Upset by a proposed $35,000 raise for a recently hired executive, five South Jersey board members of the bistate Delaware River Port Authority boycotted Wednesday's monthly board meeting, forcing its cancellation and delaying the replacement of Gov. Corbett as chairman.
The board members stayed away in protest of a raise proposed for the agency's inspector general, Thomas Raftery III. The DRPA finance committee on Monday recommended that Raftery get an increase to $165,000 from his current $130,000 to reflect an expansion of his duties.
Raftery was hired as the agency's first inspector general in January to serve as its financial and ethical watchdog. The finance committee said Raftery would now be responsible for conducting internal and external audits, as well as rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse at the agency.
Nonunion DRPA employees have gone four years without a raise, and the agency's police are working under terms of a contract that expired in 2009, as the DRPA tries to hold the line on costs. The protesting board members contended that it was unfair for Raftery to get a salary hike in that climate.
A majority of the 16 board members from Pennsylvania and New Jersey must be present for the board to conduct business. The five New Jersey commissioners missing Wednesday were current and former labor leaders Richard Sweeney, brother of New Jersey Senate president Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester), Albert Frattali, and Frank DiAntonio; Gloucester County's director of health and senior services, Tamarisk Jones; and retired DRPA Police Officer Charles Fentress.
Sources said the missing board members were upset by the rapid decision to increase Raftery's salary. Several learned of the plan from news accounts Tuesday. The missing board members could not be reached.
After waiting about a half-hour Wednesday, those present abandoned efforts to hold the meeting and postponed plans to swear in Corbett's replacement as chairman.
Corbett announced two weeks ago that he was resigning from the board and named David F. Simon, a DRPA board member who is executive vice president and chief legal officer of Jefferson Health System, to replace him as chairman. Andrew J. Reilly, a lawyer who chairs the Republican Committee of Delaware County, was on hand to take Corbett's seat on the board.
The next scheduled board meeting is Sept. 19, but a special meeting could be convened sooner.