While reading the diary Port Authority Chief Samson Says He Might Resign in Wake of Bridgegate by ericlewis0, I noticed a very unusual paragraph in the associated New York Times Article.
In fact, Mr. Foye did not have to distance himself from the bridge issue; supervisors of operations at the bridge had been told by Christie political operatives that they were specifically not to inform Mr. Foye of the lane shutdowns.Bold mine.
I found this paragraph interesting for a number of reasons. After the release of Patrick Foye's email that demanded the reopening of the Fort Lee access lanes, there has been much speculation as to whether Patrick Foye actually knew beforehand that the lanes were going to be shut down. Many have suspected, based on the tone of his email, that the Executive Director of the Port Authority had been kept in the dark about these lane closures.
If this paragraph in the New York Times article is correct, then we have our answer and this could be huge.
Follow me over the funny looking traffic sign for my thoughts on this.
If there are emails, or other evidence that show that Christie political operatives were telling supervisors of operations at the bridge that they were specifically not to inform the Executive Director of the Port Authority about the access lane closures, then these emails or directives must have been sent before the lanes were actually shut down!
It makes absoultely no sense that you would send an email like that out after the lanes have been closed, when every newspaper and television station in the area is covering news of the closure.
The questions left unanswered by that one paragraph are many. Who were the supervisors of the bridge who were notified? Who in Christie's inner circle sent those directives? And why did they want to keep Patrick Foye in the dark?
The apparently obvious answer to that last question is that if Patrick Foye knew, he would likely stop the shutdown before it ever started. Which brings up, once again, the big question of why did they so badly want to shut down those lanes? As to the other questions, I suspect the New York Times is on the verge of letting us know!
I find it hard to believe that the New York Times would print a definitive statement like this without having hard evidence backing it up. As I've read through the emails that were recently released and news articles during the time and shortly after the lanes were shutdown, it became readily apparent that news agencies had copies of many of these emails long before we ever had an opportunity to see them. News articles from September and October were quoting word for word what was in Patrick Foye's email demanding reopening of the lanes.
It would appear the New York Times has obtained some new emails that we have yet to see!
If this paragraph is true, we have people inside the Governor's inner circle who were conspiring to keep information from the very head of the Port Authority. It shows that those making these decisions knew well in advance that the plans they were making were unquestionably wrong and they were attempting to cover up their actions from the very beginning.
Does anyone still believe this had anything to do with a traffic study? I didn't think so!
Fasten your seatbelts and keep stocked up on popcorn! We have long way to go yet!!
The staff for Jim Dwyer, the reporter for the NYT article linked above, got back to me with details supporting the paragraph I blockquoted above. Not only did he provide me the link to the transcript of testimony in the Port Authority Committee Meeting he excerpted the relevant portions shown below:
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: And what did you say to Mr. Wildstein?Although much of this has been "mentioned" in various news reports I believe Jim Dwyer is the first to put it so clearly. Obviously, Patrick Foye was kept in the dark! And it's now very, very apparent why Wildstein decided to plead the 5th. It's even clearer why they decided to Wildstein in contempt!
MR. FULTON: One, that it was important for the Executive Director to be advised; two, that because this would be such a visible event -- no one would miss it -- that our media relations should be advised; and that three, the town of Fort Lee would be greatly concerned with this test.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: What did he say about notifying the media?
MR. FULTON: That he would take care of that.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: What did he say about notifying either the Mayor or the Police Chief of Fort Lee?
MR. FULTON: Not to worry about that.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: Did he say he was going to notify them?
MR. FULTON: He did not say that to me.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: So when you saw calls on Monday, did you pick up the phone, call your folks, and say, “Why don’t we put up an electronic message board so that folks on Tuesday aren’t caught by surprise?”
MR. DURANDO: I did not do that, no.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: Why wouldn’t you?
MR. DURANDO: In my discussions with Mr. Wildstein during the course of this operation, I was told to not discuss this with anyone.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: Even the public?
MR. DURANDO: I was told to not discuss this with anyone.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: Did you pick up the phone and call -- by this time -- Pat Foye and say, “Mr. Executive Director, I just have to let you know this is a problem, and something ought to be done about it?”
MR. DURANDO: No, sir.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: Why is that?
MR. DURANDO: Because I reported it up through my chain of command, and was told by my boss that New York and Mr. Foye were going to be taken care of.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: Did he tell you he told Mr. Foye? Did Mr. Wildstein tell you that he told Mr. Foye?
MR. DURANDO: No, he didn’t tell me that directly.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: Did Mr. Wildstein tell you he told the Fort Lee Police?
MR. DURANDO: He did not.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: He just said, “Don’t say anything.”
MR. DURANDO: That’s right.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: And so even though he never made any representation that anyone in authority knew, you accepted his don’t-say-a-word injunction.
MR. DURANDO: I informed my boss, and we were told not to talk about this to anyone.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: And so you followed those instructions.
MR. DURANDO: I did
MR. DURANDO: No, no, it was a text message on the phone, I believe, “Call me.” It was prior to 6:00 a.m. “Call me after 6:00 a.m.”
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: And did you call him after 6:00 a.m.?
MR. DURANDO: I did.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: And what did you find out?
MR. DURANDO: He asked me what was going on up at the Bridge. I explained to him what had been going on since Monday. He asked me if I was told not to tell him. I told him I was. And that was pretty much the end of the conversation.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: What did he tell you to do?
MR. DURANDO: At that point in time he didn’t tell me to do anything. He said that he would be getting back to me.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: Was he surprised that you were told not to tell him?
MR. DURANDO: Somewhat. I don’t know whether he was surprised or not.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: After that conversation, was that the first time that you became aware that Mr. Foye had not been informed by Mr. Wildstein?
MR. DURANDO: Yes.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: What would stop another deputy executive director, if it’s not Mr. Baroni, from ordering a lane diversion and telling Mr. Fulton and Mr. Durando, “Don’t tell Pat.”
MR. FOYE: Well, the answer to that is two-fold, I believe. One is, I believe each of the line department chiefs are aware of the hazards of doing this. That’s not an institutional answer, but it is a real answer
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: Mr. Baroni’s testimony in front of this Committee was that he knew about this at least on the Friday prior, maybe even on the Thursday prior. Are you aware of that?
MR. FOYE: I understand that. Yes, sir.
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: And so an entire week went by where he concealed this from you.
MR. FOYE: An entire week went by. Yes, sir
ASSEMBLYMAN WISNIEWSKI: And so what we don’t have an answer to is: How do we have any greater certainty, despite your best intentions, to make sure that things like this can’t happen again if a deputy executive director’s direct report says to the people in the agency -- who have said or have implied that they are worried about being forthcoming -- tells them to do something -- and, “Don’t tell Pat Foye,” or whomever the executive director is? What assurance can we give our constituents that that won’t ever happen again?
MR. FOYE: Chairman, I would go back to the two points I made earlier, which is that the leadership of each of the line departments understand clearly that what happened here with respect to the George Washington Bridge and the Fort Lee lane closures is unacceptable and can’t