Hi 38° | Lo 25°
Ray Duckler

Ray Duckler: Is Christie creating a smoke screen in Fort Lee?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a news conference Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J.  Christie has fired a top aide who engineered political payback against a town mayor, saying she lied. Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly is the latest casualty in a widening scandal that threatens to upend Christie's second term and likely run for president in 2016. Documents show she arranged traffic jams to punish the mayor, who didn't endorse Christie for re-election.  (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a news conference Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. Christie has fired a top aide who engineered political payback against a town mayor, saying she lied. Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly is the latest casualty in a widening scandal that threatens to upend Christie's second term and likely run for president in 2016. Documents show she arranged traffic jams to punish the mayor, who didn't endorse Christie for re-election. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Yesterday morning, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stood in front of a pack of hungry media members and essentially said this to his deputy chief of staff and others close to him:

“Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Then, with customary political polish, Christie added that he, himself, takes responsibility for the scandal that had talk show hosts salivating as they prepared for last night’s monologues.

Does it get any better than this? Any juicer? Any easier to understand?

I’m throwing my two cents in because I grew up in the New York City area and have traveled across the George Washington Bridge (we insiders call it the GWB) more times than I can count.

It’s big and it’s busy, and it certainly needs no help jamming up.

Plus, the issue is so simple, even I understand it, and its simplicity makes the story more delicious. A top Christie aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, and other close associates apparently conspired to close lanes leading to the GWB, making Fort Lee, N.J., resemble the parking lot at Gillette Stadium on game day.

They did this, emails show, because Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich refused to endorse Christie in the last election.

That’s it. Nothing else. No convoluted information about shady tax shelters, no bribery scam that moved through more layers than an onion.

Christie’s people were mad at someone, so they got their revenge – at the expense of firefighters, police officers and schoolchildren.

Now I admit, I’ve done this sort of thing, too. During play time in grade school, when I lured a kid onto the seesaw after he said someone was better than me in stickball. I raised him high in the air, then got off the other end of the seesaw so he’d fall hard to the ground.

Me, not the best stickball player? Think again, buddy.

In this case, Kelly wrote an email to David Wildstein, a high school friend of Christie’s who worked for the organization that controls the bridge.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly’s email read.

A month later, Wildstein ordered the lane closings, for four days. At the busiest bridge in the world. In one of the busiest places in the world.

Something about a traffic study, and if you still believe that one, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

And Christie’s role in all this? He has said he had no knowledge of it, and he echoed that thought yesterday morning during his press conference at the New Jersey State House.

“Embarrassed and humiliated,” former Monitor reporter Maddie Hanna tweeted, quoting Christie.

Hanna now covers the New Jersey State House for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She tweeted that she faced an “Insane line for reporters to get into Christie presser,” and that she was “lucky to get in.”

Christie’s high profile – he could be the next Republican nominee for president – certainly added to media interest, and the congestion surrounding that area, a bridge separating Manhattan and Jersey, added zest to the story.

But the guess here is that this sort of corruption would be a magnet for the media anywhere.

Imagine Maggie Hassan’s office ordering the bridge closed on Loudon Road because Mayor Jim Bouley favored Ovide Lamontagne in the last governor’s election. Imagine closing the city’s other major bridge, on Manchester Street.

Kids would miss their hockey games at Everett Arena. You’d have to wait in your car before you’d be forced to wait in the Division of Motor Vehicles lobby. Rotary meetings at the Red Blazer would be canceled.

Red River Theatres could capitalize on the mess by showing A Bridge Too Far, or perhaps featuring a Jeff Bridges film festival.

But the sting left by snarling traffic jams, caused by childish behavior by city officials and those in state government, would diminish our faith in government, at a time when there is little faith to go around.

Sokolich steered apologies from the governor toward the people affected by last September’s gridlock.

“Don’t cawl me,” he said, his accent reminding me of my Aunt Lillian’s. “But cawl the families who were waiting three, four times longer for . . . our ambulance corps to arrive.”

