Monday Reads: Nice Bridge, it would be a shame if sumpin’ would happen to it

George Washington Bridge Under ConstructionGood Morning!

Just when you think  Governor CrankyPants of New Jersey couldn’t be that corrupt, more stuff starts leaking out about him.

Hey, that’s a nice bridge you have there.  It would be a shame if anything happened to it.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer confirmed Sunday that she spent several hours privately with federal investigators, a day after leveling stunning accusations that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration held out Hurricane Sandy relief funds until she would sign off on a private development project, according to media reports.

Zimmer gave the U.S. Attorney’s office her journal and other documents, she said to NBC.

“As they pursue this investigation, I will provide any requested information and testify under oath about the facts of what happened when the Lieutenant Governor [Kim Guadagno] came to Hoboken and told me that Sandy aid would be contingent on moving forward with a private development project,” she said.

Asked by Candy Crowley on CNN why she had waited until now, with the scandal swirling around the Christie administration’s purported payback move to close the George Washington Bridge after the mayor of Fort Lee refused an endorsement, Zimmer said “I really didn’t think anyone would believe me and quite frankly, if I came forward, no one believes me, then I’m going to put Hoboken in an even worse position and my number one priority as a mayor of Hoboken is to fight to make sure that we can get as many Sandy funds as possible.”

Then, some Dem who did endorse Christie fessed up.

Long Branch, N.J. Mayor Adam Schneider (D) on Saturday said he got “enhanced” access to state officials after he endorsed Gov. GW-Bridge-Opening-DayChris Christie (R) during his re-election campaign.

Schneider told the Washington Post that a few months after he endorsed the governor, he contacted his office about an issue he couldn’t get resolved by the state utility board

“I’m not talking to any more underlings, and I’m not being delegated to,” Schneider told Christie’s aides, a strategy that proved successful. “I got what I needed.”

The Long Branch mayor believes the help from Christie’s office can be attributed to the endorsement, even though the governor never promised him anything.

Governor CrankyPants has decided that it’s all MSNBC’s fault.

Here’s the full statement from Reed (emphasis added):

MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Governor Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him, even taking the unprecedented step of producing and airing a nearly three-minute attack ad against him this week. Governor Christie and his entire administration have been helping Hoboken get the help they need after Sandy, with the city already having been approved for nearly $70 million dollars in federal aid and is targeted to get even more when the Obama Administration approves the next rounds of funding. The Governor and Mayor Zimmer have had a productive relationship, with Mayor Zimmer even recently saying she’s ‘very glad’ he’s been our Governor. It’s very clear partisan politics are at play here as Democratic mayors with a political axe to grind come out of the woodwork and try to get their faces on television.”

“Our journalism speaks for itself,” MSNBC spokesperson Lauren Skowronski told Business Insider in response to Christie’s office.

Christie’s deep pockets said he thought the Governer’s team was really at fault so Christie should reevaluate his hiring choices.  

The billionaire Kenneth G. Langone, Mr. Christie’s most devoted fund-raiser and loudest cheerleader, got in touch with him in recent days. Mr. Langone said he told the governor that he must be smarter about those who surround him.

“I conveyed the importance of the decisions he makes about the people around him and their qualification and their competence, including common sense,” said Mr. Langone, who called the politically motivated closure of lanes onto the George Washington Bridge “beyond the pale.”

“It upset the hell out of me,” he said.

Mr. Christie has told friends and contributors that he can weather the slings and scrutiny, even as he complains about what he sees as “piling on” by his enemies and a once-admiring news media, according to people told of his thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be associated with comments that could upset the governor or his aides. Mr. Christie has leaned hard on his wife and brother for advice, in long, searching conversations. (The governor could not bring himself to watch the traffic jam-themed parody of “Born to Run” sung by his idol, Bruce Springsteen, on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” though he was told by his college-age son, Andrew, that it was funny.)

Inside Mr. Christie’s inner circle, advisers are disputing public opinion polls, which show a noticeable drop in his popularity and job approval rating, saying that his previous sky-high numbers were inflated by election-year advertising.

