Thursday, January 2, 2014

Will 'GWB mess' be Governor Christie's Watergate?

Less than 30 minutes after the 10 a.m. opening today, Costco Wholesale in Hackensack was besieged by shoppers panicked by radio and TV news reports of a big snowstorm, as well as what may turn out to be an inaccurate story in The Record's Local section this morning.


John Wisniewski, the state assemblyman with the hard-to-pronounce name, is starting to sound like a Hebrew National hot dog commercial.

Grilled by Columnist Mike Kelly of The Record on who ordered The Traffic Jam That Ate Fort Lee back in September, the head of the Assembly Transportation Committee answered mysteriously:

"It came from a higher authority" (A-6).

First dog

We all suspect he is referring to Governor Christie, the Portly Authority whose flunkies have resigned in the wake of the Fort Lee-Port Authority brouhaha.

Would Christie's political retribution against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee -- by closing two Fort Lee access lanes to upper-level George Washington Bridge toll booths -- be such a big deal?

Given that the Hudson River flows under the bridge, will this be Christie's Watergate and so scandalous it will derail his bid for the White House in 2016?


But The Record loves this story, even as it shies away from detailed reporting on a story with far wider implications: the GOP bully's mean-spirited policies and his mismanagement of state finances.

More hype

Kelly's Page 1 column today claims the lane closures led to "paralyzing gridlock" on four days in September, even though drivers using the lower level, as well as another Fort Lee access lane to that truck-free level, experienced no delays.

Since the first Road Warrior column on the Fort Lee mess, much of this reporting, especially when it appears on Page 1, is a waste of space.

That's especially true when The Record continues to ignore a far bigger story: Christie's well-known anti-mass transit stance and the Port Authority's refusal to expand bus service into Manhattan.

The Addled Commuter

Whether as the result of a hangover or advancing Alzheimer's disease, Wednesday's Road Warrior column confused a new parking garage for commuter buses in Manhattan with whether the midtown Port Authority Bus Terminal needs to be renovated.

According to a concerned reader, who maintains a Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

"In his first column of the new year, Road Warrior John Cichowski refuses to heed the wishes of so many readers and continues on his merry way of delusional, false, over-exaggerated and clueless statements about past and future wishes for New Jersey and metropolitan area transportation issues and laws.
"The Road Warrior tries to make readers believe there is a New Jersey statute that specifically makes it a violation for drivers to be drunk while stopped in traffic.
"Drunk people in New Jersey are not allowed to operate a car, period. It does not matter whether the car is moving or stopped anywhere, or whether it is in the middle of the road or in a parking lot.
"Road Warrior indicated that $800 million had been proposed to renovate the midtown Port Authority Bus Terminal, even though it contradicted The Record’s own report that the plan was for a new parking garage for buses that are now parked on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel."

For the full e-mail to managers and editors, see:

 Readers prepare silver alert for John Cichowski

A modest proposal

If the Port Authority won't add a second express lane dedicated to commuter buses during the morning rush hour, the existing express lane can be revived during the afternoon rush for buses that were parked in New Jersey and must return empty to pick up passengers in Manhattan.

Now, they add to incredible congestion on the eastbound helix to the Lincoln Tunnel.

Reverse bus lanes don't reduce toll revenue from drivers who would otherwise be displaced by a second, eastbound bus-only lane.


Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza apparently has ordered Shawn Boburg, the reporter who covers the Port Authority, to ignore any story about the bistate agency's mass-transit operations.

Boburg's story on tonight's expected snowstorm appears on L-2, predicting near-blizzard conditions for North Jersey.

This morning, radio news reports predict blizzard conditions only on Long Island. 


  1. Granted that there are a lot of Christie's mistakes and negligence that have had a much wider negative impact on NJ residents, but do not discount the importance of this bridgegate decision, cover-up, and deception that deserves front page news.

    Corrupt political power always deserves front page news.

    It is not so much the actual closure of access lanes from Ft. Lee, but the unethical method, which violated established Port Authority procedures and possible laws, in which it was handled. Even more importantly, there has been clear, intentional cover-up by Christie's appointees at the Port Authority and denial by Christie of the magnitude of such blatantly inexcusable problems and behavior under his direct watch.

    The scandal only continues to grow because the Port Authority and Christie's administration have NOT been completely forthcoming or truthful in their responses for close to four months now and each continues to delay providing all needed answers.

    This scandal is only going to get bigger as it appears that Wisniewski has found evidence that there was directions from within Christie's administration for these unethical and improper decisions by his appointees and the entire truth about this scandal has yet to be fully revealed.

    Remember that Watergate only started as a botched inconsequential break-in to a Democratic National Committee's office. Comparing the affect of that minor break-in to the major national issues of that time, one could also have said what was the big deal about Watergate and all the front page headlines.

  2. Thanks for your well-reasoned comment.

  3. Boburg's story did not predict blizzard conditions. It said meteorologists were predicting it, and it was attributed to them. Big difference.

    1. Give me a break. That's not a big difference. How did he find sources who were so far off the mark, while the rest of the media downplayed the North Jersey impact?

  4. I listened to reports on TV and National Public Radio, and none predicted "near-blizzard" conditions for North Jersey.

  5. Regardless of how the Bridgegate findings and hearings go, it once again shows Christie's contemptuous and dismissive attitude when challenged about any criticism directed at him. Instead of a statesmanship or intelligent response, he seems always ready to continue with his Jersey bully schtick, which has grown boorish and tiresome.

    1. I agree so why is The Record so enamored with him ?

  6. From what I've deduced from reading your blog, the wealthy publisher and management seems to have the same disdain toward the working middle-class as Christie does.

    1. That's true, and I was planning to make that point soon. In the Borgs' case, it's the middle-class staff that gets the royal screwing on a regular basis.

      Maybe that's why the newspaper is so in love with Governor Christie, and why the editors and reporters seem almost giddy at the prospect of the GOP bully running for president.

      Of course, you can't discount the desire of reporters like Melissa Hayes, who covers the governor, to get a job in his next administration and to go to work for anyone but the Borgs.


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