Officials loyal to Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey went to elaborate means to make it appear that the September closing of lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge was part of a traffic study, even though their private communications suggest the move was purely political, according to documents released on Friday.Mother Jones:
The documents also show a concerted effort to keep their true motivation hidden, including the insistence by one official of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in an email that communications about the matter should not be conducted by email or discussed publicly.
At his Thursday press conference, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he played no part in causing a traffic jam last fall on the George Washington Bridge and in nearby Fort Lee. He ultimately took responsibility for the debacle, but Christie said his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, had ordered the traffic jam without his knowledge. Emails showed that she had been in cahoots with David Wildstein, a Christie appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Christie fired Kelly on Thursday, and he insisted that she was the only member of his inner circle who knew that the traffic mess was politically motivated and not the result of a supposed traffic study.Those (few) defending Christie and claiming this will all blow over miss one crucial point: he really is the petty, vindictive bully he's portrayed as.
Yet text messages turned over to investigators by Wildstein raise the possibility that months before the disclosure this week of Kelly's bombshell email—"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee"—other senior Christie aides knew the traffic study excuse wasn't true.
Ted Mann, WSJ, has been all over this. This story is from Oct 13, 2013:
The executive director, Patrick Foye, fired off an email message early on the morning of Sept. 13, after he learned of the lane closures and subsequent traffic backups in Fort Lee, N.J., from a daily internal list of pending media inquiries.More politics and policy below the fold.
Mr. Foye's blistering email, which was sent to top executives of the authority and was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, denounced the closures as "abusive" and pledged to investigate "how PA process was wrongfully subverted and the public interest damaged to say nothing of the credibility of this agency."
"I pray that no life has been lost or trip of a hospital- or hospice-bound patient delayed," Mr. Foye wrote, a reference to ambulances caught in traffic.
In one instance in October, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak responded to questions from Star-Ledger reporter Steve Strunsky. Then, switching to his Gmail account, Drewniak forwarded the exchange to Wildstein.So why were they using Gmail?
“Such a f— mutt,” Drewniak wrote. “See below…”
Wildstein, also using Gmail, then forwarded the exchange to Baroni.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s appointees worked furiously to conceal an apparent act of political retaliation in September that shut down a pair of local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge and paralyzed the small city of Fort Lee, N.J., according to a new trove of documents released Friday.WaPo:
Inside the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the government agency that controls the bridge, Christie’s top lieutenants ignored complaints from Fort Lee’s police chief and angry rush-hour commuters. One woman called asking why the agency was “playing God with people’s jobs.”
A cursory review of the documents shows the following:The Fix:
• Fort Lee, N.J., Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) informed the Port Authority on Sept. 10 -- the day after the lane closures took effect -- that emergency responders in one case were forced to abandon their vehicle and respond to a call "on foot" due to traffic.
• After concerns were raised, Bill Baroni, a now-former top Christie appointee on the Port Authority, told his colleague Patrick Foye, an appointee of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), that there should be "be no public discourse" about the situation. Foye responded incredulously, saying, "Bill that’s precisely the problem: there has been no public discourse on this." Foye added that the "fiasco" needed to be fixed.
• Once the media were on the case, Baroni repeatedly asked a spokesman for the Port Authority, Steve Coleman, to ignore media requests and/or not comment.
The chairman of the New Jersey Assembly's transportation committee, John Wisniewski (D), on Friday said newly released documents raise fresh questions about the involvement of Gov. Chris Christie's aides in ordering, and then covering up, a deliberate traffic jam as an act of political retribution.
By our count, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie answered 94(!) questions over a nearly two-hour press conference Thursday focused on his administration's push to cause a traffic jam in Fort Lee as a measure of political payback.Matthew O'Brien:
Still, there are plenty of questions that either didn't get asked or Christie couldn't (or wouldn't) answer. Here's five. What question(s) do you want answered? (Make sure to check out our piece on the 10 things you need to know about bridge-gate.)
Healthcare spending is growing slower than the economy for the first time since 1997. And nobody knows why.David Cutler:
It might just be the shadow of the Great Recession. Or a move towards more high-deductible plans. Or maybe, just maybe, Obamacare's cost controls. There's evidence for all of them. But, contra Matt Yglesias, it does matter which is most responsible, because that tells us how long this slowdown might last. So let's take a look at them all, and try to figure out if the cost-curve is bending or just taking a break from its march to infinity and beyond.
The best evidence that Obamacare isn't causing our healthcare slowdown is that it isn't our slowdown. It's the world's slowdown.
It’s tough for a historian to earn the adoration of both academia and popular culture, but Eric Foner has managed to do it. His books on American history are assigned reading at universities and colleges across the country. Reviewers have praised his work as “monumental in scope” and declared that it “approaches brilliance.” He won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2011 book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery—and appeared on The Colbert Report to discuss it. (In addition, I can’t overstate the lasting influence that Foner has had on my career as a high-school history teacher. I constantly refer to his growing body of work when teaching students not only original thinking, but also effective writing and analysis. I’ve also used his textbook to teach Advanced Placement United States History with terrific results.)
I recently spoke to Foner about the teachers who influenced him and how high-school history teachers can better prepare students for college.