Tag Archive: Richard Bagger

What’s Happening Today Thu. 01/16/2014

Today attention is drawn to the Senate and Assembly as their new session begins and they establish Bridgegate panels. The Assembly has formed a committe with subpoena power consisting of eight Democrats and four Republicans chaired by Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). Its legal counsel will be former U. S. Attorney Reis Schar who prosecuted the case against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. In the meantime Senate President Sweeney has announced the Senate will create its own separate panel, which appears duplicative of time, staff, resources and issues.

It might be more worthwhile to have each committee address separate matters – a two track inquiry. Much attention has been focused on the Christie administration, but equally important (and maybe more so in the long run) is the Port Authority administration which shares culpability. Its staff (naively) implemented the lane closures and did not inform the proper authorities. It’s PR department maintained “radio silence.” Some of its top executives were not sharing information. People appear to have violated procedures, and the result may well be in violation of federal and state laws. The performance of the agency in Bridgegate only highlights broader concerns regarding its overall performance.

  • Track 1 (Senate): The Port Authority: Investigate its exorbitant toll increases, wisdom/fairness of its investments in NJ, its cover up, its PR departrment and others ignoring requests for information from citizens, legislators and the press, its excessive number of political appointees, appointees from different sides of the Hudson not working well together, “culture of fear” indicated by key PA managers, role  and membership of the Board of Commissioners, procedures for  conducting lane closures and/or traffic studies, and its management structure (Why did Executive Director Patrick Foye say he could not fire Christie appointee Deputy Director Bill Baroni?  And what has to be done to ensure the procedures there work as they should?). Most of these issues are not criminal in nature but get to the heart of what appears to be a dysfunctional agency that needs significant reforms – and one which receives billions of dollars from NJ residents. This investigation would be more far-ranging than the efforts of U. S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.)

  • Track 2 (Assembly): Bridgegate/NJ: Investigation of Gov. Christie, his Executive Office members (and some of their reportees), political appointees, election campaign officials and anyone else who appears involved in planning, implementing or covering up Bridgegate. Find out the who, when, how, why and what in this debacle. Some of this effort may uncover criminal and impeachable activities.

    To his credit NY appointee Executive Director Patrick Foye brought the lane closures to an end in September. He was right on point when his Deputy Bill Baroni, in an e-mail said, “There can be no public discourse,” and Foye responded, “Bill that’s precisely the problem, there has been no public discourse on this.” Foye further vowed, “I will get to the bottom of this abusive decision which violated everything this agency stands for.” Nonetheless four months later we have not heard what he discovered. Instead, The office of U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman (NJ) announced that it had opened a preliminary inquiry after a referral from the inspector general at the Port Authority.  

    Read about the “Hall of Infamy,” Rep. Pascrell’s new bill, and the Governor’s schedule today below the fold.

  • 6 degrees of Christie ALEC Separation

    promoted by Rosi

    For someone who has never heard of an organization, Governor Christie sure has a lot of close friends that are connected to it. Lets recap the ties of Christie associates to ALEC, the right wing corporate funded legislation writing group out of Washington:

    Click to Enlarge

    Those are just the people we know of, but you have to wonder who else in the Administration knows of ALEC that has been pushing these bills to GOP legislators, as they themselves say is being done.

    With all these connections being exposed in New Jersey, we aren’t the only state where there are issues with ALEC. In Wisconsin, an ethics complaint was filed against 43 Republican legislators alleging inappropriate gifts. Let’s not forget, reports say ALEC behind they were also behind the Stand Your Ground law that has made so much news recently in Florida. And on top of that, Coca-Cola pulled its support from ALEC over voter restriction efforts they have been pushing around the country.

    Well when you look at that, if I were Christie I might try to get away with saying I don’t know who they are either. The question is, will the New Jersey media?

