Arrivederci, Aroma

I hear some people are upset about the Christie administration decision to settle the suit against Exxon for pollution caused by two refineries in Linden and Bayonne. Instead of the $8.9 billion the state originally sought, we are apparently now asking for $250 million. Minus the $25 million in legal fees.

That’s 3% of what some people were expecting. What happened to the rest of the money, some are asking? Is this the state’s idea of a compromise?

“What’s going on here,” asked one of the skeptics, Rachel Maddow on MSNBC the night of 3/4/15, tapping a finger to nose, as if it smelled bad. “Is that normal?

“At last, have you no shame, governor,” others are asking, echoing the words of Secretary of the Army Welch during McCarthy Hearings in the 1950s investigating the Communist coup to take over the Army, starting with grilling a Pentagon cleaning lady.

Some are saying this Bayway deal, as it is known locally, is the worse scandal in the Christie years. Worse even than reneging on the pension payments, the Transportation Fund being bankrupt at a time when our bridges are falling down, and the unfulfilled promises of balancing the budget? Not to mention betraying the Jets and Giants by not only being a Dallas Cowboys fan and having the gall to sit in the private box of the Cowboy’s owner, living like a sultan in state business trips abroad, and flying in private jets belonging to those who would do business with the state? How quickly people forget!

Not a word is heard about the upside to the settlement. What a shot in the arm this is for luring big business to the state. The critics are implying the Garden State must be a winterplunderland, being friendly to economic crimes such as ruining its land for eons to come, given the slow rate of remediation.

How did all of this happen? Rachel was asking on MSNBC, opening up the possible garbage can of New Jersey politics.

Now I don’t want anybody to think I’m biased. I mean, just because I am chairman of the “Christie for President in 2024” organization.

But the question should be asked: Did he know about the deal? And when?

Was there an email from the state Attorney General’s office, in charge of negotiating the settlement, reading:

Time to settle for 250 K?

Without seeming to bend over backward in defending the governor, it must be realized he has a lot on his mind since he has been a non-candidate for president. He has been out to launch on his non-campaign since the last line of the Inaugural Address of 2010.

(BTW, how is the non-campaign going? Rachel, in fairness, pointed out that his non-presidential run already achieved the lowest approval ratings among the gang of ten presumptives suiting up for the race. It’s all part of his winning strategy. I will get to that in a later column.)

Before I go on, I should explain to readers from the rest of the nation, the media is out to get our governor –especially the New York Times, The Record of Hackensack, and other responsible journals everywhere.

There is a tendency to blame Christie for everything that is wrong. Our bridges also were falling down, and infrastructure crumbling, during the Democratic Corzine administration.

Why, even his children are blaming the governor for all the snow this winter, as he complained last week in his 128th town hall-style meeting in which he openly explained what a good job he is doing as the chief executive, while proudly proclaiming he had cut in half the town’s snow removal budget.

Nobody ever gives him credit for the way he managed the last three consecutive storms in February. Watching the Weather Channel—my second favorite indoor sport, next to reading the Bergen Record finding the governor guilty of everything he is guilty of—they were all headed to New Jersey, before veering off to Boston. Why?

I will tell you: Christie was saying, “Get the hell off my beach and go up to New England.” Mother nature buckled. At least that’s my theory

Okay, so maybe Mister Stretch Limo is travelling too much away from the state—one third of last year, according to the Record—as he shores up his credentials on foreign policy by sleeping in the sultan’s tent in Arabia. Maybe it was necessary to improve trade relations with Iowa and New Hampshire. And maybe the governor is currying favor with Exxon Mobil for campaign contributions should he ever decide to run for president.

But I also think there is a cabal in the governor’s office that is trying to undermine him with all those petty details about the missing 97%.

Who could ever forget the way his inner circle bungled the Fort Lee traffic study last year. By closing the two lanes, the purpose of the study, it was able to prove conclusively traffic would be affected adversely.

Even when the few dollars in the Exxon settlement are used for actually remediating the sites along the New Jersey Turnpike, the governor will be blamed.

I know I will be missing the aromas driving past the refineries in Hudson County. True, they were blamed for a lot of things such as women’s nylons disintegrating between exits 12 and 13. But it told me I was coming home to New Jersey.



Marvin Kitman
March 12, 2015

Marvin Kitman is the author of “The Making of the Preƒident 1789.” “George Washington’s Expense Account” by Gen. George Washington and Marvin Kitman PFC (Ret.) was the best-selling expense account in publishing history.

CC Creative Commons Photo "Bayway Refinery, as seen off 278 near the New Jersey Turnpike" by Flickr user Joe Loong.