All your redevelopment project are belong to us

Grift writ large:

Two senior members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration warned a New Jersey mayor earlier this year that her town would be starved of hurricane relief money unless she approved a lucrative redevelopment plan favored by the governor, according to the mayor and emails and personal notes she shared with msnbc.

The mayor, Dawn Zimmer, hasn’t approved the project, but she did request $127 million in hurricane relief for her city of Hoboken – 80% of which was underwater after Sandy hit in October 2012. What she got was $142,000 to defray the cost of a single back-up generator plus an additional $200,000 in recovery grants.

As always, follow the money. And expect more stuff like this to come out. People were afraid to speak up because they didn’t want to get whacked by the Christie mob.

They won’t be so afraid now.

Update. Is “gleeful” the new “unserious”?

72 replies
  1. 1
    c u n d gulag says:

    She’s lucky Capo di tutti capi Christie didn’t have her whacked, and either buried in the Meadowlands – if there’s still room there for another stiff – or fitted for cement overshoes and taken out past Staten Island for a quick dip, and a long sink.

  2. 2
    Betty Cracker says:

    This latest has made a believer out of me: Christie is toast as a presidential prospect.

  3. 3
    Comrade Jake says:

    This actually seems more damaging to me than the Bridge traffic jamming.

  4. 4
    CaseyL says:

    This right on the heels of news that Christie got a standing ovation from the Florida GOP.

    Granted, the Florida GOP is out and proud about being nothing but a grifter mob, starting with the Governor and working its way down. But it’s interesting that a State GOP felt the time had come to publicly applaud Christie for taking things a step further to overt extortion.

    I’ve been thinking semi-deep thoughts about the way the scandal unfolds and the GOP decides Christie is it’s kind of goombah. It comes down to the fact that the GOP simply, truly and deeply doesn’t think “Government” is about a public good, or the common prosperity, or the general welfare. It’s all and only about diverting public monies to their private cronies. So of course Christie is their kind of goombah; he’s been really, really good at that.

  5. 5
    kdaug says:

    Gleeful is the new sinking.

  6. 6
    Mike in NC says:

    The Christie mob has been endorsed by the MSM and the Villagers are already shopping for new finery to wear to the inauguration.

  7. 7
    Highway Rob says:

    If I thought the GOP capable of this kind of subtlety, I’d think “Gleeful” might be a veiled shot at Rachel Maddow’s sexuality. Glee is a show about teh gay, Maddow is teh gay, and Chris Christie es mas macho.

    But they’re not, so I don’t.

  8. 8
    Baud says:

    Christie is the thug the right has always imagined Obama to be.

  9. 9
    eric says:

    now you can see EXACTLY why the right has been infected with the ‘Putin’ it is who and what they are

  10. 10
    MattF says:

    I expect that certain denizens of certain op-ed pages will now go into full-throated voice-of-dismay about ‘internet mob rule,’ ‘benefit of the doubt,’ et cetera.

    Three, two, one,…

  11. 11
    aimai says:

    @Comrade Jake: This is way more damaging because, among other things, accusations like this are extremely serious legally and they tend to just be the tip of the iceberg. So you can expect many, many, many, more small and large bits of grifting and extortionate behavior–certainly for the entire time Christie was governor, after he made his bones as a “no nonsense prosecutor.”

    I also read a fascinating piece somewhere about how and why and when he deep sixed the New Jersey Tunnel widening project (ARC). Basically: as a potential presidential candidate he couldn’t afford to raise any taxes in his state but the coffers were empty and there was no money for roads. He and his team looked around and saw that if they destroyed the ARC project they could, under certain readings of the legislation, take 2 billion of that money for New Jersey roads and transit, thus plugging the state’s budget hole with federal/non state money. So he axed the 7.8 billion dollar project to do something, and stole some of the money to fund his state’s internal projects until 2016 without having to actually tell the taxpayers what he was doing. Thats fiscal responsibility Republican style! And remember, this was Mitt’s potty dance with funding for the olympics. Pretend you can work miracles without taxpayer/federal money and then secretely apply for as many grants as you can.

  12. 12
    BudP says:

    Who flips first, Pols who (unlike Zimmer) went along w/ the grift, or Christie subordinates?

