Skywaygate: No Road Left Behind
It is heartbreaking to see the sacred name of General Pulaski associated with yet another smell-provoking chapter in the scandalfest that is the Christie administration.
Brigadier General Casmir Pulaski, the hero of the Battle of Savannah (1779), the expatriate Polish nobleman who rallied to the cause of liberty during the Revolution, the founding father of American cavalry, who is remembered for saving the life of George Washington during the Battle of Brandywine (1777), who gave his life to his adopted country at 34, from wounds suffered at Savannah while freeing us from the yoke of British tyranny!
That Kazimierz Michal Wladyslaw Wiktor Pulaski of the House of Slepowron‘s hallowed name is being dragged through the slime of New Jersey politics during the current investigations of the possibly shady financial underpinning of the reconstruction project fixing the four-lane bridge-causeway.
The iconic freeway—widely seen, if not travelled, by “Soprano” fans in the introductions to what was widely thought of as a documentary about New Jersey—has been looming over our Passaic and Hackensack Rivers between Newark and Jersey City and was Mayor Frank Hague’s contribution to the good life in the Garden State since 1932— was in need of repairs. It always looked like it had been bombed the night before. Still any Third World nation would be proud to have such an edifice even before repair.
What is bringing disrepute to Count Pulaski’s good name is Federal authorities looking for possible securities laws violation in the $1.8 billion road repair agreement in 2011 between the Port Authority and the Christie administration. Did the governor or his people pressure the PA to divert funds from another worthy project?
And while they were at it, the Feds want to clarify the justification used by the Port Authority commissioners to see the Pulaski as in its lawful remit in the first place? The PA lawyers claim the Skyway is an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel. By that line of reasoning, they could have used the money for an access road to its Stewart International Airport in Orange County (Newburgh, N.Y.), only 60 miles from midtown Manhattan.
The subtext in the case is the bondholder money was destined for the construction of the third rail tunnel across the Hudson. Now Christie cancelling funding for that project as an economy measure, IMO, was a real crime, compared to the Christistas’ silly closing of two traffic lanes in Fort Lee that captivated the nation earlier this year.
You may have heard of “The Bridge to Nowhere” in American politics. Well, our governor will go down in history books for killing “The Tunnel to Somewhere.”
It was Christie who in 2010 said, in effect, New Jersey should get the hell out of the tunnel business. All the Mass Transit Tunnel across the Hudson to Manhattan might have done is provide jobsjobsjobs, a plank in Christie’s election platform –some 6,000 of them were already working for contractors like Rail Construction LLC and the dozens of other construction firms making bids for the work scheduled to last ten years.
Better to be a governor tough on spending, his fans say, than helping long suffering commuters using trains. So what if the state had to pay back into the U.S. Treasury $95 million, reduced from $271 millions for Federal funds advanced. And it only cost the state $1.2 million in legal bills to work out the compromise, roughly what the state is now paying for the governor’s legal firm bills for exonerating him in the GWB scandal.
Without meaning to prejudge the investigation – Did he know about it? And when?— I will leave that to the SEC and U.S. Attorneys.
But as I understand it what the Christie machine might have thought they were doing at the Pulaski Skyway was part of its “No Roads Left Behind” program for improving the state’s infrastructure.
The governor had been going around the country proclaiming what a helluva job he was doing cracking down on unions and cutting spending. He had been doing such a good job of ignoring the aging and sagging systems of decayed bridges and roads, for example, a friend of mine, who lives near the Governor’s mansion (Drumthwacket) told me he waits to take his Sunday drive for the governor and his entourage to drive over the bridge down the street, proving the infrastructure is in no need of additional investment.
While we wait for all the legalities to be sorted out, the New Jersey chapter of the Sons of the Industrial Revolution (SIR), of which I am a proud member, suggests the so –called Pulaski Skyway be changed to the Benedict Arnold Runaway.
June 25, 2014