FUHGEDDABOUDIT!

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I was born, raised and have lived most of my life next door to New Jersey.  And when I say “next door”  I mean two miles from the border.  I worked in New Jersey for many, many years.  When I tell you that Jersey is “different,” you can trust me.  And it was “different” for decades before The Sopranos created an indelible and enduring image for a state that most Americans couldn’t find on the map without help.

When I was growing up, on the edges of Philadelphia, people talked about so-and-so being “connected.”  That one word, applied to an acquaintance, a relative, a co-worker—whoever—produced instant shock and awe.  It meant that the person referred to had serious juice and was completely hands-off.  A connected guy could snatch your grannie’s purse or set the neighbor’s cat on fire, for an audience in broad daylight, but nobody, including the cop on the beat, would ever see a thing.

Being “connected” didn’t necessarily mean that you were a mob princeling or even a “wise guy” but it meant you did business with such people on a regular basis and that smart people would stay out of your way.

And it wasn’t all fear and loathing, either.  Connected guys were often heroes in their neighborhoods because they could make the seemingly impossible happen.  Troubles with the zoning board?  need a traffic light on your street?  need a loan that no bank will give you?  connected guys help out the little people and the little people don’t forget.  And the world goes round . . .

This kind of arrangement has been in force in what is sometimes referred to as the Tri-State Area, but, which, in actual fact, boils down to just New York City, New Jersey and the Southeastern corner of Pennsylvania containing Philadelphia—for close to a hundred years.  That triangle is essentially the seat of power of the American Mafia.  And, except for those occasions during which mob wars leave city streets inconveniently littered with bullet-riddled bodies, a weird symbiosis prevails between the mob and the rest of the civilian population.

One thing that I learned growing up in this environment is that problems are dealt with swiftly and decisively and the solutions are not always what one might expect.

Everyone is probably fairly familiar with the “cement-boots, sleepin’ wit da fishes” approach—quick, clean, decisive.  But not always practical from a business perspective.

In some cases, where the offender is still, for one reason or another, considered a valuable asset to the organization, a promotion might be in order . . .  think the Mafia version of the Peter Principle . . . the promotion route is actually devilishly clever because it buys greater loyalty and closer supervision and in an underground operation loyalty is everything.

Unfortunately, both solutions are still needed because, in the mob, as in the rest of life, everybody’s different.  If a person’s main ambition is power, giving them more responsibility might buy their loyalty for a time but, more than likely it won’t be long before that person is looking for more power.  These are the kind of people who rise quickly, by hook or by crook, and are very dangerous to have around because eventually they’ll be eyeing up the top spots.

Merely greedy people are the best prospects for containment via promotion, they have more of an incremental ambition that revolves around living la dolce vita without a lot of risk or mess on their own hands.  These folks are usually happy to let the powers-that-be be.

Thanks for hanging in thus far, this has been my long-winded prelude to my take on BridgeGate but I think it’s important background that might not be readily accessible to all regional American outlooks.

Let me say that, so far, things appear to be proceeding in a characteristically New Jersey manner.

Consider the following:

Since BridgeGate matured into a proper hot mess, in December, these, somewhat inscrutable things have taken place . . .

On December 5, 2013 David Wildstein, the New Jersey Port Authority’s director of interstate capital projects, abruptly resigned his new $200+/year position for no good reason, adding fuel to the theory that the lane closure was politically motivated.

On December 13, 2013, one week later, Wildstein’s boss, Bill Baroni, Christie’s appointee to run the New Jersey Port Authority, resigns too.

On January 9, 2014 Bridget Ann Kelly, Gov. Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff, under Kevin O’Dowd, is fired without being questioned by Christie; Kelly, six months into her new job theoretically decided to take the bull by the horns and orchestrate BridgeGate, all on her own, to impress her new boss, I guess?  Whereupon the new boss, Gov. Christie fired her without a hearing, for “lying” to him—not for making his state an unsafe mess. 

On the same day, Christie withdraws Bill Stepien’s name from consideration as Christie’s nominee to chair the New Jersey State Republican Committee.  Stepien was Christie’s successful campaign manager and Christie’s bailing out is probably a career-ender for Stepien who was almost certainly going to play a high-profile supporting role in a Christie presidential campaign.

