On the morning of the fourth day of closures that snarled traffic leading to the George Washington bridge last September — the result of what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said was political retribution by his staff — the executive director of the port authority that controls the bridge sent a scathing, early-morning email to top staff and board members.
In an email stamped 7:44 a.m., Patrick Foye slammed the closures and said he was calling for the lanes to be opened as soon as possible. Foye called the decision to close access roads in Fort Lee, N.J., “hasty and ill-advised” and said it “violated Federal Law and the laws of both States.”
“I will get to the bottom of this abusive decision which violates everything this agency stands for; I intend to learn how PA [port authority] process was wrongfully subverted and the public interest damaged to say nothing of the credibility of this agency,” Foye wrote.
“This hasty and ill-advised decision has resulted in delays to emergency vehicles. I pray that no life has been lost or trip of a hospital- or hospice-bound patient delayed,” Foye wrote.
The email was included in more than 900 pages of documents made public Friday by the New Jersey Legislature, which has been looking into the road closures. Emails released earlier suggest that Christie’s senior advisors had concocted a plan to cause a massive traffic jam in Fort Lee to punish the town’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, for not endorsing Christie’s November reelection. At a lengthy news conference Thursday, Christie apologized for the action and said he had no idea his aides had been involved.
Foye’s email appeared to have prompted an effort by his second-in-command, Bill Baroni, to prevent Foye from going public with his criticisms. Baroni was the deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a Christie appointee, whereas Foye had been appointed to the authority by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Pat we need to discuss prior to any communications,” Baroni wrote to Foye from his iPhone at 8:40 a.m.
“Bill we are going to fix this fiasco,” Foye replied.
"I am on my way to office to discuss. There can be no public discourse,” Baroni wrote.
Several days later, Christie appointees on the authority's board of commissioners were trying to ferret out who had leaked a story to the Wall Street Journal about the lane closures.
In an email dated Sept. 17, David Samson, chairman of the board and a Christie appointee, told another Christie appointee on the board that he believed Foye was the leak for the story. He called the leak “very unfortunate for NY/NJ relations.”
The next day, Samson said he had more evidence that Foye had leaked information about the closures to the media. He wrote to vice chairman of the board Scott Rechler, chief executive of the multibillion-dollar private real estate company RXR Realty and a fellow Christie appointee.
“This is yet another example of a story, we’ve seen it before, where he [Foye] distances himself from an issue in the press and rides in on a white horse to save the day (if you need prior examples I will provide) – in this case, he’s playing in traffic, made a big mistake. D.”
Twitter: @bybrianbennettCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun