Chris Christie Purposeful Bridge Closures?

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Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427
Chris Christie Purposeful Bridge Closures?

This is kind of old, but I don't think we did it when it first came out (early December) and new evidence just came out.

Basically, one of Chris Christie's appointee's and long time friend (David Wildstein) has been accused of purposefully closing most of the lanes of George Washington bridge to Fort Lee, NJ back in September in order to get back at the mayor of Fort Lee for not supporting Christie's potential presidential run.

The closures caused major delays, with some reports saying that what is normally about a 45 minute commute stretched into 4 hours, and among other things caused a lot of kids to be stuck in buses for hours and very late for school that day (like, 3 hours late!)

The Christie administration originally said that the lanes were closed as part of a "traffic study" (whatever that even means!) but then the Port Authority came out and said that they knew of no such study taking place at the time. Also, the normal procedures such as notifying the police and local officials ahead of time so they could be on hand to help had not been done.

The guy that ordered the closures (David Wildstein) has since resigned. He was an appointee and supposed life long friend of Chris Christie (i.e. they went to the same high school just one year apart, et cetera.)

Chris Christie Administration In A Jam Over Charges Of Using Busiest U.S. Bridge In Political Payback
Chris Christie appointee accused of playing politics with nation’s busiest bridge - Salon.com

So now, there has been an email chain leaked that is pretty damning that yes, the whole thing was planned and WAS personal against Mayor Sokolich (who they refer to as "the Serbian" and "Serbia" in the emails and text messages.)

Christie bridge scandal deepens: E-mails show governor’s aides did plan bridge gridlock - Salon.com

About three weeks before the lane closure, Bridget Anne Kelly, one of three deputies on Christie?s senior staff, wrote an email to David Wildstein ? a Christie childhood friend who?s also a former executive at the Port Authority ? saying it was ?time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.? Wildstein?s response: ?Got it.?

In another correspondence, this time between Wildstein and an unknown interlocutor (the documents are partially redacted), Wildstein dismisses his correspondent?s concerns over how the lane closure and the ensuing traffic jams affected New Jersey residents. ?I feel bad about the kids,? the unknown person texts Wildstein. Wildstein responds, texting, ?They are the children of Buono voters.? Barbara Buono was Christie?s Democratic opponent in 2013′s gubernatorial election.

Top Christie aide to Port Authority: 'Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee' - NorthJersey.com

Private messages between Governor?s Christie?s deputy chief of staff and two of his top executives at the Port Authority reveal a vindictive effort to create ?traffic problems in Fort Lee? by shutting lanes to the George Washington Bridge and apparent pleasure at the resulting gridlock.
The messages are replete with references and insults to Fort Lee?s mayor ? who had failed to endorse Christie for re-election ? and they chronicle how he tried to reach Port Authority officials in a vain effort to eliminate the paralyzing gridlock that overwhelmed his town of 35,000, which sits in the shadow of the world?s busiest bridge.

The documents obtained by The Record raise serious doubts about months of claims by the Christie administration that the September closures of local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were part of a traffic study initiated solely by the Port Authority. Instead, they show that one of the governor?s top aides was deeply involved in the decision to choke off the borough?s access to the bridge, and they provide the strongest indication yet that it was part of a politically-motivated vendetta?a notion that Christie has publicly denied.

Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,? Bridget Anne Kelly, one of three deputies on Christie?s senior staff, wrote to David Wildstein, a top Christie executive at the Port Authority, on Aug. 13, about three weeks before the closures. Wildstein, the official who ordered the closures and who resigned last month amid the escalating scandal, wrote back: ?Got it.?

Other top Christie associates mentioned in or copied on the email chain ? all after the top New York appointee at the authority ordered the lanes reopened ? include David Samson, the chairman of the agency; Bill Stepien, Christie?s re-election campaign manager and the newly appointed state GOP chairman; and Michael Drewniak, Christie?s spokesman.
Christie has previously said that no one in his staff or campaign was involved in the lane closings and he has dismissed questions about political retribution by joking that he moved the traffic cones himself.

But the messages, mostly sent through personal e-mails accounts, indicate that Kelly, a senior staff member in the governor?s office, was involved in the planning and received updates during the week of the traffic jams. She was also informed that week that Christie?s executives at the Port Authority were ignoring the Fort Lee mayor?s desperate attempts to get a reason for the sudden unannounced closures, as the borough?s first responders struggled to respond to emergencies and buses arrived late on the first day of school.
On Sept. 9, the first morning of the lane closures, Kelly asked in an e-mail if Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich?s numerous calls to Port Authority officials had been returned.
?Radio silence,? Wildstein replied. ?His name comes right after mayor Fulop,? an apparent reference to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who also said this week that the Christie administration had retaliated against him last year because he didn?t endorse the governor for re-election.

When reached early Wednesday morning, Kelly said: ?I?m literally in the middle of a conference call. ?I?m going to have to call you right back.?

Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the governor, declined to comment Wednesday morning. Neither Wildstein nor his attorney, Alan Zegas, responded to requests for comment Wednesday. Christie?s office cancelled a previously scheduled event in Ocean County.

The explosive documents, supplied by Wildstein in response to a subpoena issued by a panel of state lawmakers, don?t spell out the precise reason for the apparent retribution. But they lay bare a disdain for the mayor and an apparent indifference to the hardships suffered by North Jersey residents who sat in four-hour backups. Wildstein has been called to testify about the documents under oath before the panel tomorrow.
In one exchange of text messages on the second day of the lane closures, Wildstein alludes to messages the Fort Lee mayor had left complaining that school buses were having trouble getting through the traffic.
?Is it wrong that I?m smiling,? the recipient of the text message responded to Wildstein. The person?s identity is not clear because the documents are partially redacted for unknown reasons.

?No,? Wildstein wrote in response.

?I feel badly about the kids,? the person replied to Wildstein. ?I guess.?

?They are the children of Buono voters,? Wildstein wrote, making a reference to Barbara Buono, the Democratic candidate for governor, who lost to Christie in a landslide in November.

The e-mails could prove a serious threat to Christie?s credibility at a time when he has emerged as a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. And they are likely to raise questions about whether the governor?s office was involved in what Democrats have said was a coordinated cover-up that has stretched on for months, as damaging details slowly emerged.

(--------snip---------------)

Thes rest of the article and the actual email chain can be found at that last link.

Debate Questions:

1) Do you believe that the CC administration purposefully caused a traffic jam, or is this all being blown out of proportion?
2) If you do think so, do you think CC is personally liable for the actions of his administration?
3) Do you think this will (or should) hurt his chances if he officially runs for president?
4) Any other thoughts?

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Debate Questions:

1) Do you believe that the CC administration purposefully caused a traffic jam, or is this all being blown out of proportion?
2) If you do think so, do you think CC is personally liable for the actions of his administration?
3) Do you think this will (or should) hurt his chances if he officially runs for president?
4) Any other thoughts?

No real thoughts other than I am all for anything that will keep him from running for President.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

No real thoughts other than I am all for anything that will keep him from running for President.

This is OT, but just curious about taking the temperature of my conservative associates - are you pulling for Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marcio Rubio, or someone else? Also, if that is too personal you can just say "It's called a secret vote, Alissa_Sal!!!!" Biggrin

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

This is OT, but just curious about taking the temperature of my conservative associates - are you pulling for Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marcio Rubio, or someone else? Also, if that is too personal you can just say "It's called a secret vote, Alissa_Sal!!!!" Biggrin

I am hoping someone will come up from behind and just wow me. Right now I do not have a clear Favorite. I can tell you for sure though I do not want Christie.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

1) Do you believe that the CC administration purposefully caused a traffic jam, or is this all being blown out of proportion? Based solely on the information presented I do think it was purposefully done.

2) If you do think so, do you think CC is personally liable for the actions of his administration? This is tough. Liable in the sense that he needs to know what his employees are up to. If he can show that he wasn't behind this or in the loop at all that helps him but ultimately you need to know what your staffers are doing. I find it hard to believe that he didn't think this traffic jam and phone calls from others were happening.

3) Do you think this will (or should) hurt his chances if he officially runs for president? Yes it will and potentially should hurt his chances depending on how involved he was.

4) Any other thoughts?

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

This is OT, but just curious about taking the temperature of my conservative associates - are you pulling for Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marcio Rubio, or someone else? Also, if that is too personal you can just say "It's called a secret vote, Alissa_Sal!!!!" Biggrin

Although I don't ever forsee it happening, I'd like a more libertarian candidate in a major party. Rand Paul is the closest for that, but I can't speak to him in particular. I don't think I know enough about him. I'm all for more freedom, less government restriction

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

This is OT, but just curious about taking the temperature of my conservative associates - are you pulling for Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marcio Rubio, or someone else? Also, if that is too personal you can just say "It's called a secret vote, Alissa_Sal!!!!" Biggrin

I would take any of those 3 over Christie. But of course Ted Cruz would be my first choice because he is from Texas Smile

As for this incident, I have a hard time believing he was involved directly, but he sure picked some winners to work for him!

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

This is OT, but just curious about taking the temperature of my conservative associates - are you pulling for Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marcio Rubio, or someone else? Also, if that is too personal you can just say "It's called a secret vote, Alissa_Sal!!!!" Biggrin

Although I don't ever forsee it happening, I'd like a more libertarian candidate in a major party. Rand Paul is the closest for that, but I can't speak to him in particular. I don't think I know enough about him. I'm all for more freedom, less government restriction

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

Yes, it seems from these articles that this lane closure was a very purposeful thing and that it was a retaliatory move. And I think this *should* hurt Christie because he *should* know what his deputies are up to. I don't know much about him to say how much I want it to hurt, LOL, but I do know that I hated that smirk on his face after Superstorm Sandy. It was like he couldn't stop smiling if he was in front of constituents. You're dealing with people who just lost everything, do a better job of wiping that damned smile off and at least look like you care.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

