More Christie Bridgeghazi Woes
By D.B. Hirsch
September 3, 2014 10:14 pm - NewsBehavingBadly.com
The Bergen Record is reporting that Port Authority police were ordered not to reopen the George Washington Bridge on the second day of the Fort Lee traffic jam.
On the second day of the George Washington Bridge lane closures last year, a Port Authority police officer stationed at a traffic-clogged intersection near the bridge picked up his radio. The traffic was creating “hazardous conditions,” he told fellow officers over the radio, and the lanes needed to be re-opened.
“Shut up,” a Port Authority police supervisor at the bridge replied, instructing the officer not to discuss the apparently secret operation over an open radio channel.
[su_r_sky_ad]That exchange is one of nearly a dozen accounts provided by an attorney representing the police officers and given privately to lawmakers investigating the lane closures, according to a summary of the accounts obtained by The Record….
The orders, delivered at roll call before the morning rush hour on the first day, came from Police Lt. Thomas “Chip” Michaels, who grew up with Governor Christie in the town of Livingston. He instructed the officers not to touch the traffic cones choking the number of access lanes out of Fort Lee from three down to one.
Later that morning, officers said they saw Michaels driving David Wildstein — the Port Authority executive who ordered the closures and also grew up with Christie — around Fort Lee’s gridlocked streets. Several immediately heard gossip in a police break room that the closures were part of a dispute between Christie and Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. The officers described the resulting traffic as “horrible” and “horrific,” and at least one urged a reversal of the operation, only to get warnings that his remarks over the radio were “inappropriate.”
The summary, written by the legislative panel’s attorney Michael W. Knoo and based on an interview with the officers’ attorney Dan Bibb, renews questions about the role of some Port Authority police officers in what appears to have been an exercise motivated partly by politics.
Perhaps the most explosive anecdote was provided on behalf of a 12-year officer, Steve Pisciotta, who is typically one of the first officers to arrive at the bridge before the morning rush hour, according to the summary. Pisciotta’s attorney said his client, who had worked at the bridge for over five years, recognized early on that the closures were causing traffic safety problems and voiced his concern over the radio, according to the summary.
Deputy Inspector Darcy Licorish “replied to Pisciotta by radio, telling him to ‘shut up’ and that there could be no further discussion of the lane closures over the air.”