Christie 'bullied' teacher during heated town hall exchange, NJEA says

By Matt Arco | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on April 02, 2015

TRENTON — The state's largest public employee union is coming to the defense of a New Jersey teacher who sparked a heated exchanged with Gov. Chris Christie during his latest town hall on Tuesday.

Steve Wollmer, of the New Jersey Education Association, accused Christie of having bullied Kathy Mooney, a high school English teacher in Roselle Park, after she attempted to ask the governor a question.

Mooney, who's been teaching for 27 years, caught Christie's ire after she asked the governor why he hadn't made a more aggressive deal with Exxon, instead of, as she put it, "favoring the affluent" and "kicking state workers under the bus" to buttress a badly listing pension system.

The question garnered a sharp response from Christie.

"He's always taken a very nasty and disrespectful tone with teachers and other individuals who dare to question him at these events," Wollmer said.

"It's the one thing that never seems to change," he said. "It looks like she was just trying to get a question in."

Mooney suggested at the town hall that Christie had made a bad deal with Exxon Mobil for taking a much-criticized $225 million pollution settlement after the state asked for as much as $8.9 billion to settle a decade-long lawsuit, saying "I know that you could have gotten more money, on the dollar," Christie bristled.

"Do you?" Christie retorted. "You do know that? Really? You know that?"

"Governor," interjected Mooney, but she was cut off by Christie.

"I mean: Do you know that?" Christie pressed, sounding annoyed, "I wanna know how you know that. Because you're a teacher, and you're standing in front of students every day, conveying to them, facts - things that they need to learn. So I would like to understand your analysis of how you know that in a ten year long, court case, that you have enough detail to know."

The NJEA likened Christie's reposnse to bullying Mooney.

"He said, 'I'm not bullying you' as he bullied her," Wollmer said.

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