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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A perspective on the Christie administration’s behavior from someone who’s seen firsthand how government operates.

For those who are not familiar with the story — perhaps that same set of people who in questionnaires do not know where the Mississippi River or the Pacific Ocean is — Governor Chris Christie’s staff created a several-day monstrous traffic jam around the George Washington Bridge last September, apparently to get back at the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey for not supporting the governor for re-election. After denying for months that anything happened, the governor fired everyone he could find, held the world’s longest and most lachrymose press conference, denied all knowledge, said he was “very sad,” and seemed to conclude that he was the victim here. The poor jerks who sat in traffic for several hours apparently didn’t count.

The best and funniest column on this by far was by Gail Collins in The New York Times; I can’t come close to that, so I’ll ask the deep questions.

1. What are the odds that Governor Christie is telling the truth when he says he knew nothing?

Zero, or bagel, as they say in the finance business. I suspect he didn’t order the dirty deed, but this is exactly the kind of stunt political advisors pull when they’re riding high and want to show how tough they are. There would have been lots of smirking around the governor — remember, at the time they would have been quite proud of it — and you would have had to be about as unaware as a tree not to notice. The governor is not known for being unaware.

2. Has there been any kind of pattern that might suggest this sort of behavior was part of the governor’s genotype?

The only way you can say there was no pattern here is if you are a denier of combinatorial probabilities and a lot of introductory math. The Times has specified several incidents which sure look like revenge bullying. If I give the governor a 60 percent probability that each of these events was not part of a pattern (way above my gut feel), there’s still a 92 percent chance that this is all part of a pattern. I’m going with a pattern.

3. Is it surprising that the governor threw everyone on his staff within reach under the bus and denied knowing David Wildstein, a senior staff member and a friend since high school?

Are you kidding me? This is pure “homo politicus” stuff. Take my word on this: There is essentially no one in big-time American politics who wouldn’t gut his or her best friend in an instant for almost any temporary advantage. (The high-school friend matter is almost too easy. No one in the known universe who graduated from an American high school believed any single word, including “a,” “an,” and ” the,” of this story.)

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  • Independent1

    For anyone who believes Christie is a straight shooter and didn’t lie about not being aware of what his staff was doing, just consider this: Christie has been a liar since his very 1st political campaign:

    In Chris Christie’s first successful campaign for public office, he sat down next to his wife and baby, looked into a camera and told voters something that wasn’t true.

    It was 1994, and Christie was a 31-year-old lawyer running for the county board in suburban Morris County, N.J. He was making a television ad, saying to the camera that his opponents were “being investigated by the Morris County prosecutor.”

    In 1994, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie (R) ran for the county board in Morris County. His television ad against his opponents was inaccurate and led to a lawsuit. Actually, they weren’t. But Christie’s inaccurate ad ran more than 400 times on cable TV before the June GOP primary. He won.

  • Dominick Vila

    Bridgegate is all about abuse of power, vendettas and opportunism, three characteristics of Tea Party behavior that need to be explained to our naive electorate. However, from a political perspective, it is not clear that joining the GOP establishment in getting rid of a man they don’t like is in our best interest. Christie could play an important role in bringing out the worst Republican attributes if he decides to run for president in 2016, and would likely destroy Cruz, Rubio, Paul and all the likely GOP candidates…to our advantage.

  • Allan Richardson

    This escalation of political conflict is analogous to the escalation in gang warfare from an occasional “hit” on a rival sitting in his favorite restaurant to drive by shootings or bombings that kill innocent civilians by the dozen.

    As far as we know only one person MAY have died because of the traffic jam (the man in the ambulance having a heart attack was 94 years old, so it is POSSIBLE he would have died even if he got to the hospital on time), and only one other person was endangered directly (the missing child who, thankfully, was found safe, but hours later than if police had been available to search for her, rather than working the traffic jam). But certainly millions of dollars of productive work were lost to the economy, and we may yet hear of jobs lost. Although a boss who would fire a valuable employee because of a traffic jam THAT WAS ON THE PUBLIC NEWS REPORTS is not the kind of boss one would LIKE to work for, those workers should sue the Governor for damages anyway (even if they lose, it brings the issue up again).

