Tag Archive: Bridgegate

What’s Happening Today Fri. 01/10/2014

Yesterday was a sad moment for New Jerseyans when the news of pettiness and vindictiveness of highly placed State political operatives rippled throughout the nation. BridgeGate had already resulted in two political appointees having to leave their positions at the Port Authority. With the release of inflammatory emails two more individuals who worked closely with Gov. Christie found themselves jobless. Christie, who on frequent occasions publicly insulted and belittled others, said, “the conduct in those emails is unacceptable to me.” He was referring to staff members who insulted and belittled residents of Fort Lee and its Mayor.

It was unpleasant yesterday watching David Wildstein, a political appointee of Christie to the Port Authority, repeatedly asserting his right to the fifth amendment. He carried out the lane closures, but now having lost his job and facing potential criminal charges, he refused to divulge what he knew about the matter. The Assembly Committee, to its credit, in a series of votes acted in a bipartisan manner culminating in Wildstein being declared in contempt of the Legislature and subject to a misdemeanor charge.

The firing yesterday of Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly, who told David Wildstein via email to commence traffic problems in Fort Lee, was the first clear indication that the matter was orchestrated within the Executive Office. Many do not believe, however, that she would have initiated the action without higher authorization. She reported directly to Kevin O’Toole O’Dowd, Christie’s Chief of Staff. As the emails suggested, the Fort Lee lane closures were political retribution and its mayor was number two on some type of “Hit” list. The person running Christie’s campaign re-election was Bill Stepien whom Christie yesterday removed from consideration for key state and national jobs.

Christie is known to tightly control State activities within the Executive Office. In his press conference yesterday, filled with self-referential comments, he apologized and said he was “shocked, ” and “had no knowledge of the operation.” In typical obfuscatory language he admitted “mistakes were made.” With four people tied to his administration already out of their jobs, questions remain: are there not others who also made mistakes and who are they? Transportation Committee Chair John Wisniewski has promised to issue additional appearance subpoenas possibly starting with Deputy Chief of Staff Kelly. Other investigations have also been launched.

Today we hear that thousands of additional emails are expected to be released this morning. The Governor who said he would collaborate with the investigations could expedite a swift conclusion by asking his key staff to testify openly. Sadly that is unlikely to happen so BridgeGate will end up being a long drawn out tawdry affair.

Pinelands Commission: 9:30am, expected to vote on this resolution: “Authorizing the Executive Director to Enter into a Memorandum of Agreement Between the New Jersey Pinelands Commission and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Regarding Construction of Approximately 15 miles of a 22-Mile, 24-Inch Natural Gas Pipeline in the State Designated Pinelands Area. The meeting is in New Lisbon.”No. No. No.

What’s Happening Today Thu. 01/09/2014

Throughout the course of BridgeGate there have been denials that the lane closings were orchestrated within the Executive Office and that political retribution was the motivation for closing the lanes. With yesterday’s published e-mails the cover up has unraveled. We now know why it was done. We still must learn the “who” – the co-conspirators in this plot.

Yesterday we found out that Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly gave David Wildstein the go-ahead: “Time for some traffic problem in Fort Lee,” to which Wildstein responded “Got it.” The message would have been without context if there had not been prior discussion about closing the lanes. A little over two weeks later lanes were closed.  

Does anyone believe that Kelly would issue such a directive, knowing there would be traffic chaos, without discussing the matter with her boss? If and when she testifies at a hearing she should be grilled on who else knew about the plan and particularly what role her boss Kevin O’Dowd, Chief of Staff, played in the matter. Didn’t he know about it and even give her the order? He had followed Christie from the U.S. Attorney’s office to the State House. He was now the gatekeeper, the giver of orders, conduit and  confidante, carrying out instructions of his boss, being sure that they were followed, and keeping his boss up to date.

More recently Christie nominated Kevin O’Dowd to be our Attorney General – a position ill-suited for him if he was involved in ordering or covering up the matter. At an Assembly Hearing or a Senatorial confirmation hearing (if he should get that far) he has to be asked what he knew, when he knew it, and whether he issued the go-ahead to his Deputy. Even if one believes O’Dowd knew nothing initially about the plan, once the chaos ensued and the press and legislators demanded answers, the first person he would want to query would be his Deputy Director Kelly who was responsible for liaison with the Port Authority. Thus he should have found out the truth of the matter by mid-September.

