Tag Archive: Bridgegate

ICYMI: Springsteen mocks Christie

Christie’s gotten a lot of mileage chumming up to Bruce Sprinsteen and trying to paint himself a regular Jersey guy. So this has got to hurt:

Governor, let me in, I want to be your friend,

There’ll be no partisan divisions.

Let me wrap my legs ’round your mighty rims,

And relieve your stressful condition.

You got Wall Street masters stuck cheek to cheek

With blue collar truckers.

And man, I really got to take a leak.

But I can’t, I’m stuck in Gov. Chris Christie’s Fort Lee traffic jam …

ICYMI: Springsteen mocks Christie

Christie’s gotten a lot of mileage chumming up to Bruce Sprinsteen and trying to paint himself a regular Jersey guy. So this has got to hurt:

Governor, let me in, I want to be your friend,

There’ll be no partisan divisions.

Let me wrap my legs ’round your mighty rims,

And relieve your stressful condition.

You got Wall Street masters stuck cheek to cheek

With blue collar truckers.

And man, I really got to take a leak.

But I can’t, I’m stuck in Gov. Chris Christie’s Fort Lee traffic jam …

What’s Happening today Wed. 01/15/2014

Today people are digesting the comments in Christie’s State of the State Address. For many the meal did not go down so well.

With Bridgegate on the minds of many and swirling suspicions in the air one might have thought that Christie would be more responsive. The State of the State Address might be designed to be lofty and to convey a sweep of past achievements and a broad vision for the future. However, there is something rotten in the state of our State (or more particularly in the Executive Office and the Port Authority.) He said little on the matter, and what he did say was not reassuring. He vaguely reiterated, “mistakes were clearly made,” but he did not  elaborate further. He failed to fess up about anything he might know or have done, and he placed the onus on others to find out the truth.

Furthermore, he put his future cooperation with investigative bodies in doubt. He said, “We will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries.” Apparently he will only respond to inquiries which he deems appropriate. Given the number of investigations that are likely to take place, more will be revealed. He had said on Thursday, “I’m not completed with those interviews yet, but when I am, if there is additional information that needs to be disclosed, I will do so.” He could have let people know what he knows and maybe have put the matter closer to rest. Instead, he has made his bed and will have to lie in it – uncomfortable, with little rest and a rotten smell in the air.      

He distracted attention away from Bridgegate (not suitable for a national or NJ audience) and spent much of his time talking about new initiatives. They included K-12 education, higher education, crime prevention, drug rehabilitation, job training. health care, and infrastructure investment. However,  they were just soundbite teases.  He said, “We have discussed many exciting opportunities for investment …. But here is the simple truth. We cannot afford to do it right now.”  He then put the blame on “soaring pension and debt costs.” Pension reform does call for increasingly hefty state contributions in the new and succeeding budgets. However, it was these reforms which he trumpeted for years after negotiating them with Democratic legislators. The reforms called for sacrifice from State employees and pensioners but the quid pro quo was that the State would resume required contributions. He left listeners unsure whether he was arguing for reduced contributions, more sacrifice or something else. He raised the subject but provided no solution.

If this was a bad moment to capture the attention of a national audience, he was successful. His discussion of sometimes arcane Jersey-specific issues was not of interest elsewhere, and cable TV’s attention waned.

Other than initially patting himself on the back with dubious successes (jobs, unemployment, holding the line against new taxes, Sandy recovery, and shrinking State employees), he said little of substance. His new initiatives vanished into thin air. Regarding Bridgegate he acknowledged nothing new and left us with uncertainty regarding his future cooperation. The final blow was raising the specter of another blood-letting battle over pensions.

Nixon had an enemies list. Does Christie?

When Steve Fulop beat Jerry Healy for Jersey City mayor, after a rare mayoral endorsement from President Obama, he got a call from Chris Christie. Then one from Bill Stepian, who offered the new mayor the administration’s help. Then Bridget Kelly set up what she called a “mayor’s day” to meet with top officials of 6 different administration agencies. And meetings with the head of Christie’s Sandy recovery team and Bill Baroni at the PA. Meetings were set for June & July. Then, one by one, abruptly canceled. With zero explanation. Fulop, whose inauguration Christie attended, considered endorsing him. But didn’t. And now, Fulop says he was punished.

Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer said she had a face-to-face meeting with Christie and told him she would remain neutral when he asked for her endorsement. She’s now saying that Hoboken was shortchanged when the city got only $300k in hazard mitigation grants instead of the $100 million she asked for.

Elizabeth mayor Chris Bollwage wonders if the loss of a local DMV is connected to his not endorsing.

It’s hard-wired in me to take much of what Democratic mayors say with a grain of salt. Zimmer’s and Fulop’s sometime chumminess with the Governor has troubled me. But the landscape is shifting fast. The governor has shown us he’s capable of worse than we suspected. And he’s surrounded himself with people just as conniving as he is.

And speaking of that, here’s one of the subpoenaed documents from Port Authority, a memo from David Wildstein’s assistant to her boss, showing him where he’s showing up on social media. There’s Blue Jersey –  both a tweet, and one of my posts. Lots of other folks too. But few of them have been as hard on Christie – and on Wildstein – as we have. Not without reason.

Bridgegate is Not as Important as You Think

“In the long run, we’re all dead.” – Keynes

When the history of the Christie reign is written, Bridgegate will be an interesting, but unmemorable chapter.

That’s not to say that this scandal is unimportant today, but the long-term effect of the ersatz “traffic study” will pale in comparison to many of Christie’s other blunders.

What will be the overall effect of Bridgegate?

Maybe a 91 year-old woman died because of the delay in emergency response services due to Christie’s traffic jams, but that’s uncertain. But how many anonymous people have died and will die due to Christie’s callous disregard of the availability of health care to poor and middle-class New Jerseyans?

Thousands of kids were late for school because their busses couldn’t navigate through the unnecessary traffic. But millions of school kids will suffer due to Christie’s negligence of public education, his vilification of schoolteachers, and his promotion of education profiteers.

Air quality in Fort Lee and surrounding areas suffered because cars and trucks were sitting idly, spewing out carbon monoxide and other toxic gasses. But that pales in comparison to the destructive impact of Christie’s unilateral pull out from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Christie will not be impeached, nor will he resign over this matter – even if it is proven that he had prior knowledge (of which I have no doubt.) Maybe Bridgegate will scuttle his presidential ambitions, but his party wouldn’t have nominated him anyway. He’s just too sane and rational to rise to the top of the pile of cacophonous clowns that have hijacked the Party of Lincoln. The more important (and scary) fact is that New Jersey is stuck with his out-of-touch agenda for the next four years.

So let the investigation continue. It is important that the public know all of the facts. More of Christie’s underlings will be punished, as they should be. But the man at the top will escape with, at worst, a slap on the wrist. Getting rid of Wildstein and Kelly needed to happen, but there are more than enough Christie cronies out there to fill those positions.

Hopefully when this is over, when Christie’s luster is tarnished, the mainstream media will focus on the real harm that Christie’s actions have done to our state, and on the problems he will exacerbate in the next four years.

#Bridgeghazi: Why “motive” isn’t all that important right about now

promoted by Rosi

Word is that it was payback for the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee not endorsing Christie’s re-election or it was payback to NJ Legislative Democrats over the State Supreme Court or a development project in Fort Lee.

Or something else – which may or may not be found out through investigations, hearings or maybe even subpoenas and prosecutions.  And ironically, it was this and not one of the myriad of other things he did over his career that finally has people sitting up and taking notice of how scummy Governor Fleece has been consistently over the course of his career.

But at this point, quite honestly, the big thing here is not why this was done (even though it could lead to other crimes being uncovered and could be a very big deal in its own right), but the mere fact of how many people in Christie’s inner circle were so very intimately involved in the planning and cover up of this – leading to the conclusion that the only way that Christie actually didn’t know about the planning and cover up is if it was perfectly clear by design that Christie was to purposely be kept in the dark about the details.  

Which is (1) not plausible or (2) a sinister culture (a point made many times already) in that these people – people this loyal to him – would not keep Christie in the dark about something this big and this damaging without him wanting to not be told of the details.

In short – this could not credibly have been kept from Christie without he himself letting his inner circle know that he doesn’t want to know about these things.  And not wanting to know how this is being covered up or not pressing to find out why his own high level appointees were resigning is patently absurd to anyone who has followed Christie in any way.

