Christie Views Lane Closings on George Washington Bridge as Overblown

The New York Times

The Manhattan side of the George Washington Bridge. Gov. Chris Christie said “a mistake got made” when his appointees closed bridge access lanes.


TRENTON — It began with a few orange traffic cones in September, when local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge abruptly closed for four days, gridlocking Fort Lee, N.J.

But after legislative hearings, the resignations of two of his confidants and demands for more answers, the allegation that drivers were made to suffer for the sake of petty political payback has grown into a major irritation for Gov. Chris Christie.

Facing reporters on Friday to announce the resignation of a second close associate in a week, Mr. Christie said the fuss about the two men’s having ordered that lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge be shut — and whether they had done it to punish Fort Lee’s mayor for failing to endorse Mr. Christie — had been “sensationalized.”

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As 2013 ends, battle lines harden in 2014 Newark mayoral race

By Mark Bonamo | December 13th, 2013


NEWARK - The images from Christmas 1914 linger in our collective consciousness: soldiers on both sides along the Western Front during World War I emerged from their trenches, enjoying an unofficial Christmas truce before the slaughter started again.

If the last few weeks serve as an unofficial survey of the Newark mayoral race, there will be no Christmas cease-fire in Brick City. Instead, the state's largest city will be a political abattoir, with each of the four candidates trying to survive no man's land. 

The war is being fought on the streets, with North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. and South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka holding competing endorsement events. Both candidates want to be seen as the labor candidate in a city where union backing is still critical. Baraka was given the nod of approval by former Mayor Ken Gibson, Newark's first African-American mayor. Ramos has projected himself as the candidate with the most organizational strength, with three out of five Democratic ward chairman behind him, plus a 4,000-turkey Thanksgiving citywide food drive to prove it. 

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Judge rules state can't deny trade licenses to ex-cons who owe back child support

By Thomas Zambito/The Star-Ledger 


 Patrice Dow of Pleasantville installs emergency lighting in a condominium complex in Tuckerton on Thursday.(Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

NEWARK — Patrice Dowe spent 10 years in federal prisons only to discover upon his release in 2009 that he wouldn’t be able to work as a licensed electrician, the job he’d spent thousands of hours training for while he was locked up.

The problem wasn’t that jobs weren’t available. It was the $31,000 in child support for two sons that he racked up during his prison stretch.

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The Shavar shift: Jeffries campaign in Newark appears to gain traction with North and South Jersey players

By Mark Bonamo | December 12th, 2013


NEWARK - On the front lines of the four-man Newark mayoral race, so far the most shots have been fired by competing candidates and councilmen Anibal Ramos, Jr. and Ras Baraka. The sons of the North and South Wards respectively have engaged in a grappling match in recent weeks over labor endorsements, trying to become the most union support. Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif still appears to be trying to get his campaign up to full speed. 

Meanwhile, former Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries has reportedly been holding court.

Several Democratic sources have told that Jeffries has met with Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo and South Jersey power broker George Norcross III to discuss his political future. These sit-downs suggest an alliance between North and South Jersey to ensure Jeffries' victory in the May 2014 election to run the state's largest city. 

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Subpoena Christie's political appointees to answer for GWB lane closures: Editorial

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
on December 11, 2013

The attempts by Bill Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, to describe an unknown and unannounced traffic study last month at the Statehouse failed to end doubts about the GWB lane closures. (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)


The first time Bill Baroni spoke to lawmakers about the George Washington Bridge brouhaha, it was a laugher. That was just two weeks ago, when Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, blamed a secret "traffic study" for traffic jams that crippled Fort Lee in September.

Now that his cover story is starting to unravel, legislators should subpoena Baroni to testify again — this time under oath, with the threat of perjury hanging over his head.

Baroni wants us to believe the Port Authority was studying the bridge’s traffic patterns when it blockaded two-thirds of Fort Lee’s entry lanes, sparking three days of gridlock starting Sept. 9. The agency, he testified, wanted to measure the effect of the Fort Lee shutdown on other bridge traffic. (Hint: It moves faster.)

