DRPA names new police force head, new homeland security chief

Posted: April 19, 2013

The Delaware River Port Authority board on Wednesday promoted a longtime DRPA police officer to chief of the 164-member force that patrols the agency's four toll bridges and the PATCO commuter rail line.

The DRPA board also named a former Philadelphia police officer and regional director for the Pennsylvania attorney general as its director of homeland security.

John L. Steif, 50, of Sewell, had been acting chief of the DRPA police since last July, following the retirement of former Chief David J. McClintock.

Steif, who joined the DRPA force as a patrolman in 1984, will be paid $130,000 a year.

Robert J. Shiver, 60, of Holland, spent 18 years as a Philadelphia police officer, retiring in 1990. He then spent 22 years with the state Attorney General's Office, most recently as regional director of narcotics investigations.

Shiver succeeds former DRPA Homeland Security Director Robert J. Only, who retired last year. He will be paid $120,000 a year.

The DRPA board, holding a rare evening meeting in Old City, also approved a $381,000 contract to make ready for the repainting of the Walt Whitman Bridge.

The contract, awarded to Ammann & Whitney Consulting Engineers of New York City, is for field investigations and containment plans for the painting, which will begin in 2015.

The suspension span and towers of the bridge were last painted in 1992 and now suffer from "extensive coating failures and corrosion damage," according to the latest inspection of the bridge.

And the board approved a deal to accept $1 million as settlement of a bad loan to a landmark North Philadelphia boxing arena.

The DRPA lent $1 million to the owners of the Blue Horizon on North Broad Street in 2001. The money was not repaid, the Blue Horizon is closed, and the DRPA debt has grown to $1.6 million, including interest and penalties.

The agreement approved Wednesday would allow the DRPA to settle for $1 million from Rendez Blu, the purchaser of the building, which hopes to redevelop the property.

DRPA board Chairman David Simon said the repayment of the "nonperforming loan" was one more step in the long process of "getting us out of the economic-development business."

The DRPA spent about $500 million in the last 15 years on such "economic-development" projects as sports stadiums, museums, a concert hall, and a Camden hospital, contributing significantly to the DRPA's current debt of more than $1 billion.

Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

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