Lots of fallout and lots being written and reported about the Delaware River Port Authority and alleged excesses and abuses at the bi-state agency shared by New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Too bad NJN State House Correspondent Zachary Fink, our hard-nosed, hard-driving reporter who broke the initial story last month about questionable goings-on at the Delware River Port Authority, is on vacation so isn’t reporting some of these developments himself. Not that Zack or anybody here wishes the authority ill-will. Quite the contrary. An authority running in tip-top form would be a thing of beauty; especially for the train riders and toll payers who foot the bill.
But as it happens, during Zack’s absence, Michael Joyce, the agency’s chief law enforcement officer, resigned a job that paid $180,000 a year in salary, plus $9,000 a year in car allowance; this on top of putting his lawyering skills to work for a fee for the Town of Pennsauken and its sewerage authority. (The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Maya Rau reports that he was paid handsomely there, too: $67,000 and change for the part-time municipal job and $18,000 and change for a part-time attorney’s job with the town’s sewer authority. Maya looked into Joyce’s pension credits in her piece).
If my math is right, Mr. Joyce pulled in $275,500 a year in compensation from a public that includes a good chunk of the good folks of South Jersey. Despite all that largesse, he felt the public owed him still more free rides — these for his daughter. So he “borrowed” another official’s free E-ZPass and let said daughter use it to go to and fro the college classes she was taking in Philly for 18 months; yes 18 months. When he was caught, he was fined $600 and lost three days’ pay. At least one commissioner and many folks posting on blogs and web sites say he got off too lightly; they want criminal charges brought.
So Joyce quit last Tuesday, though something tells me we haven’t heard the last on this case.
Oh, and another thing Zack missed in the continuing saga that’s now led to multiple investigations by the two states.
The DRPA has just released a management audit that was due four years ago. To give them their due, authority officials explain that the agency’s failure to produce the document is at least partly to blame on the bi-state feud that kept the authority’s board from meeting from November 2005 to May 2007; time they say would’ve been used to select the auditor and get to work.
In any event, the lack of an audit was part of the story that initially intrigued Zack. (My personal favorite was the big contract for the windmills on top of a building along the windy shores of the Delaware River that were supposed to generate electricity; but were placed on the wrong side of the roof and are essentially worthless. Oh, and somebody thought about getting them started, if memory serves, by plugging them in to — you guessed it — an electric line! Delicious).
But I digress. The audit that caught Zack’s attention is out and on the DRPA’s website; all 200-plus pages of it.
It found that the “DRPA is reasonably effective in terms of accomplishing its basic mission of moving people.” Hmmm. Reasonably effective. Doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement.
It also found that the authority is “attempting to operate in a business-like, apolitical fashion. ” And finally, that morale is low.
Keep in mind, it was completed before eveything hit the fan at the authority; so one can only imagine the morale there now; unless perhaps some are buoyed by some higher-ups getting heat.
In any event, Zack worked the vineyards on this story and with Mr. Joyce’s departure and now the release of the big audit, he’s not around to see his work bear fruit.
I hope the wine wherever Zack is taking his well-deserved vacation makes up for what he’s missed back here at the ranch.