    A look at the new NJ-21 (and a brief history)

    by Stephen Yellin

    First, a friendly welcome to the residents of Kenilworth, Chatham Borough, Bernards Township and Far Hills (all 919 of you in the last case) to the 21st Legislative District of New Jersey. I hope you find your accommodations comfortable, as you’ll be staying here for the next 10 years. 🙂

    Second, we in the 21st bid a fond farewell to Chatham Township, Madison and Millburn, which will now have a Democratic delegation to represent them in the form of Dick Codey, John McKeon and Mila Jasey. While this Berkeley Heights resident is more than a little jealous to be less than a mile away from having this awesome trio as my delegation, I take comfort in knowing that my friends at Drew University will get to know another awesome ex-Governor a lot better in the year ahead*.  

    Schundler won’t be there, but Richard Bagger should feel especially ashamed today

    UPDATE 11:15am: Hearing has now started. Listen Live now.

    UPDATE 1:26p: I’ll keep this diary up top because it has the audio feed link in it (below), and I know Jay’s at the hearing, but here’s a link to the_promised_land’s post, listening in.

    Placeholder for Bret Schundler at RTTT hearing
    Jay snapped this pix – the placeholder of Schundler’s empty seat

    We have word this morning that Bret Schundler, who appears to have a story to tell, declines to testify this morning’s in the first legislative inquiry into the massive Race to the Top failures, which starts any minute.

    But it’s Richard Bagger, Gov. Christie’s Chief of Staff, who should feel especially embarrassed today to be joining the Executive Branch’s stonewalling of the Legislative Branch. For four years Assemblyman Bagger was the Chair of the Appropriations Committee, the very committee whose legitimate questions he now refuses to answer.

    Schundler, cut loose and blamed by Chris Christie personally, is ditching the hearing on his own decision, presumably. The Christie administration has also declined the Assembly Appropriations Committee’s request to question:

    Maria Comella, spokesperson and top aide

    Michael Drewniak, Communications Director

    Greg Edwards, aide

    Schundler releases chronology, emails and documents regarding Race to the Top

    A few minutes ago, former NJ Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, fired a few days ago for “lying” to Governor Christie about events connected to the state’s bungled Race to the Top funding for NJ schools, released documents he believes will set the record straight that he is telling the truth, and it is the governor who is not being truthful. From the chronology, comes this extraordinary quote. Schundler:

    I have thought about the possibility that beyond my being a scapegoat for his misstatement, the Governor might be angry at me for not telling him the interview was videotaped. In my defense, I never believed I needed to say, ‘Governor, stick to the truth, there’s a videotape.’ Perhaps I should have.

    First is a 7-page written chronology which begins with the dizzying events of the last few days, including a press conference called to blame the Obama administration for the funding loss, in which the governor said something Schundler says the governor knew was not true. Next come emails between Schundler and Maria Comella, a spokewoman and top staffer to Christie. Next is a draft of a letter to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, submitted to Christie Chief of Staff Richard Bagger. It makes, as he says, points he knew the Governor’s office wanted, but does not include a claim that Schundler’s team provided the federal interviewers with the data NJ’s application was missing. Finally come two rewrites Bagger did of Schundler’s Duncan letter. In the first, you will see that an assertion has been added – apparently untrue – that Schundler provided those missing figures to the federal interviewers. In the second, Bagger has removed the false claim that Schundler provided those missing numbers to the interviewers, because Schundler had insisted that was not true. Schundler says he transferred Bagger’s second rewrite to his letterhead, signed and emailed it to Washington, following up with a pdf of that letter.

    This is all breaking now. We haven’t had much time to sift through it, but I wanted to get it all up now to you raw, so you could begin to read it for yourself. Schundler provided all these documents, and we uploaded them from the first place we saw them, Asbury Park Press:

    Schundler’s Chronology of Events

    Schundler-Comella Email Exchange

    Schundler: My Draft Letter to Duncan

    Schundler: Bagger’s First Rewrite of my Duncan Letter

    Schundler: Bagger’s Second Rewrite of my Duncan Letter