Emails Detail Pressure on NJ Mayor from Christie Admin

Image: Emails Detail Pressure on NJ Mayor from Christie Admin Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer

Thursday, 30 Jan 2014 09:17 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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New emails have surfaced that show New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration may have pressured Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer to expedite a billion dollar office project while she was seeking flood prevention funds following Superstorm Sandy, according to The New York Times.

Citing emails and interviews with sources, the Times reports that after a severe rainstorm in May. Zimmer sent a letter to Christie pleading for funds to help with the "ongoing flood emergency" in the storm-ravaged city.

The next day the Democratic mayor was due to have talks with officials of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection about receiving hurricane relief funds to protect the town from the next storm.

But the emails reveal that the first item on the agenda was "flood control measures" at the Rockefeller property, an office complex development in the north part of town.

The politically-connected developer, Rockefeller Group, which was attempting to have the project approved by the city, sent five people to the meeting, including two lobbyists and an engineer. Mayor Zimmer also attended the meeting, but refused to discuss the project, the Times noted.

The mayor has previously maintained that the next day she received a call arranging a visit to Hoboken from Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

Zimmer has alleged that she met Guadagno in a supermarket parking lot and was told by Christie's deputy that the governor wanted the Rockefeller project to "move forward" and demanded that Zimmer approve the project if she wanted her city to receive flood protection funds.

Christie and his deputy have flatly denied Zimmer's claim that the hurricane relief was tied to her backing of the office complex. Her allegations are now under federal investigation by the U.S. attorney for New Jersey.

"Whatever the outcome of the inquiries, the emails and interviews make clear that the development-wary mayor was coming under increasing and repeated pressure from politically connected lawyers working for Rockefeller Group and from the Christie administration," the Times reported.

Christie has also denied any knowledge that his aides allegedly tied-up traffic on Fort Lee, N.J. access lanes to the George Washington Bridge last September as political payback because the town's mayor refused to endorse the governor's re-election.

Zimmer says she has only received a fraction of the $127 million in relief funds she requested for Hoboken, a city just across the Hudson River from Manhattan that was badly flooded by Sandy in 2012.

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