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Politicians demand apology from Chris Christie

Stephon Johnson | 1/16/2014, 4:11 p.m.
Chris Christie remained in hot water over emails that revealed his top aides constructed a traffic jam on the New ...
Christie slams Atlantic City mayor for not following orders

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie remained in hot water over emails that revealed his top aides constructed a traffic jam on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. The goal? To get back at Fort Lee, N.J., Mayor Mark Sokolich for not supporting Christie’s re-election bid.

But the fallout from what others have dubbed “Bridgegate” isn’t just in New Jersey. Elected officials who represent the Washington Heights neighborhood have called out the governor for hindering traffic on their side of the bridge as well—the New York side of the bridge leads you to Washington Heights. New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, New York state Assembly Member Gabriela Rosa and New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez addressed the issue in separate emailed statements.

“The unique and archaic delineation of responsibilities between New York and New Jersey appointees at the Port Authority clearly contributed to this incident and enabled partisan operatives to conceal their actions,” said Espaillat. “This system needs urgent reform: Authority employees cannot be allowed to operate in state-based silos any longer. The agency’s executive director, who I have commended for swiftly ending this abuse of power, must be given greater operational control over departments currently working with relative autonomy from his office.”

Rodriguez reiterated Espaillat’s thoughts and also asked for an immediate investigation into the New Jersey governor’s office.

“When traffic issues arise on the George Washington Bridge, it often creates spillover into the Northern Manhattan community, crippling our streets,” said Rodriguez. “This prevents our emergency services from operating in the timely fashion necessary to save lives; it adds greater pollution and noise pollution to the Northern Manhattan area and puts motorists and pedestrians at greater risk of accidents.”

Rodriguez called the actions “unbecoming” and “flat-out wrong” for an agency responsible for this kind of work. He also called on “our state officials to launch a thorough and expeditious inquiry into what led to this abuse of power and take whatever measures necessary to see that it does not occur a second time.”

Rosa wanted to remind people that the Port Authority, which operates the bridge, isn’t run by just one state.

“The Port Authority’s unusual status as an interstate agency means this is not just a New Jersey matter,” said Rosa. “It is time for the New York Legislature to take a closer look at the structural breakdown that allowed the most traversed bridge in the world, and the most iconic entryway to our city, to be misused in this ostentatious flex of political muscle.”

Many of Christie’s detractors have also criticized the governor for not really apologizing to the people of New Jersey, but apologizing only to the mayor of Fort Lee. Espaillat was quick to remind people that he apologizes to not only New York City, but his constituents in particular.

“While Gov. Christie has promised to apologize to the people of Fort Lee, where is his apology to the thousands of New Yorkers who were delayed getting home those fateful September nights?” asked Espaillat. “Will he be coming to Washington Heights to apologize to parents who were late picking up children? Will he help to reimburse the small businesses whose inventories were not on time?” 

On Tuesday, all eyes were on Christie for his State of the State address. Broadcast nationally on several cable news networks, the governor commented on “Bridgegate” at the start of his speech and quickly moved on to his accomplishments in 2013.

“Mistakes were clearly made,” said Christie to a smattering of applause. “And as a result, we let down the people we were entrusted to serve. I know our citizens deserve better. Much better.

With more revelations from the investigation expected, New Jersey citizens will find out just how much Christie let them down.