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Ramos campaign war chest in Newark mayoral race now more than $500,000

By Mark Bonamo | December 9th, 2013  


BELLEVILLE - Nanina's in the Park restaurant borders Branch Brook Park, where thousands of cherry blossoms bloom every spring. On Monday night, Newark mayoral candidate Anibal Ramos, Jr., blocks from the North Ward councilman's neighborhood, hoped that thousands of dollars would appear in his campaign coffers at his holiday fundraiser.

"You all are showing a lot of people that you didn't get the memo that [Ramos] was dropping out, did you?" said campaign manager Carlos Valentin, Jr. to the more than 150 Ramos supporters assembled, including North Ward power broker Steve Adubato (pictured). "Not only is he not dropping out, but he's in it to win it."

Ramos has been trying to quash rumors that surfaced last month that his campaign is troubled, including from allies of Ramos who anonymously told last month that his campaign has not been aggressive enough.

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Interview with Newark Mayoral Candidate Darrin Sharif

Friday, 06 December 2013 20:16 Local Talk News Editor

On November 29, 2013, I Interviewed Newark Mayoral Candidate Councilman Darrin Sharif. There is a huge gap, and the mayoral race is open for everyone. Right now, there are only four candidates in the race. Ras Baraka, Anibal Ramos, Shavar Jeffries and Darrin Sharif. I did not hear of anyone else running for the mayoral election, but no one truly knows until the deadline on April 1, 2014.

Dhiren Shah: Welcome to this interview councilman. You are a first time councilman, and are now running for the highest office in Newark, the largest city of New Jersey, Why?

Darrin Sharif: Because I am the most qualified, at the most pivotal point in the city's history to move the city forward. You look at Newark, where it was and where it is now, we are at a historical crossroads. Look at my resume, I am the most qualified on the council. I was Deputy Chief of Staff for Essex County Executive Nicholas R. Amato, Chief of Staff of then-Councilman Cory Booker, Director of Operations for the Urban League of Essex County. Not a single candidate in this race has the depth of experience for the challenges faced in Newark. In addition, within the last three and a half years, all of the major stakeholders in the city, from big developers to a corporate people, not a single person in the race dealt with them more intimately that I have. All of the developments in the city, 99% happened in my ward. So these people trust me; they know me and they do not have to guess what kind of mayor I am going to be.

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Newark Airport workers protest low wages; Baraka shows support

By Mark Bonamo | December 5th, 2013


NEWARK - Holding up bright signs in a dense fog, cabin cleaners at Newark International Airport protested against low wages on Thursday in a show of solidarity with fast-food workers striking nationwide.

Standing before workers chanting "I can't survive on $7.25," union officials pointed to what they believe are serious inequities in the airport workplace. 

"This airport has the largest concentration of minimum wage workers in the state of New Jersey," said Kevin Brown, New Jersey State Director of 32BJ SEIU, the largest property service workers union in the country. "When they contracted out all these workers, they contracted out to the lowest wage contractor. If you took the CEO of United Airlines, and you compared him to one of the cleaners here, it would take them 500 years for them to earn what he earns in just one year."

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Essex County Executive DiVincenzo to formally kickoff bid for re-election next week

By Eunice Lee/The Star-Ledger
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on December 05, 2013

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, pictured on Oct. 3, will formally kick off his bid for an unprecedented fourth term on Monday.


ESSEX COUNTY — Joseph DiVincenzo is slated to announce his bid for a fourth term as Essex County executive on Monday.

Democratic party leaders and politicians from all levels of government are expected to join DiVincenzo at the event, according to DiVincenzo's chief of staff, Philip Alagia, who is running the campaign. The official kick-off will be held at the Essex County College gymnasium at 9:45 a.m. Monday.

DiVincenzo joined other Democrats in crossing party lines during last month's gubernatorial race to endorse Republican Gov. Chris Christie during his successful re-election campaign.

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Quintana says he's not running in 2014 Newark mayoral election, but leaves door open

By Mark Bonamo | December 4th, 2013


NEWARK - Despite considerable speculation among Brick City's political observers that Newark Mayor Luis Quintana would enter the 2014 mayoral race, Quintana said on Wednesday that he wouldn't seek a full four-year term.  

Yet, when asked if he would potentially change his mind, Quintana was non-committal.  

"I am not considering a run for mayor of Newark, and I've said that before," Quintana said to "Those are rumors that are being circulated around. My only mission is to be the gatekeeper, and to give the citizens of Newark a model for future mayors to come. 

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