We conduct research, maintain contact with the Port Authority, cooperate with other retiree associations, encourage retirees to work together toward common goals and develop programs in support of PARA objectives. From its inception, a major activity of PARA has been to work closely with all interested parties to promote better cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to retiree pensions. We are an active member of the Alliance of Public Retiree Organizations of New York (APRO). While these efforts have helped to achieve some key improvements thus far, much more is needed. PARA is continuing to confer actively with other retiree groups, the New York State comptroller, New York State legislators and others to push for changes in legislation that will help New York State retirees keep pace with increased living expenses.
In New Jersey, we have been monitoring proposed pension law changes and working to obtain a more equitable treatment of the pension deduction under New Jersey's gross income tax provisions.
Through our para~phernalia newsletter, we keep PARA members informed on our work to help achieve a better COLA arrangement and on other topics of interest.
The Port Authority Retirees Association (PARA) History
Retirees depend on their pensions to maintain their quality of life during their senior years, but over time with inflation their purchasing power is diminished. Every few years, the New York State Legislature would half heartedly recommend a "supplement" for NY State Retirement System retirees and then forward the legislation to the Governor for signature. More often than not the Governor would not sign the legislation, thereby causing financial hardships for many retirees.
In the early 1980's Comptroller Regan wrote to Governor Cuomo stating that "an employee who retired in 1976 has only received supplementation of 6% and yet the cost of living increased by 89%." This left many Port Authority retirees thousands of dollars behind federal retirees and pensioners from other states whose pensions were tied into the "Cost of Living Adjustment" (COLA) index.
Those original eight Port Authority retirees who created PARA were:
Harold A. Milley, President
Cyril V. Storer, Vice President
John A. Huston, Jr. Treasurer
Board Members -
Cletus F. Bamber
Ralph A. Johnson
Stephen P. Kenny
Francis H. Werneke
The PA Human Resources Department provided PARA an address list of all Port Authority retirees. The first semi-annual PARA Newsletter issued in May 1987 clearly identified the need for a COLA. Retirees were made aware of the need for group action and were provided names and addresses of those legislators who needed to be contacted about the problem.
That first Newsletter also identified that PARA was working closely with the Retired Public Employees Association (RPEA). RPEA includes all of the New York State Retirement System retirees and has 19 active chapters throughout New York State and several "retiree" states such as Florida and the Carolinas. In fact, in the late 1980's PARA and RPEA officers were instrumental in creating another group called the Alliance of Public Retiree Organizations (APRO) that includes the Retired Teachers Association, the Retired Police Association and many other retiree groups that represent a total of over 500,000 retirees. A PARA representative attends monthly APRO meetings in Albany to assure that all NYS retirees are working together on common retiree issues.
The most important issue facing PARA, APRO, and RPEA was getting a COLA adjustment. That effort finally proved successful...to a degree. Your September 2000 pension check showed an increase of 50% of the actual COLA index for the first $18,000 of your pension. In addition all future pension checks will be increased annually in September based on 50% of the actual increase in the cost of living for the first $18,000. We are clearly not satisfied with this but it is a beginning. PARA, APRO and RPEA have continued to work diligently to get a full COLA, not a 50% COLA and we want it for the full amount of the pension. This is a long term commitment that will require perseverance, coordination and good timing as we face significant obstacles.
Besides COLA issues PARA has been working on bringing retirees together via a greatly expanded and more professional semi-annual Newsletter with photographs, news items and other articles of interest to Port Authority Retirees. PARA has established a "PARA WEBSITE" that contains links to many other established websites including, but not limited to: the PANYNJ, NYS Retirement System, Social Security System, United Health Care, ExpressScripts, etc. etc... The PARA website also has other informative and interesting features such as "Retirement Flyers" and "PA News". The website will continue to be expanded in the future your suggestions are welcomed.
The modest annual dues of $10.00 helps retirees to keep apprised of what is going on that may affect them.
Our mission is to serve PA retirees and to promote their welfare. We do this by keeping them informed on matters that affect them and by engaging in other activities to further their interests. We foster and encourage legislation that maintains or improves our circumstances primarily as it affects the pensions of the New York State Retirement System and our health benefits.
