Gov. Murphy aims to pull NJ out of agency created to fight the Mafia
Gov. Phil Murphy says he wants New Jersey to pull out of a law enforcement agency formed to fight the Mafia at the ports.
The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor was formed in 1953 to fight the type of corruption found in the Marlon Brando movie “On the Waterfront.” But New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is fighting back against Murphy.
New Jersey and New York created the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor to crackdown on organized crime’s influence on the docks.
“We think there’s a better way to deal with this,” Murphy said.
The Murphy administration, and the previous Christie administration, argued that the Waterfront Commission has outlived its usefulness
“Does it mean that crime has gone to zero? Absolutely not. But we’re not meeting the moment with the Waterfront Commission,” Murphy said.
The commission has its headquarters on the Elizabeth side of the port. Murphy says that the New Jersey State Police can take over. And some labor unions say that the commission made hiring more difficult than it should be
“And that’s the frustration that’s shared by the labor side, as well as the management side,” Murphy said.
“We need more longshoremen, and the Waterfront Commission has made it more problematic to hire folks,” says Tom Heimgartner, chairman of the Bi-State Motor Carriers Association.
When Heimgartner founded Best Transportation 40 years ago, he says the Mafia ran wild at the port. He said that the Waterfront Commission was necessary then.
“I think now they’ve gotten into other things. They’re more concerned with diversity hiring and things like that,” Heimgartner says.
Gov. Murphy's moves have been challenged in court, but in the meantime, he replaced New Jersey's representative on the commission with construction magnate Joseph Sanzari - who has a close relationship with the longshoreman's union. He was made an honorary member of the union.
Hochul has vowed to stop Murphy's move to weaken the commission. The two governors discussed the issue at lunch last week, and walked away still at odds.
“I made sure to give her the courtesy of walking through the steps we're taking. She walked through her position on this,” Murphy said.
The governor says New Jersey will withdraw from the commission effective March 28.
Just a week ago, a Gambino family captain was sentenced to three years in federal prison. The Waterfront Commission assisted in that investigation.