Jeff Green



The Introduction to “Empire on the Hudson,” Jameson Doig’s epic history of our agency, captures its essence: “One important contribution of this volume is to recall us to a time when Americans had confidence that government could confront great problems with imagination and decisiveness and that bureaucracies could be at once honest, effective, and competent.”

During my more than forty years association with the Port Authority I worked with every Chairman from James C. Kellogg III to Anthony Coscia and every Executive Director from Austin Tobin to Chris Ward. With rare exceptions, that description accurately captured the ethos of the Port Authority.

As just two examples, no other organization, public or private, could have recovered from the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center as effectively as we did, selling bonds within days and reopening within weeks, or stayed focused on its recovery, amidst concern for staff after 9/11.

But the Port Authority is more than that…it’s the people, and the people were national and international leaders in their fields who were at least as competent as anyone in the public or private sectors.

We thought of the Port Authority as “Mother PONYA”. It was drummed into us that we had one mission, to serve the people of the region diligently and with integrity. We could disagree on policy, but not be disagreeable. Together we worked hard, took our work seriously, while keeping a sense of humor.

It’s therefore hard to think about my career without thinking of those people. People like General Counsels Sidney Goldstein and Pat Falvey who lead with distinction and gave me a chance to excel; Mike Zarin who lived the importance of public service, attention to detail and human decency; Larry Hofrichter whose dedication and institutional memory were unmatched; Guy Tozzoli, a one-of-a-kind entrepreneur working in a large bureaucracy; Ted Olcott understanding that without big projects, the region would suffer; Vera Canale, the embodiment of mother PONYA; Katy Mackay and Sid Frigand who quickly became part of the Port Authority family; CFO Merle Wahlberg and his shorthand transcript of everything you said so he could ask you about it weeks or even years later; Jack McGoldrick, the best Commissioner ever; Joe Lesser, a real lawyer’s lawyer; Dick Helman and Dave Gallagher who have done so much to demonstrate retirees’ continued dedication through their work with PARA; Stan Brezenoff’s and Ron Shiftan’s leadership after the 1993 bombing and 9/11; Lillian Valenti’s heroic efforts caring for the families of the Authority’s 9/11 victims; Ernesto Butcher’s calming and inspiring public presence; Lou Eisenberg’s service as Chairman during difficult times; Commissioners Hank Henderson’s and Jim Helmuth’s respect for staff; Sandra Van deWalle and Lillian Borrone who were pioneers and role models in predominantly male fields; Milton Pachter who embodied the Port Authority through his ability and enthusiasm; and the thousands of people at all levels, who were and still are the Port Authority but who a 500-word limit makes it impossible to name.



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