January 2014


From New Jersey’s Star Ledger:

And now, we are reminded of the accusations of Ben Barlyn, a former Hunterdon County prosecutor who says he was fired because he refused to drop a case against a Christie ally. For the past year, he’s been striving to prove his story, paying through the nose for a civil lawsuit against the state while telling it to anyone who will listen.

Barlyn says that after he secured an indictment in 2010 against Hunterdon County Sheriff Deborah Trout, a Republican with political ties to Christie, he was fired and the case hastily killed by Christie’s appointed attorney general at the time, Paula Dow. The real story isn’t the mundane crimes that were alleged: hiring without proper background checks, making employees sign loyalty oaths, threatening critics and producing fake police badges for a prominent Christie donor. It’s the possible abuse of power by the administration’s head prosecutor.

Barlyn is now trying to compel the state Attorney General’s Office to release the grand jury transcripts to prove his case had legs.

He’s not the only one who says so: Four grand jurors and other dismissed prosecutors have come forward to agree. A judge even ordered the release of the transcripts — yet still, the state is refusing to comply. It has filed a torrent of briefs in an effort to suppress the grand jury record, and will continue this fight at a hearing Tuesday.

Christie’s appointed attorney general is also seeking a gag order on Barlyn and his lawyer, in the event these transcripts must be handed over. Which makes you wonder: What is the administration trying so hard to hide? And just as important, why aren’t other people looking?

In my grandmother’s day the standard method of paying household bills was to use a set of empty envelopes. On each envelope you wrote the name of the person or entity to be paid (mortgage $40, Joe – hay & feed $12, Ed the grocer $8, etc.). In those days pay packets came in the form of cash. On receipt of each pay packet, you would distribute the cash between the envelopes.

As each bill became due, if there wasn’t enough cash in the envelope or if an emergency arose that needed to take precedence you would simply would be to take a bit of cash from one or more of the other envelopes to square your immediate obligation. This system was quickly dubbed robbing Peter to pay Paul.

It seems this old-fashioned system of budgeting is how New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has approached his state budget in order to keep his campaign promise to the Republican Party of not raising taxes.

He simply worked out which Peters he could rob in order to pay the Pauls of his choice.

In order to follow along with the current investigations flooding Castle Christie, it’s going to be very important to understand the origin, history and end result of a 2010 transportation project that was intended to upgrade the infrastructure and keep traffic flowing between NY and NJ.

In this (22 min) segment of Up With Steve, Kornacki introduces and explains a $3 billion (partially federally funded) called the A.R.C.

Trust me when I say this is 22 minutes that will put you head and shoulders above the rest in understanding the Port Authority players and their roles in Christie’s administration – and why the handling of this project is going to expose Christie’s true political colours.

Project A.R.C. and The Politics of Port Authority

*UPDATE

Second MSNBC post on A.R.C.

Christie had pledged during his first gubernatorial campaign that would not raise New Jersey’s gas tax under any circumstances. That meant the only way he could pay for upgrading infrastructure was by issuing more debt and raiding the Port Authority’s ARC tunnel funds. According to a recent report from investigative journalist Andrea Bernstein, that may have been the plan all along.

“According to documents and interviews with more than a dozen top-level sources, the governor made clear from the get-go that the agency would be the source of cash for New Jersey’s hard-up infrastructure budget,” writes Bernstein. “And he and his team proceeded to wrangle billions from the bi-state authority to further his political goals—much of that for projects that had never been under the Port Authority’s jurisdiction before.”

Wildstein and Baroni allegedly worked within the Port Authority to kill the tunnel project so they could redirect the money toward New Jersey road projects.

Although the ARC project may be dead and buried, New Jersey may still eventually get its second rail tunnel to New York. Last May, the Department of Transportation offered New York $185 million for a project known as Gateway, which would serve the same needs as ARC. But the project is still not fully funded, and it could be years before construction begins.

Meanwhile, the Port Authority’s $1.8 billion is set to run out in 2016, leaving the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund in much the same shape it was before.

Some people will do anything to get into the White House. Remind you of anyone?

This from Facebook today…

Courtesy of Upworthy:

Courtesy of The Other 98%\

lazies

No no no not the idiot, Sarah Silverman!

Best 5 minute video on the internet – guaranteed!

As of Saturday morning, 18 Jan 014, the Christie Scandals piling up consist mainly of these five factors:

Strongarming 3 New Jersey City Mayors (for political retribution and/or demand of personal favours).
*Steve Fulop of Jersey City
*Mark Sokolich of Ft Lee
*Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken

Misappropriation of federal funds intended to aid Hurricane Sandy victims recovery and rebuilding.
*Hoboken City Govt gets less than 1% of the $142 Million relief pkg Christie promised ON LIVE TV
*$25 Million goes to creating Sandy Recovery commercials that double for Christie Campaign Ads

Christies Winning Hand
Mayors over Frauds.

Doesn’t look like much of a winning hand to me. I don’t see how he can dance his way out of this one. I read a line in a story somewhere that said only about 33% of the federal grant money given to the state of New Jersey (via the gov’s office) can be accounted for. (If anyone knows of a link to that story, please share it with us in comments.)

