Tag Archive: Newark Airport

Bridgegate Shoes Falling: Does Wolff & Samson expect founder David Samson to be indicted soon?

Chris Christie, David Samson

I mean, they’re scrubbing his name off everything.

David Samson, who faces a widening federal criminal investigation into his actions as the former Port Authority chair, is not only retiring from the practice of law, but Wolff & Samson is changing its name, completely eliminating his.

Sounds like a defensive crouch on the part of Samson’s law firm. Maybe they’re expecting an indictment soon? David Samson is a towering figure in NJ law; the founder of a powerful firm, and a mentor of a national-figure Republican governor on track for a White House run. The Samson name should give the firm gravitas, even after his departure. But  – nope – it won’t get the chance; they’ll rebrand with another Christie insider, Jeff Chiesa, headlining the firm.

Samson’s been under investigation by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman for months for dealings in a number of areas, including:  

Christie-quarantined nurse, still asymptomatic for Ebola, being transported out of New Jersey

Well, I guess somebody in Chris Christie’s corner convinced him holding an Ebola-asymptomatic nurse in a hastily-organized and inadequate tent outside a Jersey hospital was a political liability to him. Because in a reversal from his strongly-worded defense of his decision to trap her in a tent in New Jersey for 21 days, nurse Kaci Hickox will be going home to Maine. She has tested negative for Ebola twice. She has no fever.

Of course, it could also have been her widely-reported threat to sue. Or the photos of her living conditions – portable toilet, no shower, no TV – the last 3 days. Or the fact that she spoke out on national TV Sunday that her rights were being violated by Governor Christie. Her boyfriend – a nursing student in Maine – said she decided to speak out after Christie defended the quarantine saying she was “obviously ill” when she, a medical professional, knew she was not.

Hickox, who shows zero symptoms of infection with the Ebola virus, is expected to be released today, after details are worked out for her transfer. Hickox is 33, and returned through Newark Airport from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone with Doctors Without Borders. In a first-person account for the Dallas Morning News – in the city which saw the only Ebola death in the U.S. and the state where she was educated – recounted a chaotic scene at Newark Liberty Airport and the certainty of doctors at University Hospital in Newark who knew pretty quickly that she was negative for Ebola, and had no fever.

The White House pushed back on New Jersey’s mandatory quarantine rules over the weekend. Cue the right-wing freakout over Kaci Hickox’s personal politics. Fear-mongering bests science for these folks every time.

Inoperable cameras caused two hour delay in confirming Newark security breach

The list of things that went wrong with the security scare at Newark just keeps getting longer. Now we learn from ABC News that some of the security cameras weren’t working:

Now, the responsibility to operate those cameras — broken since Dec. 28 — has become a point of contention between the airport and the Transportation Security Administration.

The security cameras, owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the airport’s operator, were rolling but not recording, forcing the TSA to seek permission to use a second set of surveillance cameras controlled by Continental Airlines.

And the failure of the cameras caused a major delay in getting confirmation of the breach:

The redundant cameras have been in place since the pre-9/11 era when, the airlines were responsible for their own security. Continental provided the tapes to the TSA as soon as the airline became aware the TSA wanted them. The inoperable cameras caused a two-hour gap between the security breach and when the TSA was able to confirm it.

It’s just completely unacceptable that these lapses continue to happen.  Now we have a blame game over whose fault it is that the cameras weren’t on and recording.  All the full body scanners in the world aren’t going to fix problems like that. After a briefing at the airport on Monday, Senators Menendez and Lautenberg have a press conference scheduled for tomorrow to call on the TSA to make specific upgrades at Newark Airport.  I hope one of those requests is turning the cameras on.

Booker puts Conan on Newark Airport’s “No Fly List” and Conan responds in kind

Conan started it:

Conan joked last week that Booker was setting up a program to improve the health of his city’s residents – “the health care program would consist of a bus ticket out of Newark.”

And Mayor Booker responded, first praising Newark’s progress and then offering this:

“I’m also mayor of the city with one of the largest airports in the United States… I’m officially putting you on the Newark New jersey Airport No Fly List. Try JFK buddy.”

Here’s the video from Booker:

It’s a pretty creative way to respond and try to correct some of the stereotypes that exist about the city and while he’s joking about the no-fly list, he’s extremely serious about dispelling some of the typical thinking around Newark. Here’s what Booker had to say about not letting these criticisms go unanswered:

“From now on, if people are going to make fun of our city, I’m going to step back at them.” Booker said in an interview.

“With everything that is happening here, Newark is not a joke.”

But Conan responded again last night:

The late-night joker then pointed out that he could easily get to Newark by navigating the nations sewer systems because “everyone knows, all sewer pipes lead to Newark.”

O’Brien even did a little research and found out that a small section of Newark Airport’s Terminal A is actually in neighboring Elizabeth, New Jersey.

“So Mr. Mayor, looks like you need to brush up on your Essex County/Union County geography,” Conan chided.

The talk-show host also officially banned Booker from Burbank’s airport.

In the end, O’Brien invited the mayor on to his show so they could settle their differences “like gentlemen.”

Booker said he would respond some time today to Conan’s latest. Back in 2007, ESPN commentator Barry Melrose toured the city and apologized for comments he had made that were critical. We’ll see how long it takes for Booker to appear on the Tonight show to settle this.

GAO sides with Port Authority against auction of flight slots

Here’s a victory for the NY/NJ Port Authority, who fought the federal government’s plan to auction off flight space.  The Government Accounting Office offered this opinion after it was requested by lawmakers opposed to a test run utilizing Newark Liberty Airport:

“We conclude that FAA may not auction slots under its property disposition authority, user fee authority, or any other authority, and thus also may not retain or use proceeds of any such auctions,” GAO general counsel Gary Kepplinger wrote to lawmakers who had sought the legal opinion.

The GAO’s top lawyer concluded that for the first time in 40 years, the FAA claims it may assign airspace as its “property,” but the laws covering the FAA were never written to include such a definition of property.

The transportation department isn’t ready to give up on the idea it seems and says that the GAO just doesn’t understand:

Transportation Department spokesman Brian Turmail said the GAO was unfamiliar with aviation law, and had little time to study it before reaching its conclusion.

“Should Congress give the agency an opportunity to conduct a more thorough review, we are confident that GAO will better understand both the validity and the effectiveness of our approach,” Turmail said in a statement.

Turmail went on to say that the FAA’s own board had approved the auction idea prompting this reaction from Senator Lautenberg:

“Not only is this Bush Administration plan for Newark Airport wrong for fliers and New Jersey residents – this report shows it is completely illegal,” Sen. Lautenberg said in a statement. He called on the administration to abandon the planned auction and work with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on a separate plan to relieve congestion.

It’s amazing that any time someone opposes an administration policy, they just don’t have enough information to fully understand.  Maybe it’s actually the administration that’s wrong and doesn’t understand.