Reforming the Port Authority, Part I: Transparency

The next six to twelve months will tell us whether the Port Authority is taking transparency seriously. Many encouraging promises have been made, now they need to be kept. The Port has some work to do to increase fiscal transparency.

John Kaehny, Reinvent Albany

If there’s one good thing that came out of Bridgegate, it was the fact that the public spotlight illuminated the inner workings of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), and revealed the need for a little more “sunshine” to enable the public to keep watch.

Mobilizing the Region asked John Kaehny, Executive Director of Reinvent Albany, what was on his “transparency wish list” for the agency, and we got quite a hefty to-do list in response. One of Kaehny’s biggest wishes is for an improvement to the accessibility of public documents, including Freedom of Information Law requests. He strongly asserted that all documents must be made available online in a downloadable, machine-readable format — including proposed budgets, committee briefing packets, contracts and property transactions. Making these documents easily available would not only increase transparency, but would potentially reduce the number of incoming FOIL requests by making frequently FOIL’ed information easily available to interested parties.

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TSTC Interview: ConnDOT Commissioner Jim Redeker

Commissioner Jim Redeker

ConnDOT Commissioner Jim Redeker

In 2007, after a troubled widening of I-84, a reform commission reported that the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) “badly needs fundamental change.”

TSTC analyses indicate that ConnDOT has been slowly improving since then, and we sat down with Commissioner Jim Redeker, who has headed the agency since last March, to talk about his work. He will be speaking at tomorrow’s transportation financing forum in Hartford.

TSTC: How did your work at NJ Transit prepare you for the commissioner job?

Commissioner Jim Redeker: I think that Connecticut is much like New Jersey was 30 years ago: there’s not a lot of transportation-oriented development happening, there’s still opportunity for new investment in transit and opportunity to improve branch lines. And I really came to try to make a difference there.

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