STATE – Bill Baroni resigned from his role as the deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Friday, as New Jersey Democrats continue their investigation into a decision to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September.
“Mr. Baroni’s resignation was overdue and a good thing for New Jersey. His inability to be clear, professional and honest meant he was no longer going to be effective in his role, if he ever was effective,” said Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), chairman of the transportation panel who subpoenaed documents from Baroni and six other Port Authority officials on Thursday.
“But make no mistake – our investigation into what happened with these lane closings will continue,” Wisniewski said. “We still don’t have an explanation as to what happened here.”
Baroni is the second appointee of Republican Gov. Chris Christie to resign from Port Authority after the bridge controversy, though Christie suggested that the resignation had been planned and was not directly related.
David Wildstein, a subordinate of Baroni who ordered the lane closures, resigned last week.
Two of three eastbound Fort Lee access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were closed from Sept. 9 through Sept. 13, snarling traffic in the area. Democrats believe the move was political retribution because the borough’s mayor did not endorse Christie’s re-election campaign.
The governor has denied any involvement, saying that Baroni was responsible for approving Wildstein’s request for a traffic study that was not done within the protocols of the Port Authority.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Christie called New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week to complain how Executive Director Patrick Foye was pushing too hard for answers in the investigation. Christie today denied the allegation, saying, “That story is categorically wrong. I did not have that conversation with Gov. Cuomo in any way shape or form and he did not have that conversation with me.”
Deborah Gramiccioni, a member of Christie’s executive staff, will replace Baroni at the Port Authority.
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