New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, third from left, walks past piles of snow with staff and security as he leaves an event Friday, Dec. 31, 2010, in Freehold, N.J., where he talked about last weekend's snow storm. Christie left for Florida and a family vacation at Disney World last Sunday. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) (Mel Evans)

Chris Christie back in Jersey, back to firing people

The New Jersey governor declines to take responsibility for the state's poor blizzard response, blames some mayors


Alex Pareene
January 5, 2011 2:45AM (UTC)

While hundreds of New Jersey residents were snowed in for days because various municipal governments were forced to divert resources to plowing state roads because the state government didn't plow them, for some reason, Chris Christie was at Disney World, in Florida. He left the day the storm hit -- mere hours before most flights out of the Northeast were grounded, when the scope of the storm was becoming clear to the airlines, at least -- and then said he couldn't have come back to the state anyway, because the massive blizzard delayed air traffic. But he doesn't regret anything. Because of his children.

"I wouldn't change the decision even if I could do it right now," Christie said. "I had a great five days with my children. I promised that."

And, yesterday: "My first responsibility in life is as a husband and father." (This would be a better argument if, like, his children had desperately needed a lifesaving operation in Florida, instead of a ride on the teacups. But I am not a father, so I don't know how traumatizing it would've been to temporarily delay a family vacation in order to take care of a work emergency.)

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I'm sure New Jersey residents are thrilled that the governor loves his children so much that he is willing to lie about the attention he paid to his job responsibilities while on vacation, though. While Christie was out of town -- and the state's lieutenant governor was with her dying father -- he says he was in regular contact with the acting governor, Senate president Steve Sweeney. Except that's news to Sweeney:

"I never spoke to him the entire time," Sweeney told me. "He and I never spoke until he got back."

Who's telling the truth? It sure looks like Sweeney. He made similar statements to News12 New Jersey on Wednesday, even before the governor got back.

Christie also attacked the (mostly Republican) mayors who plowed state streets, for some reason. ("I know who these mayors are and they should buck up and take responsibility for the fact that they didn't do their job.")

But don't worry, New Jersey. Your hard-charging Republican governor is back in state and back to work. In addition to yelling at people, he is back to firing people. Gov. Christie quietly fired seven county school superintendents, without replacing them. The superintendents received an e-mail last week that read, "Your last work day is today." (Their three-year terms expired yesterday.) Christie is fighting for the right to appoint random rich people with no education experience to these jobs, just like Mayor Bloomberg recently decided to do in New York.

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Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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