Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference this afternoon at Middle School 331, on West Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, to promote the middle school portion of his pre-K/middle school after school program initiative.
Jill Colvin of Politicker asked de Blasio about the unfolding scandal enveloping New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Here’s how he responded.
The Port Authority, ground zero of the scandal, is a bi-state agency controlled by the governors of New York and New Jersey. Despite the Port Authority operating major elements of New York City’s transportation infrastructure, including the three Hudson River crossings into New York City and the City’s two major airports, the mayor has no control of the agency. Accordingly, it’s an agency that mayors love to rail against, if not hate.
One possible consequence of the scandal may be an unexpected need for Mayor de Blasio to focus on the structure and operations of the Port Authority and determine whether to seek any major changes in them. With no role or control at the Port Authority, he has little leverage and is basically a Port Authority bystander, despite the PA’s importance to the city. But standing by passively could result in a missed opportunity should Governor Cuomo decide to seek changes in the PA’s structure or operations. Although mostly silent on the scandal, Cuomo did recently announce a plan, or at least a plan to make a plan, for New York State to take control of the construction operations at the two airports. Whether he’ll move more aggressively is unclear, but it seems like a fair prospect. One bright spot for de Blasio is his administration’s in-house expertise on the Port Authority; First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris is a former executive director of the Port Authority. (updated)
Here is the mayor’s full 37 minute Q&A with the press.