Thursday, October 07, 2010

When NJ voters made the patron saint of white-collar Republicrookery their governor, what kind of gov't did they expect?


The rail tunnel that's not gonna happen: Governor Christie has a message for those concerned about humongous transit and road congestion in northern NJ: Fuck you!

"The move would scuttle a project that has been in the planning for two decades and was supposed to double the capacity on trains into New York City and alleviate congestion on the region’s roads."
-- from Patrick McGeehan's NYT report on NJ Gov. Chris Christie's announced intention to pull the plug on a trans-Hudson rail tunnel

by Ken

One of the shrewdest comments I've heard about the massive breakdown of government in Florida, of which the mortgage-fraud crisis is the tip of the iceberg, was that of a colleague who wondered what Floridians were expecting after decades of electing all those right-wing assholes. I wonder whether New Jerseyans are waking up enough to begin to experience buyers' remorse.

Now it turns out that a lone lying-scumbag tub of lard can undo years of regional planning. The project at issue is a new tunnel planned to carry trains under the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York, on which $600 million has already been spent, with actual construction scheduled to begin in the near future. Can you begin to imagine how much planning and scrapping and coordinating and agitating and horse-trading and assuaging a project like this involves? Well, you can forget about it.
Governor of New Jersey Blocks Hudson Tunnel Project

Published: October 7, 2010

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Thursday that he has decided to terminate the construction of a commuter train tunnel between northern New Jersey and Manhattan because of escalating estimates of the project’s cost.

Until last month, the project had been estimated to cost $8.7 billion. But after his staff reviewed the project, Governor Christie said they concluded it would cost more than $11 billion, and possibly as much as $14 billion.

The federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had pledged $3 billion each toward the tunnel, but Mr. Christie said New Jersey could not afford to pay the balance. . . .

Now this may sound like an old story, but as reporter McGeehan points out, the old story was: "In early September, Mr. Christie surprised other elected officials and an array of transportation advocates who had supported the tunnel by ordering a temporary halt to spending on the project."

If there were the slightest reason to suspect that the fart-brained Christie, who spent his time as U.S. attorney presiding over an orgy of white-collar Republicrook public-funds siphoning and grifting before being planted by Karl Rove in the NJ governor's race, had the slightest concern about controlling legitimate spending, he might have the support of people who don't like seeing government robbed by the kind of people Christie has always championed. Cost overruns are absolutely a legitimate concern, but of course Republicrooks only care about them when (a) the project is intended for the general welfare of ordinary citizens, and (b) the money isn't finding its way into their pockets.

There is, of course, no reason to think that the governor, who probably should be preparing for trials on assorted state and federal crimes committed on a daily basis during his time as U.S. attorney and as a gubernatorial candidate, lifted a greasy finger to see what the real story is concerning the budget for the tunnel, and what can be done to manage costs. In the ideological sub-basement that is his tiny brain, nothing is more important than lowering the tax bill of white-collar crooks, and since nothing comes more naturally to him than misappropriating government funds, he seems to think he can siphon off the money budgeted for the tunnel for projects dearer to the hearts of his crook constituents: highways. Again, if there were the slightest indication that he has any interest in or commitment to properly maintaining the state's infrastructure, his view might be worth listening to, but no, he's just trying to get himself off the hook for finding road-repair money.

In fact, this stunt is going to cost New Jersey a hefty chunk of change.
New Jersey Transit, the state-run operator of commuter trains and buses, had already hired contractors to begin digging the tunnel, and the Port Authority had begun condemning property in Midtown Manhattan that stood in the way of the project.

All told, about $600 million had been spent. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, a Democrat from New Jersey who supported the project, said that about half of that money came from the federal government and would have to be repaid by New Jersey. . . .

Transportation advocates and officials in Washington said that the federal money would probably be spent on transit projects in other states. They said they expected Mr. Christie to suggest spending the Port Authority’s money on other projects in New Jersey.

So it appears that the federal money is lost, and while the PANYNJ, a bi-state agency, isn't exactly free of political control -- half its commissioners are appointed by the governor of each state, and Wikipedia notes that "a governor can veto actions by the commissioners from the same state" -- one hopes there's some understanding there that this was a mass-transit project, albeit one that could have provided some relief for the region's horrendous traffic congestion.

After all, an awful lot of New Jerseyans do in fact commute to New York on a daily basis, and again, the NYT's McGeehan notes that this project "has been in the planning for two decades and was supposed to double the capacity on trains into New York City and alleviate congestion on the region’s roads." I wonder if New Jersey commuters who voted for Governor Turdo, either out of pique at former Gov. Jon Corzine or under the illusion that he could bring order to the state's troubled finances, imagined that with a wave of his crooked wand he would undo those two decades' worth of work on this project.

In fact, projects of this sort, hugely expensive infrastructure transformations whose payoff will spread over multiple generations to come, have become harder and harder to implement in an era where it has become increasingly difficult to rally public support for payoffs that aren't immediate. Again, there are legitimate environmental and other considerations that properly need to be factored in, but again, there's no evidence that Governor Turdo knows or cares about any of them. He's just the lying, blundering blowhard who presided over the "clerical error" that cost his state its shot at those $400 million of federal education funds and came up blaming everyone in sight except his own bloated, turdalicious self.

The Right has poured a lot of time and and gazillions of dollars into learning how to press the buttons of ordinary Americans to get them to vote for people whose mission is to screw them silly. Voters of New Jersey, congratulations!

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At 7:18 PM, Anonymous me said...

the governor, who probably should be preparing for trials on assorted state and federal crimes committed on a daily basis during his time as U.S. attorney

Once again, you know who gets the blame for letting criminal republicans off the hook: Obama.

What is he thinking? That republicans will come to appreciate all he is doing for them? WTF is wrong with that guy???


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