Mayor Dawn Zimmer's claim that Hoboken was shortchanged Sandy relief funds because she refused to support one of Governor Christie's favored development projects receives major support, today, from Scott Gurian, of NJ Spotlight. His detailed, seven page analysis of major errors, faulty scoring, and faulty selection in the Christie administration's allocation of Sandy relief funds was published in Investigation Reveals Sandy Energy Grant Program Riddled With Errors.
An ongoing investigation by NJ Spotlight and WNYC/NJ Public Radio has found that by using the Christie administration’s own scoring criteria, seven of Hoboken’s requests for backup generators should have been funded instead of just one, making it eligible for up to $700,000 more than it was originally awarded
The problems run much deeper than just Hoboken. Many errors were discovered after only a cursory review of the data, and their occurrence is too varied and numerous to easily overlook. ... A review of the initial scoring highlights many municipalities receiving unequal treatment, and anomalies such as Nutley -- which had comparatively little damage from Sandy or past storms -- getting a significant mitigation grant of $556,240, while places like Atlantic City and Belmar weren’t awarded any funding at all.
New Jersey chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), NJ Spotlight, WNYC/NJ Public Radio obtained the spreadsheet used by the Christie administration to score city's grant applications.
Using those criteria and the ranking system identified by state officials, NJ Spotlight conducted its own scoring and found instances of similar grant applications from different municipalities receiving unequal treatment, multiple cases of applicants being awarded points they never should have gotten or not earning credit – or the proper amount of credit -- for ranking criteria they met, and a scoring methodology that appears to have favored a few applicants at the expense of the majority in several key rankings.
It has not taken long for a spokesperson for Hoboken to denounce this and demand a formal investigation.
“This investigation adds to the growing body of evidence that the Christie Administration’s process of distributing Sandy funds has been flawed, politicized, and subject to abuse,” it said.
Briefed on the investigation’s findings, state Senator Ray Lesniak -- a frequent critic of the administration -- called for an independent audit of the state’s distribution of Sandy aid money. “We’re going to have to just add that to our lengthening list of investigations,” he said.
Meanwhile lawyers for Bridget Kelly and Bill Sepien revealed they are both formal "targets" of the U.S. Attorney's investigation.
The wheels of justice are turning, slowly, but surely.
10:36 AM PT: Seriously, Governor Christie. WTH? (What the Heck. The "F" in Joan's phase seems over the top. Someone wrote in and told me just like there's "crying in baseball," "there's no harsh and ugly language" in New Jersey politics.) My apologies to the people of New Jersey if any of my previous language was too course for the more rarefied culture there.
11:09 AM PT: Bombshell alert, fellow Kossacks! Heart of the Rockies just sent me this link that should lead to David Samson resignation soon. Russ Buettner, of the NYT, reports details of the growing evidence suggesting David Samson and Governor Chris Christie explotate of their government positions for profit and politcal power, by In Job, Appointee Profits and Christie Gains Power h/t to Heart of the Rockies for alerting us to this excellent article.
And after Mr. Christie named Mr. Samson chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, they both benefited when Mr. Samson and the board he led approved billions of dollars in bridge construction contracts. Labor unions grateful for the hard-hat jobs threw their endorsements to Mr. Christie, and clients of Mr. Samson’s firm wound up with the work. ...
A comprehensive examination of Mr. Samson’s dealings with Governor Christie and his administration, both inside the Port Authority and out, shows the extent to which their ambitions and successes became intertwined. Mr. Samson and his law firm benefited financially. Mr. Christie benefited politically. And each enhanced the other’s stature as their relationship deepened in ways that were not apparent at the time.
Perhaps the clearest example of this symbiosis, previously unreported, came last April, when Mr. Samson presided as the Port Authority awarded two bridge construction contracts worth a total of $2.8 billion. ... Mr. Samson paused after the vote of the 12-member board to call the occasion “joyous and happy.” It certainly was for two clients of his law firm. ... One longtime client was I.M.T.T., which owns a liquid storage facility on the Bayonne waterfront. The company is half-owned by the Macquarie Infrastructure Company, one of the contractors Mr. Samson and his fellow commissioners awarded $1.5 billion to replace and maintain the Goethals Bridge. ...A second contract, for $1.3 billion, was to raise the Bayonne Bridge to allow clearance for the largest container ships — though Port Authority experts had seen the project as a lower priority. Mr. Samson “came in like gangbusters” and insisted on proceeding immediately, one former project official said.
The NYT reveals that Samson did not recuse himself from either vote.