"Let's assume someone in the World Trade Center in Bogota, Colombia, has somebody who wants money to develop a coal mine. And they say, 'We need $300 million.' We know where the collateral providers are, so we package the deal. That's because we are involved with the World Trade Centers Association," he said. "For us, it's been fantastic."
The Peraltas take a commission if they can close the deal, he said.
The broader WTCA says it offers members some of the same kind of services: information about market conditions in their respective regions, local business contacts, business support services and group trade missions.
Members can use the facilities of other World Trade Centers around the world. And the association encourages minimum standards for all its facilities, from hosting periodic speakers' series to hanging clocks with worldwide time zones.
But use of the name is perhaps the most valuable.
"From my perspective," Richie, of the WTCA, said, "the right to use a name that has been out in the public face for 40 years is a pretty good bargain in and of itself. But, in addition, we have set up a network of World Trade Centers" that can connect with each other, he said.
He added: "I don't see where we have an issue where we have a public entity gifting some sort of a benefit to former employees."
Nevertheless, records show that the venture was lucrative for Tozzoli and other Port Authority retirees. Public tax filings by the WTCA show that in 2009, 2010 and 2011, Tozzoli's combined annual compensation was $1.7 million. That was on top of a $113,000-a-year public pension. The three years of tax filings are currently the only ones publicly available.
Richie said Tozzoli's compensation was based on advice from tax attorneys regarding appropriate pay for the non-profit's president.
"As the WTCA grew in size and scope, his salary grew much with the size of the organization and the work he had to do," Richie said. He said he could not comment "on any retirement arrangement."
At least two other former Port Authority employees worked for Tozzoli during his last few years as WTCA president and also drew six-figure salaries, in addition to their Port Authority pensions, records show.
Richie said that, as far as he knew, no former Port Authority employees currently work for the organization, which had 27 employees last year, according to the records.
Tozzoli, aNorth Bergennative and longtimeWestwoodresident, who died in February at age 90, retired in February 2011, with the title president emeritus.
From lofty origins
In the 1960s and 1970s, the concept of creating a global network of trade centers was novel, brimming with the potential to crack open isolationist dictatorships and the Soviet bloc. Port Authority officials, fresh off building the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, embraced it, calling it a "movement." And Tozzoli, an engineer who became director of the Port Authority's World Trade Department, was its public face.
Tozzoli, who initially doubled as a volunteer president of the fledgling association, took first-class flights around the world, accompanied by other agency officials and their wives, to promote the concept. They met with world leaders over high-priced dinners and receptions.
One three-week, around-the-globe trip in 1977, taken by Tozzoli and the chairman of the Port Authority's board of commissioners, generated controversy. The trip by Chairman William J. Ronan and Tozzoli included stops in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, where they were received by business leaders and delegates at other World Trade Centers. A local gossip columnist in Tokyo at the time who wrote about the group's travels noted how Ronan, his wife and several other executives and their wives ate dinner at the Tokyo branch of Maxim's, a legendary French restaurant.
News of the trip led to changes in the transportation agency's travel policy.
Tozzoli publicly defended that and other trips he took while at the Port Authority, saying they developed business for the region's ports.
During his career, Tozzoli was credited for choosing the architect of the Twin Towers, Minoru Yamasaki, for helping to conceive of the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the north tower, and for coming up with the idea to use construction fill from the Twin Towers to extend lower Manhattan, creating what is now Battery Park City.
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The event draws around 25,000 attendees each year, including individuals from dozens of countries around the world; more than 1,000 exhibitors; and covers more than 1 million square feet.