Several Republican governors said they were heartened by Mr. Christie’s efforts to address the controversy head-on. So long as he is telling the truth and was not personally involved in the shutdown in Fort Lee, they said, Mr. Christie will remain a major force within the party.

You just gotta love the entire party and how it just continually strives to be out of touch with reality, doncha? Just so you know, Langone is basically the guy that founded Home Depot.  It’s one of the stores on my boycott list. 

Is it a law of evolution that the fatter the wallet, the thinner the skin? The wallet of Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, is so fat he he must sit on it funny, yet there he was the other day, crabbing to CNBC about Pope Francis’ missive to the effect that the rich are indifferent to the poor.

Langone was careful to attribute his complaints to an unnamed fellow plutocrat, who being a rich person ostensibly took the Pope’s remarks as an insult. Langone claimed his friend was so upset by the Pope’s remarks that he was reconsidering a donation for the renovation of New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

If Langone sounds a little like the guy with an embarrassing condition opening his medical consultation with the words, “Doc, I’ve got this friend…,” so be it. Langone told CNBC he advised Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York that the pope should cool it with the finger-pointing at the rich. (“You get more with honey than with vinegar,” he said.) Dolan promised to explain to the reluctant donor that he was “misunderstanding” the pope’s words and suggested he would explicate the pope’s words in a more emollient way. “And then,” Dolan said hopefully, “he’s going to say, ‘OK, if that’s the case, count me in for St. Patrick’s Cathedral.'”

Remember, this is all about a $180-million project to renovate the big cathedral on Fifth Avenue, which suggests that the priorities of the New York diocese may not leave so much room for “misunderstanding” the pope’s message.

That message, in part, was that “while the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few…. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.”

Langone hates Obama needless to say. He was active against the President as he sought reelection and was pandering to Christie prior to Romney’s nomination.

Langone is a prodigious donor, having given millions to New York University and New York City charities, including the Harlem Children’s Zone. He’s also given hundreds of thousands to conservative groups, like the Republican National Committee, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super-PAC, and the American Action Network, the dark-money outfit run by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman. Langone strongly backed his friend Ross Perot for president in 1992 and was a bundler for Giuliani in 2008.

Last summer, after the White House and Congress (whose members Langone compared to “sex fiends” when around money) clashed over lifting the federal government’s debt ceiling,Langone branded Obama “petulant” and “unpresidential” on CNBC. He even ripped the president for entering the Oval Office without a suit jacket on—something, Langone insisted, Ronald Reagan never would have done. (PolitiFact rated this claim “mostly false”; Reagan sometimes wore track jackets in the Oval Office on weekends.) Obama is “not bringing us together,” Langone said. “Divide us and we all lose. This has got to stop.”

He’s just another one of those billionaires that thinks he knows what’s best for the rest of us and that mostly means fattening his wallet.

Meanwhile, the news about the chemical leak from West Virginia is awful.  The Ohio River is tainted and Cinncinatti closed its intake valves to prevent the chemical from entering the tri-state water supply.

The chemical leaked from a tank along the Elk River in West Virginia last week. The Elk feeds into the Ohio. Traces of the chemical were found at the Meldahl Dam around 9 p.m. Tuesday and were detected at a GCWW intake around 7 a.m.

“Right at the intakes,” Jerry Schulte, a manager with ORSANCO said. “The intakes have been shut down so that’s not a concern.”

GCWW stored water and alternate sources to supply customers until the chemical plume passed Wednesday night or Thursday.

The Northern Kentucky Water District said that it has also shut down its Ohio River intakes as a precautionary measure while the remnants of the spill passes.

Water treatment experts said the water could have been treated with activated charcoal and made safe for customers to use, but 01074u.previewDeborah Metz, a superintendent of water quality and treatment with GCWW, said, “We figure the least risky scenario is for us to just let it go on by.”

The environmental impact will be tracked by comparing fish counts and even bug populations from this spring to last spring.

“We won’t be able to detect the material it will be long gone from the system but if it had an impact on the systems we might be able to see it,” Schulte said.

