The no-nonsense governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, has himself in a real jam. Taking a page out of President Obama’s playbook during a two-hour press conference, he said he had no knowledge of the order given to shut two lanes down on the George Washington Bridge, because the mayor of Fort Lee, Democrat Mark Sokolich, did not support his re-election. On any given day, with all the lanes open, the GWB can be the point of no return.
Boy, did this hit home with me on so many levels. My niece lives less than 2 miles south of the GWB, on the New Jersey side. My wife, daughter and I went there for her baby shower in October. Our hotel was a quarter of a mile from the GWB, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy — live and learn. Not knowing my way around Fort Lee, my stress and anxiety levels were on overload every time I had to drive anywhere in the area. I was paranoid I was going to make a wrong turn and end up on the GWB. That would be worse than being stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike on a blistering July weekend. And, yes, I lived that horror too.
When Gov. Christie’s chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, admitted to the crime, I thought, “There is the winner for vindictive act of the year!” Closing down a lane of the GWB is like yelling fire in a movie theater and having doggie-doors for exits. Two lanes, no exits! Another man on Christie’s staff, David Wildstein, took the fifth. Both of them were fired, which they should have been.
But who suffered in all this? All the people who had to sit in the traffic, that’s who! Not Governor Christie, not his staff and not the mayor of Fort Lee. And I’m sure after a couple of hours, some stuck in the traffic pondered putting themselves out of their misery and jumping into the Hudson. This, once again, clearly shows the vile contempt between Republicans and Democrats, at the expense of America’s people.
Whatever the consequences are for Governor Christie, he deserves them. These were his subordinates, and he was in charge of them.
By the way, I regained my freedom finally when we got on the Palisades Parkway Sunday afternoon and headed for the Tappan Zee Bridge and home to New England. It’s not a drive through paradise, but better than the limbo of the GWB.
Kevin Noa of Merrimac is a writer, author and teacher in the Lowell public schools.