HOBOKEN REPORTER EXCLUSIVE: Mayor Dawn Zimmer responds to big question: Did Christie know?
Jan 19, 2014 | 5325 views | 0 0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HOBOKEN -- On Saturday, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer did an exclusive interview with MSNBC making a revelation that she had, since May, kept to herself: She alleged that two top state officials suggested that Zimmer wouldn't get enough of the Hurricane Sandy aid she wanted for Hoboken because Zimmer's administration was not moving quickly enough to approve a $1 billion uptown development proposed by the Rockefeller Group, whose lobbyists included Port Authority head David Samson.

Samson, a close ally of Gov. Chris Chrstie, was serving as a private lobbyist for the developer at the same time as he had his public job at the Port Authority. Neither post is related to disbursement of Hurricane Sandy aid, but according to Zimmer's story, that didn't matter -- she was under pressure to help the development move forward, and more aid to the once-flooded mile-square city was apparently contingent upon her kowtowing to big developers. Zimmer has been in favor of cautious development during all of her time in office.

Zimmer presented journal entries over the weekend to MSNBC saying that she was emotional last spring when she suddenly realized that Christie must be "cut from the same corrupt cloth" as tarnished politicians in Hoboken's past. But she did not, at that time, speak out publicly.

Her revelations came this weekend as Christie was answering questions in another scandal that suggested that his administration was accustomed to getting retribution on those who don't support him.

After Zimmer appeared in the national media on Saturday, one question remained -- Does she believe Gov. Chris Christie, who has been widely speculated to someday be a Republican presidential contender -- himself knew of the aides' comments to her? Had she ever asked him?

What did Christie know?

In an exclusive interview with the Hoboken Reporter on Saturday night, Zimmer said that while she could not be positive that Christie personally directed his aides to allegedly tell the mayor that Sandy aid wouldn't reach Hoboken until she approved an uptown development project, she doesn't think they would have taken such actions without the governor's approval.

"I went with the facts of what I experienced, and that was that [Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno] pulled me aside in ShopRite and told me to move forward with this project," she said over the phone. "I don't think she would have done that without the governor's approval, but I guess it's possible."

She has not discussed the matter with Christie personally.

Asked what went into her decision to come forward about her communications with Kim Guadagno and another Christie official, Dept. of Community Affairs Chairman Richard Constable III, Zimmer said she couldn't face what would happen to Hoboken in another Hurricane Sandy-type storm if she didn't speak out.

(Guadagno and Christie have denied Zimmer's allegations, and Christie said the mayor -- a former ally -- was being "untruthful.")

"In thinking this through I just kept coming back to 'What will happen to Hoboken?' " Zimmer said. "I felt an obligation to do this but it was a hard decision that I spent a lot of time time on."

The Reporter asked who Zimmer had told about the situation beforehand, and whom she had consulted when she was deciding whether or not to go public.

Zimmer did not say. But she said the George Washington Bridge scandal played a major role in pushing her forward.

Zimmer also reiterated her disappointment in the Christie administration's alleged actions.

"That they would connect Hurricane Sandy aid to one single Hoboken development project is so disappointing," she said. "I felt an obligation to come forward."

The $1 billion project has been extensively covered in the Hoboken Reporter (see prior stories linked below).

Check hudsonreporter.com, Hudson County's only weekly newspaper group, throughout the week for updates on this developing story. For questions or comments, email editorial@hudsonreporter.com and put "Christie" in the subject head. -- Dean DeChiaro

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