Tag Archive: George Washington Bridge

The GOPs Fake Vision of Legislative Oversight

promoted by Rosi

Over the last week, deciminyan drafted thought exercises on how New Jersey might be different the Governor and the GOP had taken different steps during and after the closure of the GWB occurred. They're good pieces I recommend reading and want to add to these exercises.

 What would have happened if we listened to the GOPs criticisms throughout this process and took their advice?

Yesterday's committee hearing may have been the most downright disappointing one thus far. It seems that decorum has mostly vanished from within the Statehouse walls all in the name of showmanship. The minority is desparately attempting to transform the Bridgegate narrative into one of blind partisanship. By throwing insulting stones directed personally at the majority members, their hope is that the majority members will return the jabs and demonstrate the GOPs point.

So far, this has been largely unsuccessful. Despite one Senator's tirade decrying his First Amendment rights and another claiming a Kangaroo Court comprised not of legislators, but…Democrats (the horror!), the investigation has rightfully political, not partisan; objective, not subjective; and transparent, not opaque.

As the Republican members introduced their minority report and voted against releasing the Interim Committee Report, they gave a variety of reasons why they could not support the report. Let's explore how things would be different if the GOP got their wishes.

(Follow me below the fold for the illogic and irony.)

Imagine – Part Deux

Last week, I posted a diary called “Imagine”, in which I let my imagination take me to a world where Governor Christie was a moderate Republican instead of a presidential candidate bowing to the worst that the GOP has to offer. Driving home from Trenton today, I imagined something else. I thought about how the Special Committee investigating the George Washington Bridge closure could have been more valuable to the citizens of New Jersey had the Republicans wanted to get to the bottom of the incident instead of making this a totally partisan game.

I’m not naïve. I know Trenton is the center of political gamesmanship and that every one of our legislators is a political animal. Every action, every vote, every question they pose is filtered through a political lens. But if politics is their only criterion, they don’t deserve to wear the moniker “public servant.”

Today, I witnessed the worst exhibition of non-value-added partisan politics in the actions of Senator Kevin O’Toole as he read his opening statement during the session called to issue the interim report of the Bridgegate legislative committee. Speaking with venom that would make Rush Limbaugh cringe, O’Toole aimed his rant directly at co-chair Wisniewski with personal attacks on his motives and actions, even comparing Wisnewski’s to Kim Jung Il. PolitickerNJ’s Chase Brush called it a 10-minute tirade, and committee member Assemblyman Louis Greenwald called it “unprofessional.” Greenwald was being kind.

More, including the Democratic response, below the fold.

The GWB: A Bridge to Manhattan, Yes, But for Others A Conduit to Finality

Cross Posted from http://kurzglobe.blogspot.com/…

The George Washington Bridge. That vital trans-Hudson span and architectural wonder has been in the news quite a lot lately. Of course the bridge’s Fort Lee approaches are at the center of several investigations concerning whether or not they were purposely bottlenecked last September at the behest of Governor Christie (though certainly, members of his office were at the center of the bottleneck). Whether or not the Bridge will bring down the governor, time will tell.

Ever since I was a kid, “The Bridge” has always been at the center of a dramatic trip. Coming from New Jersey, you don’t really see the span until you’re right upon it. While traversing it, one can really take in its majesty as it launches from the Jersey Palisades, over the wide, blue Hudson waters and into the world’s principal metropolis. For millions of motorists and travelers, it is a bridge to wonders, to opportunities, to the Yankee Game, to an evening in the Big City.

Still, since its completion in 1928 the bridge has served a more nefarious, disheartening purpose. For so many people, the bridge has been a final destination, a conduit, an otherworldly span, and a terrifying shortcut to the Afterlife.

A glance at area news sources prove that, just over the past two weeks, leaping from the span has been the primary method of attempted and successful suicide attempts. On May 1 of this year a couple jumped to their death in the waters far below; several others have tried and been ‘talked down’ by police and passersby. In these difficult financial times, some people are finding themselves especially desperate. The lack of affordable, prompt, comprehensive care for the mentally ill doesn’t help either. And thus, The Bridge lurks, always nearby, twinkling at night, always accessible.

The bridge was finished in 1928, seemingly just in time for the Great Depression which followed a year later. The Depression years took a devastating financial and personal toll on millions, and some of them made their way to The Bridge in a distressed effort to escape the times.

As a local historian and history teacher, I try to remind my readers and students that history is more than just wars and diseases and assassinations. It’s the story of real people coping with real challenges that, from their point of view, might have no end. For many of The Bridge’s early jumpers of the 1930’s, this was certainly the case. Depressed, broke, alienated…during this era, research shows us that too many leapt to their demise – even when, apparently, under a doctor’s care.

One of the most touching and disturbing examples that I found occurred in late October 1932, when The Bridge was still new. Elizabeth Trivett, aged 28, walked to the span’s center and jumped into the Hudson. After a short investigation Police had found she drove in from Glen Ridge in Essex County. Her note was especially poignant, as well as disturbing:

“Telephone Bloomfield 2-0116 and tell the doctor I’ve done it. Made up my mind and gone ‘somewhere.’ I know dad and mother’s hearts will not survive this shock, so please give them something at once to ease their going. My way of going is lovely.”

