The Mob Still On The Docks

Formed in the early 1950s, and enabled by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 “to investigate, deter, combat and remedy criminal influence in the Port of New York and New Jersey, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor would forever end the mob’s rule of the docks; a “national disgrace,” as Eisenhower called it.

But while the Waterfront Commission may (or, more likely, may not) have been watching out for criminal influence, no one was watching the Waterfront Commission. In the 58 years since its inception, the agency was examined only once!–in 2005 when the New York State Comptroller felt compelled to audit its hiring practices.

In a report released on Aug. 11, 2009, investigators said the commission became its own bastion of lawlessness, employing the same corrupt, self-serving methods of the pier-based gangsters it was supposed to pursue. Top officials at the $11-million-a-year bistate agency divided spoils, helped cronies evade the law and thwarted security provisions meant to safeguard the port against terrorism, according to the report by the New York State inspector general, which capped a nearly two-year investigation in 2007 and 2008 that the commission had sought to block in court.

The Waterfront Commission is a throwback to the gun and knife wielding days of thugs and parasites immortalized in 1954’s On The Waterfront. The late and magnificent screenwriter Budd Schulberg, who vividly captured the lurid violence and breathtaking heroics for the film, would have died a second time if he had seen the apparent hopelessness of his questionable ending.

NY Times “Corruption Found At Waterfront Watchdog”

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