By David Cruz
Former Police Chief Robert Cowan, once a trusted ally of Mayor Steven Fulop, is now the flamethrower threatening the mayor’s statewide political reputation. In a scathing letter to the mayor after his demotion earlier this month, Cowan, now deputy chief, accused Fulop of plotting a GWB-style payback on the Port Authority back in November.
The letter, which Cowan presented to Fulop at a meeting after he was demoted, charges that: “Directions were given to conduct traffic stops without sufficient reason, which would ultimately cause traffic jams on the streets of New York City and back traffic up in to the Holland Tunnel.”
You could dismiss Cowan’s allegations as charges coming from a disgruntled employee. After all, why would an elected official purposely create a traffic jam as political retribution? What could he possibly stand to gain?
A spokesperson for the mayor says that, while the mayor considered traffic stops at the tunnel as part of a city-wide traffic safety initiative, the stops never actually happened. Cowan says the mayor ordered him to conduct another traffic stop a few days later here at the Global Container Terminal on Port Jersey Boulevard — owned by the Port Authority, with whom the city is involved in litigation over back taxes.
“Whenever traffic safety stops have been implemented,” read a statement, “they have been conducted in accordance with the law and out of concern for the safety of Jersey City residents.”
All this has raised interest from Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, who asked her colleagues on the GWB committee to subpoena both Cowan and Fulop to get to the bottom of it.
“To the extent that there may be wrongdoing here by one or more individuals who called for the traffic to be snarled on the entryway to the Holland Tunnel, I think that we’re obligated to look into that as well,” said Handlin.
Handlin found no takers on the committee, but got support, surprisingly, from Democratic Sens. Loretta Weinberg and Linda Greenstein who signed on to a letter requesting the state attorney general to investigate. The Democrats were unavailable for comment today, but both are known to be strong supporters of Senate President Steve Sweeney, a potential rival to Fulop for the governor’s job in a few years, and someone who could benefit from Fulop having a Port Authority traffic issue of his own.