Christie Talks Addiction, Football Hazing, Ebola Screening

By Brenda Flanagan

“If it wasn’t for them, I would be dead,” said Kathy Case.

Recovering alcoholic Case praised staff at a Trenton Catholic Charities program. Several clients here told their stories to Gov. Chris Christie who’s made it clear he champions programs that reform treatment for recovering addicts. Case just graduated after a year of counseling.

“If it wasn’t for this program, I probably, my daughter wouldn’t be speaking to me right now, and I probably wouldn’t even have my son,” she said.

Christie came here to announce another state initiative — the “Facing Addiction Task Force.” It includes members of his cabinet and members from the private sector.

“I look forward to working with this team of people as we seek solutions that’ll broaden our efforts in removing the stigma of drug addiction, promoting treatment, counseling and other services in order to help people reclaim their lives,” said Christie.

But how does that square with Christie’s political mission? As chair of the Republican Governors Association, he’s campaigning for Florida Gov. Rick Scott who signed a mandatory drug testing law for welfare recipients.

“I’m not gonna comment on every issue that another candidate brings up in another state and go through the compare and contrast with all of you,” Christie said.

In other local matters, Christie called recent reports of alleged sexual hazing in Sayreville High School’s football program, “are extraordinarily disturbing. As father of a number of teen athletes, the idea that kind of conduct could be permitted — if it’s true — is absolutely unacceptable. This is a nightmare for the parents of those young men and it tells us something about the attitude allowed to pervade in that program.”

Christie says he asked the AG and education commissioner to investigate. He also addressed Newark Liberty International Airport’s selection as one of five selected by the CDC to start screening for Ebola next week.

“We’re not ready at the airports yet, but we will be. I had a good conversation with the White House yesterday,” said the governor. “Of course, we’re concerned. But that concern is being moved into action. I hope the federal government moves even more quickly to get Newark Airport up and ready to go.”

Christie also commented on Amtrak’s plan to repair the Hudson River train tunnels. He’s not partial to any plan, but insists on splitting the cost.

“New York has been an advocate for it, but with everything but their checkbook,” he said.

Meanwhile, don’t look for Gov. Christie at the State House. He’ll be out campaigning today and tomorrow for GOP gubernatorial candidates in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.