NJ Politics Digest: Calling Out Christie as a Liar, Cops for Response to Bridgegate

It’s Tuesday, and the big news in New Jersey is the arrest of the alleged New York/New Jersey bomber and the federal Bridgegate prosecutor’s claim that Gov. Chris Christie – despite his numerous claims to the contrary – was aware of the plot to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge as it was occurring.
The opening of the Bridgegate trial dominated news coverage Monday, including a piece in Salon that looks at how the Port Authority police dropped the ball in their response to the alleged politically motivated lane closures – a scandal that has seen Christie’s poll numbers among state residents continue to plummet.
In other state news, there are efforts underway to regulate ride-sharing, a rebranding of the failed Revel casino and a look at how Rutgers’ has shifted its financial aid policy.

Quote of the Day: “The evidence will show that Baroni and Wildstein were so committed to their plan to punish mayor Sokolich during those few minutes they had alone with the Governor they bragged about the fact there were traffic problems in Fort Lee and Mayor Sokolich was not getting his calls returned,” – Prosecutor Vikas Khanna, saying Chris Christie knew about lane closures on the George Washington Bridge as they were occurring

Feds: Christie told of Bridgegate lane closures 3 days into traffic jams on 9/11 anniversary
Governor Christie knew about the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal while it was taking place, according to federal prosecutors making their opening statements Monday morning in the trial of two former allies of the governor accused of creating gridlock in Fort Lee to punish the town’s mayor for not endorsing Christie’s 2013 re-election.
The Record Read more

Christie’s favorability drops to 23% in Rutgers poll
Less than a quarter of New Jersey registered voters view Gov. Christie favorably, according to a new poll registering record-low ratings for the governor.
Maddie Hanna, Inquirer Read more

Bridgegate lawyer uses vulgar names to discredit government’s star witness
The defense attorney representing a former Gov. Chris Christie appointee facing federal charges over the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal said the government’s star witness was “an enforcer” feared and hated by his co-workers, in opening arguments in federal court Monday.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Bridgegate lawyer says former Christie aide was thrown ‘under the presidential bus’
The attorney for a former top Gov. Chris Christie aide claimed Monday his client was thrown “under the presidential bus” when she took the fall and was charged by federal prosecutors in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Bridgegate’s enduring mystery: How did Port Authority police lose control of the George Washington Bridge?
In the Bridgegate federal criminal trial, set to get underway this week, the most egregious breach of the public trust never made it into the charging document. How could the Port Authority police, entrusted with protecting the George Washington Bridge, a top terrorist target, be enlisted on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2013, to execute the lane closures that prosecutors allege were part of a criminal conspiracy?
Robert Hennelly, Salon Read more

Lawmakers hammering out compromise bill to regulate car-hail companies
After more than two years of negotiations in Trenton, a potential compromise on how to regulate car hail companies like Uber and Lyft is in the works.
Katherine Landergan, Politico Read more

Suspect in NYC, Shore blasts undergoing surgery after shootout in Linden
The suspect in the bombings in Chelsea and Seaside Park was undergoing surgery Monday afternoon after being shot in the leg when he was captured following a gun battle with authorities on the street of Linden that left several police officers with non-critical injuries, authorities said.
Andrew Wyrich, Tariq Zehawi and Steve Janoski, The Record
Paul Berger, The Record Read more

Muslim leaders applaud bomb suspect’s arrest, but are wary of bias attacks
In the early hours before he was captured, Muslim-American organizations widely shared the image of the suspected bomber from Elizabeth, N.J. and urged anyone with information to call police.
Hannan Adely, The Record Read more

N.J. advocate joins Obama push to fund opioid addiction treatment
Kevin Meara is no stranger to the pain of drug addiction.
His son, KC, died of a heroin overdose in 2008. He and his wife Maryann then started City of Angels, a nonprofit group helping individuals with drug addiction.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

The Long Life of Bridgegate
Voicing the long-held suspicions of Chris Christie’s detractors, federal prosecutors alleged Monday that the New Jersey governor was well aware his aides had shut down parts of George Washington Bridge in 2013 in an act of political retribution against a small-town mayor—because they’d told him so directly on the third day of the lane closings.
Nora Kelly, The Atlantic Read more

$5.5 million to help Nutley with Roche transition
Following months of uncertainty and government delays, Nutley will again receive $5.5 million in transitional state aid.
Hasime Kukaj, The Record Read more

Christie: Weekend bombings likely motivated by ‘radical Islamic terrorism
Governor Christie urged state residents to remain alert about suspicious activity on Monday and said the weekend bombing incidents in New Jersey and New York likely were motivated by “radical Islamic terrorism.”
Salvador Rizzo, The Record Read more

Bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami’s family sued Elizabeth for anti-Muslim harassment
The family of Ahmad Khan Rahami, arrested in connection with weekend bombings in Seaside Park and New York City, sued the city of Elizabeth in 2011, alleging a pattern of harassment and religious discrimination by city officials.
Stephen Stirling, NJ.com Read more

Gottheimer calls for ‘lone wolf’ terror crackdown after attacks
Josh Gottheimer, the Democratic candidate for New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, called on law enforcement to work with Internet service providers to root out potential terrorists.
Myles Ma, NJ.com Read more

Trump after N.J., NYC explosions: ‘Our country’s been weak’
In the wake of the explosions in New Jersey and New York this weekend, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump warned Monday the U.S. may see more terrorist strikes because “our country’s been weak.”
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

Revel casino gets total rebrand as ‘TEN’
Glenn Straub made a bold move Monday morning, with a management team announcing a total rebrand of the failed Revel casino Straub bought out of bankruptcy.
Amy S. Rosenberg, Inquirer Read more

Rutgers-Camden wants more freshmen, so it changed its financial aid program
Some very basic ideas have shifted in Rutgers-Camden’s financial aid philosophy this year.
Jonathan Lai, Inquirer Read more

Christie brings ‘Fairness Formula’ to Hanover
Saying the state was “funding failure” — and expressing his intent to “make mischief” during his final year in office — Gov. Chris Christie brought his “Fairness Formula” road show to the Hanover Civic Center Monday to rally the public behind his latest war with the New Jersey Educational Association.
William Westhoven, Daily Record Read more

Push to preserve MLK’s former Camden home gaining support
The fate that likely awaited the former city residence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lurked just beyond the backyard: demolition.
Greg Adomaitis, NJ.com Read more

Lawsuit in Camden killing contradicts police’s claim there was a shootout
The family of a 24-year-old city man killed by police last year have filed suit, alleging officers shot him multiple times when he was unarmed, possibly due in part to racial bias.
Rebecca Everett, NJ.com Read more

Opinion: Terrorism at home
There is a link connecting the crude pipe bomb explosion in Seaside Park, the explosion that rocked the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan and a knife-wielding assailant in a Minnesota shopping mall that all occurred on Saturday: terrorism. Whether homegrown or international, it threatens our way of life.
The Record Read more

Opinion: Christie bashes ‘activist’ judges, then runs to them in school fight
Gov. Chris Christie just announced he is taking his school fight to the state Supreme Court, where he’s asking for several things that are reasonable, although the thrust of his lawsuit is not. Don’t be fooled.
Star-Ledger Read more

Opinion: Thanks to lax gift rules, it’s Christmas for Christie
Virginia’s former Gov. Robert McDonnell just skated on corruption charges, after accepting $165,000 in luxury gifts from a pharmaceutical executive — including a Rolex, designer clothes and a wedding dress for his daughter.
Star-Ledger Read more