Last May 8, a severe rainstorm left the streets of this city flooded once again, causing the mayor, Dawn Zimmer, to recall the inundation from Hurricane Sandy.Please read below the fold for more on Christie's transgressions.
So she dashed off a letter to Gov. Chris Christie, imploring him to help with Hoboken’s “ongoing flooding emergency,” and attached photos of cars in water up to their hoods. She was due to meet the next day with officials of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, when she hoped to talk about protecting Hoboken from the next catastrophic deluge to come.
But according to newly obtained emails sent among the participants, the first topic of discussion on the agenda was “review of concepts for flood control measures at Rockefeller property,” a reference to a billion-dollar office complex proposed at the north end of town. The developer, the Rockefeller Group, which had long been trying to gain approval from local officials, sent two executives, two lobbyists and an engineer to the meeting.
Among the lobbyists attending the meeting: Lori Grifa, a former member of Christie's cabinet and a lobbyist for Wolff & Samson, a politically connected law firm hired by Rockefeller Group to represent its interests. According to emails from Zimmer's staff, Grifa had pressured Hoboken planners to support the Rockefeller Group's development plans in Hoboken, a claim disputed by Grifa and her firm. Also of note: Christie's choice to serve as Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was none other than Wolff & Samson's founder, David Samson.
One day after the meeting, Zimmer was told that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno would visit Hoboken the following Monday. It was on that Monday that Zimmer alleges she was told by Guadagno that if she wanted Hoboken to receive flood mitigation funding, she needed to approve the Rockefeller Group's project.
Although these new revelations certainly demonstrate that the Christie administration and its allies pressured Zimmer to support the Rockefeller development, they don't offer a definitive link showing Christie misusing Sandy recovery aid. But in a separate story, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Christie was personally involved in steering $6 million of Sandy aid to a project in Belleville, New Jersey, that had nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy and had in fact been in the works for years before the storm hit—and that two weeks after delivering the money, Christie received the endorsement of the town's Democratic mayor.
Again, none of this proves Christie ordered Guadagno to link Hoboken's share of Sandy aid to Zimmer's position on the Rockefeller development, but it does show that he used Sandy aid money as a slush fund. And even if nothing else comes out of Hoboken (which seems unlikely), that's a pretty damning indictment of his scruples.