“I am heartbroken,” Christie said during yesterday’s 108-minute press conference, “that someone I permitted to be in that circle of trust for the past five years betrayed that trust.”

Do you trust the governor?

He joked last month about the absurd notion that he had something to do with the bridge’s closing, saying sarcastically, “I was the guy out there, in overalls and a hat. I actually was the guy working the cones out there.”


What did Christie know, and when did he know it?

Are his pants on fire, too?

If so, he’d better hope the bridges in the area are clear.

He may need some help putting out the flames.

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or or on Twitter @rayduckler.)


Chris Christie fires aide, apologizes for traffic jams

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fired one of his top aides yesterday and apologized over and over for his staff’s “stupid” behavior, insisting during a nearly two-hour news conference that he had no idea anyone around him had engineered traffic jams as part of a political vendetta against a Democratic mayor. “I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of …

Legacy Comments46

10 of the 34 posts by.....TILLIE.... Congrats have been able to do what conservative commentators are censored for doing.

Censorship? As of 8 a.m. on Jan. 13 when you submitted this comment, there were also 10 posts by ItsaRepublic. Most readers here would consider him a conservative commentator.

Yeah, Sail, Comment Mod's right. They don't censor you. They only censor me.

Well, Sail, if they went by the number of words instead of posts, you would win hands down. I try to make mine short and sweet, don't want to bore anyone.

Good idea, we appreciate the effort but it is not working.

I don't like Christie and I hope that this derails his presidential aspirations. That is from an independent who identifies more with Republicans. However, why can't the press cover all of the lies and schemes of Obama and his administration with such zeal? The answer lies in the fact that journalists today are not really journalists, they are not objective, they are shills for their own political philosophy.

108 minutes to apologize to his constituents eh? Me thinks he protests too much...

Get this straight, I don't like Christie, if he lied he should pay for it. If he was innocent, he should lose his position. Now, when are your progressives going to put the same heat on Obama? On keeping your insurance, was it a lie and what did he know, when did he know it? On Benghazi, Hillary said: "what difference does it make" that worse than a traffic jam? On the NSA scandal, what did Obama know and when did he know it? You folks were soooooo concerned about the US Patriot act yet you say nothing about the NSA. What about the IRS targeting groups politically? Nixon did that, and he was impeached. Where is your concern with the IRS scandal? Can any of you progressives be unpolitical and intellectually honest? Can you put integrity, honesty and intellectual honesty above politics? Can you put the country above ideology, dogma, doctrine?

Itsa, Me thinks you protest too much too...

Unfortunately for you, "if you like your insurance you can keep it" is not an impeachable offense. The NSA scandal is still working itself out, but seems to have a life of its own, separate and distinct from any one president. House Republicans have had plenty of opportunities to make hay on Benghazi, and have come up with little. So I'll turn the question back on you, since you've been saying much the same things since 2009: can you be unpolitical and intellectually honest? Can you put the country above ideology, dogma, and doctrine?

Two points, 'if you like your insurance you can keep it", "if you like your doctor, you can keep them", are lies and are far worse than some traffic jam. The NSA was given more power under Obama and the IRS did target people to please the president. Yesterday it was revealed that Obama did indeed lie about Benghazi. I do put country above ideology, dogma and doctrine but I see Obama and Democrats standing in the way of our prosperity through their redistributionist policies and class warfare. Yesterday, Obama said that he has a pen and a phone and he will rule by executive fiat.....well, that is not only un-American but he puts his ego and his doctrine ahead of the people and their desires. As he did with Obamacare.

It's obvious why this story has received so much attention. Christie is a very successful Republican governor who won by a landslide in the last election. He is aiming for the White House in 2016 and is the only Republican candidate yet to come on the scene who has a prayer of beating Hillary. It was only a matter of time before the MSM started to attack him. This incident gave them the opportunity to fire their first salvo in the war against Chris Christie. Expect it to continue unless and until Christie decides not to run or drops out of the race.