    As for those who would prefer to have the Democratic nominee run against Christie in 2016, remember that he has the “teflon don” ability, while an election campaign is going on, to hide his, and his party’s, extreme agenda by being charmingly moderate (Mitt Romney almost pulled that off in 2012) and win votes from independents and persuadable Democrats. It would be much better to have our nominee run against someone more openly wacky, such as Rand “Obamacare is like slavery” Paul, or Ted “NAFTA in one person” Rafael Cruz, whose own quotes could be used in ads as persuasively as LBJ used the “daisy” ad.

  • disqus_fsqeoY3FsG

    This can easily be resolved:

    1. Christie explain why you vetoed 2 bills: A) Transparency on Port Authority Funds and Transparency on Sandy Relief Funding.

    2. Provide documents showing what all Mayors requested in Sandy Relief Funds, what the funds were designated for and what funds did they
    actually receive. If as reported Hoboken was 80% under water from Sandy and the Hoboken Mayor requested 127 million and they only received
    342,000, that needs to be addressed and compared to the other cities receiving Sandy Relief Funds.

    3. Christie and his administration provide any and all communications concerning Bridge Closure, Port Authority Funding, and Sand Relief Funding allocations.

    4. Allow a Tech Team to come in and ensure that the hard drives are the same as the ones when Christie originally took office and recover all
    relevant deleted communications.

    5. Christie should explain why he steered the Mayor to Port Authority for funding the Development Study, why the Port Authority had to choose the company to make the study, why out of 19 blocks the study concluded that only the 3 owned by Rockefeller Development Group should be developed. Did Christie not think it was conflict of interest for Sampson and himself or at
    the very least an appearance of impropriety.

    • CooofNJ

      I agree. This could all be easily resolved with transparency. The mayor of Hoboken requested about 1/3 of the total monies available to the state. She got less than $150,000, and Hoboken was hit HARD. Other localities not hit anywhere near as hard, or with as big of a population or as important business area, got more (e.g., Lodi got almost $250,000 – source: The Record). Apparently NJ decided to take the Federal money and dole it out in tiny dribs and drabs around the entire state (even to municipalities that did not get hit hard at all), while NY and CT decided to use the Federal money to target communities that were especially hard hit. Okay, if that is so, then there should be public meeting minutes of the decision making process that led to that difference, as I think most people would come down on the side of doing what NY did. So, give us those meeting minutes, let us see who got what and what they first requested, etc. Transparency would make this all go away.

      BTW – my opinion (not a fact, just an opinion of a long-time NJ resident) is that the decision to dole out the monies all over the state was a way of buying loyalty, but hey! What do I know…..

  • Kurt CPI

    Christie is a charter member of the good ‘ole boys fraternity. I liked his candor at first, and his seeming willingness to embrace aisle-crossing issues. But as time went on his true colors began to show. This latest treachery seals the deal with certainty. I could never condone anyone who utilizes citizens as pawns toward his own self-serving political ambitions.

  • howa4x

    I live in NJ and don’t buy the story that he was getting back at a mayor for not supporting him since a lot of democratic mayors didn’t. The story I think is more plausible is that there is a billion dollar development project going on with direct access to the bridge. The Hoboken mayor has just unleashed charges that her town was denied Sandy money because she wouldn’t support a development project of a Christie ally. Sampson who is Chair of the Port of Authority is part of a connected law firm and would have gotten the legal contract, and I think a similar thing is going on with the bridges of Bergen county story. I think the mayor thing has more to do with him shutting out Christie allies from the project than just his lack of support. He was made a target to pressure him for and in to the project. They needed to show the Mayor that they had control. This makes more sense to me since the PA and Christie allies there would have more of an interest in development than punishing a Podunk mayor for election support. I could be wrong but like deep throat said to Woodward/ Bernstein “Follow the money”

  • Melissa Montana

    At this link we find a brief overview of Hussein Obama’s economic jihad against the middle class:

  • CPAinNewYork

    I still find it hard to believe that an intelligent person like Christie would pull a stupid trick like closing bridge approaches. I also have trouble understanding why the press keeps claiming that the cause of the action was the Fort Lee mayor’s refusal to endorse Christie. It wasn’t. Rachel Maddow explained the real reason: judicial appointments.

    If Christie know about this and condoned it, he’s a total fool.