Given O’Dowd’s close relationship with the Governor, does anyone believe that he would not have discussed the matter with the Governor? Received his OK to proceed? Or later informed him that Kelly told Wildstein to go ahead? From September to January all we heard were denials. It is now apparent that at different points in time P. A. Board Chair and Christie confidante David Samson knew what was going on, as did Bill Stepien, Christie’s Campaign Manager. (Read Samson’s denial of any knowledge here, which seems at odds with the published emails.)  Yesterday Christie also denied any knowledge.

Andrea Bernstein at WNYC reported in December “There was a lot of whispering during Christie’s re-election campaign that he had a ‘naughty and nice’ list, but no one had been able to prove it.” We don’t know who was on the “nice” part but from yesterday’s emails we learned that on the “bad” part Jersey City Mayor Steven Fullop was number 1 and Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich was number 2. Thus, the bridge closing as political retribution seems so much clearer. The list was out there and Christie operatives knew who was on it and felt empowered to take action.

Christie said yesterday “Not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.” He goes on to say, “People will be held responsible for their actions.”  So it’s not just “a member of my staff” but its “people” who will be held responsible. The net of co-conspirators in the lane closing and the cover up is growing larger. There are doubts that this conduct was made without his knowledge and he will have a tough time extricating himself from that net.

Stay tuned for Gov. Christie’s 11:00am press conference today and the Assembly hearing scheduled to start at Noon, which will be televised on NJTV and can be heard here.


Quote of the Day: Walks Like A Duck Edition

Punctuating his denial of involvement in the growing GWB scandal, Governor Christie tells us:

This behavior is not representative of me or my administration in any way…

Except that’s exactly what it is, by definition. Does the governor hope to confuse people as to what words mean and how they are used? Ridiculous.

It’s classic Christie to spit in your face and tell you it’s raining. But this is like saying that up is down. And no one is buying it.

Bridgegate – The Movie

The George Washington Bridge scandal will not go away. Things get weirder as we learn that David Wildstein, Christie’s man in the Port Authority who ordered the politically-motivated lane closures, had purchased Internet domains with the names of everyone from Barbara Buono’s running mate, Milly Silva, to the child of political pundit Julie Roginsky.

This is the kind of stuff that Hollywood dreams of. A scandal that potentially reaches the highest levels of power with plot twists that a fiction writer would deem as too weird to believe. So let’s speculate on the cast of the movie “Bridgegate.”

I’ve got John Goodman pegged as the actor who will play the role of Chris Christie. Do you agree? Who do you think will take the role of Bill Baroni? David Wildstein? Loretta Weinberg? Pat Foye? John Wisniewski? Barbara Buono?

Playing in Traffic – GWB Toll “Gate”

A civil engineer provides some perspective on how things like “traffic studies” actually occur in the real world. There are still many answers Port Authority needs to provide. So far, their story doesn’t quite add up. Promoted by Rosi Originally Posted at my column at The Epoch Times

How to conduct a Traffic Study

Listening to the 5 hours of riveting hearings on the Port Authority lane closings at the George Washington Bridge  on Monday, I started having flashbacks to my first engineering related job.

I was a Traffic Enumerator.  I literally counted cars at intersections with my elderly co-worker Sam. Often folks passing by would ask if we were selling lemonade or waiting for a parade.  We looked like a kindly old gentleman and his granddaughter sitting in lawn chairs on the sidewalk.  But we were off to the side, not interfering, and certainly not directing traffic. In my lap I held a square traffic counter that had buttons all around the sides.  The modern digital ones look like this.  When a car would pass through the intersection and make a particular movement – right turn, left turn or straight, I would press the appropriate button. Every 15 minutes would I read off the numbers to Sam and every hour we would take turns.  We would also track pedestrians and cyclists.

In the office, I would file the copious accident reports that happened on county roads and that were used by the traffic engineers to improve safety around Bergen County. I knew all the types of traffic studies we would do.  Curve Speed, Traffic Light Timing, you name it.  I would often sit in the office after doing one of these studies to analyze the data for the traffic engineers.

Traffic studies were never undertaken by closing lanes just to see what would happen.  That was never done.  According to the testimony by Port Authority employees and the independent traffic expert on Monday, that appears to still be the case.  Observation is the standard protocol.  Not interference.  Closing lanes for a traffic study is unnecessary and actually, quite insane. Which is why I have difficulty believing David Wildstein, Port Authority Director of Interstate Capital Projects who resigned Friday December  6, and Bill Baroni, Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority, now being called on to step down, who say the Port Authority was conducting a traffic study, by summarily closing two Fort Lee entrance lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September.