BRICK — Gov. Chris Christie today sharply dismissed critics who say he may have created a culture of brashness and retaliation that led his staff members to orchestrate last year’s controversial lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. The…
If Governor Chris Christie’s presidential prospects have been damaged by the Bridgegate scandal and associated investigations, you wouldn’t know it by the amount of television cameras at the Town Hall Meeting in Port Monmouth this morning. Middletown officials estimate the crowd was about 500 people. There was easily 50 members of the media including reporters, photographers and videographers.
There was no swagger from the Governor today. No fist pumps, no snazzy introductory video, no in your face insults to hostile questioners. Christie dodged the only hostile question he heard. The Youtube moment came not from an idiot or thin skinned reporter, but from a three year old girl who said her house is still broken.
Bridgegate, the controversy over the September lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that has spurred investigations by the U.S. Attorney and a Special Legislative Committee never came up. The people who came to today’s meeting would gladly trade places with the Bergen County residents who were inconvenienced by traffic jams for four days. They been without their homes for 16 months.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has turned down a request from the Christie Administration that the rule requiring that reconstruction work on homes damaged by SuperStorm Sandy stop upon the homeowner applying for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation(RREM) aid, according to an Associated Press report posted on NJ.com and other outlets.
HUD rules require that the plans for all work on properties receiving RREM grants be evaluated and approved by the government. Work done without the RREM approval is not eligible for reimbursement under the program, even if the work complies with all requirements. This process has created a major logjam is funds being awarded and homes being rebuilt.
In an undated letter obtained late Tuesday by The Associated Press, HUD rejected the state’s request.
HUD says the rules, which have been the source of many complaints from homeowners struggling to rebuild after the October 2012 storm, are intended to make sure historically significant properties aren’t damaged or demolished, and that aid is not duplicated among the numerous Sandy reconstruction programs offered by federal and state governments.
Yolanda Chávez, HUD’s deputy assistant secretary for grant programs, wrote to New Jersey Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable listing other reasons why the rule can’t be dropped as well.
“If the construction does not meet elevation requirements and must be undone, resources will be spent with no benefit to the recovery,” she wrote.
If you’re going to Governor Christie’s Town Hall Meeting in Middletown tomorrow, expect to hear about this rule and others as the source of the delay in RREM funding, and as an explanation for why the multi-family projects outside of Sandy impacted areas, notably the Belleville and New Brunswick projects that have been in the news, have been approved while Jersey Shore residents are still waiting and not living at home.
The weather reports say it will be too warm to snow on Thrusday and Governor Chris Christie is hoping the third time is the charm.
The twice postponed Town Hall Meeting on Sandy Relief Funds is now scheduled for Thursday, February 20th, 11am, at VFW Post 2179, 1 Veterans Way (Off Rt 36) in the Port Monmouth section of Middletown Township. Doors open at 10:00 am. Seating is first come first served. RSVP’s are requested via email at TownHall.Middletown@gov.state.nj.us.
Joining Christie will be Office of Recovery and Rebuilding Executive Director Marc Ferzan, Community Affairs Deputy Commissioner Chuck Richman, Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez, Economic Development Authority CEO Michele Brown and Banking and Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski.
A mobile cabinet meeting to assist Sandy impacted homeowners and businesses is scheduled to follow the Town Hall from 12:30 till 2:00 pm.
For the second time in a week the weather has caused Governor Chris Christie to postpone his first Town Hall Meeting since June of last year.
The Town Hall scheduled for Tuesday February 18th at the VFW Hall in Port Monmouth in postponed due to anticipated inclement weather.
Details of the rescheduled meeting will be released on Tuesday, the governor’s office said in a press release.
Additionally, the governor announced that a delayed opening of 11 am for all state offices on Tuesday to allow for ample time for roads, parking lots and sidewalks to be cleared and made safe for travel.
“Tonight’s winter storm is expected to last through tomorrow morning, bringing additional snow and creating hazardous travel conditions for the morning commute,” said Christie. “I strongly encourage all New Jerseyans to drive slowly and exercise caution on the roads tonight and tomorrow morning. I thank our state’s transportation crews and first responders for their tireless efforts to keep our residents safe.”
Governor Chris Christie will hold his first town hall meeting since Hurricane Sandy on Thursday, December 20 at 3PM in the Belmar Borough Gymnasium at the municipal building, 601 Main Street. The doors will open at 2:15.
The event is open to the public and seating is first come, first served.
The Governor’s office requests that those planning to attend RSVP here in order to ensure adequate seating.