Governor Hochul must fight New Jersey’s attempt to dismantle anti-corruption agency

Governor Hochul showed the necessary courage by saying no to New Jersey’s illegal and unconstitutional attempt to leave the bi-state New York Harbor Waterfront Commission, which fights gangsters and the International Longshoremen’s Association influenced by the crowd for control of the docks on both sides of the Hudson. Now she must stand firm as Jersey tries to carry on with her dirty work.

Ever since the agency was created by the two states and blessed by Congress in 1953, the ILA has attempted to evade the vigilant surveillance of port cops. For decades, the union and the Trenton lawmakers it pushes have attempted to repeal a dual-state law requiring that all hiring be “done on an equitable and nondiscriminatory basis consistent with the requirements of the laws of the United States and States of New York and New Jersey dealing with equal employment opportunity. Fortunately, New York would never agree, and the fair hiring stuck.

So in 2013, the ILA sued the agency in federal court and lost, then lost again on appeal. The union’s next step was to have Jersey opt out by passing legislation, even though New Jersey’s Office of Legislative Services drafted a memorandum saying that under the U.S. Constitution, New York had to agree.

When Gov. Chris Christie vetoed it in 2015, he wrote, “I am advised that federal law does not allow a state to unilaterally withdraw from a congressional-approved two-state pact. Christie ended up signing the same unconstitutional bill — on his last day in office.

Now, after a long legal battle that the United States Supreme Court has been unwilling to get involved in, Jersey is once again insisting he has the right to step down. Governor Phil Murphy announced the commission was over on March 28, with Jersey taking over policing from its docks and scrapping the ILA’s hated fair-hire rules. Fortunately, on Wednesday afternoon, Hochul’s lead lawyer, Liz Fine, wrote to the commissioners that Jersey’s law was void. Two hours later, Murphy told the agency it was to close on March 28. The next move is Hochul’s.

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