By VANESSA DWYER
Two lanes on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge were closed for a week leaving a major commuting route jammed. It was said there was no giving warning and that it was a political retribution against Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee for not supporting Chris Christie’s re-election.
September 2013, orders given to close the lanes of George Washington Bridge, which is a major commute route, exercised a major act no one was sure about. There were messages speculating on the decision months before it happened but everyone’s concerns are why.
Experts of messages from UTSanDiego shows on:
Aug. 13: Bridget Ann Kelly, Governor Christie’s top aide messages to David Wildstein: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” Wildstein replies: “Got It” Sept. 13: Wildstein email to Kelly, apparently after a Port Authority executive from New York discovered the lane closures and halted them: “The New York side gave Fort Lee back all three lanes this morning. We are appropriately going nuts. Samson helping us to retaliate.” Kelly replies: “What?” Wildstein replies: “Yes, unreal. Fixed now.”
Sept. 17: Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee message to Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Boroni a week after lane closures: “We should talk. Someone needs to tell me that the recent traffic debacle was not punitive in nature. The last four reporters that contacted me suggested that the people they are speaking with absolutely believe it to be punishment. Try as I am to dispel these rumors I am having a tough time. A private face to face would be important to me. Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to the errors of my ways. Let me know if you’ll give me 10 minutes.”
For over a month, Governor Christie being victimized by press about top aides and appointees’ calling for lane closure was just getting ready for the re-election of Governor again November last year. Of course, what was done was disturbing and inexcusable of those involved because there were school buses full of children and those commuting back and forth to work affected by this act according to CNN news. David Wildstein, Port Authority, being one to blame assumed Christie’s had knowledge of everything, considering it was so close to home. Christie responds back during a press interview, Christie states,
“I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by the member of my staff but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without any knowledge. One thing is clear this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my administration in any way and people will be held responsible for their actions.”
In later press, the Governor announced all staff involved in the incident had been fired. Bridget Ann Kelly for planning the closure, Bill Stephen for withholding details, David Wildstein for making it happen and a few other members of his staff for their dishonesty then gave his apology:
“I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or execution and I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here. Ultimately I am responsible for what happens on my watch, the good and the bad and when mistakes are made, I have to own up to them and take the actions that I believe is necessary to remediate them.”
Wildstein filed a lawsuit prior to his unemployment with Port Authorities insisting he would not answer any questions about his role in the lane closures. It would be prosecuted as a violation of the Fifth Amendment and Wildstein will be charged a misdemeanor violation if considered. Wildstein attorney in his defense says, “his client cooperated by providing text messages and emails” in hopes that could have been enough.
Gov. Chris Christie works with Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Ann Kelly.