The Observer congratulates Gov. Andrew Cuomo for appointing Steven M. Cohen to the Board of the Port Authority. Mr. Cohen will provide an independent and intelligent source of ideas and insights, which the Board currently lacks in sufficient supply. As a former top lieutenant both in the governor’s mansion and when the governor served as attorney general, Mr. Cohen deeply understands both Andrew Cuomo and how government works. But he is also his own man. In fact, Mr. Cohen’s absence in Albany—he now serves as general counsel at the investment firm MacAndrews & Forbes Inc. and functions as something of a consigliere to Ronald O. Perelman—has been keenly felt as there seems to be a shrinking pool of people strong enough to tell the governor when he’s gone off the rails.
As the son of Herb Cohen, the author of You Can Negotiate Anything, Mr. Cohen is known for his aggressive style in getting to yes. (He once aptly summarized the Cuomo administration by saying “We operate at two speeds here: Get along and kill.”) And as one of New York’s six representatives on the Board of the PANYNJ, he’ll find plenty of projects that desperately need yessing.
Our region benefits greatly by having three major airports, and La Guardia’s failings owe far more to decades of neglect than to anything inherently unsolvable about the airport itself.
For starters, we urge the Board to choose a contractor to rebuild LaGuardia’s Central Terminal. There is no excuse for further delay; Gov. Cuomo’s effort to impose a design competition in the selection process has been foolish and has added needless delay and meddling.
LaGuardia Airport serves 27 million passengers a year; its proximity to Manhattan’s central business district and to Westchester and Connecticut makes it a superb asset for business travel in and out of the region. The New York Times recently published an irresponsible op-ed calling for LaGuardia to be closed. Yes, the airport is a disappointment bordering on a disaster. Vice President Joe Biden’s comparison of La Guardia to traveling “in a third-world country” was sadly accurate.
But our region benefits greatly by having three major airports, and La Guardia’s failings owe far more to decades of neglect than to anything inherently unsolvable about the airport itself.
Additional priorities should include restarting talks on adding another tunnel under the Hudson and pursuing an idea broached during the Bloomberg administration that would swap the city’s ownership interest in the two NYC airports in exchange for getting the PA out of the World Trade Center buildings, where it really has no business.
With the World Trade Center and its associated PATH boondoggle finally coming on-line, the PANYNJ can turn its full attention to creating world-class airports befitting a world-class city. Steve Cohen is a strong stride in the right direction.