baroni, regarding this study that he failed to inform his counterparts in New York about, residents in Bergen County and the general public. As tolls in the area continue to skyrocket, commuters have a right to demand greater transparency from the Port Authority.”
“Democratic elected officials and candidates in Bergen County have been calling for this issue to be investigated since the closings occurred. It is long past the time for answers, and the failure for the agency to give commuters a reasonable explanation into why they were stuck in traffic for three hours, shows the need for new leadership. Our residents deserve better,” stated Freeholder Tracy Zur. “Kathe Donovan’s failure to lead shows she is unwilling to challenge her politically connected friends at the Port Authority.”
The Democratic Freeholders and Democrats in the state Legislature, including Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), have long called for an investigation into the unannounced lane closings, which occurred in September.
“I guess the campaign season has already begun,” said Donovan Chief of Staff Jeanne Baratta, in response to the Democrats. “That’s a pretty big stretch to try to tie Kathe Donovan to the lane closures.”