BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Christie Announces $3.5M in Sandy Aid, But Not Without Protests

By Brenda Flanagan
Correspondent

“I’m happy today to be in Spring Lake to announce this grant,” said Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie took time out from his busy presidential campaign for a Spring Lake news event, announcing $3.5 million in Sandy recovery aid. The money will build floodgates and a drainage pipe at nearby Wreck Pond, where Superstorm Sandy swamped dozens of homes.

“What’s so important about today is it’s another step, another step in a long and difficult recovery from a brutal and difficult storm,” Christie said.

“The governor’s been to Spring Lake before, and he pledged his help and support in the aftermath of Sandy. And I’m here to tell you that he meant every word,” said Mayor Jennifer Naughton.

“He’s broken promises, and I’m pissed,” said Sandi Mackay.

Mackay among those not basking in the governor’s glow. Superstorm victims from Ocean County held protest signs.

“We need the governor to finish the job here in New Jersey. Obviously he’s got greater political ambitions, but he — I assumed — thought as governor he had a responsibility to the citizens of this state,” Mackay said.

“He’s never in town. We’re in his rear view mirror. He’s the number one Republican cash cow. They’re gonna let him run all over the country and raise funds for the Republican Party. He’s not gonna win the presidential election. So he might as well come back to his own state. Finish the job,” said Joe Karcz of Beach Haven West.

Democratic lawmakers don’t appreciate Christie’s absentee style, either. They’ve sponsored bills to make him reimburse New Jersey taxpayers for his security detail’s hotel and travel bills while campaigning out of state. Christie’s refused.

“We’re spending a lot of money on this. As I said, the first three months of 2015, it’s averaged more than $60,000 a month without including overtime, vehicle expense, etc.,” said Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

Sen. Ray Lesniak went a step further: his bill would compel any New Jersey governor who runs for president to resign his Trenton office first.

“He’s never here. And worse, worse, when he makes decisions, it’s based on what’s important for the voters in South Carolina, New Hampshire or Iowa, not what’s important and what New Jersey needs, but what would advance his political ambitions,” Lesniak said.

The governor’s often said he can run for office and run the state at the same time. His spokesman calls these bills just partisan drama.

“We are always pleased with every person that we help and we’re never satisfied until each and every person gets the help that they need,” Christie said.

The governor’s schedule puts him back on the campaign trail — Iowa tomorrow, New Hampshire next week. But he promised that his office will continue to focus on the people here in New Jersey.