YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: The head of the Port Authority’s PBA notified membership today that he is stepping aside form the union’s day-to-day operations amid the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal, a source with knowledge of the move told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight.
Paul Nunziato is not resigning, the Port Authority police source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
“He’s recusing himself as president until further notice while the bridge scandal continues,” he said. “[They] are determining who is going to take over his day-to-day duties.”
- YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: The head of the Port Authority’s PBA tonight confirmed a CLIFFVIEW PILOT report that he isn’t resigning as union president amid the George Washington Bridge scandal and is giving his second-in-command a “more active role in aspects of the office’s day-to-day operation.” READ MORE ….
CLIFFVIEW PILOT reported earlier tonight that the likely selection would be Robert Morris, the union vice president. The New York Times later confirmed that “Bobby Mo,” as he is known, was designated to succeed Nunziato.
The move comes amid growing investigations by both the New Jersey Legislature and the Port Authority into the bridge lane closures.
Nunziato, a 51-year-old department veteran of more than 26 years, was among 30 people served with subpoenas by the bi-partisan state legislative subcommittee investigating the matter.
A story on NJ Spotlight said that Nunziato claimed credit in December for a the bridge traffic study idea as a way to test whether closing two of three toll lanes coming from Fort Lee would improve the flow from Route 80.
More recently, however, questions have been raised about whether union leaders were involved in the initial coverup of the actual lane closures.
As NJ Spotlight reported, Nunziato more than two months ago “concluded that the battle over the lane closures was just the latest chapter in a political rivalry between New Jersey and New York over control of the Port Authority – a contest he compared to the Sharks and the Jets in ‘West Side Story’ — and made it clear his loyalties lay with New Jersey.”
He hasn’t spoken to the media since.
Gov. Christie has had the authority PBA’s support since promising he’d back an expansion of the department and pledging full support of putting the PAPD in charge of security at the Freedom Tower. Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have veto power over all authority decisions.
Christie also said he’d insist that PAPD police patrol the perimeters of Newark, Kennedy, and LaGuardia airports, as opposed to electronic monitoring that the authority said would cost less and be more effective.
The Port Authority police force, most of whom are represented by Nunziato’s union, increased in size from 1,500 when Christie took office to 1,700 when Nunziato’s union endorsed him last January.
It is scheduled to grow to 2,000 by the end of this year — a key component of a major reorganization plan headed by Port Authority Chief Security Officer Joseph Dunne.
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