On the other side of the coin . . .

The creatively named Darcy Licorish, a Port Authority Police inspector, who was assigned to actually close the Fort Lee toll lanes, and who repeatedly questioned the prudence of doing so, at the time, was promoted, a month later in October, 2013 to Assistant Chief of the Port Authority Police Department.  That promotion is currently being probed by the New Jersey legislature.

Another person who bobbed to the top in the midst of the BridgeGate mess was Regina Egea, who was Christie’s liaison to the Port Authority and to whom fell the task of dealing with a furious Patrick Foye, head of the New York Port Authority, during the Fort Lee debacle.  Egea has been tapped by Christie to replace Kevin O’Dowd as Christie’s Chief of Staff—if and when—Christie’s nomination of O’Dowd to serve as New Jersey’s next Attorney General goes forward.  That could be tricky since O’Dowd was Bridget Ann Kelly’s boss when BridgeGate went down.

So.  There you have it—some losers, some winners.  It remains to be seen which category Chris Christie, himself, will fall into.

As to Christie’s credibility, here’s my sticking point:

Christie says he fired Stepien for the tone of an email in which Stepien called the Mayor of Fort Lee an “idiot.” 

Christie goes on to explain:

This is not the tone that I’ve set over the last four years in this building. It’s not the environment I’ve worked so hard to achieve.

For a few glimpses of how Christie “worked so hard” on his environment skip ahead to 3:00 minutes in on this film:

The Daily Show
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I guess the key to that statement is “. . . in this building.”  Outside that building, evidently, the gloves can come off . . .

Posted by Bette Noir on 01/12/14 at 02:07 PM • Permalink

Categories: New York CityBrooklynPoliticsElection '16

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Being a former Jersey girl myself, I am finding this entertaining as hell. I know it is silly mysteries but I find Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series fairly on target with Jersey behavior.

Another person who bobbed to the top in the midst of the BridgeGate mess was Regina Egea, who was Christie’s liaison to the Port Authority and to whom fell the task of dealing with a furious Patrick Foye, head of the New York Port Authority, during the Fort Lee debacle.

I am looking forward to the Cuomo Administration getting involved in investigating this clusterfuck.  Christie has been dicking the Port Authority over since day one, when he rejected a HUGE federal grant for a trans-Hudson rail tunnel.

NYers have no live for Phony Soprano.

Interesting;  a couple of those names are new to me, so thanks for filling out the roster.  TPM has 2 stories up right now, one about other mayors coming forward about similar possible retribution, and another about the feds investigating if Sandy relief funds were used to create tourism ads. 

I suspect all the “Christie’s not injured, hell this makes him an even better presidential candidate” (from the mouth of Bill ‘always wrong’ Kristol) has to do with some folks thinking that the ‘Merican public so loved The Sopranos that they’ll vote a mob-ish pol into the POTUS position.  I’d like to think/hope that is not the case, if at least to indicate that not everyone creates their personal morality via HBO.

I suspect all the “Christie’s not injured, hell this makes him an even better presidential candidate” (from the mouth of Bill ‘always wrong’ Kristol) has to do with some folks thinking that the ‘Merican public so loved The Sopranos that they’ll vote a mob-ish pol into the POTUS position.

@SoaS along the same lines . . . several analyses I’ve read by the “wishful thinking” gang, mention that morbidly obese isn’t a problem anymore because ‘Merica is so over fitness.  I suspect that’s code for “I’ll vote for a fat white Pisan over a skinny, black hoops player any day.”

Yes, Bette, both the Soprano idea and thinking morbidly obese is ‘just like us’ now takes the ‘whistling past the graveyard’ cliché at least one step higher. 

I don’t watch network TV in general and sitcoms in particular, but when forced to over Christmas I noticed that some TV characters are allowed to be heavier than model-thin now without being jammed into the fat person comic relief role.  I figured it was just a tacit acceptance of what America looks like now.  However, as a people we’re as yet too vain to admit to looking like Chris Christie.

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