Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why Chris Christie's office shut down traffic on the Washington Bridge

September 13, 2013: Port Authority police and maintenance crews removing traffic cones to reopen all lanes and tollbooths at the entrance to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee; see Road Warrior: Living with an inscrutable giant TARIQ ZEHAWI/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Was Loretta Weinberg the real target of Chris Christie's office?

An alternate theory of the Christie scandal (CLICK HERE TO SEE MADDOW VIDEO)
Rachel Maddow presents a new possibility of what the induced Ft. Lee traffic jam was retribution for if it wasn’t over the mayor’s gubernatorial endorsement.
Rachel Maddow

Did Rachel decide she didn't want to look like Ann Coulter?

Maddow: Was Senate Leader Target of N.J. Scandal?
By Adam O'Neal
Real Clear Politics
January 10, 2014

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow weighed in on the Chris Christie bridge controversy Thursday night, theorizing that the lane closures were motivated by Christie’s spat with legislative Democrats over New Jersey Supreme Court nominees.

Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly -- who was fired by the governor Thursday -- demanded lane closures on the George Washington Bridge for what is believed to be political retribution. E-mails released Wednesday suggest that the September lane closures were meant to cause traffic jams in Fort Lee, ostensibly to punish the city’s Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie’s 2013 re-election bid.

But Maddow has offered another theory. In 2010, Christie refused to reappoint a liberal state Supreme Court justice, John E. Wallace Jr. The move angered New Jersey Democrats, and they refused to confirm Christie’s nominees to replace Wallace. Maddow referred to the incident as the start of “a big political crisis” in the state.

The feud became so intense that Christie called state Democrats “animals” for failing to approve a Republican to a separate seat on the court last summer. Christie called a press conference on Aug. 12, 2013, to blast Democrats for not backing his choice.

And that is where Maddow’s theory comes into play. The morning after Christie’s fiery press conference, Kelly ordered the lane closures. New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, one of Christie’s chief antagonists in the nominee fight, represents Fort Lee.

Maddow suggested that Weinberg, and not Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, was the intended target of the closure:

“Roughly 12 hours after Governor Christie blows up at the Senate Democrats and torpedoes the career of a Supreme Court justice who he likes because he says the Senate Democrats are animals … the leader of those ‘animals’ in the Senate sees her district get the order of destruction from Governor Christie's deputy chief of staff.”

Christie has denied any involvement in the lane closures, saying that he was not told about them until months after they occurred.


Road Warrior: Living with an inscrutable giant
September 14, 2013 By JOHN CICHOWSKI

Port Authority police and maintenance crews removing traffic cones to reopen all lanes and tollbooths at the entrance to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee on Friday.

If you were imprisoned in your own car for two hours or so each morning this week as you tried to cross the George Washington Bridge, you’ll be happy to know that the river-crossing gods have finally issued a reprieve.

Shortly after 8 a.m. on Friday, Port Authority police removed the orange cones that had shrunk access to the bridge from Fort Lee streets — a maneuver that clogged traffic for five consecutive mornings because two of three tollbooths were shut down. Then, as if by magic, the changes were reversed.

"We just got a phone call saying that the Port Authority was lifting the plan," said Fort Lee Police Chief Keith Bendul.

Plan? What was this ill-conceived "plan" all about?

It turns out that the week of gridlock that made adults late for work, forced kids to get up an hour or so early to reach school on time, and diverted local police from emergencies, amounted to a "study," explained an agency spokesman, Steve Coleman.

"The Port Authority has conducted a week of study at the … bridge of traffic-safety patterns," Coleman said in an email. "We will now review those results and determine the best traffic patterns. ... We’ll continue to work with our local law enforcement partners."

Answers to basic follow-up questions: What was the goal? Who authorized this plan? And why didn’t the Port Authority publicly warn motorists about it? — were met with stone-cold silence.

Silence and evasiveness are often usual responses when you live with a giant. As a bi-state agency, the Port Authority sometimes doesn’t answer state or federal lawmakers either — about political rationales for hiring cronies, for example, or virtually giving away naming rights, or raising tolls that will soon rise again.

Not always, though.

The agency can be quick to announce coming changes in traffic patterns when road work on either side of the Hudson is expected to cause delays. Sometimes the Port is mistaken, as it was in July 2012, when it insisted that a major road repair project on the New York side would cause three months of backups. The delays were modest at best, but unlike this week, at least the agency took preventive action back then...

UPDATE: Christie was with Wildstein on 9/11/13 during Bridgegate
by blue aardvark
Daily Kos
Jan 14, 2014

Gov. Chris Christie was with the official who arranged the closure of local lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 11, 2013 — the third day of the closures, and well after they had triggered outrage from local officials beset by heavy traffic.

It isn’t known what, if anything, Mr. Christie discussed with David Wildstein that day, when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official was among the delegation of Mr. Christie’s representatives who welcomed him to the site of the World Trade Center for the commemoration of the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks there.

Wall Street Journal commits journalism

This is the guy Christie barely knew, remember? The guy who arranged the lane closures and worried he wasn't getting enough credit.

I have had no contact with David Wildstein in a long time, a long time, well before the election,” which was held Nov. 5, Mr. Christie said last week. “You know, I could probably count on one hand the number of conversations I’ve had with David since he worked at the Port Authority. I did not interact with David.”

There's a picture, Chris. David is that guy on your left about two feet away, reaching out his hand so that he almost touches the end of your tie. I guess that since he didn't actually touch you there's no "contact", right?

And now the bridge scandal really takes off, because Christie has been caught in a lie. And neither Christie, nor Wildstein, nor Baroni, nor Samson, all of whom were there, are willing to respond to the Wall Street Journal regarding this meet-up. Baroni and Samson were up to their eyebrows in the traffic mess.

This is Chris Chistie, center-left, having no contact with David Wildstein, red tie with hand almost touching Christie. The date is 9/11/13, while the Fort Lee fiasco was in its 3rd day...

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