Thursday, December 17, 2015

On $8M GWB inquiry, Christie had editors in his pocket

Another view of The Modern, a 47-story rental building that overlooks upper-level access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. Those lanes were closed by Governor Christie's aides and cronies "to exact political retribution on the Fort Lee mayor -- a Democrat who refused to endorse the Republican governor in his 2013 reelection bid," The Record reports on Page 1 today.


It was bad enough when The Record failed to label a taxpayer-funded report on the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal as a "cover-up" or "whitewash."

But it got worse -- clear evidence Governor Christie owns the editors at the Woodland Park daily after squandering $8 million so far to conceal his role in the despicable affair.

After Christie's $650-an-hour lawyer released the report clearing the GOP bully, the editors kept on referring to it on equal terms with a federal criminal probe and the state Legislature's own investigation.

In fact, on Dec. 9, Columnist Charles Stile, one of the paper's leading Christie apologists, claimed on A-1 the law firm's probe is one of three that didn't find "a shred of evidence" Christie knew about the lane closures.

This despite a federal indictment listing "unindicted co-conspirators" who haven't been identified.


Now, a federal judge has denounced the Gibson Dunn law firm for "gamesmanship" by destroying interview notes sought by defense attorneys for former Christie aides Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, who are awaiting an April trial (A-1).

Kelly's lawyer, Michael Critchley, said the way Christie lawyer Randy Mastro conducted interviews was "akin to a deliberate flimflam" (A-8).

Today's story also contains another reference to Gibson Dunn partner Debra Wong Yang, who worked on the firm's bridge-scandal report, as one of Christie's fundraisers in his bid for the White House (A-8).

Yet, The Record has never reported the close personal and business relationship between the Borg publishing family and Jon F. Hanson, the real estate mogul who was chief fundraiser during Christie's two gubernatorial campaigns.

Real estate mogul Jon F. Hanson with Governor Christie in an Associated Press photo. Has Hanson's relationship with the Borg family, owner of North Jersey Media Group and The Record, influenced news coverage of Christie?

Whitman blast

When she was Republican governor of New Jersey, Christie Whitman raided state pension systems to balance her budgets, made deep cuts at the state Department of Environmental Protection and received a big tax break on the "farm" she claimed to live on.

Now, she finally has acquitted herself (A-1).

Whitman is denouncing GOP candidates, especially Donald Trump for "employing the kind of hateful rhetoric ... in much the same way that allowed Hitler and Mussolini to rise to power" (A-1).

Still, Whitman doesn't comment on Christie's anti-Syrian refugee stance, though she concedes the GOP bully "has assumed a harsher tone lately" (A-12).

Route 17 'deathway'

Also on Page 1 today, a photo shows the parents of Waldwick Police Officer Christopher Goodell, 32, unveiling a sign that will rename a section of Route 17 for their son, who was killed on the highway in 2014 by an out-of-control tractor-trailer (A-1).

Instead of "Poice Officer Christopher Goodell Memorial Highway," the sign should read, "Memorial Deathway."

The Record's lazy, incompetent staff -- including head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and Road Warrior John Cichowski -- still have not questioned why Goodell was put in harm's way when a speed camera could have done the job just as well. 

Ford defects

In his column today, Cichowski mentions Vincent Brock as one of an "elite group of fallen police officers" whose names appear on highway plaques (L-1).

Brock, a Paramus police officer, was killed after his car spun out of control on Nov. 22, 1993, and hit a utility pole while responding to a report of a shooting that turned out to be false.

Brock's fatal crash was attributed to a defect in the power steering of his Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, and he was among a number of officers who died in accidents or gas-tank explosions in the cruiser, which went out of production in 2011.

Yet, The Record and Cichowski have never explained why local police departments and state police continued to buy the Ford cruiser long after the safety defects surfaced.

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