The latest Bridgegate bombshell out shattering any scintilla of public trust still left in the Christie Administration dropped today. The toll hike was simply a cynical ploy abusing commuters for political impact to make the Governors of NY and NJ look good while creating a bi-state slush fund to be used to reward friends and punish enemies. The tolls were apparently raised exorbitantly high so Christie and Cuomo could look like good guys for making the Port Authority lower them, at the same time, the excess would be used to fund pet projects so they did not have to look like they were raising taxes.
Former and current Port Authority employees reveal the “War Room” tactics to Shawn Boburg of the Record in his latest piece out today. It will blow your mind. Just when we all thought things could get no worse in this saga, the rest of the iceberg that may sink the Titanic Christie Administration is revealing itself.
For the past few months, it seemed I was the only one obsessed with the toll hikes. It was the only explanation for Bridgegate that made the most sense to me. Just last week I even asked Shawn Boburg if Bridgegate was done to justify the toll hikes and to blunt the impact of the Congressional GAO report on the Port Authority that came out on September 13th. He had not thought so at the time. That may change based on his latest report.
Just so the Governors of New York and New Jersey could lower them, Christie’s appointees at the Port Authority pretended they were going to raise the tolls even higher. The exasperated reference by Christie’s campaign manager Stepien to Patrick Foye as “Captain America” is telling. The Governors looked like they were “forcing” the Port Authority to lower the toll increase they were asking for. In a similar fashion, did Christie’s appointees plan traffic so that they could save the day later, as I posited in my Toll Hike theory blog January 17?
We should look into it. The real estate angle is important and David Samson’s personal enrichment is a part of the story, but to get buy-in from so many in the Christie Administration, there had to be another motivation people could use as an end to justify such cynical means. I am losing hope that MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki will go after this story because it does not paint his former boss David Wildstein in a flattering light. Rather than being angry and disturbed that Wildstein, who gleefully delayed traffic on the first day of Yom Kippur, could joke about delaying flights to Israel, Kornacki found them amusing. It may be a joke to Kornacki, but those of us In Northern NJ, and reporters at all the major newspapers here are not laughing.
The elaborate lengths Wildstein and Baroni went through to push through the toll hikes makes the George Washington Bridge lane closures look like an afterthought by comparison. The way they went after Frank Lautenberg was a political campaign opposition research operation all out of proportion, it seemed at the time, to the argument at hand. Those toll hikes were crucial to them for some reason. Now we know why. Even the toll hikes were part of the political game. The cynical, disturbing political game, using average citizens as helpless pawns.
The Christie administration, if the latest story about politically manipulating the amount of the toll increases is true, is guilty of an epic abuse of power, the sheer scope of which we are only just starting to appreciate.
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