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Friday, March 31, 2017

Since 2010, 500-plus vetoes show clearly it's Governor Christie's way or the highway

In Dave Granlund's cartoon, dictator and Syrian war criminal Vladimir Putin is sitting pretty despite probes into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign and election. 
On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on his first day in office, but ultra-conservative Republicans wanted even more drastic cuts than proposed in the bill that was withdrawn by House Speaker Paul Ryan. "Well, we took a stab at it," killing the patient, the GOP says in this cartoon from Rick McKee.
Cartoonist John Cole notes that President Trump and his surrogates, Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Press Secretary Sean Spicer, have turned the nation's capital into "Lie Lie Land."



From his very first veto and such major unilateral actions as killing the Hudson River rail tunnels, Governor Christie laid the groundwork for the "banana republic" New Jersey has become.

Today's Page 1 story in The Record focuses on comments by a federal judge about Christie's 2013 re-election machine, which led to closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, triggering five mornings of gridlock to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor.

On Wednesday, when she sentenced two of his former allies to prison, U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton noted that at the time of the lane closings in September 2013, Trenton under Christie sent out a clear message:

"You are either with us or against us," and that anyone perceived to be against the administration faced retribution, she said.

Lee Cortes, a federal prosecutor, noted:

"The use of government power at a publicly owned bridge to create traffic ... just to mess with one person [Fort Lee's mayor] ... are the actions out of the playbook of some dictator of a banana republic."

Early signs

But signs that Christie demanded his way or the highway were clear as early as 2010, his first year in office:

He delayed the biggest mass-transit expansion in decades and used leftover money to fix roads and bridges; pulled out of a multi-state environmental initiative, and started vetoing or threatened to veto every bill passed by the state Legislature's Democratic majority.

Among the GOP bully's vetoes: A tax surcharge on millionaires, and a phase-in of a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

For the most part, The Record's coverage focused on politics, not issues, and Staff Writer Charles Stile ignored the mounting number of vetoes in column after column polishing Christie's image as a "bipartisan compromiser."

That quality, Stile argued time and again, could propel Christie into the White House.

Alas, when the Bridgegate scandal broke, Christie's bid was dashed. 

Then, in February 2016, Christie endorsed Donald J. Trump for the GOP presidential nomination, leading The Star-Ledger and five other New Jersey dailies to call for the governor's resignation.

The Record never joined that chorus.

Starving seniors

Editor Richard A. Green's choices for the front page continue to bewilder readers.

Today, he runs a story bemoaning Trump's proposed cuts to Meals On Wheels programs for seniors, many of whom are shut-ins or disabled (1A).

That appears above the fold, but below the fold seniors and other readers are told they "must" try eight restaurants, including three of the most expensive in Bergen County (1A, 10BL and 11BL). 

Maybe, Green is suggesting that after the Meals on Wheels program ends, vans can be retrofitted to carry seniors in wheelchairs to $100 dinners at the Saddle River Inn, Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern and Cafe Panache.