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Four Men Arrested for Interstate Catalytic Converter Thefts

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Fort Lee NJ, Four men were charged today for their roles in a scheme to steal catalytic converters from vehicles in New Jersey and transport the stolen goods to New York, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

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Fourth Man Charged with Conspiring to Kidnap Fort Lee Man

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Fort Lee NJ, a New York man was charged today with conspiring to kidnap and hold for ransom a Fort Lee, New Jersey, resident, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

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Port Authority of New York and Jersey Seeks $3 Billion Federal Bailout

Lincoln Tunnel

the staff of the Ridgewood blog


Fort Lee NJ, Port Authority of New York and Jersey Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton called on the federal government to provide the Port Authority with $3 billion in direct financial assistance to avoid the devastating impact of sharp revenue losses to the agency’s critically important capital construction projects. The agency has projected revenue losses of $3 billion over 24 months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal aid will protect the agency’s capital plan – and by doing so, to help drive the region’s and the nation’s economic recovery.

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Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Posts Single Worst Quarter on Record

photo Chairman Kevin O’Toole

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Fort Lee NJ, Today the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey released its six-month financial results which revealed an approximately $777 million decline in revenues through June 30, 2020 as compared to the agency’s budget, with additional losses against 2020 Budget expected through the balance of the year. Since the full force of the Covid-19 crisis started in March, the agency’s revenue loss has averaged $240 million per month as compared to budget. Based on these results, together with the forward-looking forecasts, the Port Authority continues to project a $3 billion loss in revenues for the 24-month period ending March 2022.

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10 charged in protest that shut down George Washington Bridge

By Craig McCarthy | NJ Advance Media for
on October 26, 2016 at 4:36 PM, updated October 26, 2016 at 5:08 PM

Police charged 10 people Wednesday in a protest on the George Washington Bridge that closed lanes and caused extensive delays during morning rush hour.

One of the protesters was a New Jersey resident, according to Port Authority police spokesman Joe Pentangelo. The eight were from New York and one was from California.

The immigrants’ rights demonstration stopped upper-level traffic completely for about 15 minutes before police arrested the protesters, who chained themselves to the bridge, blocking three lanes.

The demonstration caused up to 90-minute delays for drivers heading into the New York City. All lanes were reopened by 8:50 a.m.

The following people were charged in New York with reckless endangerment and criminal trespass:

Christina Fox, 27 , Oceanside, Calif
Felix Cepeda, 35,  Bronx, N.Y.
Diego Ibanez, 27, Brooklyn, NY
Karl Kumodz, 25, Brooklyn NY
Elana Gold-24, Brooklyn, NY
Claudia Palacios, 27, Brooklyn, NY
Jeremy Weissman, 22, Jericho, NY
Virgilio Aran, 38, East Orange, NJ
Juan Romero, 25, Queens, NY
Marco Abendano, 31, Bronx, NY

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Here’s the new top 10 Port Authority salary list, shaped by Bridgegate scandal


NEW YORK — The list of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s top 10 highest paid executives has changed dramatically since last year, with several substitutions, raises among most holdovers, and the agency’s head lawyer knocking the executive director off the top spot.

The top 10 list looks at base salaries, a figure that can be deceptive at an agency where some Port Authority Police officers more than double their overall pay with overtime.

And even employees barred from overtime pay, including all 10 executives on the top-10 salary list, can manage to earn more when all payments are factored in.

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Community Activist Bill Brennan has filed a lawsuit in Bergen County court against Governor Christie based upon Wildstein’s “Bridgegate ” testimony

Bill Brennan Bridgewgate

October 12,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, the staff of the Ridgewood blog is made up of many long-time commuters , so we have been ,to say the least,  a bit skeptical this entire “Bridgegate ” or “Bridgeapolooza” episode. The reality is that the GWB has huge traffic jams averaging over 1-hour delays during rush hour every day.

The Port Authority is hardly and paragon of virtue it’s often been the dumping ground for on the lamb public employees from New York and New Jersey and New York and New Jersey can hardly claim the mantle of puritanicalism  both states seem more often than not to be mired in corruption.