What is really amazing is the amount of ink this story has gotten. In less that 24 hours, the big 3 networks have devoted 17 more coverage time than they did in 6 months of Obamas IRS scandal. And, the DOJ has already launched an investigation. I'm not condoning what was done ( I travel the GWB 3-4 times a year)...I'm just amazed at the amount of media bias..

I am not surprised at all. The Dems want Clinton next as does the media. Christie if he runs will be portrayed as a bully and woman hater. Christie is a threat because he is well liked, will not take crap from the media, and tells it like it is.

I liked Christie--over the last 2 years he morphed into a Republican with at least half a heart. The media is not out to get him--paranoid much?, nor does the media "want Clinton". You have a jaundiced view of the media--there are lots of good media outlets out there doing good journalism still, including the NYTimes and the WSJ news coverage (less so than in the past, admittedly). If you think Fox is what passes for good journalism these days, you're sadly mistaken. Let's let the facts play out, if Christie was involved in the revenge/bridge closing, he's likely toast. If not, then he should recover. That leads to the question of whether he could survive the primaries, where candidates vie to out-extreme each other in pandering to the far-right.

Christie has one good attribute, he tells people the way it is. Beyond that we don't need another narcissist in the White House. "Gooc Journalism" is not synonymous with organizations that try to shape the news rather than report it. Fox News is balanced, the other opinion shows are not but they do have liberal guests. No one has been more concerned about revenge than Obama. The IRS scandal is one example, the White House hotline (short lived once it was revealed) to report people talking against Obamacare is another. You talk about the far-right without realizing that you represent the far-left.

Where to start Bruce. The media and the left want a woman President. If Hillary does not work out, they can tap Warren. That would be the perfect scenario for the left. They could use the same tactics they used with President Obama. Folks only disagreed with him because he is black. With a woman, folks disagree with her because they are bullies or sexist. That is the perfect set up for the left. Lets make history and elect a woman President. Not sure why you like Christie either Bruce. I have never stated Fox is my idea of good journalism. I have in fact stated I read and watch a lot of media. Have subscriptions, to WSJ, Globe, etc. Clinton is somewhat of a problem for the left. She is very tight with Wall Street and she has a lot to answer for in regards to her role as Secretary. Warren hates WS and in my opinion is more agreeable to the left because they can shape her to their mold. She would not resist as much as Clinton would. The NY Times is a joke. It reflects New York City period. Nothing exists outside of NY for the folks who live there. They are convinced they are the best at everything. They are in many areas, but the Times caters to their progressive readers, period. My daughter lives there, and I can tell you when I visit I have to laugh at what I see there. Urbanites have no clue about what goes on outside their city limits. They lack an understanding of folks who live in different parts of the country, almost to the level of being ignorant. Yet they claim to be experts on everything.

Now which media are you talking about? Fox has it on 24/7 and it was not even true. Believe me if this was a blue governor your whole attitude would be different.

This was a traffic jam, nothing more and nothing less and I was in this traffic jam, by the way. It took 2 1/2 hours to get from Englewood, NJ into the city on that day, I recall it well. Should we not focus on more important things like the labor report today showing the lowest labor participation rate in decades. No, instead the press pushes the unemployment rate dropping to 6.7% which is irrelevant in the scheme of the economy. Should we not be more concerned about the NSA, millions of people losing their health care over Obamacare or having to subsidize others and paying twice the premiums and deductibles to do so? Should we not be concerned about the IRS abusing their power, taking junkets spending millions while regular citizens suffer, lose homes, go bankrupt? Should we not be more concerrned about Obama failed foreign policy at every turn? Instead, cynical, bitter ninnies are playing this as a smokescreen to cover the Obama failures, low approval ratings and Americans majority disapproval of Obamacare. This is non-news compared to the destruction Democrats and Obama have wreaked on this country. But progressive Nero's fiddle on.