Board Member Profiles
Board Member Profiles - Updated January 8, 2019
Holly Blauser - Holly began her PA career in 1964 in Planning and Development. She moved on to positions in World Trade as a Lease Negotiator, Personnel, where she worked on the Trainee, Influx, and Affirmative Action programs and then on to Public Affairs, the Ferry Initiative and the Speakers Bureau. Holly was a recipient of two Unit Citations; one as part of World Trade Recovery and another for Handicapped Affirmative Action. When Holly retired with other of her colleagues in 1995 she had completed 30 years of service. Holly is a Board member for Parents in Action, a nonprofit for teen drug and alcohol abuse prevention.
Steve Borrelli -Joined the Port Authority in 1975 as a temporary Buildings and Grounds Attendant (paper picker) at JFK Airport. In a span of over 33 years he held positions in Planning & Development, Comptrollers, Audit, Treasury, Tunnels and Bridges, Management & Budget and Port Commerce Departments. During his tenure with the Port Authority he was part of numerous projects including the revitalization of the Bus Terminal, Net Lease of the WTC, Pan Am Bankruptcy, JetBlue Terminal 5, Purchase of Stewart Airport, New PATH Rail Car Program and the restructure of the Port Newark Container Terminal Lease that included $500 million private investment. He retired in 2012 as an Assistant Director, Port Business Development. Steve is part of a long line of Port Authority employees (father and brother) that amassed over 110 years of service.
Elizabeth De Laura - Began her Port Authority Career in 1959. She held positions in the Tunnels & Bridges Department, Management Services Department, Purchasing, Office of the Chief Financial Officer and in 1990 became a Financial Analyst in the Treasury Department, a position she held until her retirement in August of 1995.
Liz has held the position of Treasurer for Women's Equity and Holy Trinity Church in Hillsdale, NJ. Following her retirement she worked as a Deputy Tax Collector for the Borough of Montvale, NJ. She is a co-host for the quarterly luncheon of the South/Central Retirees group which meets at the Captain's Inn in Forked River, NJ.
Francis DiMola - known to his friends and colleagues as Frank joined the Port Authority in July, 1976 as a Facility Operations Agent (later renamed Tunnels & Bridge Agent). Frank followed his father's footsteps and joined the Port Authority police in 1979 and several years later pursued other career opportunities as an airport operations supervisor at LGA. Given his prior police and airport operations background, Frank was invited to participate on the Port Authority's counter terrorism task force with the Office for Special Planning. He was later accepted into the Port Authority Management Association program where he continued to develop his skills and experience with supervising Holland Tunnel operations; managing properties & negotiations with airline tenants at EWR; and later as Assistant Manager of aeronautical services at EWR. Frank also negotiated lease agreements for TB&T and PATH, and later served as Assistant Director in Aviation overseeing Properties & Development, and as Assistant Director in Aviation for Operations, Security & Technical Services.
Frank retired in 2011 after serving 5 years as Director of the agency's Real Estate Services Department. Frank comes from a family of Port Authority employees and his father (Frank Sr.) previously retired as a Port Authority police sergeant. Frank resides in New Jersey with his beautiful wife of 36 years and has three adult children and one granddaughter. He continues to work with the JFK airline community as Executive Director for the Terminal 4 Airlines Consortium.
Rita DuBrow - Began her PA career in the World Trade Department in September of 1973 and later held positions in Operating Personnel, Employee Benefits: where she was so helpful to so many and the Teleport from which she retired in 2005.
Rita has been active in her Condominium Association where she has been on their, Architectural, Newsletter, House and Rules and Regulations Committees. She has also served as a member of their Board of directors.
Karen Eastman - Karen Eastman joined The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in June 1978 and retired in June 2018. Karen, a career service employee, worked for a year in Engineering and then went on to work in various positions in the Office of the Secretary for 39 years, rising from a clerical position to Management positions such as Executive Assistant, Freedom of Information Officer, Executive Adviser to the Executive Director, and Assistant Secretary. Karen was made Acting Corporate Secretary in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks, and was appointed Secretary of the Port Authority in April 2002, a position she served in for over 16 years, fulfilling her duties with the utmost honesty and commitment to the highest ethical standards.
