Christie's Traffic Mess Could Become Legal Mess

The lane closures impeded EMS workers

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 9, 2014 2:38 AM CST | Updated Jan 9, 2014 7:59 AM CST

(Newser) – Chris Christie's personal jam continues today—take a gander at the newspaper covers he woke up to—in light of the traffic-jam scandal that emerged yesterday. One of the more damaging revelations: The Sept. 9-13 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, apparently ordered by Christie aides, caused major delays to rescuers dealing with medical emergencies, according to a letter obtained by CNN. The day after the first huge jams in Fort Lee, NJ, the EMS director penned a letter to the town's mayor asking for help in altering the "new traffic pattern," which had made minutes-long trips three times longer; forced an ambulance to jump a curb to evade traffic while trying to get to a car accident with multiple injuries; impeded the search for a missing 4-year-old girl; and delayed responders en route to an unconscious 91-year-old woman who later died in the hospital. More fallout:

  • Christie says he knew nothing about the scheme, but we should find out more about what he did and didn't know today: He has a press conference scheduled for 11am EST, reports NBC News.
  • This could end up being a legal mess. The Record believes Christie's office may not have complied with a public records request it filed Dec. 17—and it's now weighing its legal options. The Record specifically requested any documents tied to the September lane closures, including those between David Wildstein of the Port Authority (he's a Christie appointee, and ordered the lanes closed) and Governor's Office officials. Ten days later, the Record was told the office "has not identified any records that are responsive to your request." One of the emails released yesterday (obtained by Assembly Democrats via a subpoena) between Wildstein and senior aide Bridget Anne Kelly (more on that email here) clearly qualified as responsive, says the Record.
  • NJ State Sen. Ray Lesniak yesterday called on the US attorney for his state to convene a federal grand jury to review whether any criminal acts had occurred. When the Democrat was asked by the Star-Ledger what might make the list, he replied, "Abusing governmental authority for political purposes, for political gain."
  • On a lighter note, NJ.com notes that the scandal broke in time for Jon Stewart to cover it last night ... and he's pretty ashamed of his home state, he admitted. "Political payback through traffic congestion? To see New Jersey sink to such a piss-poor, third-rate quality of corruption. This is New Jersey! A state renowned for its piss-rich, first-rate corruption."

Traffic moves across the George Washington Bridge, in Fort Lee, NJ, where a top Christie aide apparently ordered lane closures to cause gridlock.
Traffic moves across the George Washington Bridge, in Fort Lee, NJ, where a top Christie aide apparently ordered lane closures to cause gridlock.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Jon Stewart talks NJ.   (The Daily Show)

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