This was a caused on purpose traffic jam. And it lasted 4 days. Were you there all 4 days? You seem to have an anecdote for everything. Some one throws your resume in the trash, you chased someone who killed a turtle, and now you were in THAT traffic jam. you are a regular Forrest Gump. And yes this is a "snarky" remark just as saying this was a nothing more or less a traffic jam.

All true, I started out from Paramus, NJ, got up to Englewood and the traffic stopped. I got to my destination that day on East 42nd Street at 1:30, parked on 39th Street. Later on that day I drove to NH, arrived at 9:30 after making stops in Darien, Hartford, Hadley, MA and I ate in Brattleboro, VT. Any questions. To your other point, I won't embarrass the employer but a relative of mine works there and yes they refused to even talk with me, no issue, I probably would not want to work for them anyway. Yes, I did chase someone who hit a turtle just after the Dunkin' Donuts on Route 28, yes they could care less, yes I confronted them at Blueberry Station on Route 28 just over the Pittsfield line. Obama closed down airports due to the filibuster, that was intentional to hurt people and was payback. Yes, your comment was snarky, why are you such a bitter person? Life is what you make it, our bitterness in life comes from within, it speaks volumes about the individual being "snarkly" as you put it.

Oh please, Itsa, save your sermon. I rarely read posts as angry as yours (except Sail's). You seem to spend your time worrying that someone somewhere is getting your hard earned tax money The Repubs closed the airports when they shut down the government. They reopened them pretty quickly when it affected them though..

Being middle-middle class, I am concerned that progressives feel even in the least that they have some claim on my meager earnings. I resent the fact that I work very hard and others whine and hold their hands out and palms up. Many younger and more able bodied than me. I resent the fact that I made my choices in life and live with them good and bad. Others simply rely on others to make up for their choices. Do you have a life long membership in that club? No, Obama decided to close the airports and parks and he still spent money on his vacations and other pet projects. He could have been a man and a leader and not funded Obamacare until Americans (69% of us) had a fair hearing of the law. No, he had to be tyranical so that his legacy moved on......some legacy...... he is now viewed as a liar and cheat.....most of us knew that anyway but now it is out in the open.

Well, I guess we will just wait for the other shoe to drop. But five of his top assistants were in the know on this lane closure and he wasn't? Does he seem like the kind of boss that employees will do something like this behind his back. He yells at his constituents and tell them to shut up and mind their own business. He is exactly the kind of man who would carry a petty grudge. Once a bully, always a bully At the very, very least he is incompetent for not finding out on the first day of this closure what was happening. He didn't seem to care about FT Lee residents for the four days. It took the NY side of the Port Authority to finally stop it.

The Republicans have been getting away with this sort of thing since Nixon. They have been so arrogant that they thought they could still get away with it.

Al Gore created an intentional traffic jam to get votes in the NH primary..and he got away with it..because you never heard of it.

I never heard of it, but maybe if he closed all the toll booths on race weekend I would have heard of it. And please don't send any links because it is ancient history and I could start bringing up stuff Republicans did and Sail would get involved and it would never end.

Seems like you enjoy Sail "bringing up stuff". Let's not be petty and snyde. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

Democrats involved in real voter suppression here in NH = old news.

You are kidding right? Are you talking about the time the Repubs jammed the Dems phones during the Sununu-Shaheen elections or what Obrien tried to do with voter id? Or maybe you mean what they have done in NC or Ohio to black voters and college students.

never heard of it....old news..

Come on this type of conspiracy story is best left alone. While Gov. Christie is very outspoken and knows what he wants to even insinuate that he would be part of this vendetta is ludicrous. No politician controls every aspect of what goes on every minute. This is why they have trusted assistants and managers. Yes he is ultimately responsible because of the trust he places in others, but that's not the same thing. I don't agree with everything he says but I think he is above this sophomoric dirty trick. If nothing else I believe the Gov has more respect for the residents of NJ as this did nothing but hurt those very people. The whole notion of using guilt by insinuation to generate media attention has got to go. As I type I hear CNN beating the "what did he know" drum. I would anticipate a strong GOP denial except for the fact that Christie is more interested do what is right than towing the party line. We need more politicians willing to take stands. So this is one leftist, socaiist, progressive liberal spender that would support Christie in spite of him being a republican.

