(Trenton) -- David Wildstein, a high school classmate and political appointee of Governor Christie, may have resigned from his plush assignment at the Port Authority, but why is he still collecting a pay check, asks the New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chairman. Currie is also echoing the calls of legislators for deputy executive director of the Port Authority Bill Baroni to be dismissed for being complicit in Wildstein's malfeasance.
The political scandal now known as "Bridgegate" is presumed to have been a reckless act of political retribution aimed at a Democratic mayor who refused to hop on the Christie re-election campaign bandwagon and implemented by key allies of the executive office.
New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chair John Currie applauded legislative hearings about the events that lead to tens of thousands of vehicles, including those of first responders, being stuck in traffic approaching the George Washington Bridge, but he wants those involved to face consequences for their actions. That means Port Authority's director of interstate capital projects, David Wildstein, and Wildstein's boss, Bill Baroni -- the men at the center of the growing controversy -- should go, now.
"I commend the efforts of Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman John Wisniewski, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and others who have pursued important questions despite Governor Christie's derisive comments and dismissive attitude. The hearings on Bridgegate are spotlighting serious wrongdoing by key members of the Christie administration. I expect to the people and materials recently subpoenaed to tell us more about what happened and why," said Currie.
Port Authority Executive Director Patrick J. Foye told legislators that he would have promptly fired Wildstein rather than allow him to continue to collect a salary, and Currie agrees. Currie said, "I am deeply disturbed that Mr. Wildstein resigned simply to avoid being held to account, and I find it is unacceptable that he will continue to collect his $150,000 salary until next year. Falling on one's sword to protect a close friend is not a public service that taxpayers should compensate, even if that friend is the Governor of New Jersey. Certainly, David Wildstein should not receive a holiday bonus. It's absurd; both Baroni and Wildstein should be relieved from their posts immediately."
The Christie administration's explanations (or lack there of) about what prompted the traffic-snarling lane closures have been inconsistent and bizarre. First, Governor Christie mocked questions about the G.W. Bridge lane closures. Then, according to the Wall Street Journal, he called New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to complain that Port Authority Executive Director Foye, a Cuomo appointee, was asking too many questions. Governor Christie should be appalled by this incident and concerned about how northern New Jersey was harmfully impacted. Instead, he seems more interested in the cover-up than the apparent crime. Every day that he neglects to condemn the actions of his appointees is another day that we must wonder whether Chris Christie ordered the lane closures himself.