So what happened? It’s not always easy to get the full, accurate story.
Fortunately, two top Education Department leaders Rochelle Hendricks, Acting Commissioner, and Andy Smarick, Acting Deputy Commissioner, will testify on Tuesday. They have overseen the proposal through its many changes. Former Commissioner Schundler said that while reviewing the proposal, without the Fed’s specific request/question in front of him, he noted that the response addressed data for 2008-09. He assumed the Feds wanted more current data, so in a handwritten note he sought to change the response. What happened to his handwritten notes and what do they say? So far the State has not turned over these notes to the legislature. Who took the notes and typed them into the proposal, and did they type only from his notes or add material, and if so, why? Did yet another person enhance the response in a way more favorable to Governor Christie? Were changes in the proposal made within the Executive Office and unknown to the Education Department?
In addressing these matters legislators have to be persistent. If a question is avoided or not fully answered, legislators must re-ask the question. Also in a legislative hearing what you ask is as important as getting questions answered. The Education Department officials may not necessarily volunteer unsolicited information. They are both employed at the will of the governor and both would like to be appointed commissioner by the governor.
It appears Wired Generation, contracted to provide grant services, will not be present. That’s unfortunate, because blame is sometimes shifted to those who are not there. Were they or someone else responsible for final fact checking and matching the proposal responses with the corresponding application questions? Did they or someone else catch the error but were ordered to back off? They have hired a lawyer, so their side of the story may remain unclear for some time.
Read more below the fold about Schundler’s claim that the governor lied.