There’s been a simmering controversy surrounding Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) administration causing days of crippling traffic in a New Jersey community, allegedly to punish a local mayor for refusing to endorse the governor’s re-election. The issue hit a bit of a lull last week, as policymakers awaited subpoenaed materials related to the scandal.
But even as we await more information about the controversy, it appears Christie himself made matters worse by trying to take the offensive last week.
The Fort Lee mayor on Friday challenged Governor Christie’s claim that the traffic paralysis caused by closed lanes at the George Washington Bridge couldn’t have been such a problem because top Port Authority officials were unaware of the congestion. […]“Did the Fort Lee officials – law enforcement, political – lose his number? Could they not get it and find him somehow? How did this happen exactly?” Christie asked during a State House news conference Thursday.
The problem with this pushback is that it doesn’t appear to make any sense. Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich explained that officials in his area “incessantly” called the Port Authority to raise concerns, reaching out to “at least five or six” Port Authority personnel. Sokolich added, “We called the contacts that we always called whenever there was an event. We did not depart from protocol that had been established for 20 years…. We called everybody that we were supposed to call.”
Why Christie would suggest otherwise, making it appear Fort Lee did something wrong when it was the governor’s own allies that were responsible for this fiasco, is unclear.
According to the Bergen Record’s report, the mayor said most of his calls to the agency were ignored or were answered with a “non-meaningful response.”
Complicating matters, Christie told reporters last week, “The fact that one town has three lanes dedicated to it, that kind of gets me sauced.” A closer look suggests this claim is wildly misleading.
Looking ahead, state lawmakers said materials were turned over on Thursday in response to the subpoenas, and the Office of Legislative Services is reviewing the documents to ensure the Port Authority has fully complied with the demands for information.