Hardly a week has passed since Bridgeghazi and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is under fire again. This time, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer is alleging that Christie's staff threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief money from Hoboken unless she approved a redevelopment plan favored by the governor.
Just moments ago on Up with Steve Kornacki, Zimmer outlined a chain of events in which she claims that two Christie officials, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable, approached her on behalf of the governor last year to urge her to move ahead with a lucrative development plan for a 19-block stretch of Hoboken. According to Zimmer, she was told that hurricane relief money for Hoboken would be contingent on her approval of the project.
In this account – supported by email, public records and Zimmer’s own diary entries – Christie’s inner circle was willing to cut off devastated constituents, muscle a friendly mayor and arrange public funds to finance a study for a project the governor supported. In a news conference last week, Christie rejected the notion that his administration engages in retribution or seeks political payback. Zimmer’s account paints a different portrait.
Christie's staff have denied Zimmer's allegations.
Curiously enough, earlier this week, during an interview with WNYC, Zimmer also alleged that her decision to remain neutral in New Jersey's gubernatorial race last year may have also played a role in her city's inability to secure federal relief for Hoboken. “With 20/20 hindsight, in the context we’re in right now, we can always look back and say, ‘Okay, was it retribution?’” Zimmer said. “I think probably all mayors are reflecting right now and thinking about it, but I really hope that that’s not the case.”
Zimmer sought $127 million for Hoboken in the aftermath of the storm, but only received about $350,000 in recovery grants and money for a back-up generator. Hoboken was among the hardest hit parts of New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy with as much as 80 percent of the city underwater.
Meanwhile, yesterday it was reported that 18 people were served with subpoenas as the New Jersey Assembly's investigation into Bridgeghazi continues. The list includes Port Authority Chairman David Samson, Governor Christie’s incoming chief of staff Regina Egea, and a number of top Christie aides.