Update: That NJ mayor’s Christie story still isn’t a controversy
posted at 9:31 pm on January 27, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham
In a true case of Drive-By Media coverage, we saw a ton of news about Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s allegations of Christie wrongdoing, precious little evaluation of any evidence she brought forth, and now that every piece of evidence is disappearing or debunked, lo and behold no one is covering this story. They do swirling allegations, not swirling exonerations.
When last I wrote of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, she was a woman of many stories and several diary entries, a handful of pro-Christie tweets, and the inexplicable decision to keep her story of strongarming to herself until the governor was reelected. She also had fellow Democratic mayors refuting her version of events, and no one had convincingly illustrated the city of Hoboken had suffered any financial harm because of the gubernatorial vendetta she alleged.
This weekend, the AP (and credit to them for analyzing, though the analysis would have been helpful with the initial MSNBC reporting of these allegations) determined that Hoboken’s Sandy relief money was on par with other cities:
The city whose Democratic mayor said GOP Gov. Chris Christie’s administration tied Superstorm Sandy aid to her support for a real estate project has, so far, received a level of aid from state-run programs that is similar to what other towns got, a review of grant data shows. Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer is no longer discussing her allegations that New Jersey’s second-largest city has been shortchanged on Sandy funds, that its aid is being held “hostage” as political leverage or that she feared further retribution in the next round of funding.
Guy also provides the full breakdown of the state level aid data. As you’ll see, Hoboken received $142,080 in aid which was precisely the same as 39 other communities of similar size. When Zimmer’s spokesman, Juan Melli, was asked about the claims that Hoboken was shortchanged this week, his response seemed strangely different than his boss’s previous tale.
This leaves Zimmer’s diary entries as the only intact evidence of Christie’s wrongdoing. Guy, again, following local reporting on the matter:
Here’s yet another strand of evidence, via the Newark Star Ledger:
In July 2013, Zimmer was questioned by attorney Louis Zayas, who was representing former Hoboken public safety director Angel Alicea in a wrongful termination suit. On Friday, during an interview with a local news outlet, Hudson County TV, Zayas accused Zimmer of concealing the existence of her diary in that deposition. Reached tonight by The Star-Ledger, Zayas repeated his claims. “When we asked her about that journal, she claimed she didn’t have one,” Zayas said. “Now she’s claiming that she has a diary or calendar of some sort that she wrote down this incident between the lieutenant governor and herself.” … Zimmer declined to comment through a spokesman, citing a request from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to not give interviews. The spokesman, Juan Melli, said Zayas’ claims were baseless.
A New Jersey liberal columnist offers a piece that’s emblematic of the journalistic irresponsibility necessary to keep this story alive. In it, he manages to be a vocal supporter of Zimmer’s evidence-less version of events because Christie is guilty until proven innocent or something and horribly personally insulting to the woman he believes without evidence, making claims about her mental health, ahem, without evidence (“She could be a psychotic liar.”). There seems to be a pattern, here.