Yesterday I summarized the sworn testimony of Patrick Foye as to lack of any evidence for any legitimate Traffic Study at Fort Lee; nor was there even any legitimate need for such a study, according to this NY Chief Executive of the Port Authority (given the traffic load numbers he presented).
Today, I will take a look at the dodging and posturing, that occurred only a few weeks early before the same NJ Committee, as performed by Chris Chistie appointee, Senator Bill Baroni. Also of interest, is the immediate end-zone celebrating by the Christie 'insider crew' -- after this fast-talking presentation by Baroni -- which was prior to the Patrick Foye hammer, yet to fall into the "Traffic Study" evidence mix.
Bill Baroni's testimony today on GWB lane closure: "Smug" and "the dog ate my homework"
by Rosi Efthim, bluejersey.com -- Nov 25, 2013
The NJ Assembly Transportation Committee requested that several top execs of the Port Authority come before it, and answer their questions about the sudden lane closures on the GWB, and 5-day dangerous traffic snarl that caused. But in the end, only one showed up. Port Authority sent its Jersey politician, Bill Baroni -- Christie appointee, Deputy ED, and the highest ranking Jersey bureaucrat in the joint.
It did not go well. Chair John Wisniewski complimented Baroni on his ability to dance past direct questions, and called him smug. Linda Stender got into a shouting match with him. And Senator Loretta Weinberg, who represents Fort Lee, the town that figures into both the massive traffic jam and allegedly its reason, says the explanation amounted to "the dog ate my homework."
Baroni, who came with props, but not copies of the traffic study he says was the reason for the closures, blames miscommunication. And officials are ready to call him on that. Weinberg has drafted a FOIA request for documentation for the "so-called traffic study," including the authorization and role of PA officials in the chain of command. And she warns the authority can't "lawyer up" to refuse to comply. She is particularly unimpressed with Baroni's claim of lack of communication. Complete failure to notify other PA officials, the affected towns, and the public is "an understatement, she says, "that falls far short of credibility." Weinberg attended a Port Authority Commission meeting a few days ago; officials initially tried to keep her out of the room.
Lawmakers Hold Hearing on GWB Lane Closures
link to video
Published on Nov 25, 2013
Lawmakers held a hearing about a five-day lane closure on the George Washington Bridge in September. Some believe the closures were deliberate because the Fort Lee mayor chose not to endorse Gov. Chris Christie for reelection. For more New Jersey news, visit NJTV News online at www.njtvonline.org/news/.
link to video
Published on Nov 25, 2013 -- No Description.
Never mind that -- Fort Lee has the appropriate number of lanes (3 of 12), for their proportion of interstate traffic, when you include the traffic from the surrounding communities that egress there -- "about 25 percent to 26 percent of the traffic" according to the sworn testimony of the Port Authority NJ Chief Executive, Patrick Foye.
Never mind that --
Baroni was the authority's deputy executive director at the time of his testimony, which was not under oath. He was also the authority's top executive appointed by Christie.WSJ: Christie ally prepped official before bridge testimony
Baroni resigned three weeks after testifying, following sworn testimony by authority Executive Director Patrick Foye and other authority officials.
They said there was no study, the closures were unlawful and Baroni and David Wildstein, who ordered them, had violated protocols and sought to hide their plans from officials.
upi.com -- Feb. 3, 2014
Despite the obvious obstruction of justice, that Baroni's "un-sworn" and "well-coached" testimony represented in actual fact -- the hubris-filled Christie Administration, initially interpreted that "blatantly false" testimony -- as a HUGE WIN ... for their side.
Or so they told their good-soldier Bill ...
Bill Baroni's non-sworn testimony may have been perceived initially as a HUGE WIN -- but much to their later regret, this WIN was very short lived:
by Andy Kroll and David Corn, motherjones.com -- Jan. 10, 2014
Immediately after his testimony, according to documents released this week, Baroni texted David Wildstein asking how Christie administration officials in Trenton, the state capital, had reacted to his testimony [pg 20]:
[11/25/2013 11:58 AM] David Wildstein: You did greatNote the two names in that exchange we have placed in bold type: Nicole and Charlie. According to public records and news stories, the only Nicole politically close to Christie at the time was Nicole Davidman, who was the governor's campaign finance director in 2013 and the wife of Christie's press secretary. The only Charlie in Christie's inner circle was Charles McKenna, Christie's chief counsel and the aide who helped lead Christie's internal investigation of the bridge mess. State investigators assume that the Charlie mentioned in this text is McKenna, according to a legislative source, but they are not yet certain about Nicole (though they have not yet identified other possibilities).
[11/25/2013 11:58 AM] Bill Baroni: Trenton feedback
[11/25/2013 11:59 AM] Bill Baroni: ?
