As New Christie Allegations Emerge, Don’t Forget The Deliberate ‘Civilian Casualties’

Over the weekend, a former New Jersey-based journalist named Brian Murphy appeared on Up with Steve Kornacki and postulated a reason why the Chris Christie administration orchestrated a conspiracy to close toll lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge, causing a massive four-day traffic jam.

It might be the best theory so far. Murphy, who, like Kornacki, once unknowingly worked for David Wildstein, theorized that the lane closures were intended to stymie a multi-billion dollar land development deal, known as “Hudson Lights,” that Fort Lee Mayor Mike Sokolich was busily closing back in August. The land in question is located within spitting distance of the toll for the GWB. If the toll lanes were closed permanently, the traffic nightmare would jeopardize the deal.

More than any other theory, this is a solid and direct way for the Christie cronies to screw with Sokolich. Kill the Fort Lee development deal by deliberately making the existing infrastructure unacceptable. Clever. And dastardly, given the unprecedented traffic jam at an already traffic-heavy toll.

Meanwhile, other New Jersey mayors have stepped forward with their own stories about alleged Christie administration retribution. Via WNYC:

–The mayor of Hoboken, Dawn Zimmer, was asked to endorse Christie, and when she refused, a Hurricane Sandy relief state grant the city had applied for to the tune of $100 million was approved — for a sum total of $300,000. Not nearly enough for the city, which had been 80 percent submerged during the flood.

–The Christie administration also might’ve retaliated against Mayor Chris Bollwage of Elizabeth, New Jersey when legislators there opposed several Christie proposals in Trenton. Shortly thereafter, the only DMV in Elizabeth, the fourth largest city in the state, was closed. (You might recognize Elizabeth as the setting for The Sopranos.)

What’s most striking and eerily consistent about all of these stories is, to me, the centerpiece of the entire scandal. Specifically, it’s the ugly, emotionless way in which the Christie administration has deliberately hurt average, innocent New Jersey residents in its effort to exact its petty Neo-Cosa-Nostra vengeance.

As we follow the increasingly harrowing details of the scandal, it’s important to maintain an acute focus on this critical aspect of the story: the collateral damage, the civilian casualties. Christie’s staffers are clearly without conscience when it comes to harming noncombatants who have nothing to do with the political shovel-fights in New Jersey.

Political payback is begrudgingly acceptable if it’s targeted directly at enemies. If Christie really, really wanted to nail Mayor Sokolich, he could’ve started a whisper campaign or a push-poll or any number of “rat-fucking” style forms of retaliation. (See also Karl Rove planting a listening device in his office then blaming it on an opponent, or Nixon operative Donald Segretti stealing letterhead from Edmund Muskie and issuing crazy statements about Democratic opponents.)

But when you screw with hurricane relief funds or create massive traffic jams, you’re not attacking political opponents, you’re attacking the people you’re supposed to be, you know, helping.

This is an all-too-familiar tactic we’ve witnessed from the Republican side of the aisle for some time now. The GOP leadership desperately wants President Obama’s policies and presidency to fail — they’ve admitted as much — so what do they do? They aim for civilian populations. They shut down the government. Or they deal in brinksmanship with the debt limit. Or they try to repeal our healthcare. Or they sabotage job growth and the economic recovery, while focusing on a massive national debt which the Bush administration and Republican Congress almost single-handedly created. Or, in an effort to oust the president at the ballot box, they attempt to disenfranchise a growing minority electorate with Jim Crow style Voter ID laws.

In New Jersey, it’s interminable traffic jams and other cruel shenanigans in which the Christie machine has taken civilian hostages as a means of getting back at a Fort Lee enemy — or an Elizabeth enemy, or a Hoboken enemy, or a Jersey City enemy. The Christie people have unflinchingly manufactured a public safety hazard for some, and a massive job-risking, stress-inducing headache for thousands more. And for this, appropriate legal action can’t come quickly enough for the entire cabal.

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  • Jason

    Jimmy Dore has an excellent segment where Mike MacRae reads Christies press conference speech in the voice of Tony Soprano. It is fairly hilarious.
    http://www.jimmydorecomedy.com/show/jimmy-dore-show

  • Christopher Foxx

    Meanwhile, other New Jersey mayors have stepped forward with their own stories about alleged Christie administration retribution

    Gosh, who could have seen that coming?

  • Robert Scalzi

    There hasn’t been a disaster involving a Blimp in NJ since the Hindenburg – and now Christie is in Flames after hitting the tower – all that is left is for him to come crashing down.

  • ThunderingTom

    The testimony and e-mails reveal:–Two Wall Street Journal editors were stuck in the GWB traffic gridlock for all four days and on the first day they assigned a reporter to find out the reason for their long delays in commuting to work. Baroni and Wildstein, went to great lengths to stonewall other Port Authority officials and the press.–Samson wrote to Wildstein and asked, “Has any thought been given to writing an op-ed or providing a statement about the GWB study? Or is the plan just to hunker down and grit our way through it?” Wildstein’s answer? “Yes and yes.” Samson was involved in the cover up and he should be subpoena, too.

    • Tort Master

      Will David Wildstein be subpoenaed by law enforcement, and will he sing like a canary?
      Yes and yes.

  • Badgerite

    One other thing that jumps out is that there clearly was a conspiracy to close the traffic lanes. It was not a ‘study’. It was a conspiracy involving the governor’s people. That is incontestable at this point. One can theorize as to why the conspiracy. But there is no doubt that there was one.

  • Richard_thunderbay

    Thugs.

    • drspittle

      Is there a Rethuglican politician or office holder who is not a thug?

  • ChrisAndersen

    I’m beginning to wonder if this payback plan by the Christie administration was never intended to cause as much hassle as it did. I can imagine some of them thinking that it might cause a few extra minutes of delay on the morning commute and thus cause worry to the developers of this land deal. But then the lane closure happened and instead of a few extra minutes it added hours onto people’s commute.

    People might not notice a higher than normal traffic delay. But they will notice when the grid of the entire city is turned into a parking lot for four days.

    • Christopher Foxx

      I suspect the thing they didn’t know would happen wasn’t that it would get so large. Rather it was that they’d be held to account for their actions. Republican arrogance doesn’t allow for the idea that their responsible for anything.

  • Badgerite

    Good Post. I believe the operative words are “The Christie People”. His hand picked aides did this. With or without his knowledge ( and I think it is getting increasingly hard to allege it was without his knowledge) the buck stops with Christie.

  • Xeknos

    That article picture is great. “No endorsement? CHRISTIE SMASH!”

    • dbtheonly

      You won’t like it if I’m angry takes on a whole new meaning.

  • Jon Fox

    Jew Jersey?