Normalizing “Plausible Deniability”

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

I don’t normally watch the Sunday talk shows… but how could I not this week? All Christie, all the time.

The big question the punditocracy seems to care about now is “What did Christie know and when did he know it?” That’s fine, to a point — but it’s also a problem. Because it sets a default position for Christie, and every other politician, that I find dangerous:

In this point of view, if something unseemly happens on a political leader’s watch, and there’s no evidence that the leader was directly involved, it reflects on their character, their judgement, and their prospects for advancement. But it also absolves them from responsibility.

I’m watching David Gregory on Meet The Press, and he’s saying, right at the beginning of the show and in the most serious of tones, that we must understand that there’s no “smoking gun” linking Christie directly to Bridgegate. His panel all nod their heads in agreement: it wouldn’t be right, apparently, to sanction Christie if he didn’t have direct knowledge of the plot.

Well, why the hell not?

Something is Rotten in Drumthwacket

Conventional wisdom has it that the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge was done by Christie loyalists, most likely with a wink and a nod from the Governor, in order to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (or to punish Senator Loretta Weinberg, if you buy into the Rachel Maddow theory.)

The problem is that this hypothesis makes no sense. If Christie wanted to punish Sokolich and the people of Fort Lee for supporting Barbara Buono, there would be subtler and more effective ways of doing so.

Does anyone really believe that a tie-up at the bridge and subsequent jams in the streets of Fort Lee would be immediately pinned on the mayor? Were there any editorials in the local papers on the day of the traffic jam excoriating Sokolich? Are Christie’s minions so incompetent that they think a traffic jam in North Jersey would point back to Sokolich or Weinberg?

If Christie wanted to punish Sokolich, there are other, more direct ways to do so. His biggest club would be the fiscal one. Reducing state aid to a municipality or school district that he doesn’t like is Christie’s modus operandi. The state’s eminent domain power could be invoked to place undesirable things like high-voltage power lines or sewage treatment plants in the town. Another way that Christie could punish Fort Lee residents is to perpetuate traffic jams by cancelling the ARC tunnel. (Oh wait! He already did that.)

There’s got to be more to this story than a short-lived traffic jam. Ideally, an independent special prosecutor should be brought in. Speaker-elect Prieto has indicated that he is amenable to extending the subpoena power of Assemblyman Wisniewski’s Transportation Committee. The Governor and his direct reports (Counsel Charles McKenna and Chief of Staff Kevin O’Dowd) must testify under oath about what they knew and when they knew it. Same for Christie’s mouthpiece, Michael Drewniak. Port Authority Chairman David Samson must testify under oath as to what orders he received from Trenton and what actions he took unilaterally. Until that happens, the stench of lies and obfuscation will permeate Christie’s second term.

For now, the idea that Christie is taking political retribution on a mayor by creating a traffic jam makes as little sense as the “traffic study” explanation that was perpetrated by Mr. Wildstein.

Why did Christie meet with Port Authority Chief days before “the email”?

One thing that jumped out at me in looking over the stories of the newly released 900 pages of documents was this little nugget from Assemblyman Wisniewski, who is leading the investigation (emphasis mine):

Secondly, the documents submitted by David Wildstein and his attorney are documents they deemed specifically related to the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge as per our subpoena request. Included in these documents is a reference to what appears to be a meeting between Port Authority Chairman David Samson and the governor one week before Bridget Kelly issued the order to cause ‘traffic problems’ in Fort Lee. By submitting these documents, Mr. Wildstein is telling us they are related to the lane closures in some way. The question that demands answering is how?

In and of itself, this would be a pretty important factoid and some curious timing, given that Christie said yesterday that he doesn’t really know what all 65,000+ state employees are doing.  But in doing his damage control, Christie had this to say about Samson:  

Christie did say that he met for two hours with Samson, the former state attorney general whom he appointed as Port Authority chairman, and that he was confident that Samson had no involvement in the Bridgegate scandal.

There is some very curious timing in the meeting between Christie and the Port Authority Chief he appointed and the email from Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff ordering the lane closures.  And now Christie is saying that Samson was not involved.

If they met just days before the lane closures were ordered and neither of them had any involvement in the lane closures, and there is no traffic study, what went on at that meeting?