Normally don't bump older threads, but I'm not going to allow this to be the "final word" on this topic:
It was in the timeline link I posted a few threads up.
I don't know how many times I have to say this but NO ONE KNEW THE LANE CLOSURES WERE HAPPENING WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO KNOW.
Aside from the foreman of the road crew and the road crew itself, who was ordered to do it by Wildstein.
Source for this?
USA Today wrote:
Aug. 13: Bridget Anne Kelly, deputy chief of staff to Republican Gov. Christie, e-mails David Wildstein, director of interstate capital projects for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Wildstein e-mails back: "Got it."
Sept. 6: Wildstein orders the George Washington Bridge's general manager, Robert Durando, to close two of the three access lanes connecting Fort Lee, N.J., to the bridge.
Yup. So Wildstein didn't order the road crew to do it. He "ordered" Durando to do it. What's missing? Three weeks of presumed meetings on the planned closure between Aug 13th and Sep 6th. All the other people involved. All the people between Durando and the road crew who were involved in planning this during the 3 days between the presumed finalization of the decision/approval of the closures and them actually being closed by road crews.
See where that's a massive gaping hole? This does not prove at all that "NO ONE KNEW THE LANE CLOSURES WERE HAPPENING WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO KNOW", which is what you claimed. Unless you're now going to say that Durando personally gathered the road crews and gave them their assignments? How many more layers are involved here that you're conveniently dismissing?
Why are we focusing on Wildstein and not Durando? Seems like he's the guy in charge of the bridge, right? And you're saying that you know for absolute fact that Durando was never in a meeting in the preceding weeks in which this was discussed? Just seems incredibly unlikely that Wildstein would just out of the blue tell Durando "hey. I want you to close down lanes X, Y, and Z on the GW bridge", and Durando didn't question this, but just blindly did it? And none of the people he tasked with getting it done questioned it?
That seems pretty unlikely. I'll ask again: Where's your evidence that none of the people who should have been involved in a closure like this were aware of or involved in the planning or operation of the closures? Cause all I see is a bunch of people pointing to unrelated data and proclaiming that this is true, but no one's actually saying "we spoke to everyone who'd normally be involved in this sort of thing and no one knew about it".
Sept 9: The access lanes are closed, creating hours-long traffic jams on the first day of the school year. Matthew Bell, a special assistant to Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, e-mails his boss at 9:29 a.m. Subject line refers to "Phone call: Mayor (Mark) Sokolich ... urgent matter of public safety in Fort Lee." Baroni forwards if to Wildstein, who forwards to Kelly, who responds: "Did he call him back?" Wildstein writes back: "Radio silence."
Sept 10: Sokolich texts Baroni: "Presently we have four very busy traffic lanes merging into only one toll booth. ... The bigger problem is getting kids to school. Help please. It's maddening." Wildstein passes that message along to an unidentified recipient, who responds: "Is it wrong that I am smiling? I feel badly about the kids I guess." Wildstein writes back: "They are the children of Buono voters." (Barbara Buono, a Democrat, challenged Christie in 2013.)
Sept. 12: Mayor Sokolich writes to Baroni, questioning if the closures are punitive. Baroni passes along the message to Wildstein: "From Serbia: My frustration is now trying to figure out who is mad at me." Serbia is the nickname the group uses for Sokolich, who is of Croatian descent.
Yup. So we have the Mayor of Fort Lee speculating that he might have been targeted, but that's not proof that he was. I'm still waiting for more than speculation about the motives of the lane closures and some actual proof.
Sept 13: Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority and an appointee of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, directs general manager Durando to end the lane closures. Durando e-mails Wildstein: "He asked about the test. He asked why he wasn't told."
Yeah. The guy from New York was asking why he wasn't told. And while I'm sure in the interest of politeness and whatnot, he presumably should have been, him not being told isn't the same as "no one" being told. The lane closures were in New Jersey. One assumes that the folks involved in the decision and approval process were all in New Jersey. Show me that no one in the NJ org chart who would normally be involved and informed of such a lane closure were and you'll have a point.
