After a two year investigation, the office of the State Inspector General has found a "total agency breakdown" at the commission created by President Eisenhower to loosen the mob's grip on the Port of New York and New Jersey. In a press release [pdf] accompanying his report [pdf], Inspector General Joseph Fisch said, "Instead of ridding the waterfront of corruption, this agency itself was corrupt" and allowed "numerous abuses of authority in hiring, supervision and fiscal oversight." Almost the entire executive staff of the Waterfront Commission has been ousted as a result of the investigation, which uncovered such gems as the licensing of a convicted felon, the misuse of federal Homeland Security funds, and:
- The commission's auditing director, Frank Nastasi, ran a private tax business out of his commission office and accessed pornography on his official computer.
- Then-Acting Chief of Police Kevin McGowan regularly diverted two detectives from law enforcement duties in Brooklyn to guard choice parking spots in lower Manhattan for executive staff.
- The commission didn't conduct background checks on the longshoremen and stevedoring companies that unload ships, creating an important breach in the nation’s security web.
- The commission used a patrol boat - paid for by a second $170,000 Homeland Security grant - to escort guests and VIPs during Fleet Week and other events.
The bi-state Waterfront Commission was created in 1953 to deter criminal activity and to ensure fair hiring at the Port of New York and New Jersey, but Fisch tells the Times it's become "a remnant and continuation of the old waterfront." Each state appoints one commissioner to the Commission, which has about 100 employees and an annual budget of more than $11 million. The New Jersey Commissioner, Michael Madonna, was fired last year when Fisch alerted Governor Corzine about the scandal.
And the former New York commissioner, Michael C. Axelrod, was not reappointed after his term ended last year. According to Fisch, new leadership under the current New York State commissioner, Ronald Goldstock, a director of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force from 1981 to 1994, has since implemented changes. But only once in its history was the agency investigated—in 2005 during an examination of its hiring practices! Obviously, big brother should've looked out for the Commission a little bit.