I have a new piece up at The Daily Beast. Here's the opening:
"I feel violated," Leon Keylin of Fort Lee, New Jersey told USA Today, describing his reaction to the dirty details behind the Bridgegate traffic jam that choked his town for four days last September. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's office has taken most of the heat for screwing citizens by playing dirty politics, but there's another party responsible that has so far evaded most of the blame. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the government agency that directly caused the gridlock, is an enormously powerful bastion of patronage that violates all commuters every day of the year.
It would be easy to discount the George Washington Bridge scandal as a case of a few bad apples abusing their power. But it's actually just one example of how an organization that was supposed to rise above politics became a tool for politicians to act out their worst impulses. The episode is an indictment of the very concept of the Port Authority—and the Progressive-Era ethos that good public policy is all about entrusting smart people to run things.