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There were more GWB lane closure Documents released this week, and Steve Kornacki and the MSNBC staff has been sifting through them, for what nuggets they may contain.

One new factoid jumped out at me, that the GWB Traffic "test" was planned to last for an entire month. And if not for the decisive actions of Patrick Foye, on the NY side of the Port Authority, it just might have lasted that full month -- instead of the truncated 4 days of "testing."

And perhaps even MORE disturbing than the original length of the planned Traffic Disruptions -- was exactly who was in on the planning ...

Document: Month-long traffic study for Fort Lee

by Steve Kornacki and Brian Murphy, -- 02/22/14

Handwritten notes released Wednesday by the borough of Fort Lee show that on the first morning of the lane closures, Port Authority Police Lt. Thomas “Chip” Michaels told Fort Lee Police Chief Keith Bendul that toll lane changes had been ordered by Port Authority executives as a “test” to “relieve” congestion on the Interstate-95 approaches to the bridge at the expense of Fort Lee and surrounding towns. The exercise was to last for a month, Bendul’s notes about his conversation with Michaels show. In telephone interviews with MSNBC last week, Bendul clarified and confirmed this interaction with Michaels.

A review of additional documents indicates that Michaels may have known about the planned month-long duration of the lane closures sooner than other high-ranking Port Authority officials.

Emails subpoenaed by the N.J. Legislature show that Robert Durando, manager of the George Washington Bridge, learned that the lane closures would be continued into the following day “at a minimum” almost six hours after Michaels told Fort Lee officials that the changes would be in place for a month.

A few questions jumped off the page here, prompted by the investigative-reporter-muse in me:

1) How did Thomas “Chip” Michaels know so much about the planned GWB shut-down -- by Omosis?

2) Why did Thomas “Chip” Michaels (a Police Lt.) have to explain these details to the Keith Bendul (a Police Chief)?

Was that part of his normal Port Authority Lieutenant's police duties -- to be "the public liaison" to the local Police Chief?


3) Were these calls and emails to Chief Bendul done in an official capacity, if so who authorized them?  

Who told "Chip" what to say, to local law enforcement (with respect to the "30 Days of Bad News," they were in the process of delivering)?

Because it kind of looks like the Christie Administration has left "Chip" Michaels, up a creek without a paddle -- when it comes to backing up his GWB actions and disclosures, on the days of "moving those GWB traffic cones":

Police lieutenant under review in GW Bridge probe

by Maddie Hanna, Inquirer Trenton Bureau, -- Feb 19, 2014

No names preface the messages, but MSNBC named Michaels as the first message-sender, pointing to an e-mail Wildstein sent to a Port Authority official at 7:28 that morning saying he was "going to take a ride with chip and see how it looks."

"This allegation raises the issue of additional people having contemporaneous knowledge of the lane closures," widening "the circle of people who may have had an opportunity to speak with the governor about it," Wisniewski said.

"The governor has never had any conversations with either Jeff or Chip Michaels on this topic," Christie spokesman Colin Reed said Monday.

If Thomas “Chip” Michaels thought his long-lived history with respect to the Christie rise to power, would somehow "protect him" when "the traffic cones hit the fan" -- well perhaps he should prepare for "his own chops to get busted" right about now ...

Christie’s Other Childhood Friend Gave Tour of Fort Lee Traffic Jam

by Margaret Hartmann, -- 2/16/2014

There's nothing obviously incriminating in Michaels's texts and emails (it's unclear how he wanted to "mak ths beter,") but they reveal that another person close to Christie had first-hand knowledge of the lane closures long before the governor says he found out about the incident. A 2010 Newark Star-Ledger article described Michaels as part of "a tight circle of friends" Christie formed while growing up in Livingston. "We break his chops a little bit, just saying, ‘You’re the governor?,’ looking at him laughing," Michaels told the paper. "It’s crazy. He grew up like everyone else in New Jersey. So to see him as a celebrity, it’s just really odd. But he’s the same guy. He’s a grounded guy."

It's starting to look like being part of that Christie 'inner circle' -- brings with it no guarantee of staying part of Christie's protect-me-only, cut-all-ties-and-run legal defense bubble.
"The governor has never had any conversations with either Jeff or Chip Michaels on this topic."
I wonder how "grounded" Chip feels about that old-style neighborhood jab?  Being left high and dry as the "fall guy" may sound good on paper -- but it probably is not much fun when it starts to shake out in real life.  

That sheen of "local celebrity" must be wearing pretty thin, right about now, for those once basking in the light of that Chris Christie 'inner crew'.

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