Port Authority Documents Not Easily Accessible

It’s always been problematic for those interested in how public agencies work to get access to internal documents.  Laws such as the federal Freedom of Information Act and New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act are one way by which the public can find out what’s actually going on in often-opaque public agencies and authorities.  The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey seems to be more opaque than most; as a bistate agency, it can make the best (or worst?) of the laws of both states.  Recently, a man arrested by Port Authority police at the PATH station in Hoboken tried to access Port Authority documents, first through the federal law, and then the New Jersey law.  The Port Authority responded that some of the documents requested were exempt under the federal law, and also demanded nearly $4,000 for copying costs.  He then tried under the state law, but a New Jersey appeals court ruled that the state Open Records Act doesn’t apply to the Port Authority—because it’s a bistate agency and thus can’t be subject to control of any one state.  (Oct. 4; Associated Press via the Wall Street Journal and transportationnation.org)