In his first big interview as P.A. head, Patrick Foye discusses job-creation and a 'peace dividend'
Patrick Foye did his first major interview as Port Authority executive director yesterday when he visited the set of "Good Day New York." Foye said his mandate, as a Cuomo appointee, is to create jobs.
When co-host Greg Kelly asked Foye what Cuomo had told him he wanted from him, Foye said, "Let me tell you something that Governor Cuomo said to all of us in his cabinet at every cabinet meeting, every time we met," apparently referring to his prior stint as the governor's deputy secretary of economic development. "The governor’s charge was, everybody in the administration is in the business of creating jobs, jobs, jobs. He is laser-like focused on the state of the economy, on job creation, on the fact that in the building trades, unemployment’s 20, 30, 40 percent depending on the specific trade."
"Port Authority, I think, is one of the most important transportation and economic development organizations in the region and, frankly, in the country," added Foye.
The notion of the Port Authority as an economic engine is not a new one. Foye's immediate predecessor, Chris Ward, who was pushed out of his job by Cuomo and is serving as a adviser to the authority until the end of the year, described the World Trade Center site as a "job-creation engine" in August.
Foye, at the urging of co-host Rosanna Scotto, also touched on one of the funding conflicts suddenly confronting the authority's new leadership.
"What about the museum?" she asked, referring to the Wall Street Journal report that the authority-overseen contruction of the National September 11 Museum will be delayed past a Sept. 2012 deadline because of a dispute between the city, state and museum over $156 million in funding.
"Well Rosanna, I think that the opening of the memorial for the 10th anniversary on 9/11 of this year was an incredible achievement and frankly one that got international note, quite appropriately," Foye said. "We’re in discussions with the musuem and the city. We’re devoted—dedicated, rather—to resolving those issues."
"What’s the problem?" pressed Scotto.
"Well, the problem, frankly, is that it’s cost more than people anticipated," Foye said. "We’re working I think in good collaboration with the city and the museum to resolve those issues. I had breakfast yesterday with a representative of the museum. I expect to talk to Deputy Mayor Steel today. And we’re committed, I think all three parties, to compromise and getting those issues behind us."
Scotto moved on to the ever-burning question of why the region's airports are so user-unfriendly.
"Can we talk about the airports a little bit?" asked Scotto. "They’re so antiquated. And why does it take almost an hour to get your bag at baggage claim when you're flying domestically?"
"I agree Rosanna, and I think that’s frankly one of the reasons that so many people, and I do it myself, carry on, if you can at all, at all possible," he said. "Investing a significant amount of money, especially in the big three airports, Newark on the Jersey side, LaGuardia and Kennedy, is going to be a big priority. It's a priority of the Port Authority board of commissioners. Frankly, once the World Trade Center is completed, there will be the equivalent of a peace dividend, and that will enable the Port Authority to invest even more money, measured in the billions of dollars, in the airports."
"I think we’re going to see the beginning of that peace dividend in 2013 and in the years beyond that," Foye added. "And there will be a significant amount of money generated, frankly, in the billions of dollars, that will be reinvested in bridges, tunnels, airports and our ports."
Watch the whole interview here.