Another tidbit that’s stuck in my head even though I can’t remember the source – some official went to Port Authority where the big binders of emergency services and plans for NY and NJ are kept – there he found 5 large binders overflowing with data for NY – but only one binder for NJ – containing only 3 pages – all redacted. The purpose for having sought these binders was to read the contingency plans NJ had set up for a storm expected to hit post Sandy.

One would think – since we know the Governor personally had 35 new hires employed at the Port Authority just to oversee the welfare of NJ, at least one of them would have been able to keep the emergency contingency plans current? No? Maybe the governor thought The Hulk or Spiderman would dash in to save him.

Christie and his band of merry men look and sound more and more like the Palin clan, every day.

Bouncing around the blogosphere, reading about how Gov. Chris Christie is off in sunny Florida this weekend, campaigning for Rick Scott, DNC Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz  – my fav Dem Watchdog is literally tailing the governor, keeping a close eye on his (mis)adventure and reporting what she sees.

Nothing unexpected or out of the ordinary is happening in front of the cameras – Scott praises Christie for manning up to the Bridgegate charges while Christie praises Scott for praising him. (I do believe that no matter what verdict is given Christie’s ego will come away from these scandals unscathed. It’s just too big and awesome to let small details like facts and evidence bring it down.)

But then, after reading at least three different accounts, I bounce over to CNN and find this little tidbit on a blog called The Political Ticker:

Christie skips town, leaving scandal behind and meeting potential donors in sunny Florida

So I read the blog post and it’s just like all the others – Christie is weathering the scandal and doing his job of campaigning for Scott and everyone’s happy. Go team Blinders-On. Oops, I mean RNC.

But third paragraph in, a fact that I’ve known from reading other accounts, for some reason, this time, flicks me on the back of the head like my mother when she wanted my attention and I was head down into a good book. So I read it again. And again:

Christie’s weekend is packed with stops in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. But it will be hard to say whether the scandal has dampened his star power, as all the meetings are closed-door.

Two things. First, why would one tout escaping a cold NJ winter by going off to Florida and then spending all one’s time in closed door meetings? Wouldn’t this be a wonderful opportunity for Christie to pimp the state for its beautiful weather? Maybe hold a fundraiser on one of Florida’s gorgeous plantation-style verandas or Arboretums? And two – why do we still even HAVE closed-door meetings for political campaign fundraising?

smoke-filled back rooms

What is said behind closed doors that can’t be heard in public? What sort of BS excuses can Christie be offering his donors that he can’t comfortably let the rest of us in on? What promises are being made to donors that we’re not meant to know about?

There’s a reason shady deals are called shady. It’s because they aren’t made out in the open where everyone can see them. They’re cloaked in darkness to protect the greed of the deal-maker.

A public office ought not to be campaigned for behind closed doors. How many of his aides and staff is Christie bad-mouthing in order to appease the Richy riches in Florida to secure their votes and donations?

Well –  while we’re waiting for campaign reform to happen, maybe we can take solace in knowing this exact subterfuge backfired on Romney in 2012 and hope there’s another heroic guest with a hidden recorder on hand and we’ll get to hear how Christie really feels about the rest of us poor, lazy middle-classers nd his hand-picked lying staffers.

State Governor is a public office. There should be nothing CLOSED about it. Especially when money is about to change hands.

MSNBC’s Weekend Morning Show – Up with Steve Kornacki is set to deliver a piece of evidence on his Saturday Morning Show Today – actually, as I write this his show is on air – which promises to shed light on what Gov. Christie ‘knew’ about the bridge closures even though he remains firmly rooted in a puddle of denial.

The show is not available to me live so I have to wait until someone on the MSNBC editorial staff decides to post it online. However – I will share with you the lead-in to this story which I found utterly fascinating. It’s all ab out how Gov. Christie has used the excuse of ‘nobody tolkd me anything’ in the past – fired his perceived scapegoat and stood in front of the camera insisting he had been lied to by an important member of his staff.

In fact, the incident sparked the Governor’s 2010 motto of Don’t Lie To The Governor.

[Click here for the video list]
then select the video titled: Christie’s comment that jumped out at Steve

In a nutshell, back in August of 2010, Gov Christie promised his constituents a pile of federal dollars that he ended up niot being able to deliver. But rather than admit his office hadn’t provided all the necessary financial records, he dumped on the man in charge – called him a liar and fired him.

The man wasn’t an idiot however – and put together all the documentation to prove he hadnt lied to the governor but Christie didn’t budge.

As Steve Kornacki put it: Be wary when you watch Christie in action this coming week – he’s danced this dance before.

Anyone else feeling a bit of Deja`vu watching a governor dodge questions and insist his version is the only version you need to know? (Just buy what I’m selling and move on dammit!)

DontLieToTheGov

Can’t wait to view his latest show!

====== UPDATE ======

AND HERE IT IS!!! Oh I’m not sure I have enough popcorn to last the weekend!

Click here for the Breaking News]

If the mice inside Christie’s fragile walls keep turning into lions and speaking out… well we can probably bid the jolly giant a fond farewell 🙂

If only it had been this easy to fell another lying, cheating. greedy governor…

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