By Bill Mooney | January 8th, 2014 - 5:14pm
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TRENTON – Former Port Authority official David Wildstein was made the fall guy for the Fort Lee lane closure fiasco, said Assembly Transportation Chair John Wisniewski; now it’s time to see if he will pull anyone down with him.

Wisniewski said today that “So far, what we know is that Mr. Wildstein has been pointed to by everybody … as the fall guy.

“It is clear that is not the entire story,’’ said the chair of the Assembly committee that has subpoenaed the former Authority director of interstate capital projects to testify on Thursday.

Wildstein is fighting the subpoena, Wisniewski said, but he expects that Wildstein will be unsuccessful in that effort. “Mr. Wildstein’s testimony can help fill in the blanks,’’ Wisniewsk said.

At a press conference today to discuss the revelations that show Wildstein was in communication with Christie’s deputy chief of staff on Aug. 13 about planned Fort Lee lane closures in September at the George Washington Bridge, Wisniewski said that the incompleteness of what they have received so far raises as many questions as it answers.

For example, he said the wording in the subpoenaed Aug. 13 emails would lead one to believe there were prior communications; otherwise what is discussed in the Aug. 13 email would leave someone wondering what it means.

“There had to be some conversation before that,” Wisniewski said.

“We still have much more to learn.  The committee will continue to work to get these answers.”

Wisniewski was joined by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who also has been calling for answers about what happened in September.

“I started with this in mid-September when I first heard about it,’’ she said. “I wrote a letter to (William) Pat Schuber,” an Authority commissioner. “I thought he would understand the issue around using the busiest bridge in the world …. It was used for some kind of petty political payback. Upon receipt of my letter Schuber called me and said ‘I would get to the bottom of this.’ I’m still waiting.’’

Weinberg, who has a resolution up in committee Thursday that calls on Congress to re-examine the structure of the Authority, said Wednesday that Gov. Chris Christie created an atmosphere at the Port Authority that enabled people like Wildstein to believe he could shut down traffic lanes and enabled people like since-resigned appointee Bill Baroni to believe he could execute a cover-up explanation of a traffic study.

“Then I find out that the governor created that atmosphere in his own office,’’ Weinberg said in reference to the email that has Kelly saying “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Wisniewski said that so far, he is unaware of any retaliation against him for his pursuit of answers.

Weinberg said she has heard from New York legislators who also would like more information on what happened.

And she echoed Wisniewski’s opening comments: “The governor made a statement that he asked people in his office if they knew anything about this; either his staff lied to him or the governor was less than truthful with the people in New Jersey.’’

Wisniewski said that Christie “joked about this, he derided this.  In a sense, he has got to come clean with what he knew and when he knew it.  Either he has no control over his front office or he is not telling the truth.’’

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 22nd

Winners and Losers: Week of September 15th WINNERS Chris Christie NBC News reported Thursday evening that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has determined after a nine-month investigation that there is 'no evidence" so far that the governor had advance knowledge about any politically motivated scheme around the bridge lane closures...

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Legislation needed for publicly financed gubernatorial elections

By JEFF BRINDLE It is critical that the Legislature soon enact a pending bill that would ensure the state’s Gubernatorial Public Financing Program is available in the event of a special election for governor.  Not only is there no current legal... Read More >

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Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"In many ways, Fulop has embraced McGreevey’s granular-level approach to retail politics, racing around the state to raise money for congressional candidates in South Jersey one night, showing up at a Morris County Democratic Party function the next. His administration has also awarded legal work to Weiner Lesniak, the Parsippany-based firm run by state Sen. Ray Lesniak, the Union County Democratic Party power broker." - columnist Charles Stile

- The Bergen Record

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