In recent “Bridgegate” not only did former Port Authority Official, David Wildstein, told Bill Baroni’s attorney, Michael Baldassare, that Governor Christie’s staff asked him to produce a list of Port Authority employees so that Democrats could be purged, just weeks after starting his $150,000-a-year job at the Port Authority in 2010.

Wildstien also claimed under oath he told Governor Christie about the lane closing. The prosecution’s star witness claimed Gov. Chris Christie was told of the traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge in the midst of the gridlock in Fort Lee in September 2013, and that Christie laughed when he heard about it.

Community Activist Bill Brennan found a way to file a lawsuit in Bergen County court against Governor Christie based upon Wildstein’s testimony.

Brennan says ,”There’s a statute in New Jersey, the Official Misconduct statute, which says that a public servant is guilty of official misconduct for the purpose to deprive another of a benefit or obtain a benefit for himself. If he refrains from taking an action that’s clearly inherent in the nature of his office. Clearly inherent in the nature in the office of the Governor is opening those lanes when you’ve been told they’re closed.

Tomorrow morning the Governor of NJ faces charges for something we all know he did. I fear life in a country where the government harms law-abiding citizens in fits of pettiness and revenge. It scares me to know that people are being coerced by officials who brag that they can destroy the lives of anyone who refuses their demands. It terrifies me that this is all out in the open and I might be alone in an open court room standing up against tyranny. “

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‘Bridgegate’ Was Stupid, Not Criminal: DOJ Indictment Oversteps


Paul J. Larkin Jr. / David Rosenthal / @DL_Rosenthal / John-Michael Seibler

This week, the infamous “Bridgegate” scandal goes to trial, with former officials in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration facing serious charges from the U.S. Department of Justice. Not since London Bridge came falling down in 1281 has an overpass caused such a stir.

The backstory: In 2013, Christie was running for re-election. Like every other politician in that position, he was trying to round up support from other state and local pols. Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, however, declined to get on board. That is when the plot thickened.

The story is that several officials in Christie’s administration agreed to shut down some (but not all) of the traffic lanes across the George Washington Bridge into New York, creating a huge traffic jam in Fort Lee. That would “punish” Sokolich for his failure to “get in line.” It was a prank. A dirty trick. Think the end of “Animal House,” just real life.

As pranks or dirty tricks go, it was tawdry, even stupid. (Did they think no one would find out?) Christie himself described the lane closure as “abject stupidity.”

Once the story broke, Christie and his cohorts predictably took a drubbing from the notoriously tough New York media. Christie certainly paid a price in the media for the imbroglio and likely also among the electorate during his later run for the Republican nomination for the presidency.

No one has a constitutional right to avoid traffic or to use three or four lanes when approaching a bridge.

One might think that a media firestorm and political retribution were adequate penalties for a stupid, cheap, political dirty trick. But not in 21st-century America, where the U.S. Justice Department believes that political dirty tricks are actually crimes. The Justice Department has charged Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, along with David Wildstein and William Baroni, officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, with multiple federal felonies for their parts in the Great Gridlock Shenanigans. The 37-page, 9-count indictment alleges these officials committed theft of federal government property, fraud, the deprivation of the civil rights of New Jersey residents, and that they conspired to do all of the foregoing. (If the defendants had dynamited an empty bridge, they would have committed fewer crimes.)

Wildstein pleaded guilty in 2015 to two counts of conspiracy and implicated his alleged co-conspirators. He will likely regret that because, as explained below, he pleaded guilty to nonexistent crimes.

What property did they steal? The bridge is still there—and probably the traffic, too.

What property did they misuse? The government alleges that the defendants misused “the time and services of unwitting Port Authority personnel.” Really? If that is a form of theft, then the Justice Department inspector general should investigate to make sure no DOJ employee uses a DOJ fax machine to send a permission slip to a child’s school, or uses the government’s WATS line to call a sick parent, or uses an office computer to check the scores on ESPN, or wastes away the day chatting with colleagues—or any of the other matters that go on in the federal government on a daily basis.

