By David Cruz
Gov. Chris Christie was ready. With an organized demonstration expected at today’s town hall in South River, state troopers were at the door and all over the gym at St. Mary’s School. The anticipated guests prompted the governor to add to his rules of the town hall.
“The state workers’ union has decided that one of their goals and missions in life is to recruit people to come here to the town hall meeting and when you begin to ask questions, they will start to scream and yell over you and over me,” said the governor.
The demonstrators were better organized than they were last week, and there were more of them — over a dozen, all escorted out of the gym with a symbolic kick in the rear from a governor comfortable that he had won the day.
“Well congratulations, you have now seen the latest gift given to you by the public sector unions in the state of New Jersey,” mocked the governor as the demonstrators were led out of the gym.
Sayreville resident Ron Sturgis thought the demonstrators were rude. “They kind of made a fool of themselves because I didn’t understand what they were yelling at,” he said. “They were just yelling and it wasn’t making any sense to me.”
Donna Roehsler of South River agreed. “They have a place to do it but I think Christie handled it correctly,” she said. “I noticed that a lot of people in the audience told them to sit down and shut up, quite frankly.”
Christie blamed the Communication Workers of America for the demonstration. The CWA said today Christie should stop whining. The town hall remained lively, with questions ranging from taxes to education and even, almost, a reference to the George Washington Bridge, which came after a question about the special committee on investigations refusing to look into corruption allegations in Newark.
“What I can assure you is that just because the legislative branch is unwilling to move on this for whatever reason through Assemblyman Wisniewski. The executive branch is not going to sit by idly when you hear some of the stories that we’ve heard about what went on with the Water Authority and other things that have happened in Newark and things that are happening in Newark as we speak,” said the governor.
Christie said Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable was looking into the Newark allegations, but Constable wouldn’t confirm an investigation, saying he would update the governor when he got more information. The governor even sparred with a woman who criticized his stance on the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m sorry that you favor Obamacare and I don’t,” he snapped. “I mean, sorry, that’s just the way it goes.”
The governor was as combative today as he’s been in a long time. This is a format that clearly works for him, which could explain why he announced that he is ramping up his schedule of town hall events. All demonstrators, apparently, welcome.