The Christie Countdown Clock

From “Introducing the Christie Countdown Clock,” Scott Raab, Esquire:

“Follow the money. Chris Christie has practiced that principle, always. He’s not so much a career politician – he served twenty years ago as a county commissioner in horsey Morris County, New Jersey — as he is a lobbyist and fundraiser. Christie’s reward for serving as state counsel — and helping to corral a half-million dollars — for the Bush campaign in 2000 was his appointment by W. to the U.S. Attorney’s post that Christie held until 2008. It didn’t hurt that Christie’s rabbi, Bill Palatucci, another lawyer-lobbyist, ran Bush’s daddy’s New Jersey campaign in ’88, nor that Palatucci got to know W. back then, nor that he made it his business to forward Christie’s resume to Karl Rove when it was W.’s turn to name a U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. Palatucci in large part created Christie and remains his consigliere — and the ultimate payoff was meant to be the White House.

“There have been countless payoffs along the way. While serving as Christie’s senior adviser when he won the governorship in 2009, Palatucci also continued to serve as a senior vice president at Community Education Centers, which runs most of New Jersey’s “halfway houses” — essentially, privatized prisons. After the inauguration, which Palatucci chaired, CEC was also the winning bidder on a 450-bed “detention center” in Essex County, a deal worth around $10 million a year. CEC was also somehow the only bidder. Palatucci stayed at CEC until late 2012, as Christie’s 2016 hopes soared toward the sun.

“This morning’s follow-the-money tip comes courtesy of The Record, a very good newspaper in North Jersey currently committing exemplary journalism on the Christie saga. It seems that back in 2011, Christie’s brother Todd started flipping real-estate in Harrison, New Jersey — within walking distance of a commuter-rail station whose $256 million renovation was approved late last summer by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“And not for nothing: Since his election in 2010, Governor Christie has turned the Port Authority, which runs every major bridge, tunnel, seaport, and airport connecting the planet to New York City, plus the World Trade Center — not to mention the commuter railroad with the station in Harrison — from a patronage pit into something else entirely. In theory, Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo share power over the PA, but Christie’s crew owns that street corner so completely that his lieutenants had the world’s busiest bridge shut down for days — during the week that schools opened in Fort Lee and the city marked the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — before the Port’s executive director, Cuomo’s top PA dog, even caught wind of it.

“With Chris Christie, it’s always not for nothing: Right where the bridge lands in Fort Lee, New Jersey, a brand-new billion-dollar real-estate project was then in the funding stage. In Hoboken, likewise, there’s a stalled plan to develop a 40-story office-tower right across the Hudson River from New York City; Hoboken’s mayor says Christie’s capos told her that delivery of dollars for Hurricane Sandy relief depended on the mayor unstalling that little project.

“None of this is coincidence. This is where Chris Christie’s lust for power has come to die. When — and crucially, if — the New Jersey legislature and the U.S. Attorney untangle the webs that connect the governor, the Port Authority, and the billions of dollars generated by New York City real-estate development, Chris Christie’s political life is finished. One false step. One e-mail. One witness. He has lawyered up and hunkered down, but he knows it’s merely a matter of time now. That’s a dead man at the microphone.”   Emphasis added.

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