by AMBER KELLY Photographer
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his administration have taken over the news recently because of what is being coined as the “Bridgegate” scandal.
On September 9, 2013, the Port Authority closed down two out of the three access lanes connecting Fort Lee, New Jersey to the George Washington Bridge. While the Port Authority’s reasoning for the closure was that a traffic study was being conducted, it has been discovered that the closure may have been intentionally caused by people in Christie’s administration.
Incriminating emails were found that had been exchanged between deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and director of interstate capital projects David Wildstein.
One email sent by Kelly said, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
Wildstein replied with, “Got it.”
In response to these discoveries, Wildstein resigned and Christie immediately fired Kelly. Christie has repeatedly assured his constituents that he had no knowledge of these actions, and did not give the order for the lane closures.
He has apologized to New Jersey and New York residents in a statement that said, “What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.”
After this statement was released, Christie proceeded to hold a press conference where he asserted once more that he had not been involved in the lane closures. As of now, no evidence has been found directly linking Christie to the scandal.
“It would be really disappointing if it turns out he was involved, but he seemed pretty genuine with everything he said. I’m glad Christie fired people immediately and it just seems like this whole thing is stupid. Why would people in his administration do this? It was unnecessary,” says senior Jennifer Park.
Many people believe Kelly and Wildstein organized the lane closures to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich because he had not endorsed Christie in the recent gubernatorial election. People have criticized this motive for the sole reason that Chrisite had not even needed Sokolich’s endorsement to win the election against opponent Barbara Buono.
An investigation is currently under way, although not much more information has been found or released.
Mayor Sokolich has accepted Governor Christie’s apology; however, he is still angry about the closure and the effect it had on New Jersey and New York commuters.
“I understand why people are angry, because apparently the traffic was really bad on the days the two lanes were closed. I heard school buses had a hard time getting kids to school and that some woman died,” says senior Stephanie Pasewaldt.
While it is true that it took school buses longer to get kids to school, 91-year-old Florence Genova did not die because of Bridgegate. While others blame the traffic for halting the ambulance’s progress, Genova’s daughter, Vilma Oleri, does not blame the traffic for her mother’s death, who had a heart attack in her home.
The Bridgegate scandal is still being investigated in depth, with some hoping that Christie is found guilty, and others hoping his innocence remains intact.
Do you think Governor Chris Christie ordered the lane closures?