Christie administration tainted by bridge scandal

New+Jersey+Gov.+Chris+Christie+leaves+Fort+Lee%2C+N.J.%27s+city+hall+after+apologizing+to+Mayor+Mark+Sokolich+on+Thursday%2C+Jan.+9%2C+2014.+%28Viorel+Florescu%2FThe+Record%2FMCT%29

VIOREL FLORESCU

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leaves Fort Lee, N.J.’s city hall after apologizing to Mayor Mark Sokolich on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. (Viorel Florescu/The Record/MCT)

In September 2013, Fort Lee, New Jersey was stuck in the worst traffic nightmare the town has seen since Sept. 11, 2001. Lasting four days, the jam caused severe financial hardships in the area. Four emergency vehicles were stuck in the jam, allegedly leading to the death of a 91-year-old woman.

Two of the George Washington Bridge’s three lanes were closed as part of a new traffic study. The bridge connects Manhattan to New Jersey, and it is one of the most traveled on bridges in the world. On Jan. 8, emails and text messages were released that suggest there was a political cause to this traffic gridlock.

New Jersey citizens recently reelected Republican Governor Chris Christie. These emails and text messages imply that Christie’s staff created the road block in order to punish Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie in his reelection campaign.

During his Jan. 9 press conference, Christie publicly apologized for the incident and denied any knowledge or participation in its coordination. He also fired his deputy chief of staff and two other appointees resigned.

What is worse? That he’s a clueless governor who was unaware of what was going on in his administration, or that he did know and chose not to stop it?

Being a Maryland resident, it may be hard to relate to the situation. Why should a New Jersey traffic jam affect me? Christie is a potential Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election and an early front-runner. According to a CNN national poll, Christie is the only Republican that is currently leading Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and clear Democratic front-runner.

If the kind of corruption Christie and his administration use to run New Jersey is brought to a national stage, this “Bridge-gate” scandal (a reference to Nixon’s Watergate) should concern all of us.

In his almost two-hour long press conference, Christie said “apologize” 34 times. But is sorry enough? Does sorry bring back that poor 91-year-old woman that lost her life? Does sorry make up for the time and money that was spent and wasted? Is sorry enough to make New Jersey citizens forget about this disaster?

Certainly not.

People have likened Christie to a real-life Tony Soprano, calling him a political bully. If Christie doesn’t change this persona, there’s one word to describe his presidential ambitions: “fuhgeddaboudit!”

Correction: The earlier version of this headline was “NJ Governor bullies town.” It was brought to the attention of our staff that the previous headline was misleading. To clarify, we have changed the headline to better reflect the story content.

Angela DeCarlo is a Copy Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.