  13. 13
    debbie says:

    The only gleeful part of this for me will be watching the various Republican talking heads twist themselves into pretzels to justify Christie’s actions.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    dmsilev says:

    I have to admit to laughing at this:

    The governor could not bring himself to watch the traffic jam-themed parody of “Born to Run” sung by his idol, Bruce Springsteen, on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” though he was told by his college-age son, Andrew, that it was funny.

    (NY Times)

  16. 16
  17. 17
    RepubAnon says:

    It’s interesting that the lane closures on the George Washington bridge also had a link to a real estate development project. One wonders how many more of these little problems will surface in the coming days.

    Who knew Chris Christie’s staff thought that a good model for conducting negotiations was Hannibal Lector? “Quid pro quo, Clarisse. Quid pro quo…”

  18. 18
    jomo says:

    Single storefront businesses on the shore got more aid money than a city of 50,000 people and tens of thousands more commuters that was 80% underwater. One would think that they would have given something just to maintain appearances. Effectively zeroing out federal aid for a down that suffered as much as Hoboken over political favors is unspinnable – even if nothing illegal is proven. And one would also have to assume that there are dozens of other example just waiting to be dug up.

  19. 19
    RepubAnon says:

    @debbie: No, Chris Christie was nice to President Obama – the Republican establishment will forgive, ignore, or excuse many things, but being polite to President Obama is unforgivable in Republican circles.

  20. 20
    dmsilev says:

    @WereBear: The whole article is worth a read for the hilarity of it all (“GOP to Christie: you need a bunch of subordinates who aren’t thugs. Signed, Karl Rove”), but that one bit really stood out.

  21. 21
    scav says:

    @dmsilev: I found that rather to be an unconvincing splitting the baby. “Personally I’m feeling sad.” combined with tough guy (ignore the hiding behind the kid!) “Ha! Ha! TotallyFunnyNotBeanbag!” and yup, 100 proof amusement.

  22. 22
    aimai says:

    @BudP: The lawyers who know just what kind of jeopardy they are in. My guess is that all through NJ last night were scenes of feverish “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” like calculation as people tried to assess their individual risk and the risk posed to them if one or more of their particular cohort for any given deal flips first. Its like some round robin prisoner’s dilemma.

  23. 23
    WereBear says:

    @aimai: That image gave me the most astounding “Hollywood for ugly people” vibe :)

  24. 24
    John Dillinger says:

    “I’ve got this thing and it’s (expletive) golden,” Blagojevich said in a conversation secretly recorded by government agents. “I’m not just giving it up for (expletive) nothing.”

    The golden thing Christie’s people had were federal Sandy funds.

  25. 25
    geg6 says:


    Tells me everything I need to know about the guy. Thinnest skin on earth and so bullies to try to cover it up. I hope Springsteen keeps doing it with all his iconic songs. I’d like to see him do one set to “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”

  26. 26
    azlib says:

    Development projects have always been tied to political corruption. What is remarkable about this scandal is the arrogance or ineptitude of the various players. Are these people really that stupid? I mean really withholding Federal Funds to move development project along. Wow! That either takes enormous stones or incredible naivite.

  27. 27
    dmsilev says:

    @aimai: It’s a near-perfect implementation of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Fans of game theory everywhere will be eagerly watching to see if anyone rats out.

  28. 28
    geg6 says:

    @John Dillinger:

    I’ve been thinking about Blago ever since yesterday when I watched Up. It just sounds like the exact same shit. If there is any justice left in this country, Christie will be serving his time with the Hairdo.

  29. 29
    Citizen_X says:

    I don’t think “grift” is the proper term for a shakedown.

  30. 30
    aimai says:

    @azlib: Especially since that Mayor herself had gotten in when Christie himself had arrested the previous Mayor for corruption in a massive public sting. She really respected Christie as a clean hands/clean broom kind of guy. If I’d been her I’d have assumed this was another sting meant to clean up corruption. They must have had to keep saying to her “no, really, this time its ok, not like last time we offered your guy 25,000 and then turned around and arrested him.”