What was the fraud? Neither the defendants nor anyone else derived any personal financial benefit from the scheme. Was the fraud an implicit representation that politicians would not act like politicians? Puhleeze! We’re talkin’ “New Joisey” here! Besides, any DOJ prosecutor who thinks that politicians do not pull stupid stunts like this one is guilty of defrauding the federal government for telling his superiors that he is savvy enough to be a DOJ prosecutor.

The only benefit that Christie’s associates got was schadenfreude. If that is sufficient to violate the fraud statute, the Supreme Court has been wasting its time trying to interpret that law because, as Cole Porter wrote, anything goes.

Most outrageous is the civil rights charge. What civil right did the defendants violate? The constitutional right not to be ensnarled in traffic? Fuggedaboutit! Perhaps there is a constitution somewhere that includes a Traffic Clause (right after the Sanity Clause), but the American Constitution sure doesn’t.

The Constitution guarantees everyone a right to interstate migration, not interstate commuting — and certainly not speedy interstate commuting, let alone a right to “localized” driving, as the government’s indictment alleges. No one has a constitutional right to avoid traffic or to use three or four lanes when approaching a bridge. Besides, the defendants didn’t corral Fort Lee residents. There are numerous bridges, tunnels, and ferries into New York. Perhaps someone should show the prosecutors a map.

Look at this matter another way. It would not violate the Constitution for officials to funnel traffic into fewer lanes to repave the bridge. The only difference between that scenario and this one is that these officials are said to have acted with the intent to injure someone—not the commuters, however; they were just the delivery vehicle for the pain.

The defendants’ intent was to injure Mayor Sokolich—not physically, just politically—for not being a “team player.” Yes, that is a shoddy way to treat the public (which always seems to take it in the shorts whenever politicians act like, well, politicians). But the Constitution protects us against political mischief. It lets us vote the perpetrators out of office. That is the proper remedy, not a criminal prosecution.

In a case involving alleged political misconduct (a trade association’s gifts to politicians), the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that “a statute in this field that can linguistically be interpreted to be either a meat axe or a scalpel should reasonably be taken to be the latter.” Here, the DOJ prosecutors have gone with a scythe.

A lawyer representing Kelly wrote that “the intentional causing of traffic” has never been the subject of federal civil rights allegations. “No other federal criminal case,” according to counsel, “has been prosecuted anywhere, at any time, with facts even remotely similar to the facts there.” We haven’t looked everywhere, but, by God, we sure hope he’s right.

Last spring, the Supreme Court unanimously spanked the DOJ in McDonnell v. United States for trying to stretch the federal criminal law to punish tawdry political behavior. McDonnell was not an anomaly. It was just the latest in a series of cases (including McNally, McCormick, Sun-Diamond Growers, Skillingand Yates) in which the Supreme Court has told the Justice Department that it is up to Congress—not the DOJ—to come up with newfangled crimes and to define them with precision.

The prosecutors need to listen to the music, not just read the lyrics, in the court’s opinions. The district court should have dismissed this indictment in an opinion that read simply, “GMAB.” Were this case to result in a conviction and ultimately reach the Supreme Court, the court will need to send the DOJ to its room without supper yet again. Why? Because with this indictment the Justice Department has essentially flipped off the court.

It is a good thing that there will be a presidential election in November. It offers every hope that there will be a new attorney general come January 2017. The Justice Department could use some adult supervision.

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Port Authority Police Catch $30,000 Ticket Scofflaw

Lincoln Tunnel

August 11,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Jersey City NJ, Port Authority Police Officer Chris Johnson pulled over a car at the Holland Tunnel Tuesday morning and discovered more than $30,000 in unpaid tolls and fees at all three Hudson River crossings, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, according to Port Authority Police spokesman Joseph Pentangelo.

The woman, identified as Shakeema N. North, 38, of Orange NJ, had 5 different EZ pass accounts and $30,000 in unpaid tolls and resulting fees from more than 400 separate incidents of toll evasion,

North was arrested on a charge of theft of services and given a summons requiring her to appear in court next Tuesday.

