For anyone with an interest in politics or government, the unfolding saga of Bridgegate is mesmerizing. The obvious issues of character, law enforcement, governance and politics keep getting more interesting, and more damaging to Christie. We've settled in with Christie maintaining he didn't cause it, but might have known about it. This is a legal position that fends off prosecutors and impeachers alike, but is thin soup in the political battle.
What has escaped any real analysis is the question of what the New York-New Jersey Port Authority actually does and how it affects real people every day. The Ft. Lee traffic jams were awful if you were caught in them. But they are small potatoes when compared to the gargantuan responsibilities and numerous projects the Port Authority is in charge of.
The failures here pre-date Bridgegate but get very little attention. Take the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. Thirteen years later we're finally unveiling the signature replacement buildings and memorial. Whether or not they are adequate for our emotional, aesthetic and economic needs is to be seen. But the PA's role has been anything but comforting. Take the very important question of financing, whose money is being used to rebuild.
The PA was not conceived to be a real estate developer, and it's primary duties have been to run the bridges, tunnels, airports and other port facilities. And the revenues from those facilities are supposed to be used for them and them alone.
Recently, the PA enacted enormous toll hikes ($8 jumped up to $13). Why? Well there's a good case to be made that the tolls were increased to pay for $4 billion in cost overruns at the World Trade Center construction site (The PA originally admitted as much). That's probably illegal and certainly controversial. And there's reason to believe that the two Governors, Christie and Cuomo were part of the deliberations. There's a lawsuit brought by the AAA and a court order requiring that documents pertaining to all this, and particularly to Christie and Cuomo, be made public. The PA is delaying and the lawsuit is over two years old. No documents so far.
There are other troubling aspects of PA operations from contract procurement to horse-trading between Christie and Cuomo (and previous Governors) for political patronage and pork purposes.
That's the stuff that affects million of Jerseyites and New Yorkers every day. Sooner or later the public is going to catch on, and demand investigations of the entire PA empire. Bridgegate is more than fascinating political theatre. It's an insight into how big, public authorities become Soviet-style bureaucracies right in the middle of the good old USA. Now that's an investigation worth pursuing,