Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trial explores how Christie's politics turned into criminality

This Jan. 9, 2014, front page from a New York tabloid shows the kind of aggressive reporting that assumed Governor Christie had a central role in the George Washington Bridge lane closures -- a conclusion only now dawning on The Record's editors after a week of testimony in the Bridgegate trial.


From the looks of The Record's front page today, the editors appear to be the last people on Earth to realize Governor Christie had a central role in the Bridgegate scandal.

Meanwhile, opinion Columnist Brigid Harrison says the state Legislature should consider articles of impeachment against the governor, if the evidence shows he knew all along about retaliating against a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse the GOP thug's reelection (O-3).

Harrison -- a professor at Montclair State University -- wrote the same column for The Star-Ledger three days ago.

What has Record Columnist Mike Kelly been saying about the criminal trial of Bill Baroni, who was at the Port Authority, and Bridget Anne Kelly, who was Christie's deputy chief of staff?

"Consider what we are learning about all of these public servants who took on tasks that were never part of their job descriptions," Kelly says.

"All this extra work. Truly amazing to behold" (O-1).

Harrison's impeachment column should have run on Page 1, and Kelly's sophomoric attempt at satire shouldn't have run at all.

Nail in coffin

One of the final nails in Christie's coffin was driven by David Wildstein, the crony he appointed to a powerful position at the Port Authority, owner and operator of the bridge.

Wildstein, the government's star witness, testified on Friday about what he called "the one constituent rule" at the massive bi-state transportation agency (A-1 on Saturday).

"The one constituent rule meant that the only person who mattered was Governor Christie," Wildstein told the federal jurors.

"He was the one constituent. If it was good for Governor Christie, it was good for us."

Wildstein referred to Kelly, one of the defendants, as one of his main contacts in the Governor's Office and his "boss" (A-8 on Saturday).

In fact, prosecutors allege Kelly's email to Wildstein, using their personal accounts -- "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" -- set into motion closure of GWB access lanes and five mornings of paralyzing gridlock in September 2013.

His testimony suggests that is when Christie's politics turned into criminal acts -- including  conspiracy to deny the civil rights of Fort Lee residents and others, as well as wire fraud.

Wildstein also testified the Port Authority had a "goody bag" to help Christie's reelection effort and presidential aspirations, including surplus vehicles sent to Washington Township's emergency squad.

Wasted space

As The Record has done many times in covering Christie, Saturday's front page carries a long, detailed news story on Wildstein's testimony in Newark federal court and a political column that basically rehashes what he said.

But Staff Writer Charles Stile's Political Stile column is a colossal waste of space, failing to add any insights or express any strong opinions about Christie's mean-spirited policies, reelection campaign or failed White House bid.

And in an editing oversight, Stile refers to the "Constituency of One Rule," and the news story calls it "the one constituent rule."

Local news?

S0-called commuting columnist John Cichowski could be writing about greater fuel efficiency, the transition to hybrid and purely electric vehicles, and the benefit to the environment.

He could advise his peers that even EVs with a range of 100 miles on a full charge suit the limited driving of most senior citizens.

Instead, Cichowski's Road Warrior column today revives the age-old debate over whether car engines really need premium gasoline (L-1).

On L-3, a story discusses added parking spaces at Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood instead of what the district is doing to improve graduation rates.

Mixed message

On Friday, Staff Writer Elisa Ung gave 2.5 stars out of 4 stars (Good to Excellent) to Brookside Bistro in Riverdale, a Morris County town far from the heart of the circulation area in Bergen County.

Yet, she also told readers the restaurant would be good for "a casual dinner, if you live in the neighborhood," but less appropriate for a "destination ... dinner." 


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