Yes he would, I have been following him for a while because of relatives in the area. And he is not a nice man. He uses his power as governor all the time for petty little paybacks.

Still not buying it. I too have relatives there that happen to like him.

Not buying it here either. The Libs want him to be involved because they know if he runs for President he is a major threat to Hillary. I cannot imagine a guy as smart as Christie selling his career down the tubes for revenge. The Libs are not too fond of him because he goes up against the unions and takes no crap from the media. He has won over a lot of Libs in NJ with his tenure there, and he is not afraid to go against his own party which is pretty darn refreshing these days.

And Obama does not do the same thing? NSA, IRS targeting conservative groups, making life hard for people because he would not compromise before the government shutdown, White House hotline when Obamacare was being crafted for people to call in and report people who were speaking against it (taken down after it was reported), failure to compromise with anyone not of his mindset, etc.

Sorry but when it comes to groups like the NSA, they operate in their own little world with no real oversight. This isn't a case of Christie or Obama doing something, but of underlings thinking that their actions will advance them up the ladder of power. Please stop with the Obama wouldn't compromise on the shutdown. When the crackpots in the TP say the only way to pass something is to defund Obamacare, kinda removes compromise from the table.

As we are seeing first hand now, those "crackpots" as you put it and the Republicans were 100% correct that Obamacare would hurt millions.

The bottom line is the Christie, like Obama need to treat their office as "the buck stops here". That is what leaders do and it speaks volumes about who they surround themselves with. These kinds of things hang all over the Obama administration and how Obama reacted when Obamacare impacted so many people. The news agencies then said "yes, but it only affected 5% of the insurance policies" which were millions of policies. We all know by now that the press holds double standards. But the bottom line is that as a "leader" not "politician" you are responsible 100%. By the way we hold "politician" as some sort of role to look up to, it is not. We need leaders not politicians in our state house, our legislature and in Washington.

Sorry to disagree GCarson, but he is a Republican through and through and adheres to all their beliefs, including union busting and taking money from public schools. He seems to nottow the party line because he has a Democratic Senate just as Romney did, but look what happened to him when he started to run in red states. Best can be said for Christie is he is not a tea partier. Yet.

He is well known for this kind of sophomoric pay back, but it has usually been personal, such a taking away a security detail, cutting a professors funding, even cutting a Republican from meetings because he criticized Christie, I know to a lot of people this is politics as usual, but as to him being the kind of guy who can bring opposite sides together, no way.

Evidently the folks in NJ disagree with you Tillie. In 2009 6% of Dems voted for him, in 2013, 32% of Dems voted for him and he was re elected in a landslide 68-32. He is also popular with Independents.

Yep, and now we know why. He was endorsed by Dems for fear of retaliation. Also Nixon won a landslide victory in '72 and we remember what happened to him. I wonder Christie's poll numbers look like now.

I am not a Christie supporter and honestly I do not like the man, would never want him for a Republican candidate for President. Yet we have a President who continues to take things out on the taxpayers, for instance, cancelling White House tours, closing National Parks taking retribution against the people. People are losing their healthcare right and left and some people in critical care have lost their treatment plans and Obama continues to punish people. Yet I have not seen a journalist on the Left complain against Obama for all of his instances of retaliation against the populace. There needs to be balance.

Republican government shutdown. Government paid workers not working, thanks to Ted Cruz. Obama had nothing to do with this stuff, as anyone who pays attention to anything but FOX knows well. It was the GOP that took their tantrum out on the people, as they have been doing for the past 5 years.

As for punishing the people, let's look back to Ronnie "zap" Raygun in 1981. Seems the tours, national parks were closed then as well. Same thing when Carter and Newt's house had their shutdown. Standard operating procedure, gonna blame Obama for these as well.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.