TRENTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee released the appointment of Richard H. Bagger, a former lawmaker and Chief of Staff for Gov. Chris Christie, to be a member of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Bagger was grateful for the nomination.
“I am deeply honored.” he said. “I take this very seriously.”
He said PANYNJ plays a big role in strengthening the public infrastructure. He hopes to continue to move the bi-state agency’s mission, as it tries to remake itself from its long-standing reputation as a patronage mill with bloated salaries and perks.
He said his main goal will be to prioritize PANYNJ’s 10-year capital program.
Committee members spoke highly of Bagger. Sen. “Kip” Bateman said Bagger’s expertise and intelligence will have a huge impact on PANYNJ.
Sen. Kevin O’Toole described Bagger as an “extraordinary, deep-thinking lawmaker.”
Sen. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), of Teaneck, described him as a fine individual. However, she told Bagger he hoped he could help address two major issues. They include the traffic backups that take place in several Bergen County towns, such as Fort Lee and Leonia, because of heavy traffic on the George Washington Bridge.
She added that Bergen County residents pay a lot of tolls, and seem to get little back in return.
Sen. Gerry Cardinale, a fellow Bergen County senator, also said there seems to be a perception that the Port Authority has been “not really considerate of the money that the toll payers have to put out of their pockets.”
Weinberg also requested that in future hearings, at least one Port Authority commissioner attend the public hearings. She pointed out none of them did during the toll increase hearings last summer.
Bagger said he will follow up with the Port Authority commissioners and directors to address those concerns.