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Sun: Shifting Moynihan to Port is “End Run Around Silver”

farley post office columns night

Today, Peter Kiefer reports that “Senator Schumer’s plan to give the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey control of the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Station is being viewed as an end run around the Democratic speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, and the state Legislature.” Excerpts below:

As a bistate agency, the Port Authority is not subject to the Public Authorities Control Board, which gives final approval on financing for public projects in New York State. In recent years, Mr. Silver has controlled the PACB, and has used it to wield influence over a number of development projects — most notably to kill Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to bring a new Jets stadium to the Hudson rail yards, and Governor Pataki’s plan to convert the Farley Post Office building into Moynihan Station.

In the past, Mr. Silver has used his PACB vote to wrest concessions for his district, Lower Manhattan. Less than two weeks before Mr. Silver cast his vote to derail the Jets stadium project, Messrs. Pataki and Bloomberg announced plans to spend more than $800 million on a slew of projects for Lower Manhattan…

Proponents of the transfer say the Port Authority could use the $2 billion that is available in its capital plan to plug a public funding gap and get the project back on track. At the end of 2007, the Port Authority, which controls the area’s ports, airports, and most New York City toll bridges and tunnels, reported gross operating revenues of about $3.2 billion.

Regarding Assemblyman Brodsky’s hearing on Friday:

The chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Corporations Authorities and Commissions, Richard Brodsky, opposes the Port Authority taking the lead role on the project, and is said to be addressing the matter at a hearing on Friday.

Mr. Brodsky said the problem stems from the state of New Jersey’s refusal to alter the governing structure of the Port Authority. “There is no statute that can control Port Authority behavior,” he said.

A spokesman for Mr. Silver, Daniel Weiler, said: “The speaker’s concern is that before jumping on new projects, we need to see existing projects come to conclusion.”

Mr. Schumer’s office would not respond to a request for comment.

“The Moynihan Station is a vital project and we are pleased by the discussions of confidence in our role as a builder in the region. But any potential role is up to the board and consultations with the governors,” a spokesman for the Port Authority, Steve Sigmund, said.

Today, the Port Authority’s board of directors is expected to officially appoint Chris Ward as the agency’s new executive director.

Read “An End Run Around Silver is Seen as Schumer’s Gain,” by Peter Kiefer for The New York Sun

Read “Brodsky, Gottfried None Too Happy About Moynihan’s Move to Port Authority,” by Eliot Brown for The New York Observer