Gov. Christie Is Mum on Hurricane Sandy Contracts

Gov. Christie Is Mum on Hurricane Sandy Contracts

Gov. Chris Christie has taken another hit from the Editorial Board of The Star-Ledger newspaper, which criticized him for refusing "to disclose in any kind of detail" how the state spent about $90 million on Hurricane Sandy contracts. 

The July 19 editorial said the long-awaited 24-page oversight reports for all the federal money spent on Sandy contracts "don't reveal anything about what went wrong with the incompetent contractor that handled the state's largest rebuilding program" for which the Christie administration "has so far paid $36 million in federal relief funds."

The editorial said the reports "make no mention of the $6 million in Sandy money that Gov. Chris Christie personally steered to a senior housing project in Belleville — a town barely scathed  by the storm — where the Democratic mayor later endorsed his re-election.

"What they do disclose, in meaningful detail, is the state's spending on exactly four Sandy-related projects: the repair of two marinas, a park in Elizabeth and the boardwalk in Belmar. This is what the administration expects legislators and the public to accept as its official answer to a law requiring strong independent oversight of federal Sandy relief funds. Are you satisfied, people?

"Recall that legislators passed the Sandy oversight law last year because they were worried that some of the billions of dollars flowing into our state might be abused. It was signed by Christie in March, and required monitoring of all recovery contracts of $5 million or greater.

"We know from federal officials that hundreds of pages of integrity monitor reports were completed by the state on Hammerman & Grainer, Inc., the main contractor that bungled its rebuilding program. The Christie administration paid more than $5 million in relief dollars for those reports.

"Yet now the state is refusing to release them, justifying its secrecy by claiming that they are 'advisory,' 'deliberative' and 'investigative,' not public documents that need to be disclosed.

"The administration has also hired a separate contractor — dubbed the 'gatekeeper' — to review the internal monitoring reports. This firm just so happens to employ Christie's brother, Todd. The administration says Todd Christie has no personal role in the oversight process, and the state comptroller pre-approves all Sandy contracts.

"Maybe so. But if there's nothing to see here, why so secretive?"

Meanwhile, the governor has continued to take his case to the public. In March, at a town hall meeting in Berkeley Township, Ocean County, Christie warned that the state could receive as little as $10 billion of federal funds to cover its $37 billion worth of damage, adding that "We are sharing that money with lots of different folks."

He went on to criticize the federal government, which he said should "get the hell out of the flood insurance business because they don't do it right." Then he added, "I wish I had a magic wand and a checkbook. They don't give magic wands to governors."

 Earlier, at a town hall meeting in Toms River, NJ, Christie had a different reception  He was met by about a dozen protestors who carried signs that read simply "RESIGN."