  31. 31
    geg6 says:


    Oh, there will be that someone. The real question is who. Wildstein has already offered himself and I find it hard to believe that Kelly won’t, too. She’s a divorcee with three or four kids. A mid-level appointee who will now find herself unemployable. She’s got nothing left to lose and would probably do anything to avoid jail time.

  32. 32
    Citizen_X says:

    @geg6: Chris Christojevich.

  33. 33
    geg6 says:



  34. 34
  35. 35
    John Casey says:

    BTW, the gov’s office didn’t accuse MSNBC of being ‘gleeful’. No, they weaseled it, and described the coverage as ‘almost gleeful’.

    What the hell does that mean? Is it like ‘the speaker’s remarks were almost humorous’? ‘The accountant almost embezzled’?


  36. 36
    WereBear says:

    @azlib: Are these people really that stupid?

    I think it’s the process of decades of bad behavior, the growing culture of corruption. To these people, it’s the New Normal.

  37. 37
    aimai says:

    @John Casey: They have long held it against liberals that when reality proves them right they enjoy the schadenfreude. I believe Megan McCardle was very pissy about the thought that anti-war people were right and enjoying it. She devoted an entire column to protesting people who were “Right but for the wrong reasons” in order to take them down a peg and accuse them of premature gleefulness.

  38. 38
    chrome agnomen says:


    i believe this will also be forgiven once it is established in right wing circles that CC was playing PBO for a fool merely to get graft money under false pretenses.

  39. 39
    burnspbesq says:


    Fans of game theory everywhere will be eagerly watching to see if anyone rats out.

    My money is on Kelly to roll first. She has four school-age kids and a totally Catholic background (she went to the same Catholic high school as my sisters, and went on to a Catholic college). Abandoning her kids will be unthinkable to her.

  40. 40
    aimai says:

    @burnspbesq: My money would be on Kelly but I don’t think she’s going to be quick enough–I think other, more savvy players with backgrounds in law enforcement or Wildenstein will proffer first and she might lose her ability to trade anything useful.

  41. 41
    Anoniminous says:


    As the number of Players of the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma increase the likelihood one will defect approaches certainty. Has to do with the number of players and the combinatorial interaction matrix.

  42. 42
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @aimai: I think a bunch of them are offering up proffers right right now. The one/s who gets the deal/s will be the one/s who can most effectively nail Christie to the wall.

  43. 43
    Nethead Jay says:

    @aimai: I’m fairly sure we read the same WNYC post: How Christie’s Men Turned the Port Authority into a Political Piggy Bank. It is indeed fascinating and adds a ton of detail and backstory about the goings-on at the Port authority.

  44. 44
    aimai says:

    @Nethead Jay: Yes! Absolutely a must read. I am going to try reading Caro’s The Power Brokers, which I think is mentioned in that article or the blog post linking to it. My husband was born in the part of the Bronx that was destroyed by the Cross Bronx Expressway and I’m very interested in the history of these tri state/multi state/port authority style organizations and their rulers.

  45. 45
    aimai says:

    @Anoniminous: Your post makes me think about the possibility that where you have an infinite number of corrupt players you also have an infinite number of possible combinations for flipping. Is it possible that basically the entire of NJ’s political hierarchy and law firms and developers are implicated in these deals? The whole thing is starting to make me think about how after East Germany fell they discovered that the entire country had been spying on the rest of the country for the Stasi. There were no people who were not implicated and complicit in the security state.

  46. 46
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:


    They have long held it against liberals that when reality proves them right they enjoy the schadenfreude

    If you’re a control freak there can be no worse fate than proven wrong and forced to admit it.

  47. 47
    Pogonip says:

    @geg6: She’s not unemployable. As long as she has a college degree (in anything), DOD will happily pick her up as a Federal employee or as a contractor.

  48. 48
    PurpleGirl says:

    @aimai: Caro’s The Power Broker, about Robert Moses, is a very good read. Long and very detailed but very worth it. The Industrial Areas Foundation — founded by Saul Alinsky — uses it (or used in the 1980s) in their trainings for community leaders. (That’s when I read it.)

    ETA: I think you will get a lot out of it.

  49. 49
    aimai says:

    @PurpleGirl: Cool. It does sound right up my alley. But I’ve tried several times with his books on Johnson and just given up so I’m not hopeful.