As Secretary, Karen served as trusted liaison between staff and the Board, playing a key role in advancing the Port Authority's mission. Her efforts were crucial in developing and implementing numerous governance reforms to promote the highest levels of honesty, integrity, and transparency. Over the course of her career, Karen was an invaluable source of knowledge, guidance, support, and wisdom to numerous Agency administrations, including 9 Chairmen and 1 Chairwoman, 8 Vice Chairmen, 91 Commissioners, and 12 Executive Directors. Karen received numerous citations for her efforts in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks at The World Trade Center and played an integral role in supporting the rebuilding of the site. Upon her retirement, Karen was honored by the Board of Commissioners with the award of the Howard S. Cullman Distinguished Service Medal, the highest honor the Board can bestow on a Port Authority civilian employee, in recognition of her four decades of exemplary service to the agency and the region.
John Fitzpatrick - Came to the Port Authority in 1989 and served as an attorney in the Contracts Division of the Law Department for 23 years, eventually becoming Assistant Chief of the Division. He holds a BA degree from Fordham University and a JD degree from Fordham University School of Law. While in the Law Department, John dealt with a wide variety of matters including construction projects, computer hardware and software acquisitions, financial transactions and technology law issues. He retired in 2012. Prior to his time at the Port Authority, John was an attorney with the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation and held the position of Senior Director of Contracts at the time of his departure.
Dave Gallagher - Dave joined the PA in 1963 as a Management Trainee. After completing his military obligation, he held several administrative positions before moving to Human Resources where he served in the Director's office, Management, Operating and Training Divisions over an eight year period. Dave then moved to the Engineering Department in 1975 where he managed the division responsible for all the business, finance and administration activities of the department. In 1985 he was selected for the Executive Development Program and was promoted to Assistant Director of the Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals Department where he was responsible for all non field activities including properties, customer relations, engineering and planning, finance and budget and departmental operations planning.
He also served as project leader for the final planning and initial implementation of the PA's E-ZPass program in cooperation with the region's interagency group (IAG). Dave retired from the PA in 1996 after 33 years of service. He later worked for several years in the North America marketing and sales office of a large European bus manufacturer where he was the Director, North American Operations. He served on the board of a nonprofit organization ( 2004-2009) which provides housing and support services for several hundred mentally ill and developmentally disabled individuals in nine counties in New Jersey. Dave joined the PARA Board in 2008 and served as the board's liaison person with Joe SanSevero, webmaster of PARA's website. In June 2011 Dave was elected President of the PARA Board.
Al Graser - Al joined the Port Authority in 1968 directly from a three year tour with the US Army and spent most of the following 40 years with the Aviation Department at JFK, LGA and HQ. He continued his association with the US Army Reserves for the next thirty years retiring in 1994 as a Colonel and from the Port Authority in Feb 2008 after special assignment on the Stewart and Delay Reduction task forces.
He has just finished his first semester as an adjunct professor at Vaughn College teaching both Airport Operations and Planning courses.
Cynthia Hadley-Bailey - Began her 27-year career as a Port Authority Police officer in 1980. Her first assignment was the PATH System and later was assigned to patrol at the George Washington Bridge, World Trade Center and the Passenger Ship Terminal. Cynthia later was appointed a Police Detective in 1987 and conducted several investigations at all Port Authority Facilities, until her retirement from the Port Newark Marine Terminal in July of 2007. A highlight in her career was assisting with the FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force in the investigations of the 1993 and 2001 bombings of the World Trade Center. After retirement, Cynthia spends her time giving back to her community of West Orange volunteering in several organizations. She is active in the Rotary Club, the local NAACP, coordinates a tutoring program in the townships school district, and serves as the treasurer for the Port Authority Retired Detectives Association.