As the Depression wore on, The Bridge successfully tempted jumpers from the flailing financial industry. In August 1935, Manhattan resident and bank vice president Claude Allnutt, 56, took his final leap. His story is particularly interesting. A self-made Maryland man, Allnutt was a highly educated college grad who worked himself up in the world, from clerk to bank executive. He was being treated for depression at the time, but apparently that did not stop him from making his tragic end. He left behind five children. The police officer that witnessed the jump claimed that Allnutt was particularly directed in his goal and did not hesitate for a moment before leaping. Others sometimes waited and wailed for hours, but not Allnutt.

Then there was April 19, 1938. On that infamous day two men jumped from the bridge, apparently unrelated to one another. Reports on the first jumper were hard to come by, but the second man, who could not be immediately identified, was about 65. The only clues to his identity and motive were the fact that upon paying his five cent pedestrian toll, he mentioned that he had broken his last dollar. His suicide note could not be immediately deciphered, as it was scribbled in Yiddish.  

The bridge continues to attract those who seek a final end. In 2012 alone 18 went to their deaths, with 43 more trying.

Suicide is an extremely personal and individual act. I really cannot suggest how the bridge might be made safer for those who are absolutely determined to end their lives. For those who are not contemplating that final act, The Bridge provides a spectacular pedestrian journey between New Jersey and New York. And the bridge is a long one; I don’t know how responsible we can hold local and Port Authority Police for patrolling every inch of it, looking for people who are seeking to end their lives. There are other, more pressing concerns for them, like preventing massive acts of terror and monitoring millions of motorists. But I know that many law enforcement officers who work in and on the span have received special training in dealing with the suicidal.

In the end, The Bridge will continue to stand. It will stand for progress, for the links that bring us together, and, unfortunately, for death.

Note to Christie: Those who live by the accountability sword will die by the accountability sword.

Promoted by Rosi

From the moment he was sworn in four years ago, Gov. Christie has been on a personal jihad against public education, unions and teachers. Labeling us “greedy” and “selfish”, and our apartheid schools in high-poverty districts as “failure factories”, he’s done everything possible to brainwash the general public into thinking our schools are overrun with bad teachers who must be held accountable.

He succeeded in getting a new evaluation system passed (my district uses Danielson)* that now tracks every pencil stroke of a student against their teacher. No stone is left unturned as administrators evaluate everything from how a teacher greets her students at the door, to whether students are able to solve their own social problems. And forget about expecting to be found ‘highly effective’ (a score of 4 on a 1-4 scale). Every teacher in New Jersey has been spoon-fed the mantra, “live in 3; vacation in 4”. To be highly effective, students pretty much have to teach themselves and solve their own problems. So, if you are a highly effective teacher, you essentially teach yourself into obsolescence. And yea, that’s totally reasonable, especially with kindergarteners.

GIRLS: Chris Christie’s belittling, 1950s, sexist jerkwater POV on Bridget Kelly

Emotional. Erratic. Crying. Habitually concerned about how she was perceived by the governor. Jilted by Bill Stepien. Going on talking jags about her failed love life with Stepien.  

This is how Christie lawyer Randy Mastro sums up Bridget Kelly in his slick (but flawed), exhaustive (but incomplete) 360-page report ‘exonerating’ the Governor. It’s an astonishing way to discuss a woman who, whatever her personal challenges, was also a Deputy Chief of Staff to arguably the most powerful governor in the country. This is not an insignificant position, and it is a level to which confused little ninnies do not rise.

Can you imagine either Mastro or Christie suggesting these things about a man? In fact, let’s be specific: they claim her doomed love affair was with Stepien. But do they attribute his decisions to a troubled personal life?  No, they do not. And Christie, who’s had an hour of press conference questions, and a TV chat with Diane Sawyer since, has done nothing to distance himself from Mastro’s characterization of Kelly. So consider it his, too.

They’re entirely comfortable doing this to this woman; comfortable enough to put it in writing, say it out loud. Read: She’s a girl.. In the worldview of this “investigation,” that’s all you have to say, because the rest of it does not have to be said. It’s understood: She’s a girl. You know how they are. Unstable. For all we know, probably on her period. Who knows why she did it? Go figure girls. As though screwing with the safety and ease of movement of hundreds of thousands of people on the busiest bridge in the world was simply the worst PMS ever. Mastro’s team didn’t even interview her and still he sums her up in strictly personal terms. Just her.

Look, I have no sympathy for Bridget Kelly. None. I don’t care that she comes to court tugging your heartstrings in pearls, weeping and looking powerless. She had power. She used it as a cudgel, risking public safety of hundreds of thousands of people for some kind of political retribution. And did so gleefully and in writing, mocking the people she inconvenienced. So, screw her. She’s earned the fight she’ll have in court.