  50. 50
    WereBear says:

    @aimai: I am going to try reading Caro’s The Power Brokers

    Awesome, incredible, fascinating read.

  51. 51
    PurpleGirl says:

    @aimai: The Power Broker is just one volume unlike the Johnson set which is two (three?) volumes. I know I read at least two volumes about Johnson and thought there was another one still to be written.

  52. 52
    Corner Stone says:

    I think they’ll give immunity to several people. Like the former prosecutor said on UP yesterday, “When you go for the King, you have to kill him.”
    The best way to do that is use testimony/evidence from multiple people and not have just one person the defense team could slander or mitigate.

  53. 53
    hitchhiker says:

    so, basically, it’s wrong that they are smiling?

  54. 54
    Anoniminous says:


    Well. Yeah. But using an finite number of choices for an infinite number of Players gives me hairballs. :-)

    I submit a better way to think about the Jersey situation is to limit the number of choices to two: defect/don’t defect, and some “reasonable” number of players, say 50. This works out to 2^50 or 1.1258999068e+15 combinations in the Model. This ‘clopens’ the Set of possible outcomes when one starts applying (read: guessing) the odds of one Player defecting. Say that’s 1 in 100,000,000 – which is way too low, IMO – which still works out to 1.1258999068e+7 defecting outcomes or ~49%. Increasing the number of Players, as in your East Germany thought experiment, exponentially increases the number of defectors (informers) until the numbers approach population Unity, i.e., almost everybody is spying on almost everybody.

    I say 1 in 100,000,000 is too low because we know these fuckers have sociopathic tendencies thus are darn near certain to cast a decision based only on their short-term gain.

  55. 55
    Corner Stone says:

    I would hazard a guess and say that all the big players in NJ got their beaks wet during the Christie administration.
    I wonder if through all of this they will have enough to get David Samson’s balls nailed to the wall. That would be when the gleeful fun really starts.

  56. 56
    WereBear says:

    @PurpleGirl: I believe there are five Johnson bios, and at least one more to come. He keeps coming up with new info!

    But The Power Broker is a single, if hefty, volume.

  57. 57
    Cervantes says:

    @John Casey: There’s a spectrum of human happiness and “gleeful” is somewhere on the higher end of that spectrum. It’s a matter of degree, so “almost” works perfectly well as a qualifier.

    Lots of things to condemn Christie and his gang for legitimately, but not this “almost.”

  58. 58
    Corner Stone says:

    They are going to beat the hell out of Mayor Zimmer.

  59. 59
    Joel says:

    @Corner Stone: Malkin’s stalker brigade is busy sending rape threats and preparing countertop inspections as we speak!

  60. 60
    Corner Stone says:

    @Joel: Christie’s team is going to have to destroy her as a person. To this point, she is the link to something actually damaging. If they mob her it will not only reduce her stature as a credible witness but will also be the signal marker to any other small time pol who was thinking about spilling the beans. That they will put you and your reputation through the public media woodchipper.
    They’ve already started with the, “Hey, she got $70M in federal aid. What’s she complainin’ about?”
    I expect next we’ll hear about her ties to the Cali Cartel or posiibly a trans-national child slavery ring.

  61. 61
    BruinKid says:

    You think this is why his people did it? A comment I read at the GOS basically said that given how Christie rose to prominence partly from busting corrupt officials, like the former mayor of Hoboken that Zimmer had originally lost to, they said Christie wasn’t really about cleaning up the corruption, but about taking over the operation, like a Mob hit that takes out the competition.

    Another person then connected the dots:

    This has everything to do with being cut into these giant development deals. Christie cleared the way by dangling property development bribes throughout New Jersey’s politicians, then arresting them. If he clears out the previously established way of getting your project through zoning commissions, then Christie and Samson become the only game in town for large developers to have a shortcut through bureaucratic red tape.

    You guys think this may be the real reason for holding Sandy money hostage in Hoboken?

  62. 62
    feebog says:


    My money would be on Kelly but I don’t think she’s going to be quick enough–I think other, more savvy players with backgrounds in law enforcement or Wildenstein will proffer first and she might lose her ability to trade anything useful.