Richard Hellenbrecht - Began his 34 year career with the PA in July, 1966 as a Clerical Aide in Comptrollers after graduating Cardinal Hayes High School. He held a number of increasingly responsible positions in Engineering, Public Affairs, and The Office of Business and Job Opportunity, before being promoted into the Executive Band within Technology Services. He served briefly in Procurement before retiring in late 2000. Rich is currently working with the Regional Alliance for Small Contractors, Inc. serving as Manager of Community Relations for Delta / JFKIAT Terminal Redevelopment Program. He holds a BS Degree from St. Johns University and an MBA from Long Island University.
For the past 25 years, he has been an active member of the Queens Community Board 13 serving most of that time as Chair of the Land Use Committee. He served as Chairman of the Community Board from 2001 to 2009. Rich serves as President of the Queens Civic Congress, as well as Secretary and Treasurer of the Bellerose Commonwealth Civic Association. He is founding president and current director of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Conservancy. He enjoys sailing and computer technology and resides in Bellerose, NY.
Rae Ann Hoffmann - Joined the Port Authority in 1973 as a Management Trainee. She was the General Manager, Marketing Communications, Public Affairs Dept., where she established the PA's first centralized marketing communications service for the entire agency. Prior to this she held positions in several departments including World Trade, Real Estate, Government, Community & Public Affairs, and the Executive Director's Office. She retired from the Port Authority in November 2010. She has won many awards in advertising and marketing, received four awards for service contributions from the Board (Medal Awards), and co-founded the Lower Manhattan Marketing Association. She graduated from Georgetown University where she is an active alumna, has done fund raising for Packer Collegiate Institute, is a mentor for nonprofit entrepreneurs, and consults for international development projects. She lives with her family in Brooklyn.
Robert Isaacs - Bob joined the Port Authority in September 1969, and during his thirty year career had increasingly more responsible positions in the Finance Department, the Economic Development Department and culminating with Assistant Comptroller for Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals. He was the lead financial person on the team that implemented E-ZPass at the Port Authority and several other New Jersey agencies.
Bob has served on the Monroe Township Public Library Board since 1988, and was the board president for 14 of those years. He was also president of the library foundation, and still serves as a foundation member.
Arnold Karvasarsky - Enjoyed a thirty year career at the Port Authority. Prior to retirement at the end of 1999, as Assistant Director of Finance in the Office of the CFO. He culminated his career as the lead of the Office of World Trade Center Options, charged with privatization of the WTC. Formerly, he led the office of Financial and Real Estate Policy and Analysis, was Manager of Financial Analysis and Supervising Financial Analyst in the Finance Department.
Arnold began his Port Authority career in 1969 as Staff Economic Analyst in the Tunnels and Bridges Department and was later promoted to Supervising Economic Analyst. From 1963 to 2003, Arnold taught graduate and undergraduate courses at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University.
In retirement he has served in a number of volunteer positions: Trustee for the East Brunswick Community Housing Corporation, assuring affordable housing in the Township, as a Counselor for SCORE (counselors to America's Small Businesses) and is an income tax preparer for AARP.
Richard (Dick) Lee - Dick was appointed to the Board on March 20, 2009. He started his Port Authority service in July 1966 in the Accounting Division and spent most of his PA career in supervisory and management positions in the various divisions within the Comptroller's Department. He also worked for a number of years in the Aviation Department and on special assignment with the World Trade Department in 1992.
Upon retiring in 1996 Dick went on to become Controller of The New Jersey Credit Union League and then moved on to work with a number of other PA retirees on transportation issues with The National Transit Institute at Rutgers University.
