Jan 18 Two members of New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie's administration warned a mayor that her town would not
receive Superstorm Sandy relief funds unless she approved a
redevelopment plan Christie favored, the mayor of Hoboken said
The claim by Mayor Dawn Zimmer comes as Christie, a
Republican seen as a likely presidential candidate in 2016,
faces investigations into a traffic jam on the George Washington
Bridge that was apparently politically motivated.
Christie has denied any involvement in the so-called
"Bridgegate" scandal and a spokesman was reported as saying
Zimmer's claims were false.
Zimmer, a Democrat, told MSNBC television that Hoboken had
received only a small part of the $127 million requested after
Sandy, which flooded much of the New Jersey town in October
She said Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Richard
Constable, Christie's community affairs commissioner, delivered
messages in May 2013 on behalf of Christie, whom she had long
They said that she needed to move ahead with plans for a
redevelopment project backed by the city's former mayor. Zimmer
had asked for a professional study of the plan.
In a diary entry provided to MSNBC, Zimmer said Constable
told her: "If you move that forward, the money would start
flowing to you."
Guadagno had pulled her aside in a Hoboken parking lot and
told her, "I know it's not right. I know these things should not
be connected but they are," Zimmer said.
"It's not fair for the governor to hold Sandy funds hostage
for the city of Hoboken because he wants me to give back to one
private developer," she told MSNBC's "UP w/ Steve Kornacki."
The redevelopment project would have awarded the Rockefeller
Group, a New York developer, the right to redevelop a stretch of
Hoboken, which is across the Hudson River from Manhattan.
The project would have been eligible for tax incentives and
it would have given the Rockefeller Group a freer hand to build
while asking for millions of dollars in subsidies, MSNBC said.
Asked why she had delayed in coming forward with her
allegations, Zimmer, who was elected in 2009, said she probably
should have done it when the officials spoke with her.
"I have to act in the best interests of Hoboken. And we are
still at risk of not" getting Sandy funding, she said.
Hoboken has sought $127 million for Sandy recovery but
received $142,000 to defray the cost of a single back-up
generator plus an additional $200,000 in recovery grants, MSNBC
Spokesmen for Christie and Constable could not be reached
for comment by Reuters. Christie is in Florida this weekend for
fundraisers for Republican Governor Rick Scott.
In a statement on MSNBC, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak
said: "Mayor Zimmer has been effusive in her public praise of
the Governor's Office and the assistance we've provided in terms
of economic development and Sandy aid.
"What or who is driving her only now to say such
outlandishly false things is anyone's guess."
In a statement on MSNBC, Constable called Zimmer's comments
A spokesman for Rockefeller Group said the company was
working to tell real estate and community leaders about the
plans and to seek feedback from prospective tenants to move the
planning process forward.
"We have no knowledge of any information pertaining to these
allegations. Our Hoboken project is in the preliminary stages of
planning and we have not filed any development applications for
review or approval," he said.
Twenty New Jersey officials, including Drewniak, were served
with subpoenas on Friday as state lawmakers began to investigate
the massive traffic jam in September.
Emails between Christie aides and the Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, appeared to show
the lane closures were orchestrated to punish the Democratic
mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for not endorsing Christie in his
re-election bid last year.