Freedom Industries has filed for bankruptcy in order to avoid lawsuits and fines.  This should not be possible under US Law but you know how this country is about the so-called job makers. What would be doing right now if this was Al Quaida that poisoned that many people?

 Freedom Industries, the company that fouled thousands of West Virginians’ water with a chemical leak into the Elk River last week, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday.

Freedom owes $3.6 million to its top 20 unsecured creditors, according to bankruptcy documents. The company also owes more than $2.4 million in unpaid taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, and the IRS has placed at least three liens on Freedom’s property, demanding payment.

The unpaid taxes date back to at least 2000, according to a lien filed in 2010.

Under the bankruptcy code, Chapter 11 permits a company to reorganize and continue operating.

The filing also puts a hold on all of the lawsuits filed against Freedom Industries. Since the leak last week, about a mile and a half upriver from West Virginia Water American’s plant in Charleston, about 25 lawsuits have been filed against Freedom in Kanawha Circuit Court. The company also faces a federal lawsuit.

The company’s assets and liabilities are each listed as between $1 million and $10 million in the bankruptcy filing. Chemstream Holdings Inc. is the sole owner of Freedom Industries, according to the filing. Gary Southern, who is identified as Freedom’s president, signed all of the bankruptcy documents.

On Thursday, a source close to Freedom Industries, who asked to remain anonymous because of pending lawsuits, told The Charleston Gazette that Chemstream Holdings is owned by J. Clifford Forrest of Kittanning, Pa.

coal-minerSo, here’s the bottom line on that move.

A bankruptcy filing halts most litigation, forcing plaintiffs to vie with other creditors for a share of a company’s assets. More than two dozen lawsuits have been filed since the accident, which led President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency for the affected counties. The state attorney general is investigating the spill.

Shorter bottom line:  This pits bankers and investors against people damaged by the company.  It protects the company’s assets.

Here’s a really good rant from one of those people who will have to fight the bankers and investors for damage done.

 I drove south to the point where I-79 South ends, and you pick up I-64 West to head into the interstate exchanges on the freeway that runs the length of downtown.  And there, about a mile and a half out, I smelled it, smelled the odor of the MCHM coming in through the car vents.

I keep hearing the odor described as “licorice.”  That’s not quite right, at least to me.  But I can see how you’d make that association.  The smell was both sweet and sharp, and strangely light, at least in comparison to the smells I associated with chemical leaks growing up.  But it was there, suddenly, like someone had flipped a switch.  It wasn’t there, and then the next second, there it was.

I-64 West into Charleston, coming from southbound, unrolls in a big left-hand curve just after you come into the city.  I’ve driven this route hundreds, maybe thousands of times.  I grew up here.  I recognize every building from the freeway—the banks, the hospitals, the hotels and apartment complexes, all of it.  In the deepest part of that big left-hand curve, down off the freeway and to my left, there was West Virginia-American Water Company, and the smell suddenly became very, very strong.

On my way in, the rain had let up.  Now there was low-lying fog, white-and-gray tufts and tendrils of vapor rising up from the street level all around the small wood-frame houses and gas stations and grocery stores.  The sky was dark, and the fog was in the streets, and the smell was everywhere.  I looked at the water company, and I smelled the air, and suddenly I was filled—I mean filled—with a rage that was quite sudden, very unexpected, and utterly comprehensive.

We can never predict what moments are going to affect us this way.  I’m no dewy-eyed innocent about chemical leaks.  They were regular occurrences when I was a kid.  On the merits, this doesn’t seem right now to be the worst industrial threat West Virginia has ever endured.  Hell, it isn’t the most immediately threatening one my family has endured personally; that would be the bromine leak in my very own hometown of Malden in the 1980s, the one that forced a complete evacuation of the entire town until the leak could be contained.

But something about this confluence, the way I had to bring potable water to my family from two hours north, the strange look of the landscape wreathed in rain and mist, the stench of a chemical that was housed directly upstream from the water company—something about all of that made me absolutely buoyant in my rage.  This was not the rational anger one encounters in response to a specific wrong, nor even the righteous anger that comes from an articulate reaction to years of systematic mistreatment.  This was blind animal rage, and it filled my body to the limits of my skin.