Enoch Lipson - Joined the Port Authority in 1966 in the Marine Terminals Division of the Engineering Department. He remained in the Engineering Department for his entire career with the Port, working on projects at most of the facilities. He spent about 15 years with Tunnel Bridges and Rails which morphed into TB&T, doing toll plazas, tunnel ceilings and other projects. He was transferred to Aviation for Kennedy 2000 and remained as Engineer of Projects EWR and later Engineering Program Manager Aviation. As the workload increased, the division was split into New York and New Jersey divisions and Enoch retired as Engineering Program Manager, New York Airports at the end of 2000. Since then he worked briefly for Lockwood Green, and no, he was not responsible for them going out of business, and since then with AECOM (formerly Architecture and Engineering Company), primarily on the design of the Second Avenue Subway
Francis J. Lombardi - Is the former Chief Engineer of The Port Authority of NY & NJ, the position he held from 1995 until his retirement in 2010. During his tenure as Chief Engineer, Frank was responsible to oversee the planning, development and completion of complex, critical construction projects in the region. Immediately following the attacks on the WTC on September 11, 2001, Frank Lombardi played a prominent role as part of the crisis management team of Port Authority executives that was assembled to ensure the well-being of staff and to tackle the difficult challenges facing the agency. Throughout his 39-year Port Authority career, Frank provided sound guidance and advice to staff at every level. He has spent countless hours mentoring dozens of students by sharing his enthusiasm for choosing engineering as a career. Frank is an Industry Professor at New York University-Polytechnic Institute and Manhattan College, where he has taught engineering courses since 2005 and 2011 respectively. He joined PARA in 2010 and is Chair of its Membership Committee.
Maria Malone-Hodges - Began her 32 year career as an Environmental Analyst in Risk Management in 1979. She then moved to assignments in Aviation, Port Commerce and the Tunnels, Bridges & Terminals Department (TB&T). Spending 25 years in TB&T, she held various positions in both field and staff business areas including Sr. Executive Assistant, Transcom Communications Manager, Assistant Manager of Staten Island Bridges, Manager of TB&T Customer Services Division, Operations Manager of the Port Authority Bus Terminal and retiring as the Deputy General Manager of the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station in November 2010. Maria was awarded several Unit Citations and the Award of Recognition from the NYC Fashion Center Business Improvement District. Since retirement she spends her time as a docent at the World Trade Center Tribute Center where she served on the Docent Council. She gives guided tours of the WTC Tribute Center and the WTC Memorial and participates in the school education program. In addition, she sits on the Board of Directors of her condominium association.
Mike Morrow - Joined the Port Authority in 1967 as a Marine/Cargo Representative in Port Newark. Prior to that, he sailed in the Merchant Marines with American Export Lines out of the PA's Hoboken Piers and after coming ashore, worked for Cargocaire, a Marine Equipment Mfg. Company. After 13 months at Port Newark, a call from the Personnel Department led to an assignment at 30 Church Street working for Ray Monti and later uptown for Mal Levy on the original construction of the WTC. Mike later rejoined Marine Terminals as a Pier Rentals Representative. Following completion of an Executive Development Program Mike completed a six month assignment with Maersk Line. Upon his return he became part of the Consultant Group that worked on the development of the South East Asian project.
Later assignments included an eight month stay in London and handling the Real Estate Sales effort in Pt. Newark/Elizabeth. One week after his retirement, in August 1995, Mike joined Port Elizabeth Terminals & Warehouse, as Vice President of Sales, where he continues to attract cargo to the Port of NY, as he did while at the PA.
George Murtagh - Started working for the Port Authority in 1981. He worked his way through the TWU (Transport Workers Union) ranks, starting as a temporary Building and Grounds Attendant, then several FS (Field Supervisor) levels, and had over twenty years as an Instructor at the Training Academy.
He retired in 2018 as a Tour Manager (FS 8). He simultaneously held elected positions as Vice President and President of the Port Authority Field Supervisor's Association (PAFSA) Union since 2003 with experience negotiating, administering PAFSA's Memorandum Of Agreement, representing his membership and maintaining parallel relationships with PA Labor and Management.
Ken Philmus - Joined the Port Authority in 1971, retiring after 34 years of service in 2005. He served his last six years as Director of Tunnels, Bridges, and Terminals where he was responsible for all management activities related to the operations, maintenance, security, toll collection, administration, and capital rehabilitation of the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel, Port Authority Bus Terminal, and several other highway related facilities. Ken has a Bachelors degree in Industrial Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo and is also a member of the Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society. He also holds a Masters of Public Administration from New York University. Ken also serves on the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and ITS World Congress Boards. Ken is also a former Board member of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association where he remains very active.