This is kinda what I've been talking about all along. The whole thing smacks of half truths and partial bits of information scattered around and then presented in a way that if you don't actually stop and think about what's actually being said will make you come to a given conclusion. But it's all the stuff that's missing that keeps me questioning this. Where's the list of NJ folks who were cut out of the decision and approval process? Assuming that normally a lane closure like this would require many people in many different layers of the organization to be involved that if they weren't, there would be no problem finding a dozen or so people to give your paper a quote about what happened (or didn't happen).
The lack of such information is incredibly suspicious. Don't you agree?
By October, they were holding hearings once it became clear that no one besides Wildstein had actually authorized lane closures. The traffic study he pointed to had no instructions to close lanes.
My understanding is that in October, no one thought this was anything other than a politically motivated smear attack on the Christie administration by the media and a few disgruntled political pundits who thought they could make hay out of the lane closures. Again, if there were actual hearings and actual findings of those hearings, where's the information from them? Where's the proof that they bypassed the normal procedures? Because I would think that if they had that, they'd be printing that in the papers instead of what amounts to nothing more than half truths and innuendo.
As for "why does it have to mean it was retaliation?" - They openly discuss the pleasure they're feeling at the pain of the mayor.
Which doesn't mean that the decision to close the lanes was punitive at all. All it means is that they viewed him as a political enemy and when he raised a stink about this and went over their heads, they were annoyed by him. Again though, what's lost in all of this is where the decision to close the lanes was actually made. That it was a bad idea in hindsight doesn't prove that they knew it was a bad idea ahead of time, much less that they deliberately intended such harm. They obviously knew that it would cause a traffic jam, but I don't think we can assume they knew how bad it would be. And the retaliation angle doesn't make sense once one steps outside of the selectively quoted emails and text messages since the closures affected a lot more people than just those living in Fort Lee.
The context of what you're quoting is too narrow. Are you suggesting that no one other than the Mayor of Fort Lee asked about and/or complained about the lane closures? That would seem unlikely, right? So we must assume that the reason your timeline doesn't include the dozen or so other officials and politicians who inquired about what the heck was going on is specifically because they weren't political opponents and thus wouldn't fit well into the "this was political payback" theory. But by excluding all the other information, it presents a very skewed view of events. Don't just look at what's there. Look at what's missing.
Why exactly are you defending him? Even Christie backpedaled his own words about when he learned about the traffic jam.
No. He backpedaled on his claim that no one on his staff knew about the lane closures ahead of time. That's not the same as any admission by anyone that the lane closures were done for punitive or retaliatory reasons.
Also, as I pointed out earlier, Christie didn't fire her because she closed the lanes for punitive reasons, but because when this was a growing news story she lied to him about knowing about it, allowing him to declare that no one on his staff knew about the closures ahead of time, and thus embarrassing him when evidence emerged that this wasn't true. Again though, her knowing about it is not the same as proof that she and Wildstein were involved in a plot to close those lanes to punish anyone.
For all we know this was a legitimate lane closure, for legitimate reasons, and it was discussed and signed off on by all a whole list of people from the NJ Port Authority and the GW bridge management groups, but it's a more spicy story to talk about all the other people who weren't told and allow the public to draw false conclusions from that.
I'll again point to the Plame scandal, which was entirely about media speculation and the reporting of half truths leading to false public perception of what happened, which in turn was used as fuel by political enemies to launch all sorts of investigations. This looks a hell of a lot like the same sort of created scandal to me. As I've said all along though, that doesn't preclude the possibility that someone really did something they shouldn't have done and abused the hell out of their power for stupid and vindictive purposes. And if that is true, they should be held accountable and nailed to the wall. My problem is that it just seems like I've seen too many of these types of things where it turns into "how can we use this to hurt our political enemies" rather than a "let's find out the truth of what actually happened".
And this absolutely looks like it's turned into a "throw dirt on Christie" thing to me. I'm not saying we don't look into this. I'm just saying that we should look into it objectively and at all the facts, not just the ones that might help affect public opinion in a given direction. Cause we have far too much of that sort of thing as it is. Edited, Feb 13th 2014 6:11pm by gbaji