This is OT, but just curious about taking the temperature of my conservative associates - are you pulling for Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marcio Rubio, or someone else? Also, if that is too personal you can just say "It's called a secret vote, Alissa_Sal!!!!" Biggrin

Any of these guys over Christie, but I am still hoping for somebody else. Not sure who yet, but out of those 3 if I had to pick I would pick Paul

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

To OT I would have to say that if CC knew I wouldn't be surprised. I think these kids of games are played on a regular basis. Just read an article yesterday about DeBlasio wanting to get rid of the carriages because one of his political contributors wants the land the stables are on for office space. Don't know if it is true or not, but I am almost to the point where I am not sure we would be able to elect anybody without this kind of thing going on.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Thanks to the Conservatives for answering about who they prefer. I know it's early in the game, I just read somewhere that CC was the current GOP front runner so I was curious who else might be a contender.

To the original debate, I kind of have a hard time believing that he *didn't* know about it. This wasn't just the CC administration in a sort of vague far removed way (like calling the county clerk of Douglas County CO part of "the Obama Administration" or something...LOL) this were his direct appointees, his chief of staff, as well as his press secretary among others in the later parts of the email string. Also, if it was in retaliation, it seems unlikely that his staff would just take it upon themselves to pull a stunt like that without making him aware of it. I mean, I like my job pretty well but I'm not going to go out and do something illegal to sabotage our competition just because I'm so passionate about it....kwim? Plus, it sounds like he and this David Wildstein were pretty close friends - it seems too "juicy" for them not to have talked about it at some point. So the whole thing sort of leads me to think that he must have been in on it at some level.

I do think that it will and should reflect back on Chris Christie. It sounds to me like his team deliberately hurt his own people (the people of New Jersey) in order to hurt a political "foe." That is not okay, and certainly makes me suspicious that he would not have a problem doing the same thing to the American people at large if he were President.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

I agree that ultimately it should reflect back on Christie. Even if he didn't know about it initially, he should have figured it out at some point. If he didn't, then that reflects on poor management because he should know what his people are doing. It does seem a little strange that he wouldn't have asked any questions about why the backups were happening since it was such a big issue, and even if they lied about it being a study it seems like he would have made an attempt to figure out what the study was for since it was causing such huge problems.

I do respect the fact that he at least has apologized for it and fired people involved, that is more than Obama has done for all the scandals involving the people that work for him that he claimed not to know about. It might not be enough to save him though.

Another person I would prefer over Christie is Scott Walker. I have heard him mentioned a few times and I think he would be a good candidate if he decides to run.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I do respect the fact that he at least has apologized for it and fired people involved, that is more than Obama has done for all the scandals involving the people that work for him that he claimed not to know about. It might not be enough to save him though.

I was just watching a clip of his apology on the World News and to be honest I was not impressed. (I did not watch the whole thing, just a clip) and it very much seemed like a blame game. Not accepting any responsibility for what happened on his watch. In contrast, Pres. Obama (Who is not at all my favorate person) during the Bengazi situation, said ultimately he was in charge and therefore was responsible. I do not think the situation was handled appropriately, but I do think there is value in the person in charge saying "I was in charge and I accept responsibility for what was done on my watch."

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

Even before this incident Christie was too far left for me last go around.. and he upset me the way he treated the Jersey Shore after their storm... I didn't realize how devastating it still is over there still and he is out carousing around etc.. doing gosh knows what.. made me ill awhile back.. this was about 4-6 months after the disaster there..
that and a couple other things confirmed to me that if he ever ran I wouldn't vote for him.

The Rep party is going to have to rebuild just like the Dem party did.. WE need a leader.. Obama did a great job uniting his party I will give him that. I for one have vowed to myself not to put anyone's name down I do not agree with 100% and why should I I live in a blue state there would be no ethical point in going against any one of my personally held beliefs to go against even ONE of them.. to go with a "less of the two evils" Even if it means writing in a candidate that isn't even "legally" on my ballot to run.

Last couple years I like a candidate better that dropped out earlier.. I liked Duncan Hunter more than McCain by far and would have taken Alan Keys or Herman Cain over Romney any day.. but it didn't play out that way.

I haven't had time to look yet who I like right now.. better so don't want to name drop.. they would have to line up with all my key issues..

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I was just watching a clip of his apology on the World News and to be honest I was not impressed. (I did not watch the whole thing, just a clip) and it very much seemed like a blame game. Not accepting any responsibility for what happened on his watch. In contrast, Pres. Obama (Who is not at all my favorate person) during the Bengazi situation, said ultimately he was in charge and therefore was responsible. I do not think the situation was handled appropriately, but I do think there is value in the person in charge saying "I was in charge and I accept responsibility for what was done on my watch."

Yeah, the things I'm hearing about Christie are either that he ran his office like the military, where you practically needed permission to use the restroom or get coffee, or like a close-knit family where everyone overshared everything they were involved in. Either way, it seems very unlikely that he didn't know something about this.