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The Thrill Is Gone

Note to a lapdog

Gov. Chris Christie met with New Jersey voters on Thursday morning. (Source: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

I read the NY Times coverage of Gov. Christie’s “Town Hall” before going to bed last night and it eased my sleep, see: For Christie, Awkward Return to a Setting He Once Ruled

Finally, I thought, the media understood exactly what the Governor’s Town Hall’s were all about and that he was blaming HUD and using attacks on federal red tape as an excuse.

Over the course of four years, and 110 of the cozy sessions — all recorded by aides and quickly uploaded for consumption by his fast-expanding audience — Mr. Christie transformed himself from a little-known former prosecutor into the public face of New Jersey, a national emblem of straight-talking government, and the most forceful presence in the national Republican Party.

But the two-hour forum here near the Jersey Shore on Thursday, his first since controversy enveloped his administration, demonstrated just how difficult it will be for Mr. Christie to quickly recreate the political magic that once seemed certain to put him in contention for the White House.

The man who once commanded these rooms just by walking into them seemed unmistakably mortal.

As BB King sang: The Thrill is Gone.

Well, it looks like I was wrong.

I just read NJ Spotlight’s story on the same Town Hall – which baffles me, because, in general, Matt Katz is not a lapdog – and had to stop reading to pet the dog and get a cup of coffee before my head exploded: WTF? The headline blared that the the Gov. “Still Wins Over Crowd” – and then I read this bullshit:

Yes, Christie said, he knows that Sandy relief dollars have not gone out to victims as quickly as some may have hoped — but that’s not his administration’s fault. New Jersey did not get enough money from the federal government, which is plagued with bureaucratic rules and delays.

“What happens when you deal with the federal government is the red tape is immeasurable,” he said.

First, the National Flood Insurance Program is a mess, he said, and it explains why government shouldn’t be in the business of running insurance. Second, regulations put in place after fraud in the recovery from Hurricane Katrina have meant delays in getting Sandy victims money, while efforts to get waivers have been rejected by the Obama administration, he charged. And despite his own pleadings in the Oval Office, he said, President Obama refused to waive the rule allowing second homeowners to get funds.

Finally, Christie said, Congress still deserves blame for delaying approval of a Sandy aid package, so money didn’t start flowing until the Memorial Day after the October 2012 storm.

Why do they print the Governor’s blame game without rebuttal?

Are there no experts available on Sandy HUD and FEMA funding that could call out the Gov.’s lies?  (and I don’t mean the same affordable housing advocates who seem to be the only source NJ press corps even knows).

So I fired up this comment, which the pantywaist editors over at Spotlight will probably delete as a “personal attack”. They confuse criticism over there with personal attack.

Why not fact check the Governor’s claims instead of simply transcribing them?

The Gov. has been known to lie.

The federal regulations at issue (HUD and FEMA) were known in advance of Sandy.

Compliance with those regulations should have been a core part of the plan and program that the Christie administration designed.

The Christie administration selected a private consultant to write NJ’s plan and design NJ’s programs. Then they relied on private consultants to administer the programs.

The Christie administration wrote the RFP and the specifications of the contracts for those services.

States have been responsible for the HUD CDGB program since the Nixon administration (created in 1974), so the Christie team must know how it works. [Note: and there is an interesting, ironic, and relevant political history in how the Republicans hated President Johnson’s Great Society Programs because of their individual “entitlement” nature, because of what was called a federal overreach (before the Federalist Society was founded), and because the federal money went directly to cities and urban machines that were mainly democratic outfits. The Nixon administration opposed all that and got Congress to pass a law that block granted about 150 Johnson “entitlement” programs and sent the money to safely controlled Governors, safely insulted from any democratic pressures of the urban masses in more Republican State Houses (does anyone recall “maximum feasible participation”?). Republicans got what they wanted in the CDBG program. But I digress]

The Christie administration was warned about lack of training and staffing requirements and the need for environmental and health (mold) reviews. There were also performance failures from Katrina and other disasters that should have been considered.

The Christie Administration ignored all these warnings.

The Christie administration oversaw the contractors that did such a horrible job.

There, I wrote your story for you in a comment – so have at it next time and stop the lapdog deference. The NY Times wrote a completely different story on the same “Town Hall”.

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