At the present time, Ken is a part-time Senior Vice President with Xerox within the Transportation Solutions Group where he facilitates transportation revenue solutions with a primary focus on tolling and user fees. Kens goal is to assist these agencies in minimizing traffic congestion while maximizing revenue, mobility and environmental quality. Ken lives in Matawan, NJ with his wife, Irma. He has 2 children and is the proud grandparent of 5.
Jerrilyn (Jerri) Raczynskis - Career spanned 40 years of PA service beginning with the Engineering Department and the Office of the Secretary. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Peters College, she moved on to various positions in the Aviation Department in transportation planning, administration and supervisory capacities before joining the EWR Leasing Division in which she negotiated leases and operating agreements with ground transportation providers, cargo operators, rental car operators and master airline lessees.
In 2000, Jerri became the Leasing Manager for the Port Commerce Department negotiating and managing leases for Ports Newark and Elizabeth, the Auto Marine Terminal, the Brooklyn, PA Marine Terminal and the Howland Hook Marine Terminal. Jerri retired from the PA in 2007.
Peter Rinaldi - Peter joined the Port Authority as an Engineering Trainee in 1973. During his 38 year PA career, he served as the Engineering Department's manager providing services to TB&T and PATH, where he was responsible for implementing over a billion dollars in capital improvement projects. In September of 2001, Peter was assigned to the on site WTC emergency response team and spent nine intensive months supporting the recovery and cleanup efforts. He later served as the General Manager of the WTC site and was part of the PA's downtown rebuilding program. At the time of his retirement in 2010, Peter held the position of Assistant Director in the Engineering department. During retirement, he has been spending time with his seven grandchildren, enjoying international travel, and stocking his wine cellar. He also volunteers as a docent at the 9/11 Tribute Center where he leads groups through the 9/11 Memorial.
Herb Somerwitz - Joined the Port Authority in September, 1970 as an attorney in the Contracts Division of the Law Department and served as Chief of the Division from 1992 until his retirement in 2008. He initially practiced in the area of construction law and subsequently concentrated in the areas of procurement, intellectual property and technology law. Principal projects included the bus terminal expansion,
and procurement and installation of electronic tolls, and the present PATH fare collection system. Herb holds a BA degree from New York University and LL.B and LL.M degrees from NYU Law School. Before his career with the Port Authority, Herb served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lima, Peru and served as an associate attorney with a private sector law firm.
Donna Tucker - was a career employee with the Port Authority of NY & NJ last working in its Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights (OBDCR). Donna was an assistant manager in charge of the offices S/M/W/DBE certification unit, where she reviewed relevant legislation impacting Minority/Women-Owned/Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, as well as reviewed applicant firms to determine their eligibility to participate in the program. Donnas Port Authority career started in 1966, ending with her retirement in December 1998. During her time with the PA she rose through the ranks beginning as a Secretary in the Organization and Procedures Department which became MSD until its sunset in 1987. At that time she held the position of Junior Administrative Assistant and retired as a Principal Business Development Representative from OBDCR. She started her second career in 1999 as the Chief of Staff at the Regional Alliance for Small Contractors, Inc., an organization well known for its training and outreach programs to enable M/W/DBE to competitively bid and participate on various projects. As second in command, her duties run the gamut from administrative to operational aspects of the organization. She is well known and respected in the M/W/DBE community. She is a past Harlem YMCA Black Achiever honoree, a Queens Top Woman of the Year Awardee, and an Odyssey International Awardee for Excellence for her contributions to the M/W/DBE community.
Joseph (Joe) SanSevero - He worked for thirty-six years at the Port Authority as an electrician, engineering technician, research analyst and, most recently, as a Network Administrator. His knowledge and responsibilities spanned all technology, computer and video related projects for two major line departments. In 1993 he received the Distinguished Public Service Medal for his advanced work in the field of Technology. Especially in Traffic Control, Toll Automation and the development of slow scan video transmission over standard telephone lines.
Since his retirement, Joe started his own technology consultant company and has designed, published and manages Websites, including the Port Authority Retirees Association, Inc. website. Joe is an Executive Board Member (Emeritus) and Technical Consultant for both SeniorNet, an organization committed to guiding seniors into the technology age and SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). He is not a Board member but is the Webmaster for the Port Authority Retirees Association, Inc. website.