Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Time to Toss Christie's Allies from NJ Transit

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Time to Toss Christie's Allies from NJ Transit

Article excerpt

If orange is the new black, NJ Transit is the new Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Christie administration larded the failing transit agency like a roast for a holiday feast. Some folks ate very well. But New Jersey commuters never got the dinner invite. Only the bill.

As Curtis Tate reports for The Record and, allies of the governor found soft landings inside the state transit agency. Christie did the same thing at the Port Authority, most notably creating a six-figure job for David Wildstein, who went on to order the lane diversions at the George Washington Bridge.

In the wake of Bridgegate, Wildstein pleaded guilty and cut a deal with federal prosecutors. Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority, was convicted, as was Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff. Unrelated to Bridgegate, David Samson, a Christie ally and former chairman of the Port Authority, pleaded guilty to a scheme that forced United to reinstate a money-losing flight between Newark and Columbia, South Carolina, near where he has a home.

With the spotlight on the Port Authority, Christie cronies went to NJ Transit, including his Bridgegate-tarnished spokesman Michael Drewniak. With seemingly no background in transit, he was made the chief of policy and strategic planning for NJ Transit in 2015. His salary rose from $134,000 to $147,000.

Then there's Jared Pilosio. In 2009, he was hired as a $40,000-a-year intern working for Christie. By 2012, he was a special assistant to the chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee. Then he was hired by Wildstein to work at the Port Authority, where he was involved with the agency's response to state legislators' inquiries about the lane closures. Five years later, he landed at NJ Transit as manager of Superstorm Sandy resiliency projects, making $76,000.

Is that an exorbitant salary? …

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