Now that we know more, but by no means all of the dirty details, it makes sense that this was bigger than a traffic jam. The entire way Christie’s administration did business is now exposed. It’s not pretty.
Having worked both in government at a bi-state agency and in private practice, appearing before elected officials, as well as having been a NJ municipal elected official myself and fire commissioner, I know that government and business are two different things. You cannot run government like a business. A business owner can turn down a project or a client, but when you are a public servant, the public are not merely customers. They are your bosses. You serve them. Always. That is rule number one. All of them. Not just the ones from your party. Not just the ones who can vote for you. The disabled, children, the elderly, even those who are not yet citizens. Everyone in your district – you serve them. Not the other way around.
I cannot describe the growing disgust I feel watching the ugly details spill out of the Bridgegate trial as to how bad we, the people of NJ, were conned by this administration. I cannot believe the obscene level of corruption inflicted on residents of NY and NJ and the rank and file employees of the Port Authority. For some people, like Steve Kornacki, who learned about politics from twisted David Wildstein, it’s a big joke. But when you know people who lived through 9/11 and you watched it from the Palisades as so many from Fort Lee did on 9/11, the details of this sordid tale set one’s blood to boiling. This is not just a juicy political scandal, it is sickening. My coworker on 9/11 was a former Port Authority surveyor. He lost many friends that day. My former bandmate was late to work and lost his entire office of coworkers that day. My best friend’s brother in law escaped from the first tower. Another friend was caught between the towers when the second plane hit and bodies were falling all around her from above. You have no idea how 9/11 affected us up here in North Jersey unless you lived through it.
That photo of the Governor laughing at the memorial and knowing that his staff used pieces of WTC steel as party favors, is an insult too difficult to stomach right now. The fact that my successor in Tenafly – a Firefighter deeply affected by 9/11 – was targeted on that list just brings it all way too close to home. I cannot tell you how angry I am. How angry we all are here. This story just keeps getting worse.
The scope of it may be why it has taken so long to come out. At least that is what I tell myself since the fact that 40% of the prosecutors were at one time, also Christie minions. Because dragging it out to the point where impeachment may be impractical seems like it was the goal of the US attorney’s office in the first place to a lot of us here in NJ who have been lied to on a regular basis.
I hope I have a strong enough stomach to hear what Wildstein has to say for himself. I hope we all do. We have to handle the truth. It’s the only way to fix the damage that has been inflicted. Not only to the drivers during Bridgegate and the schoolchildren and the first responders, but the Sandy victims, who haven’t seen help yet while Christie’s friends in towns unaffected by the storm saw millions. To anyone who drives over the GWB paying obscene tolls. To anyone living in a town that was “punished” by this Governor’s staff for not being useful enough to the Governor. Or simply ignored because their community was not headed by someone politically useful to his goal of higher office. To the reputations of the elected officials who thought they were doing good for their towns but were being played cynically for one man’s enormous ambition. To the public who have now lost trust in our government, in our elected officials, and in our Governor.
This is not amusing. I suspected it was bigger than a traffic jam but, damn, I hate being right. Our state cannot handle another 16 months of vindictive, petty extortion and hostage-taking thinly disguised as governing.