New Jersey mayor rips Chris Christie: We will be ‘the butt of every political joke for the next 20 years’

By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, January 8, 2014 20:44 EDT
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Fort Lee, New Jersey Mayor Mark Sokolich [CNN]
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Fort Lee, New Jersey Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) blasted Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) administration on Wednesday over the revelation that members of Christie’s staff orchestrated massive traffic jams affecting his town.

“New Jersey needs this like we need a hole in the head,” Sokolich told CNN host Wolf Blitzer. “We’ve now ensured that that we’re going to remain the butt of every political joke for the next 20 years on political misconduct.”

Although Christie said in a statement on Wednesday that he had been “misled by a member of [his] staff,” and that the closures were ordered without his involvement, Sokolich called his position difficult to understand or believe.

“I’m actually rooting that the highest elected official in the state of New Jersey isn’t involved in this,” Sokolich said to Blitzer. “But I will tell you, I’m beginning to question my judgement.”

The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported on Wednesday that emails suggest Port Authority appointee David Wildstein, a longtime friend of Christie’s, was instructed by deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs Bridget Anne Kelly to order multiple lane closures on the George Washington Bridge to get back at Sokolich in September 2013 for not endorsing Christie in his re-election campaign against Democrat Barbara Buono.

Kelly also reportedly wrote, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” and justified the move in another email by saying kids there were “the children of Buono voters.” Wildstein resigned in December 2013 as suspicion began to surround the lane closures, which caused a weeklong traffic jam in Fort Lee.

The Bergen County Record also reported that the traffic snarl delayed paramedics responding to at least four calls, including one case involving a 91-year-old woman who eventually died from cardiac arrest.

However, Sokolich told Blitzer, Christie had not called him to apologize for the closures.

“I’m not on his radar, so I’m certainly not in his Rolodex, either,” Sokolich said.

“He should probably call you and say, ‘You know what? I know your citizens and your community and a lot of other nearby communities were affected by this,’” Blitzer pushed back. “Wouldn’t you expect him to start making some phone calls to at least apologize, even if he had nothing to do with it, but his senior aides did?”

“Don’t call me,” Sokolich said of Christie. “But call the families who were waiting three, four times longer for emergency service agencies when their loved ones were having heart palpitations, or when their loved ones were having extreme chest pains and were waiting for our ambulance corps to arrive. Do me a favor — call and apologize to thousands of families whose kids were late for the first day of school, and the three or four days that ensued thereafter.”

Watch Blitzer’s interview with Sokolich, as aired on Wednesday on CNN, below.

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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