Past NY/NJ Port Head Peter Goldmark, Jr. Addresses Forum Regionalism Series

By on April 11, 2018

by Tom Finan, Executive Director, Construction Forum STL

On Friday, June 15, Construction Forum STL will present Peter Goldmark, Jr., former head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  Goldmark will keynote the third segment in the Forum’s 13-month examination of regionalism.

The NY/NJ port authority was the model for Bi-State Development in the St. Louis regionEstablished in 1949 through an interstate compact between Missouri and Illinois, ratified by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Truman in 1950, Bi-State Development was created to serve and enrich the region.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, established in 1921 under a similar Congressionally-approved interstate compact, oversees much of the regional transportation infrastructure in New York and New Jersey within a 25-mile radius of the Statue of Liberty. This includes bridges, tunnels, JFK and LaGuardia airports, seaports, the PATH railway, and the World Trade Center within the geographical jurisdiction of the Port of New York and New Jersey. The Port Authority operates its own 1,700-person police department.

In addition to his work for the NY/NJ Port Authority, Peter C. Goldmark, Jr. has had a long and distinguished career. He is a retired publisher and journalist who highlighted environmental and social issues. Goldmark retired in 2010 as director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s climate and air program.

He was previously the chairman and CEO of the International Herald Tribune, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the budget director for the State of New York.

He is noted for being an advocate for social causes and environmental issues in many of his assignments. He was responsible for management of multi-billion-dollar budgets in some of his posts.

It’s About Respect

Regionalism isn’t about how many units of government you have: It’s about how the representatives of those units respect one another and work together (or not). That was the message that Dr. David Miller, University of Pittsburgh professor, brought during a three-day stay in this region during March organized by the Forum. While he was here, Miller met with regional leaders from Swansea, IL to St. Charles, MO and points in between.

March 7 he presented his insights from years in government and as an academic and from his meetings here. (To download the PowerPoint of his presentation, click here.) He is the author of several books. His latest book, due out soon, is Discovering American Regionalism: An Introduction to Regional Intergovernmental Organizations. The book is a study of the operations and effectiveness of 477 Regional Intergovernmental Organizations  (East-West Gateway Council of Governments being the example here).

Honorable People

On Dec. 6,  2017, a large audience of “honorable people” listened, learned, and began a dialogue on what it will take for the St. Louis region to “act as one”. There were 542 people registered for the December Forum event. It capped two days of meetings throughout the region with area officials and media for speaker David Rusk.

The 77-year-old Rusk handled the forced march from St. Louis to St. Charles, Swansea and Bridgeton in stride, holding his audiences and Forum staff rapt with the breadth of his historic and statistical knowledge. Commenting on the diversity of viewpoints coming together on the area of St. Louis regionalism, he paraphrased an observation made by his father, legendary U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk:

“He said that it didn’t matter if a person was Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. What mattered was if they were honorable or dishonorable. He felt that if honorable people listen to one another long enough, they will find common ground.”

“Acting as One” was the topic of speaker David Rusk, who began what will be a 13-month series of programs designed by Construction Forum STL to examine and promote focused action toward true regional collaboration. Rusk is the author of “Cities Without Suburbs,” the seminal book on regionalism, now in its fourth edition.


In September, following on the heels of Goldmark’s presentation,  a moderated exercise will be held. It will include edited video of the previous three programs, followed by a working session. The event will be structured as a “hackathon” with the objective of identifying and defining action items. The Forum will be assisted by Mark Tranel, director, UMSL Public Policy Research Center, in developing this effort.

The results of that session will be reported in December, concluding the series.

“These are issues that have been studied for over a century,” Forum president Joe Blanner said. “Our main goal is to really drill down to impediments and possibilities related to regional collaboration on issues such as workforce, infrastructure, and economic development. The mission of the Forum is ‘Building the St. Louis region’s tomorrow through inclusive engagement, unbiased communication and focused action.’

“We truly hope that focused action will result from these events that can help in beginning to solve the jigsaw puzzle that our region has been for many generations.”


About Tom Finan