The Shame of New Jersey

Brendan Cullinane

New Jersey has been the butt of jokes for quite some time.  Although most are the harmless jokes about our accents and the television show The Jersey Shore, the one that has always been there but never fixed is corruption.  The actions of politicians in New Jersey have made us a joke, and New Jersey is even called “The Soprano State,” referencing the documentary of the documentary on New Jersey’s corruption narrated by an actor from The Sopranos.  Growing up, I never got the joke.  I never saw the corruption of State Officials in New Jersey, and even though I often disagree with the political opinions of Chris Christie, the one thing I could compliment him on was his lack of corruption.  That was until now.  In early September of 2013, several lanes of the George Washington Bridge, located in Fort Lee, NJ, were closed for a “Traffic Study,” causing many students to be late and causing trouble for emergency vehicles to get where they needed to be.  The democratic mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, joked that it was political revenge for him not supporting Christie during the election.  Little did he know, he was more correct than he ever thought he was.  Due to investigations by the Assembly Select Committee on Investigation, it was now revealed that two members of Christie’s inner circle have been directly related to the shut down.  Bridgette Ann Kelly, the now former Deputy Chief of Staff, sent a message simply stating: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” to the Port Authority official David Wildstein, who complied with the request.  Although Christie himself denies any connection to the closings, both possibilities show that Christie is unfit to lead New Jersey.  If Chris Christie is telling the truth that he didn’t know what was going on, he is incompetent.  A good leader would know what their cabinet is doing, especially those in their close inner circles, and at the very least they should be aware of large problems in New Jersey, like massive traffic jams on one of the busiest days of traffic in the year.  The second possibility is worse, and what I think is the truth.  If Christie ordered the shutdown, which would make sense from the sudden and simple nature of the message, as if it were a passed down order, then Chris Christie has made New Jersey a joke again for petty retribution.

What bolsters this belief of corruption even farther is a new allegation by the mayor of Hoboken, Dawn Zimmer, that the governor only gave three tenths of a percent of the relief Hoboken applied for during Hurricane Sandy.  And why did he do this to a town 80% in water?  Because according to Zimmer, she didn’t support the building of a luxury development that Christie wanted built.  With so many allegations pointing towards a reckless, corrupt governor, Christie should leave his office, an option that he himself should consider before more allegations of wrongdoings come out from the woodwork.  But thanks to Christie, New Jersey has now regressed in the attempt to better our name, and New Jersey will have to start from scratch to fix governmental corruption.