And this is what I thought:

To hell with you. 

Do go read the entire thing.  It’s worth it.

So, at least today is a Holiday and we are celebrating the life of some one who fought for social justice.  Today we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.03-martin-king-010909_14075_600x450

It took 32 years to get this holiday into law when it was signed by Ronald Reagan in 1983.  It took until 2000 to get all 50 states to recognize the holiday.

The House took up the bill in 1983 and it passed by 53 votes. Democrats O’Neill and Jim Wright, along with Republicans Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich, gave speeches supporting the King holiday.

But getting the bill passed in the Senate would be contentious. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina openly opposed it. At first, Helms introduced a filibuster, and then he presented a 400-page file that accused Dr. King of being a communist.

Senator Ted Kennedy criticized Helms and Senator Daniel Moynihan called the document “filth” and threw it on the Senate floor.

Despite Helms, the bill passed the Senate by 12 votes–even South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond voted in favor of the King holiday.

President Ronald Reagan signed the bill in November 1983. The first federal King holiday was celebrated in 1986.

It took longer for the 50 states to adopt the holiday. By 1986, 17 states had already adopted it. But there was strong resistance in Arizona to passing a state holiday.

The fight between state legislators came to a head when the King holiday was put up for an Arizona voter referendum in November 1990.

At that point, entertainers had started boycotting the state in protest, and the National Football League threatened to move the 1993 Super Bowl from Tempe if the holiday was defeated at the polls.

The King holiday lost in a two-part voter referendum and the NFL made good on its threat, taking the Super Bowl to Southern California and costing the state an estimated $500 million in revenue.

Arizona voters approved the King holiday two years later.

There was also a fight in South Carolina over the holiday. It was one of the last states to approve a paid King holiday for state employees in 2000.

The state’s governor had tried to link the holiday to a commitment to allow the state house to fly the Confederate battle flag. Instead, he signed a bill that approved the King holiday along with a Confederate Memorial Day celebrated in May.

Have a great day!  What’s on your reading and blogging list?


45 Comments on “Monday Reads: Nice Bridge, it would be a shame if sumpin’ would happen to it”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Gov. Congeniality is being exposed for the “bully” he is, presiding over an administration more intent on shoving his fat butt into the WH then showing any concern for those who voted him two terms in office. Talk about someone who knows how to wield power even if it means harm to those he governs!

    Apparently his “fans” believe that talking down and insulting people shows “leadership”. What a shame that this self indulged, self involved, blustering blowhard is basking in an unwanted limelight that proves that his “style” of governance is nothing more than a strong armed bluff. The only thing missing is the “sex angle” but a Soprano episode is playing out in NJ that will bring an end to his presidential ambitions that are actually the cornerstone of what has been happening in his home state. “Play ball or else”.

    And if West VA has taught us anything about environmental issues and deregulation than we have our heads buried in the sand. The sad part is that they knew of this leak for days and tried to hide it from the public. So much for “corporate interests” getting ahead of the people they serve.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    “Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina openly opposed it [MLK holiday]. At first, Helms introduced a filibuster, and then he presented a 400-page file that accused Dr. King of being a communist….Senator Daniel Moynihan called the document “filth” and threw it on the Senate floor.”

    Those were the days, weren’t they? We need a few Moynihans in the Senate today.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Bernie Sanders comes close but unfortunately he is only one of the few. Very few.

    • Those were the days? I know. The kids have today off from school. It is the first time it was a planned holiday in the school year that was not used as a “make-up” day for some snow day…you may remember our county was in the news the last two years because the schools in the area did not close for MLK day….

    • RalphB says:

      We still have more than enough Helms though.

  3. bostonboomer says:
  4. bostonboomer says:

    German Interior Minister de Maiziere warns over NSA ‘fixation’

    http://www.dw.de/german-interior-minister-de-maiziere-warns-over-nsa-fixation/a-17373037

    • RalphB says:

      De Maiziere warned that the real danger lay with other countries and organizations that were interested in spying on the electronic communications of private individuals.

