Based on simultaneous leaks to at least three news organizations from six or eight previous Port Authority employees (and maybe having just a little something to do with the on-going but not yet findings-announced New Jersey legislature’s ‘leaky’ investigation into those Port Authority hefty bridge and tunnel toll hikes) we may now break the news that there’s a Stalking Crumb on Christiegate, I mean a smoking gun for Bizzaro Christiegate. It’s called Tollgate.
Turns out that Wildstein, Samson and Beroni, first famous for their ‘GWB access lane closure blame-it-on-the-Ft.-Lee-Mayor conspiracy,’ had previously conspired, in the exacto same way, over the whimsical yet steep ‘bridge and tunnel toll rate hikes of 2011.’
Looks like the at least three top co-conspirators set up a secret working group, directed by Wildstein but with the more photogenic Baloney, I mean Baroni, riding point as public relations face. The point was to shield Governors Christie and Cuomo from being held responsible for growing their own slush funds by upping bridge and tunnel tolls for New Jersey chumps, I mean residents, who work in NYC but can’t afford to live there. (The Port Authority can raise rates as they like, it’s not like raising taxes, they don’t need legislative votes to in order to charge working stiffs, I mean employed New Jersians, more to get to work.)
Naturally Cuomo isn’t saying anything, but the motor mouth New Jersey chief executive Christie is also keeping his flytrap, I mean mouth, closed. Loretta Weinberg finds their silence damning, I mean, suggestive.
Both Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo have said a great deal to the public they are supposed to be representing by their complete silence,” said Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck. “They have been complicit in the lack of appropriate business procedures, transparency and lack of accountability that seems rampant in the top echelon of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority. They both have much to answer for to the people whose interests they are supposed to represent.”Fun quotes:
Baroni took command of the ensuing public relations campaign intended to smooth adoption. The Port Authority sent out 36 press releases in three days in support of the toll hike. Eight public hearings were scheduled — all held on the same day, Aug. 16.http://www.northjersey.com/...
To orchestrate support, Baroni and Wildstein gathered workers from Laborers’ International Union of North America to show up at the meetings in orange T-shirts that said “Port Authority = Jobs.”
The vice president of the union is Ray Pocino. He is also a Port Authority commissioner.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, speaking during a six-day legislative trip to Israel, said, “The story confirms what many of us have already assumed and suspected: that the outrage at the toll increase was manufactured and managed to arrive at the number they decided on in advance. Wisniewski, co-chairman of the joint legislative committee investigating the lane closures, said of the revelations, “What’s disturbing is the conduct of the Port Authority in how it organized the public hearings — it was a sham.”http://www.northjersey.com/...
Weeks earlier, Christie held a meeting in his office where he instructed his aides at the Port Authority to float the higher number, a knowledgeable source said. And Christie and Cuomo’s top Port Authority commissioners — David Samson for New Jersey and Scott Rechler and Jeffrey H. Lynford for New York — also discussed the toll-hike plan with Wildstein and Baroni before it was released.http://www.northjersey.com/...
But within two weeks, after a blizzard of 36 press releases by the Port Authority on behalf of toll hike supporters and after public hearings packed with union laborers backing the plan, Christie and his New York counterpart, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, consented to a more modest increase. Even then, the governors conditioned their approval on a top-to-bottom financial review of the agency.http://www.nj.com/...
The thing is, a former Port Authority official told The Star-Ledger, “It was all bullshit.”
Baroni's lawyer has no comment, but Wildstein's lawyer's response was interesting, says it isn't the whole story.
Ergo, if we want the whole story someone could get a little immunity? Or maybe get his legal bills paid?
The Port Authority killed 20,000 animals over the past two years — including three bird species deemed endangered or threatened, The Post has learned.http://nypost.com/...
The agency shotgunned a northern harrier at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport — even though the hawk is endangered in the state, according to 2012-13 data obtained through a Freedom of Information request.
Teterboro’s shooters also zapped an American kestrel, a small falcon listed as threatened in New Jersey. And hunters at JFK Airport offed 11 ospreys, which are labeled as at-risk in New York.
Animal conservation groups were outraged.
March 4th -
The New York Times exposes more of Samson's conflict-of-interest interests. Here's some more fun quotes, from yesterday:
Court papers filed by a lawyer for Gov. Chris Christie’s former campaign manager indicate that federal prosecutors are moving aggressively to investigate the role of the governor’s aides in the George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal.and today:
An agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation telephoned the campaign manager, Bill Stepien, in January, about a week after a cache of electronic messages were released showing that the governor’s allies planned to close access lanes to the bridge as a political act against the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., who had declined to endorse the governor for re-election despite assiduous courting from the campaign.
Lawyers for the legislative committee have argued that Ms. Kelly and Mr. Stepien cannot invoke their constitutional right against self-incrimination because they are not at risk of incrimination.
The lane-closing scandal that has enveloped Mr. Christie’s administration and the Port Authority for months has focused intense scrutiny on Mr. Samson and the 120-lawyer firm that he helped found in 1972. A number of potential conflicts have been reported by other news media, and the agency’s executive director, Patrick J. Foye, last week said that Mr. Samson lacked the moral authority to remain chairman.
Jameson W. Doig, a scholar who has long studied the Port Authority, said that while the Port Authority had not been immune to allegations of political influence, he had not seen anything in his research going back to the 1920s that compared to how Mr. Samson and Mr. Christie have used the bistate agency’s vast resources to advance the governor’s interests, at times benefiting Mr. Samson’s clients in the process. “Chris Christie has been very active in using the Port Authority for his own purposes, more so than any other governor,” said Mr. Doig, a research professor at Dartmouth College. “And that increased when David Samson arrived.”