Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bridgegate trial testimony so far: Christie, Christie, Christie

The cover of today's New York Post sums up testimony by Bridgegate trial star witness David Wildstein, a crony Governor Christie appointed to a powerful position at the Port Authority, owner and operator of the George Washington Bridge.


Despite Governor Christie's denial -- repeated on Tuesday -- the weight of the evidence in the Bridgegate trial places him at the center of the plot to punish the mayor of Fort Lee in September 2013.

Christie wasn't indicted in the George Washington Bridge lane closures -- five mornings of gridlock designed to retaliate against a Democrat who refused to endorse the GOP thug's re-election.

Still, only his sworn testimony before a federal jury would effectively answer the accusations from prosecutors and David Wildstein, described by The Record today "as the admitted mastermind of the plot" (A-1).

Wildstein pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against two Christie allies who are on trial in Newark, but the judge will consider a reduced sentence only if the former Port official tells the truth.

On Tuesday, Wildstein said he and his boss, defendant Bill Baroni -- then deputy executive director of the Port Authority -- looked forward "to telling Christie of the traffic jam and unheeded pleas for help from their target," Mayor Mark Sokolich (A-1 and A-4).

They did so at the 9/11 ceremony on Sept. 11, 2013, as attested to by a photo of the trio that shows Christie laughing.

Two of three local access lanes to the bridge were shut down from Sept. 9, 2013, the first day of school; to Sept. 13, 2013.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Cortes asked Wildstein if he and Baroni were bragging to the governor.

"Yes," Wildstein testified, "... I was pleasing our one constituent. I was happy that he was happy" (A-4).

Other news?

Usually, Staff Photographer Tariq Zehawi's gee-whiz photos of non-fatal accidents end up on L-3 to fill holes in the local-news report.

But today, his Page 1 photo captured the aftermath of a crash of a large SUV that rolled backward, hit a utility pole and pulled down electric wires -- all of this after a woman parked and got out of the vehicle on Van Schaik Lane in Wyckoff, leaving her 2-year-old son inside.

"The mother did not wish to be identified," the photo caption says of the seemingly irresponsible woman.

Clinton won debate

After not committing to either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald J. Trump after their first TV debate, an editorial today says Clinton "commanded" the stage (A-8).

"One candidate prepared to talk about the issues, while the other was prepared to talk about himself."

"Hillary Clinton obviously won Monday's debate in a rout," said Op-Ed Columnist David Leonhardt.

Local news

In a rare story about Hackensack, Staff Writer John Seasly reports that city officials celebrated the start of construction on a new Performing Arts Center (L-1).

Under that is the obituary of J. Herbert Leverette, 87, a Korean War veteran who was elected Hackensack's first black council member in 1965.

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