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Thursday, January 11, 2018

UPDATE: We'll finally be able to say good riddance to Christie, N.J.'s worst governor

The defining moment in Governor Chris Christie's eight years in office was the Bridgegate scandal in September 2013, when many believe he orchestrated a five-day traffic jam at the Fort Lee end of the George Washington Bridge. That was his way of retaliating against the borough's Democratic mayor, who had refused to endorse the GOP thug's reelection bid in November 2013.
This January 2014 Daily News front page accurately predicted the impact of Bridgegate on Christie's presidential bid, which crashed and burned in February 2016. Then, he endorsed New York billionaire Donald J. Trump for the GOP nomination.

600 mean-spirited vetoes marred
conservative ogre's two terms

Editor's note: A day after The Record heaped praise on Governor Christie, NorthJersey.com fact-checked his last State of the State speech, and reported many of his claims were misleading. The report doesn't appear in today's print edition.



After dropping out of the presidential race in February 2016, Chris Christie failed miserably to salvage his reputation as the worst governor in New Jersey history.

Despite the upbeat news media coverage of his last State of the State address on Tuesday, the GOP bully will forever be defined by the 2013 Bridgegate scandal, and his 600 vetoes of progressive legislation aimed at improving the lives of most state residents. 

In every year of his two four-year terms, Christie made major decisions that brought New Jersey to its knees.

They ranged from killing a major expansion of mass transit to bungling the recovery from Superstorm Sandy to trying the sabotage the Affordable Care Act to wrecking the state's finances.

Crappy coverage

Wednesday's coverage of his speech in The Record, my local daily newspaper, is yet another example of the crappy journalism readers have had to endure since Gannett bought its publisher, North Jersey Media Group, in July 2016.

Political Columnist Charles Stile and Trenton reporter Dustin Racioppi, who is assigned to cover Christie, filed reports that treat the conservative ogre much too kindly.

The sub-headline over Stile's Page 1 column called the speech a "praise-filled swan song."

"Swan song"? For Christie, it's more like a "gorilla song." 

A front-page box labeled "Highlights" refers to Christie boasting "about his proudest moments over eight years in power."

The box also refered to the speech as a "90-minute victory lap," and his many failures were called "challenges."

Christie and Trump 

No surprise, given that The Record was the only major New Jersey daily that failed to call for Christie's resignation after he threw his weight behind Donald J. Trump's White House bid.

Nor did The Record even report the Star-Ledger and six Gannett papers had demanded Christie step down after endorsing Trump, a racist, con man and serial liar.

Stile was Christie's chief booster in his first term, portraying the governor as a "bipartisan reformer" despite liberal use of the veto pen to control the majority Democrats in the State Legislature.

And after writing an expose when Christie's vetoes numbered in the 300s, Racioppi never bothered to tally them again, even when they sailed past 500.

Wednesday's editorial in The Record contained a far more honest assessment of Christie's reign, noting "he ran to win," but that "his failure is that he did not run to govern for eight years" (10A).

Vetoes go missing 

Nowhere in The Record's nearly two full newspaper pages of text and photos on Wednesday is there any mention of Christie's veto of a $15 minimum wage or a tax surcharge on millionaires (1A and 6A).

Nor are there references to his voodoo finances, which robbed funds from women's health initiatives, environmental cleanup, mass transit and other programs to balance the revenue-starved state budget year after year. 

And his massive 90%-plus cut in state subsidies to NJ Transit effectively put the state's commuter rail and bus operator on the road to ruin.

That has given Record transportation reporter Curtis Tate the chance to write a long series of critical stories that usually fail to mention Christie's role in trying to destroy the agency.

New rail tunnels

In 2010, his first year in office, Christie signaled his war on mass transit by cancelling new Hudson River rail tunnels, then grabbing nearly a billion dollars in leftover funds from NJ Transit and the Port Authority to fix roads and bridges.

That allowed the conservative ogre to delay hiking the state's second-lowest-in-the-nation gas tax until November 2016, rescuing a Transportation Trust Fund for road and rail improvements he nearly drove into bankruptcy.

Good riddance

Next Tuesday, Christie will finally leave office, and he'll be succeeded by Democrat Phil Murphy, who has the unenviable job of repairing all the damage the GOP bully did.

Even Christie's so-called 2% cap on local budgets hasn't failed to stem the rise of property taxes, highest in the nation.

So, all together now, Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Donald J. Trump after NBC fired him for calling Mexicans rapists and drug runners. After Governor Christie dropped out of the presidential race in early 2016, he endorsed Trump for the GOP presidential nomination.
In this 2010 photo, real estate mogul Jon Hanson, left, a major fundraiser for Christie, is shown with the governor. Hanson also was a close friend of Malcolm A. Borg, then chairman of North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record. Hanson and Borg once jointly owned a private jet based at Teterboro Airport. Before the Borgs sold NJMG to Gannett, did the friendship color The Record's news coverage of Christie and Hanson, who also served as an adviser to the governor? 
When reporters asked Governor Christie whether he had any role in the September 2013 closure of access lanes to the upper level of the George Washington Bridge, he joked he moved the traffic cones to block two of the three lanes, below.
Christie was never charged in the scandal, but he spent more than $10 million in taxpayer funds so his legal team could write a whitewash report about his so-called lack of involvement. In the court of public opinion, he was found guilty of directing aide Bridget Anne Kelly to declare that it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."