Attorney says governor’s budget cut is “retaliation” for her criticisms

The chairman of a Newark program for abused children is accusing Gov. Chris Christie of personally targeting her when he cut $537,000 in funding for the program from the fiscal year 2012 budget.

Attorney Nancy Erika Smith said Christie used his line item veto of the budet to cut the money for the program – called Wynona’s House after former Democratic state Sen. Wynona Lipman, who was the first black woman elected to the upper house – as retaliation for her calls for his impeachment on behalf of Public Defender Yvonne Segars.

Smith is the attorney representing Segars, who earlier this year sent a scathing letter to Christie claiming the governor had attempted to force her out of her role.  At the time, Smith and Segars accused the governor of bullying tactics in his attempt to remove Segars from the spot and put in his own appointee.

Smith, who sits on the state’s Joint Legislative Commission on Ethical Standards, said she has also written numerous letters to the editors of various papers attacking Christie for what she says is the governor’s targeting of the poor and sick in the state.  But Smith said the latest action by the governor is the most unconscionable.

“Chris Christie cares more about the rich’s yacht club memberships than he does about the poor and sick in this state,” she said. “To save this program I will resign today and never walk in there again.  He wins, just don’t do this to the kids.”

The irony, she said, is that as chairwoman of the board for the program she has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in private donations and federal grants for Wynona’s House.  The program she says, has a lasting effect.

“This is not fluff, this is helping abused kids move on and heal and lead happy lives,” she said.  “These are kids who will not be part of our prison system as a result of having come here.”

Among the children that are being helped by the center, Smith said, are the siblings of the young Irvington girl who died earlier this year of neglect and abuse.  Without the funding, Smith said, the home will likely cease to operate.

During his press conference to address his line item veto of the Democrats’ budget, Christie said many programs were cut because the state cannot afford them.  The governor said the budget was full of “fantasy revenue” and programs to help make the Democrats look like “Santa Claus in an election year.”

Many programs were cut, Christie said, in order to present a balanced budget as demanded by the constitution.

Attorney says governor’s budget cut is “retaliation” for her criticisms