The investigations into the unexplained closings of GW Bridge access lanes in Ft. Lee, NJ have been continuing since my last diary BridgeTrolls – Some Pieces Begin To Fall In Place. However, nothing significant enough IMHO to warrant a new diary has been released in the past month. (Interesting relevant information was added in the three updates and interesting information more directly related to the Christie Admin and Port Authority were added as comments.) I chose to maintain a diary focus on the GW Bridge matter because in unfolding political and financial scandals, it’s easy to lose the “original sin” and that makes it easy to sweep under the rug. (i.e. Watergate was never, ever a “third-rate burglary” but that’s what has stuck with people, many of whom weren’t even alive in 1972.)
Reporters are digging away at multiple stories of corruption, abuse of power, and malfeasance by NJ politicians, Gov. Christie, and the Port Authority of NY and NJ. They’re doing a good job, but when nobody in the know is talking, it’s hard work and slow going. The NJ legislature, NJ AG, and US Attorney, NJ District are all on the case. Official investigations are always slow and during the process difficult for outsiders to assess the quality or seriousness of their work. Not sure I’d have much confidence in the NJ AG and US Attorney in this case if the NJ legislature weren’t involved. However, what may be even more important is that Preet Bharara has signaled that his office is doing a bit more than watching.
This brings up a small bit of news and a reader caution. “jamess” at dKos has been following the unfolding NJ/Christie scandals and promptly posts a new diary for every new published article that appears. A good resource as long as readers are careful not give all these diaries the same weight. My note of caution is twofold. “jamess” doesn’t do enough (any?) background checking before presenting connections. For example, he continues not to understand the recent history of the Ft. Lee projects that became The Modern and Hudson Lights (covered here and here. That Silverstein has been out of the running since early 2010 and proposed developing both Ft. Lee sites. “The Modern” broke ground a year before the GW Bridge shenanigans. Construction financing for Harbor Lights hadn’t been finalized as of the Bridge stunt; however, because Tucker Development owned the land, Silverstein would be the least likely of the other three developer proposals to benefit from thwarting Tucker’s efforts at 11:59 and to suggest otherwise is irresponsible.
Plus Silverstein is more NY than NJ and has long been working the Port Authority for WTC favors. Currently, money for WTC 3
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey board of commissioners gave Scott Rechler, the agency’s vice chair, approval to extend talks with Silverstein. The plan would raise the Port Authority’s financial contribution to $1.1 billion from the present agreement of $200 million.
From the Port Authority:
Scott Rechler was appointed to the Board of Commissioners in June 2011 by Governor Cuomo. Mr. Rechler is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of RXR Realty LLC (“RXR”), a multi-billion dollar private real estate company…
Recall the Port Authority senior structure:
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners (NJ Governor appointee)
Vice-Chairman of the BOC (NY Governor appointee)
Executive Director (operations) (NY Governor appointee)
Deputy Executive Director (NJ Governor appointee)
As of the date of the Ft. Lee “traffic,” Samson was Chairman, Rechler was Vice-Chairman, Foye was Executive Director, and Boroni was Deputy Executive.
It was Cuomo’s guy Foye that stepped in and opened those traffic lanes on the fourth day (September 13) and has claimed he had not been informed earlier of this stunt. (His claim is likely true as none of the other players has disputed it in the months since he made it.)
On January 10, 2014, NJ Star-Ledger published an e-mail dated September 18, 2014 between Samson and Rechler.
“Scott: I just read it and it confirms evidence of Foye’s being the leak, stirring up trouble,” Samson said in an email to Vice Chairman Scott Rechler. “This is yet another example of a story, we’ve seen it before, where he distances himself from an issue in the press and rides in on a white horse to save the day. (If you need prior examples I will provide)-in this case he’s playing in traffic, made a big mistake.”
Samson’s email was referring to a story about the closures in the Wall Street Journal published on Sept. 17, citing unnamed officials at the Port Authority as saying they had caused tensions within the bi-state agency.
Today jamess at dKos presents this as some sort of smoking gun. Unfortunately, it’s not. No indication that Rechler had anything to do with the access lane closings. Then there is Rechler’s response that “jamess” neglected to include:
“I don’t agree with your assessment of Pat’s [Foye’s] involvement,” Rechler wrote back. “Perhaps you or Bill [Baroni] have some different intelligence than mine that will change that view.”
Samson tried to pull Rechler onto his team in the GW Bridge matter and Rechler didn’t bite. Either smart or lucky, but like Silverstein, his turf is NY and not NJ and investigations into the corruption on the NY side of the Port Authority has yet to begin.