Jersey Shore mayors say Christie never offered quid pro quo for Sandy aid; governor’s storm czar claims Hoboken got a fair cut
Jan 21, 2014 | 2259 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TRENTON – The mayors of several Jersey Shore towns told the Asbury Park Press (APP) on Tuesday that none of them have experienced the strong-armed tactics that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer accused administration officials of using against her to push through a development project in return for Hurricane Sandy aid.

The mayors’ statements, which were subsequently disseminated in an official email from Christie’s office, all spoke to the support they received from Christie in the direct aftermath of the storm.

“I never had, never wanted, never sought and was never offered any kind of quid pro quo for an endorsement,” said Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider, a Democrat. “I made it clear I didn’t want one, and they made it clear they weren’t offering.”

APP surveyed 13 shore town mayors from both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Meanwhile, Mark Ferzan, the state’s “Storm Czar” heading up the Sandy-relief Office of Recovery and Rebuilding, told reporters in a conference call on Monday that he believes Hoboken has received its fair share of aid, becoming the latest administration official to push back on Zimmer’s comments over the weekend.

Ferzan did not comment on Zimmer’s allegations against Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Dept. of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable, the officials she said told her that in order to procure recovery funding she would need to approve the uptown development project. Still, he argued that her claims that Hoboken has received less than its share of funding doesn’t do the aid process justice.

"If you look at our recovery programs in totality, I'm scratching my head a little bit about any community that's [claiming they're] getting the short end of the stick, other than to say that I understand we've got very limited resources at our disposal to date," he said, according to a report on NPR.

Since Sandy struck in late 2012, Hoboken has applied for $100 million in aid through the state Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, a program Ferzan oversees, but has only received a little over $300,000. But Ferzan said that the figure is misleading because Hoboken has received $70 million in other recovery funding – mainly money from insurance companies being funneled to private home and business owners.

"We've tried to have an objective process. We've tried to design programs with application criteria that are objective, that prioritize the communities most in need with the least financial resources, and I think we've accomplished that," Ferzan said.

As of Wednesday, Zimmer stood by her claims that Guadagno and Constable threatened to withhold Sandy aid on two separate occasions until she approved a development project proposed by the Rockefeller Group, which has ties to Christie through David Samson, a former Port Authority chairman and Christie appointee at the center of the recent George Washington Bridge scandal. – Dean DeChiaro

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