Most of the party’s leaders are staying quiet tonight, avoiding the cameras and waiting for more information, Save Jerseyans, but Mayor Norman Schmelz (R-Bergenfield) is one of a few GOP’ers weighing in on today’s release of emails pertaining to the George Washington Bridge lane closures in nearby Fort Lee, New Jersey.
He didn’t mince words.
“It is too early to ascertain what exactly transpired when entrance lanes were closed to the George Washington Bridge on September 9, 2013 from Fort Lee, NJ,” Schmelz said in a statement obtained by Save Jersey. “Unfortunately, if the media reports remain accurate, it appears that an enormous abuse of power has been perpetrated by those in government. I strongly condemn this abuse of power by these people, and any abuse of power in government, whether it be by a Republican, Democrat, or Independent. Bergenfield, Bergen County and the State of New Jersey has seen enough violation of the public trust by those in government, and it saddens me to see it once again.”
Bergenfield, a North Jersey community of about 26,000, lies about 20 minutes from the George Washington Bridge down Rt. 4 East and only 15 minutes from downtown Fort Lee.
Governor Christie said there would be accountability in a late-Wednesday press release but has yet to announce specifics about any personnel changes or further action. Developments nevertheless continued to break including a report that the closures may’ve exacerbated ambulance response times and, in at least one case, contributed to an elderly woman’s death.
Former Governor Tom Kean, Sr., who recently had a falling out with the Governor over his son’s successful struggle to survive a state senate leadership coup, spoke to media outlets including the Washington Post, expressing surprise over both the substance of the controversy as well as the fact that, “[d]uring past controversies, his advisers were always quick to provide his circle with talking points. Well, today those talking points never came. We’ve heard nothing.”
Schmelz toppled Democratic incumbent Carlos Aguasvivas last November and was elected along with council candidate Kathy Sahlberg.
“I hope and pray, for the good of us all, that these media reports are inaccurate, and mistaken, and that we have not seen another misuse of power by government officials,” Schmelz continued. “However, if these reports are deemed to be verified, I hope that everyone involved will be held accountable for violating the public trust of all the people of New Jersey.”
Fort Lee’s Democrat Mayor Mark Sokolich was less hesitant to assign blame, invoking the word “venomous” in a Wednesday afternoon CNN interview.
#satwords scandal reactions. Gotta love it.