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in GWB scandal case argue creating a traffic jam is not a crime


Lawyers for two former associates of Gov. Christie have hit back at government prosecutors, insisting that their clients violated no laws and broke no Port Authority policies when they allegedly closed access lanes to the George Washington Bridge to exact political revenge on a New Jersey mayor. Paul Berger, The Record, Read more

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NJ woman survives jump off George Washington Bridge



A 25-year-old Somerset County woman who survived a jump off the George Washington Bridge Wednesday evening was rescued in the Hudson River by a Rutherford volunteer firefighter with his personal boat.

A witness saw the woman, whose name was not released, jump off the bridge around 5 p.m. Wednesday, Port Authority spokesman Joe Pentangelo said. Her car was found on Fort Washington Avenue in Manhattan.

She was conscious when she arrived at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, Pentangelo said. The boat’s name is the Michael P. Murphy, he said.

Scott Koen, 58, said he happened to be on the river helping a volunteer group search for the body of a Rockland County man who recently jumped from the bridge when a member of his crew saw the woman fall into the river.

Koen said he jumped into the water to tie a rope around her so that she could be hauled aboard his boat, a 46-foot buoy tender. She had told him that she was unable to climb a ladder onto the boat.

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The Record: High toll of tolls

Lincoln Tunnel


NEW JERSEY drivers commuting to New York felt pain at the toll barriers Monday. On Sunday, the tolls at the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels went up. Again.

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Christie compares coverage of GWB and Clinton email scandals; says media bias apparent


MAY 21, 2015, 5:56 PM    LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2015, 7:23 PM

Governor Christie said media bias contributed to heavier coverage of the George Washington Bridge lane closures than of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email as secretary of state, as he called for an apology Thursday.

Christie, appearing on CNBC’s Squawk Box, said he was branded as “guilty” by media outlets, but an internal investigation he commissioned, a legislative inquiry led by Democrats and a federal investigation have all cleared him of an involvement in the incident.

“I was guilty, guilty. I had done it,” he said. “Now we’re 15 months later, where are the apologies pouring in? Not one thing I said on the day after the bridge situation has been proven to be wrong.”

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Schar Report : A Whole lot of Nothing


Schar Report:A Whole lot of Nothing

Committee cannot conclude what Christie knew about GWB lane closures

Prepared and submitted to the NJ Legislative Committee yesterday by attorney Reid J. Schar from Jenner and Block, a report regarding the George Washington Bridge lane closures asserts that the committee is not currently in a position to conclude what Governor Chris Christie “himself knew about the lane closures or when and how his knowledge of these events developed.” (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

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Tolls Set to Increase as Port Authority unveils proposed $7.8B budget


Tolls Set to Increase as Port Authority unveils proposed $7.8B budget

DECEMBER 2, 2014, 6:28 PM    LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2014, 6:34 PM

Days before tolls on Hudson River crossings are set to rise again, the Port Authority on Tuesday released a proposed spending plan for 2015 that relies heavily on those tolls to pay for upgrades to some of the region’s airports, rail lines, roadways and the World Trade Center.

The $7.8 billion overall budget — larger than that of approximately a dozen U.S. states — is about $400 million less than what the agency spent in 2014, mostly due to a significant drop in spending to rebuild the World Trade Center, which is taking shape and will start bringing in office rental revenues in 2015.

That may come as little comfort to motorist who will see the fourth toll hike in as many years starting Dec. 6. Cash tolls will rise $1, to $15, while E-ZPass rates will rise $0.75, to $12.50 during peak hours and $10.50 at off-peak times. It is estimated that an additional $100 million will be collected at the bridges and tunnels in 2015 compared with this year.

The agency’s 2015 budget will be voted on by commissioners at their Dec. 10 meeting.

The agency plans to spend $2.9 billion on day-to-day operations—a 1.8 percent increase over this year. The agency said Tuesday that it was the ninth consecutive year that it had kept its operating budget at or below the annual rate of inflation. That is despite adding hundreds of new officers to a police force that is expected to number 1,840 in 2015, the largest it has been in at least a decade.