The firing of James Comey at the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation may provide new life to the waning career of Gov. Christopher Christie, as he has been named as a possible replacement.
National Democrats have promised to wage all out war against any candidate with close political ties to President Donald Trump.
This means that the Bridgegate scandal that seems to have lost steam could find new life as Trump opponents scrounge through the ashes of the old scandal looking for something to bring down Christie.
Bridgegate, for those who may have been on a four-year adventure to Antarctica and without access to the internet, was the closing of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge in the fall of 2012 in apparent retaliation against Fort Lee’s mayor for failing to endorse Christie’s reelection as governor.
Two of Christie’s close associates were convicted as a result. Christie denies having any prior knowledge of the closures and has not been charged with any crime.
The governor, who was a principle fundraiser for the first campaign of President George W. Bush, became the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey once Bush was elected, and began an anti-corruption campaign, some of which he used to get himself elected in 2009.
Christie ran for president last year but withdrew to throw his support to Trump. He has since been scrounging around the White House seeking some kind of federal appointment. Many believe Trump was uncomfortable with the shadow cast over Christie by Bridgegate and so merely threw a bone to Christie by appointing him to a relatively low level drug czar post.
Pulled out or pushed out of West Side project?
Kusher Companies, which was at one time headed by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and close advisor, appears to have pulled out of a key Jersey City project along the Hackensack River, but his withdrawal may not have been voluntary.
It appears Mayor Steven Fulop was already moving ahead to replace the developer.
Kushner was hoping to build an 8,400 unit residential development to be exclusively used for an orthodox Jewish community being priced out of Brooklyn. This did not sit well with a number of people connected to the project who want the site as the core of a new Gold Coast in Jersey City.
The cleanup of industrial contamination at the site was to become an environmental model for Honeywell, and the state is scheduled to expand the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line from its current terminus on West Side Avenue to Route 440 to accommodate the project.
The project is a joint venture between Honeywell and the city of Jersey City.
Although Fulop had a handshake agreement with Kushner to develop the site, local officials appeared to be uncomfortable with making it a closed community. The city apparently was on the verge of putting the development out for bid to seek a new developer when Kushner announced his withdrawal.
Fulop walks a tight rope with the Kushner mess
Although Jared Kushner reportedly stepped down as chief executive officers from Kushner Companies, the company’s Journal Square 1 project, two residential towers of 1,500 units, has become the focus of political black lash.
Local anti-Trump activists are celebrating the fact that Fulop announced that he will deny a tax abatement for the project, located on the site of a former hotel on Journal Square. The project is not dead, and will likely move ahead, but without the significant community givebacks the city would get from the developer had the abatement been approved.
Jared Kushner—when overseeing the company -- had a number of projects in Jersey City, but this the first one for which the company was seeking an abatement.
Fulop has been walking a tight rope, balancing union labor agreements tied to abatements with the outrage coming from Fulop’s extremely liberal base that has been pressuring him against supporting any abatement for Kushner Companies.
Up until recently, Fulop could argue that Kushner Companies had no abatements with the city. But since the redevelopment of Journal Square is one of Fulop’s most significant campaign promises in the 2013 election, he knew the Jared project threatened to put him at opposition with his own political base.
Last year, when Fulop was still running for governor, he could not afford to offend labor unions by denying them a significant project like this. But in deciding to run for reelection as mayor, his local base is more important.
Fulop, however, needed some excuse to deny Kushner Companies the abatement, and with the outrage internationally over Jared’s sister offering a visa to Chinese investors if they helped fund the Journal Square project, Fulop found his excuse.
But this will not kill the project. Kushner Companies are expected to seek even more foreign investors for the Journal Square project, and without the abatement as a bargaining chip, the city cannot require the project use union labor or demand any community givebacks.
Soares won’t run in Hoboken
Saying he would be willing to support a candidate running against Mayor Dawn Zimmer if he agrees with their platform, Tony Soares says he will not run for City Council or for mayor in the upcoming election.
Zimmer has announced that she will seek reelection in November, but she has not yet announced her council slate.
Soares was a rumored candidate for council on a ticket led by as-yet-to-be-announced candidate Councilman Michael DeFusco.
“I agree with a lot of the issues that are being raised and I would like to debate them, but I am not running for office,” Soares said. “But I would like to support someone who will get something done, something I think is lacking in this administration.”
He believes Zimmer has failed to support the economic development in the town necessary to make it financially viable.
“You can’t sustain the town on residential development, but you can’t sustain it by stopping all development either,” Soares said. “I understand that some people are concerned about restaurants expanding into uptown. But you can open a nail salon anywhere, and with a lot less oversight than restaurants go through.”
Soares said he believes the city needs to enforce a master plan that lays out the future of Hoboken.
“I think 12 years (as mayor) is too much for anyone,” he said. “The people the mayor has around her makes her administration look too much like a political machine, with her standing on a conga line with members of the Hudson County Democratic Organization.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org