    No reason that immunity can’t be offered to more than one player. Depends on what they have to offer in terms of landing the big fish. I would think that Kelly is better positioned than Wildstein, but who knows?

  63. 63
    BruinKid says:

    @Highway Rob: I just found out a few days ago that Kornacki is also gay, so maybe it was about himself, since he’s the one that broke this story. That actually really surprised me; I just had no idea.

  64. 64
    chopper says:


    Projection, always, etc etc.

  65. 65
    rikyrah says:

    Political Animal Blog
    January 19, 2014 11:29 AM
    One Model Does Not Analysis Make
    By Martin Longman

    Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University, John Sides, attempts to rebut Dan Balz’s fine analysis yesterday that the Republican Party has an uphill battle to win the presidency in 2016. I find his argument unconvincing.

    He begins by providing his credentials.

    In April 2012, two other political scientists — Seth Hill and Lynn Vavreck — and I did a presidential election forecasting model for The Washington Post. The model had only three factors: The change in gross domestic product in the first two quarters of the election year, the president’s approval rating as of June of that year and whether the incumbent was running. That model forecast that Obama would win in 2012, and — although there is nothing magic about this model — it was ultimately accurate within a percentage point.

    He then notes that his model would predict a Republican victory if the election were held today. He follows this with a suspect assertion:

    What I’d tell strategists looking at state demographics and Electoral College math is this: In 2016, states will swing — almost in uniform fashion — depending on the underlying political and economic fundamentals. Battleground state demographic trends don’t insulate the Democratic Party from (potentially) a relatively unpopular president and (potentially) an economy that is growing but not very fast. Even analysts who believe these demographic trends portend a long-lasting Democratic majority would agree with that, I think

    It’s true that states behave less idiosyncratically than they used to, but that doesn’t solve the Republicans’ Electoral College math problem. As I highlighted yesterday, no amount of swing over the last six elections has prevented the Democrats from winning at least 251 electoral votes, which is just 19 votes shy of victory. Things may swing one way or another, but when you start out one large state short of victory, you have a large structural advantage. Remember, the argument isn’t that the Republican Party cannot conceivably pull off the narrowest of victories, but that that is the very best they can hope for, and that it would be exceedingly difficult. This is before we even talk about factors unique to the cycle, like the candidates (including their races, genders, and regional bases), state of election law, relative revenues, campaign team quality, the economy, the incumbent president’s popularity, or the relative popularity of the two parties in Congress.


  66. 66
    sm*t cl*de says:

    @aimai: They have long held it against liberals that when reality proves them right they enjoy the schadenfreude.
    Totally not projection.

  67. 67
    BobS says:

    @aimai: As far as icebergs, when I heard the Hoboken story it occurred to me that following Sandy relief money and how it was apportioned (or not) might uncover more misfeasance.

  68. 68
    Valdivia says:

    @Corner Stone:

    isn’t that Omar in The Wire? ;)

  69. 69
    siciliandish says:

    The thing I don’t get about this kind of public corruption; it’s like Ft. Lee, Hoboken, etc., aren’t in Christie’s home state – they’re in some other governors backyard and not his problem. As if he’s not a stakeholder in the health, well being, private and commercial success and good will of his constituents.

    FEMA might consider delivering aid directly to city and county executives, bypassing the state executive’s office. Obviously Hoboken would have benefited enormously by having Dawn Zimmer direct funds rather than relying on come crony-capital arrangement.

  70. 70
    Cervantes says:


    The thing I don’t get about this kind of public corruption; it’s like Ft. Lee, Hoboken, etc., aren’t in Christie’s home state – they’re in some other governors backyard and not his problem. As if he’s not a stakeholder in the health, well being, private and commercial success and good will of his constituents.

    Not sure about Christie but, in general, that’s how sociopaths operate.

  71. 71
    rikyrah says:

    Barton Gellman ✔ @bartongellman

    New @SteveKornacki scoop. If Hoboken mayor Zimmer is lying, she just did it under oath. Christie’s turn.
    6:03 PM – 19 Jan 2014

  72. 72
    Mister Harvest says:

    “MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Governor Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him, even taking the unprecedented step of producing and airing a nearly three-minute attack ad against him this week,” spokesman Colin Reed said.

    So, what you’re saying is it’s true?

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