NY/NJ Port Authority Chief to Resign – His Replacement Must Rebuild St. Nicholas Church at Ground Zero

by Sparta on September 29, 2011

in NYC, Orthodox Christianity, September 11, 2001, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church at Ground Zero, Stella (Stavroula) Jatras

Silhouette of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church at Ground Zero

From George Demos for Congress:

(631) 648-0301

Brookhaven, NY- George Demos, the Conservative Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in the First District of New York today called on New York Governor Cuomo to fill the vacancy at the Port Authority with a new Director who will publicly and unequivocally commit to rebuilding the 9/11 Church at Ground Zero.

George Demos said:

During his tenure as Port Authority Director, Christopher Ward willfully and maliciously obstructed the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Church, the only house of worship destroyed on September 11th.

Last August, our campaign put out the first national call to rebuild this Church, and held a press conference with former New York Governor George Pataki, but Ward refused to listen.

Now that Christopher Ward is resigning, Governor Cuomo must fill the vacancy with a new Director who will publicly and unequivocally commit to rebuilding the 9/11 Church at Ground Zero.

We owe it to our nation to rebuild this Church, so that the world will know that Al-Qaeda failed to destroy God’s footprint at Ground Zero and that our nation’s Judeo-Christian values cannot be wiped out by evil.”

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Port Authority Chief to Resign

September 29, 2011


Chris Ward, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, plans to step down by the end of October, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Ward, the top official at the Port Authority appointed by the governor of New York, has found himself on the outside looking in since Gov. Andrew Cuomo took office in January. Mr. Ward was appointed by Mr. Cuomo’s predecessor, David Paterson, in 2008. It isn’t clear whether the Cuomo administration has identified a successor.

Since then, he has been credited with bringing order to the rebuilding of the World Trade Center and earned plaudits from many in New York’s business community. But his job is one that governors traditionally have filled with people loyal to them. Mr. Ward, 56 years old, a veteran of Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s administration, had few ties to Mr. Cuomo. People close to Mr. Ward had long expected him to leave sometime after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo declined to comment. Mr. Ward’s plan to leave by the end of October was first reported on the New York Times website Wednesday evening.

Mr. Ward’s arrival in the job in May 2008 came as a bout of luck. The head of a New York advocacy group for large construction firms, he was considered for the agency’s top position by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, but was passed over. But when Mr. Spitzer resigned less than a year and a half after taking office, his successor, Mr. Paterson, tapped Mr. Ward for the job in one of his first personnel moves.

A seasoned official known as forceful but amiable, his mandate from the new governor was clear: publicly open the books on the World Trade Center site, which was believed to be running billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

Calling the project’s costs and timelines “not realistic,” Mr. Ward put new budgets on the tremendously complex construction plan, trimming and streamlining some pieces, while stretching out others.

The efforts then turned to the three private towers on the site being built by developer Larry Silverstein, who faced an inability to build his skyscrapers given the economic downturn.

Mr. Silverstein’s request—that the Port Authority financially back his buildings—sparked what became a fierce public battle that lasted more than a year.

Mr. Ward quickly spurned Mr. Silverstein’s request, saying that backing the towers would decimate the finances of the already-financially strained agency. Throughout much of 2009, Mr. Ward stood his ground amid intense pressure from Mr. Silverstein’s powerful backers, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Mr. Bloomberg, who criticized him and his agency as inflexible and unreasonable.

Ultimately, a compromise plan was hatched that allowed Mr. Silverstein to build one tower and use hundreds of millions of dollars in public money toward a second if he found a tenant and raised private money. The deal unlocked construction that had been put on hold, and repaired relations frayed by the fight, such as those between Mr. Ward and the mayor. Since then, Mr. Bloomberg has repeatedly praised him.

But since Mr. Cuomo took office at the beginning of the year and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s appointees began to assert their influence at the Port Authority, Mr. Ward found himself standing mostly alone. Mr. Cuomo’s schedules posted online don’t show any meetings with Mr. Ward.

And when President Barack Obama went to lay a wreath at the World Trade Center site after Osama bin Laden was killed in May, he was flanked by the two governors, Mr. Bloomberg, and the man Mr. Christie had recently appointed as chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson. Mr. Ward, who many credited with jump-starting construction at the site, stood off camera.

Mr. Ward was one of the last high-profile appointees left over from Mr. Paterson’s administration. One of the others, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Jay Walder, is set to leave for a job running Hong Kong’s mass-transit operator next month.

Much of Mr. Ward’s career has been spent managing New York’s increasingly creaky infrastructure. During Mr. Bloomberg’s first term, he ran the Department of Environmental Protection, which controls the city’s sewers and water distribution. After that, he spent time as chief executive of a firm that manages facilities at the region’s ports.

But he also brought an uncommon pedigree to the job. The son of an Amherst College president, he earned a master’s degree in theology from Harvard Divinity School.

He had also spent time in lower-level jobs at the Port Authority, and as recently as last week said that he would stay in his job as long as Mr. Cuomo would have him.

—Jacob Gershman contributed to this article.

Write to Andrew Grossman at andrew.grossman@wsj.com and Eliot Brown at eliot.brown@wsj.com

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