Thursday, July 17, 2014

Another Bridge Problem Threatens Christie

By Roger Stone

Last Thursday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie backers, and there are still a few out there, were given a rare opportunity to celebrate when the Republican Governor’s Association, of which Christie serves as Chairman announced its largest-ever 2nd quarter fundraising totals, raising $26.6m. Christie has proved himself a far more competent party fundraiser than manager of his State, allowing some in the Republican Party to hail his comeback from the George Washington Bridge scandal. Those who are doing so seem to be avoiding the even darker cloud on the horizon for Christie, one which more even than the GWB scandal undercuts Christie’s claims to good governance and fiscal responsibility. This scandal too involves a bridge – the Pulaski Skyway.

For those who haven’t heard of the Skyway before (and really, if you’re not from the Tri-State Area, why would you have?) it is an elevated bridge connecting the northern New Jersey cities of Newark (of Corey Booker fame) and Jersey City. By late 2010, almost a year after Christie had been elected to office as Governor, Christie realized that he had a problem. Having beaten incumbent Governor John Corzine as much because his unwavering opposition to raising the gas tax, as because of Corzine’s immense unpopularity, and Christie’s reputation as a tough-on-corruption US Attorney Christie was faced by the prospect of having to renege on his campaign promise. Among the most prominent reasons for Christie’s dilemma was the crumbling state of the Pulaski Skyway.

However, Team Christie struck on a solution; he and his team decided to cancel a multi-billion rail project between New Jersey and Manhattan, jointly financed by the State and the Port Authority, with loan guarantees and funds provided by the federal government,  Christie may have canceled the billion dollar project in revenge against former Senator William Gormley who Christie let walk in a corruption probe. Gormley then worked furtively for Corzine. Gormley, it seems had a law firm making big bucks on the tunnel.  Then Christie sought to convince the Board of the Port to finance the Skyway refurbishment with the money they had raised for the purpose of financing the rail project. The Port, in short, would prove to be Christie’s “break in case of emergency” piggy bank.

Of course, there was a problem. The Port is

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