|In a photo by Mel Evans of The Associated Press, Governor Christie pauses during applause at his State of the State address to the Legislature on Wednesday. Evans is a former staff photographer at The Record.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
I can't recall another front page of The Record that showed the two faces of Governor Christie so starkly -- a radical anti-tax politician who thinks nothing of destroying the middle class, and a compassionate leader against drug addiction.
Today's top story discloses a settlement that "exposed private meetings in which unnamed allies of ... Christie planned to divert almost $2 million" from a project to dig two new Hudson River rail tunnels so he could use the money to fix roads and bridges (1A).
That allowed Christie to avoid raising the gasoline tax in late 2010 or 2011 for those repairs, but set back the expansion of mass transit for middle class commuters more than a decade.
But the biggest element on Page 1 today is an upbeat report on Christie's pledge during his final year in office "to combat the plague of heroin and opiate abuse," and expand treatment (1A).
"Our friends are dying. Our neighbors are dying. Our co-worker are dying. Our children are dying. Every day. In numbers we can no longer endure" Christie said during his State of the State address on Wednesday.
There is so much missing in today's news and Editorial Page coverage of the $400,000 settlement with the Port Authority, and Christie's seventh State of the State address (1A, 8A, 9A and 10A).
Nowhere do Record reporters or the paper's Editorial Board recognize that Christie's conservative war against tax hikes, including a surcharge on millionaires, while doling out billions to businesses and other special interests, have wrecked the state economy.
And he's balanced the state budget year after year only by grabbing leftover Hudson River rail tunnel money from both the Port Authority and NJ Transit, under-funding the state employee pension system and using other voodoo economics.
In a preview of the State of the State speech on Tuesday, Dustin Racioppi buried key paragraphs:
"Christie possesses tremendous power over the budget, over appointments and with his veto pen," the State House Bureau reporter wrote.
But Racioppi long ago stopped counting Christie's more than 500 vetoes, which surely set a record for any New Jersey governor, or chronicling the damage they've caused to working and middle-class residents.
Also on Tuesday, he wrote:
"Property taxes in New Jersey remain the highest in the nation, despite a 2 percent cap," and "New Jersey's pension system is now the worst-funded in the country, with $135.7 billion in unfunded liabilities, according to Bloomberg."
None of those issues are raised in today's news story or political column, which is yet another Charles Stile rehash of Christie's "reputation" and "standing with voters" in the wake of damaging Bridgegate trial revelations (1A).