[11/25/2013 11:59 AM] David Wildstein: Good
[11/25/2013 11:59 AM] Bill Baroni: Just good? Shit
[11/25/2013 12:00 PM] David Wildstein: No i have only texted brudget [Bridget Anne Kelly] and Nicole they were VERY happy
[11/25/2013 12:00 PM] Bill Baroni: Ok
[11/25/2013 12:00 PM] David Wildstein: Both said you are doing great
[11/25/2013 12:06 PM] David Wildstein: Charlie said you did GREAT
Presuming these texts refer to Davidman and McKenna, here's what needs to be answered: Were these two Christie lieutenants happy about Baroni's testimony for the same reason as Kelly? Both Kelly and Wildstein knew the study wasn't the true cause of the traffic mess, and it's reasonable to conclude that they were delighted because Baroni had stuck to that story and not said anything about Kelly instructing Wildstein to cause the jam that paralyzed traffic in Fort Lee for days. But did Charlie and Nicole cheer Baroni's bogus testimony in the same way? [...]
Yep. They thought Baroni did GREAT! -- at least until he didn't anymore ... (With all due Curses! to that dang Do-gooder Pat Foye!)
Baroni did great -- at NOT -- telling the truth.
... A skill Christie himself, leans on from time to time:
Q: Governor, didn't Pat Foye perjure himself when he said he didn't believe this traffic study -- (inaudible) -- did he lie under oath -- (inaudible) --Funny how he's unable to mention Bridget Kelly's "direct order" to Wildstein there, eh? A bit too close to home, I suppose ... Or maybe he hadn't had a chance to read the email yet -- even though he just fired her for it.
GOV. CHRISTIE: I don't -- listen, I have no idea. But clearly, you know, there's a difference of opinion between Senator Baroni and Pat Foye about the existence of a traffic study, and there seemed to me to be evidence that Senator Baroni showed of statistics and maps and other things about a traffic study.
Now, this could go back to the nuance of what really constitutes a traffic study or not, and they may be arguing about some specifics and nuance that I'm not familiar with. But I certainly would not accuse Pat Foye of perjuring himself. I don't. I'm not. I'm just telling you what I was told and what we saw before the legislature. But, you know, I certainly wouldn't accuse Pat Foye of perjuring himself in any way.
GOV. CHRISTIE: [...]
Senator Baroni's a very respected guy. He served in this building for a long time. I've known him for a long time. When he, you know, made his testimony, I would have no reason to believe that he wasn't telling the truth. But obviously, from reading these emails yesterday, there was other stuff going on that I hadn't been informed about.
Q: I have a follow-up, please. Who initiated this whole thing -- (off mic) --
GOV. CHRISTIE: I don't know. I don't know. I mean, listen, up to this point in time, up till the emails released yesterday, it was Senator Baroni's testimony that Mr. Wildstein initiated it at his approval -- with his approval. Now it -- you know, I don't know, given some of the emails that I saw yesterday. But clearly, Mr. Wildstein played a major role in it. Whether it was his idea in initiation, as Senator Baroni testified, I guess time will tell. [...]
And as time will no doubt tell, whether this Governor-approved accolade, for their die-hard team-player David Wildstein -- as "a tireless advocate for New Jersey's interests at the Port Authority," -- whether it was sincerely meant; or will one day be sincerely regretted:
Fwd: FW: David Wildstein [pg 22]
To: David Wildstein
This was my revised - which I sent to the Gov and he approved (no Maria or Charlie).
------ Forwarded message ------
From: Michael Drewniak
Date: Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 5:17 PM
Subject: FW: David Wildstein ...
From: Michael Drewniak
Sent: Friday, December 06, 2013 5:14 PM
To: 'Boburg, Shawn'
Subject: David Wildstein ...
Please use this, attributable to me:"Mr. Wildstein has been a tireless advocate for New Jersey's interests at the Port Authority. We are grateful for his commitment and dedication to the important work of the Port Authority and thank him for his service to the people of New Jersey and the region."Michael Drewniak
Press Secretary to NJ Governor Chris Christie
Oh what a tangled-text-web the Christie Crew weaves ...
There are many such self-congratulatory insights into the priorities of the Christie Crew, as they dealt with the unfolding day-to-day events -- otherwise known as the GW Bridge Traffic Study scandal;
As now available here in this highly-summarized version of the GWB-specific Documents, consolidated from evidence (down to a 22 page file).
"I guess time will tell" too, IF Charles McKenna's and Nicole Davidman's keen interest in Baroni's false testimony "succeeding" before this NJ Investigation (as indicated by those contemporaneous text messages) -- if their congratulatory concerns were in the best interests of "the people of New Jersey and the region" ...
or simply just in the best interests of "the New Jersey Governor" himself, and his continued reliance the false cover story;
otherwise known as their impromptu, ill-conceived, and likely-illegal -- yet to be produced -- so-called "Traffic Study" ...
In other words, who's interests were really being served by Bill Baroni's smug performance, back on November 25th, 2013? ... The people of New Jersey should really want to know.