      “Even if the NSA were to stop taking an interest in the Internet, there are other states that do so, and, to be sure, in a far more brazen way.”

      “There are organized criminals, who are interested in our transactions. There are business models that aim to sell individuals’ profile images, and so on,” said De Maiziere, adding that he had spoken with colleagues earlier in the day.

      “The protection of the Internet, against whomever, that is our common purpose, and not just this fixation on the NSA.”

      At least he’s properly identified the problems. That’s better than the Congress has done here or the media for that matter.

  5. bostonboomer says:
  6. ANonOMouse says:

    Via NBC News

    The combined wealth of the world’s richest 85 people is now equivalent to that owned by half of the world’s population – or 3.5 billion of the poorest people – according to a new report from Oxfam.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/business/worlds-85-richest-have-same-wealth-3-5-billion-poorest-2D11958883

    How much more evidence do we need that somehow this disparity needs to be addressed legally?

    • RalphB says:

      I’m past the point of caring whether it’s addressed legally or extra-legally anymore. It just has to be addressed before we have no global society left at all!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “I’m past the point of caring whether it’s addressed legally or extra-legally anymore”

        I’ll drive the getaway car!!!!!

        • RalphB says:

          I don’t think they build a car big enough to hold the loot. Maybe we could get something custom made, like those multi-trailer trucks they use in the Aussie Outback. 🙂

    • dakinikat says:

      Joseph Stiglitz ‏@stiglitzian 3m
      WATCH LIVE: The Threat of Growing Inequalities – Roundtable with @JosephEStiglitz http://bit.ly/1mw5he1 #video

  7. HAPPY MLK DAY, sisters! …and brothers;) From a book a fourth grade Mona “published” in Mrs. Wrinkle’s writing class:
    martincoretta

  8. RalphB says:

    New Yorker: Going The Distance

    Out of that very good 17000 word piece by David Remnick, this is what Bloomberg picked for a headline. This editor deserves a serious ass-kicking.

    Obama Says Racial Animus Blunts Approval, New Yorker Reports

    This is what Obama said on the subject.

    “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president. Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black president.”

    CBS Morning News only reported the first sentence, of course, the rotten asshats! I fucking hate the MSM, so much distortion from so little.

  9. RalphB says:

    A silly tweet trying to backpack on MLK day…

    PETA ‏@peta 4h

    Today, we honor Martin Luther King Jr. & the plight of animals who are tortured, abused & neglected: http://peta.vg/mlk #NeverBeSilent

    Led to this timely retort…

    TBogg ‏@tbogg 1h

    Subway: today we honor the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King with $5 foot longs. And a bag of chips that are free at last, free at last!

  10. dakinikat says:

    Not sure if any of you heard about Mary Matalin’s dis of people who were upset about the Russian purge of their GLBT and its relation to Sochi, but here’s a good response with some great info:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/01/20/mary_matalin_on_abc_s_this_week_conservative_strategist_shrugs_off_russia.html

  11. RalphB says:

    Very funny TBogg…

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Watch this for a feel-good moment. Got it from Delphyne on Facebook.

  13. RalphB says:

    Really expensive but Tesla’s sure seem like a great idea.

    Tesla Model X prototype photographed in Southern California

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/20/tesla-model-x-prototype-photographed-in-southern-california/

  14. RalphB says:

    SteveM: THE PROBLEM ISN’T WEALTH ADDICTION. IT’S LETTING THE ADDICTS WRITE THE LAWS.

    In a way, with wealth we have a sort of narco-state, where the cartel leaders intimidate the authorities into avoiding crackdowns on the trade. The only difference is that, in the case of wealth, it’s actually empowering to be high on your own supply.

    Wealth addicts will always be with us. Their addiction has probably always been a significant driver of our economy. But in the past we constrained their access to their drug of choice quite a bit more, and we also put more restrictions on what they could do while high. But they’re writing the drug laws now.

    Maybe the best explanation I’ve seen for our current state of affairs.