By Carmen Glover
Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has basked in media coverage with an air of acceptance born out of his desire to be noticed constantly and praised repeatedly for the job he is doing for his constituents. But when emailed documentation were exposed yesterday by the Bergen Record and other media outlets, revealing the manner in which aides in his office intentionally put the public at risk, Christie was nowhere to be found until the end of the day.
The emailed documentation showed that two of his aides deliberately caused chaos and extreme gridlock on the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee this past summer as retribution to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who refused to endorse Christie’s candidacy. Christie took an entire day before releasing a statement condemning the actions of his aides. Claiming that he did not endorse their conduct, Christie, who has held himself up as a paragon of virtue, sought to distance himself from their unsavory actions. Calling their behavior “unacceptable,” Christie said “I will not tolerate it.” But he did not indicate if people would be fired and if the town of Fort Lee would be reimbursed for the cost incurred by the extensive gridlock.
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” read one email to David Wildstein, Christie’s then-appointee to the Port Authority. Wildstein, who has since resigned, then responded in the affirmative, “Got it.” Two lanes of traffic were subsequently closed on the bridge for days, resulting in delayed response times, traffic congestion and general inconvenience to the public.
Speaking on MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes” last night, Sokolich did not disguise his fury at the reckless conduct exhibited by Christie’s aides. The aides blocked lanes of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, delayed response times to 911 while inconveniencing residents and creating a travel nightmare on the highway. To make matters worse, they celebrated, rather than helped, when Sokolich asked for their assistance to ease the traffic congestion. “Is it wrong that I’m smiling?” one aide emailed to Wildstein, who replied ‘No.” They were generally dismissive of Sikolich’s pleas for intervention on behalf of his constituents, especially his appeals to ease the traffic delays that inconvenienced school children and those facing health emergencies.
“David Wildstein deserves an ass kicking. There I said it,” Sokolich said when asked what he would say to the aide who endorsed the punitive action. When asked why he did not endorse Christie, Sokolich said: “Because I believe in the Democratic principles.”
If it is proven that Christie’s political appointees have the freedom to make decisions that endanger others’ lives it is important that they are held responsible for any fall out their actions caused. It remains to be seen what steps Governor Christie will take, other than issuing the inadequate press release that he did last night, in holding his aides and appointees accountable for their reckless actions. There is also the question of Christie’s honesty when he denies prior knowledge of his aides’ actions. Did they really act without his approval, tacit or otherwise?
The public requires answers and swift, decisive action. Christie also needs to apologize to the people of Fort Lee and travelers who use the bridge, one of the nation’s busiest. Christie and his staff all contributed to this debacle and decisive action would be the best remedy. “This behavior is not representative of me,” Christie finally said in a statement at the end of the day, as a media firestorm swirled. But the statement appears to be too little, too late, for a man who desires to be president of the country, and who has not been shy to jockey for that office, while giving every indication that he is using his governorship as a stepping stone to get to what he views as his destiny: Becoming president of the United States. —OnPointPress.net
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