Chris Christie is very careful about which people and agencies he wants to reform:
Yes, the governor is a former prosecutor, but as governor, he is a selective prosecutor. This isn’t the first time that Christie — self-proclaimed corruption-fighting superhero — has looked the other way.
A couple of months ago, at a town hall meeting in Wayne, he sat on a stage with Assemblyman Scott Rumana, who faces an ethics investigation into a corporation he created to divert millions in energy grants awarded to Wayne, where he once was mayor. When asked about consorting with a troubled Republican colleague, Christie said: “I don’t know enough about it.”
Soon after, Christie appeared with Rumana again. If Christie had been unaware of the alleged shenanigans (that’s doubtful), he certainly had time to get the facts and keep Rumana at arm’s length. But Christie needs Rumana’s vote in the Assembly, and Rumana, as Passaic County GOP chairman, is one of the party’s top fundraisers, so Christie looked the other way.
Just as he did when he appeared in Hudson County and railed against double-dippers recently. Sitting behind Christie, in positions of honor, were the biggest lineup of double-dippers this side of the Baskin-Robbins hall of fame.
One of them was Brian Stack, Union City mayor and state senator, who recently was the target of an investigation by Fox-New York’s Arnold Diaz. He caught the mayor’s ex-wife driving a city-owned vehicle, which she filled with city-owned gas — even though she isn’t a city employee. She runs a day-care center. How did she get the car and gas? Stack, of course, had no idea. He eventually responded to Diaz’s questions with a letter from his attorney — state Sen. Kevin O’Toole (who shares an office with Rumana) — accusing Diaz’s producer of “stalking” Stack.
But when Christie was asked about the Diaz report, he said: “I have no reason to question Brian Stack’s integrity.”
As U.S. attorney, Christie questioned nearly everyone’s integrity. Why the blinders now? Because Christie needs Stack, a Democrat, to keep the vote down next year when a Republican candidate tries to knock off U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, also a Democrat.
Why would Stack sell out Menendez? Well, only select municipalities didn’t have their state aid slashed by Christie last year. One was Union City.
Let’s remember that among the governor’s list of best practices, upon which he said he would base state aid, was this question: Does your municipality have a policy for use of municipal vehicles?
Rumana and Stack haven’t been found guilty of any crimes, but a governor who promised to scrub the state clean should keep better company.
More Union City intrigue: Christie has been crusading against the salary of the Parsippany schools superintendent, but hasn’t said a peep about Union City police chief Charles Everett who, according to records obtained by The Star-Ledger, made $248,566 last year — $38,780 over his contractual pay, for reasons the city won’t explain. The state has oversight in Union City, so Christie would have signed off on any additional salary.
(Everett just hired his son as a dispatcher, by the way.)
There has been other questionable behavior by Christie: the timely Port Authority job given to ex-Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale, a Democrat, to get him and his ample warchest out of his re-election race; the cushy Parole Board job given to Christie’s campaign driver; the six-figure Department of Community Affairs job handed to state Senate Minority Leader Alex DeCroce’s wife; the six-figure Port Authority job given to the governor’s favorite (unqualified) blogger.
And how about the Delaware River Port Authority? Exorbitant salaries, costly perks and free tolls for relatives and friends. Closed-door meetings. No-bid contracts. It’s all trickled out since Christie took office. But he hasn’t demanded one resignation from the bi-state agency, which is staffed with allies of South Jersey political boss George Norcross, a sometimes ally.
At a recent town hall meeting, a perceptive citizen asked Christie why he was “going soft” on the DRPA. Christie sloughed off the zinger with a chuckle: “You’re one of the first people who told me I’m going soft on the DRPA.”
Actually, governor, it’s not just the DRPA.