The Bridgegate trial opens. Veteran NJ journalist Bob Jordan considers — Will an intentional traffic jam end Gov. Chris Christies’s career?
It’s one of the greatest curtain lines in the movies, “is this the end of Rico?” asked by Little Caesar, Rico Bandello, as played by Edward G Robinson, one of the screen’s first and greatest “tough guys.”
Today, in Newark, NJ, a trial began in Federal Court with many observers asking, “is this the end of Christie?” as in Chris Christie, the state’s once-powerful, emphatically “tough guy” governor.
The 2 defendants on trial, Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former Chief of Staff and Bill Baroni, the Governor’s Top Pick as Deputy Executive Director of the Port of NY Authority, are facing charges with for perhaps the single stupidest, most irresponsible action in the history of street-level American Governance, the intentional creation of perhaps the worst traffic jam ever on the most-used bridge in America.
The George Washington Bridge is one of just 3 routes directly connecting New York City with the State of New Jersey. It is run by the Port of NY Authority, and Deputy Director Baroni will be questioned about not just the decision to squeeze 3 lanes into 1 at one of the key entrances on the Jersey side of the Bridge, but about his phony cover story of “traffic testing” as an explanation for the lane squeeze.
Meanwhile, Bridget Kelly will be asked about an email she sent to the manager of Governor Christie’s then on-going re-election campaign: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” she reportedly wrote just before the problems began to develop.
The point to the exercise, and the near-paralysis of one of the key corridors of the American Northeast went on for 4 days, was to punish the Mayor of Fort Lee for refusing to cross party lines to endorse Gov. Christie.
This, Kelly and Baroni’s defense is expected to argue jamming the Mayor was no crime, nothing more than just politics as usual in the State of New Jersey. They are likely to argue that these political standards were defined and practiced by the state’s politician-in-chief, Governor Chris Christie. Time for this big lug to start crafting his curtain line. “The End” is not far away.