New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's top appointee at the Port Authority has resigned. The move comes in response to an inquiry over possibly unjustified lane closures at the George Washington Bridge as political payback. It's a New Jersey story that is now spilling over into New York. Zack Fink filed the following report.
In early September, two lanes into the George Washington Bridge were closed by the Port Authority, leading to a major traffic snarl in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
On Friday, Bill Baroni, Governor Chris Christie's top man at the Port Authority resigned.
"I never said that a mistake wasn't made, but what I said was that all of the other politics swirling around it was created and manufactured, but the mistake was made. People make mistakes,” Christie said.
Baroni's resignation comes one week after his deputy David Wildstein also resigned. Wildtsein is a high school friend of Governor Christie's.
"This was a cheap political shot that could have put people's lives in danger. This is an embarrassment for the Jersey Governor, and I think those people did the right thing by resigning,” said State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who represents Washington Heights and Inwood.
Last month, Baroni told a New Jersey legislative committee that the lanes were closed for a traffic study.
"Well, it's funny because I have been asking for a traffic study on this side of the river because of the gridlock right outside the George Washington Bridge, and I have been stonewalled,” said Espaillat.
All signs point to Christie seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016. The Democratic National Commitee released a video which shows New York's Port Authority representative Pat Foye denying there was a traffic study.
"I'm not aware of any traffic study,” Foye said in the video.
It also shows a career employee of the Port Authority admitting he felt intimidated.
"I was concerned about what Mr. Wildstein's reaction would be if I did not follow his directive,” said Robert Durando, general manager of the George Washington Bridge.
Governor Cuomo said in a radio interview Thursday that he didn't know much about the scandal.
Democrats in New Jersey say the lane closures were ordered as retribution to the Fort Lee mayor for not endorsing Christie for re-election.
New Jersey legislators have issued additional subpoenas to the Port Authority for e-mails and documents. There is also an internal inquiry within the agency.
On Monday, Espaillat is scheduled to meet with Pat Foye about the traffic study he'd like to see for northern Manhattan.