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Drivers crossing the Hudson River recently suffered another toll hike. Drivers now pay up to $13 just to cross the George Washington Bridge or Lincoln or Holland Tunnels. Where is that money going? Looks like it's going...to Union City. Why?
Union City Concerned Citizens Group, Inc.
*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***
Contact Eric Dixon 917-696-2442
ATTORNEY: CHRISTIE USING TOLL HIKE
TO REWARD POLITICAL CRONY BRIAN STACK
WEEHAWKEN, NJ (Dec. 2, 2012) -- Standing outside a flashing sign alerting drivers to new $13 tolls on cars crossing the Hudson through Port Authority bridges and tunnels, an attorney representing the Union City Concerned Citizens Group charged that Governor Christie's Port Authority appointees are diverting a portion of today's toll hike to pay off a political ally whose town has no property under Port Authority jurisdiction and whose City Hall was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on November 13th.
Eric Dixon, an attorney with the Union City Concerned Citizens Group, blasted the toll hike and called diverting $2.875 million of toll receipts to Union City "a political payoff for Brian Stack's State Senate vote and political support, funded by the toll increase on 2,875,000 motorists – hard-working, middle class people -- going through the Lincoln Tunnel. Without this Port Authority money, paid for by this unconscionable toll hike, Brian Stack would be forced to do a responsible budget instead of depending on one time cash infusions which one day will end.”
“Let me tell you how bad Union City’s situation is. Union City already receives more than $185 million in special aid from New Jersey taxpayers, but that’s still not enough. State Republicans are using the Port Authority – and all of these drivers paying higher tolls – to funnel an extra $2.875 million to Union City. It’s like a drug addict getting its fix.”
“New Jersey is billions in debt and hasn’t yet handled the reconstruction from damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. The state is running out of money. When the state special aid to Union City ends, Union City will collapse and this will be a disaster for its residents.”
Stack, a Democrat who is a political ally of Republican Governor Christie -- claimed during a recent Union City Board of Commissioners meeting that the Port Authority grant is to compensate Union City for wear and tear on its roads due to traffic being diverted when there is construction at nighttime on the Interstate 495 helix. This is a total sham. The only road surfaces in any part of Union City onto which traffic is diverted are the ramps on the west side of Pleasant Avenue which lead to and from Interstate 495. This is a total sham. Further proof of this is the fact that the Port Authority money to Union City is not earmarked for road improvements, but instead goes into a general fund that can be used by Brian Stack for anything he wants, like political patronage. The traffic diversion from the helix construction is all in Weehawken. The whole thing is a sham and today, drivers are paying one dollar more to prop up Union City’s Mayor Stack.
"This explanation reeks of nonsense and political favors for which the hardworking drivers of New Jersey and the rest of the metropolitan area get to pick up the tab," Dixon said. "Why is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie -- who as governor gets to pick half the board of the Port Authority -- using his cronies to direct Port Authority funds to a political ally in Stack when this toll hike, the second in a series of four annual increases that will bring tolls to an incredible $15 by 2015, was sold as 'necessary' to 'improve infrastructure'?"
Illustrating just how high tolls have gotten, he noted it now costs more to drive through the 1.5 mile Lincoln Tunnel than across the 20-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia.
"This is a classic quid pro quo." Dixon said. “Union City needs a responsible budget, and the only way to force Brian Stack to get fiscally responsible is to stop giving him one-shot monetary fixes like a drug addict getting his fix.”
“Further proof of the fact that Stack’s claim that Port Authority money is going to fix Union City’s roads is shown by the stonewalling I have encountered in trying to get documents on this issue. I have personally submitted requests for relevant records regarding the Port Authority grant, as permitted under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act. I want to see traffic studies and correspondence justifying this claim. This is a simple, discreet matter. The Port Authority has asked for a one-month extension to respond to my request. Stonewalling, But Governor Christie’s office delayed responding, then asked for an extension but failed to provide any reason or deadline for the extension request, which it is required to do under New Jersey law. More stonewalling, Notably, Union City, which is the subject of a federal criminal investigation, has totally ignored my OPRA request, again, in violation of New Jersey law.”
“There’s a reason for the stonewalling. There are no traffic studies. There is no rationale for the Port Authority giving toll money to Union City. This is all a sham.”
“This is an insult to every taxpayer of New Jersey, and to all the drivers who use the tunnels and bridges into New York.
“Today, New Jersey drivers are getting soaked, by New Jersey politicians who think they’re above the law.”
Union City Concerned Citizens Group, Inc.
Eric Dixon is a corporate and investigative attorney who handles matters in New York and New Jersey.
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"Christie’s method for coping with scandal has been more complicated. In January, the seemingly-local issue of lane closings on the George Washington Bridge, which created a massive traffic jam in the Hudson River town of Fort Lee, became one of national interest when it was revealed that one of Christie’s closest staffers had ordered them—for what looked like political retribution against a Democratic mayor. The scandal was quickly dubbed 'Bridgegate,' and unfortunately for Christie, it played into his reputation as a bully. Christie's response was to act unlike himself: humble." - Olivia Nuzzi- The Daily Beast
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