By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
Union Beach suffered sever damage in the superstorm. Gov. Chris Christie brought members of his cabinet there today to help frustrated residents with their questions and insurance claims.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Union Beach, one of the municipalities in our state most devastated,” said Christie.
Of 430,000 insurance claims statewide, Christie said, 78 percent have been resolved, but only 30 percent in the realm of federal flood insurance.
“Our local insurance companies have been doing a great job of settling and moving these claims very quickly. The national flood insurance plan has stunk,” Christie said.
Christie announced an emergency order giving insurance companies no more than five days to respond to consumer complaints. Union Beach is full of those.
“We have over 500 homes that were destroyed or are coming down. Every day they take another house down,” said Union Beach Councilwoman Cheri Roche.
Reporters asked Christie about AshBritt, the Florida firm awarded $100 million state contract for debris removal. He said the contract was publicly bid in Connecticut and New Jersey simply signed on and defended the use of politically connected lobbyists.
“This is all like a story in search of a scandal and they haven’t found one, they’re not gonna find one because all this stuff was bid and all the choices that are being made by municipalities are voluntary. I mean this is shoddy, crappy journalism,” said Christie.
A reporter asked if Christie thinks climate change had anything to do with Sandy.
“I’m not a climatologist. And in the last 100 days, I have to tell you the truth, I’ve focused on a lot of things, but the cause of this is not one of them that I’ve focused on. Now maybe in the subsequent months and years after I get done with trying to rebuild the state and put people back in their homes, I’ll have the opportunity to ponder the esoteric question of the cause of this storm,” said Christie.
Christie said the people of Union Beach don’t care what caused the storm. They just want help getting back on their feet.
He also repeated his criticism of Senate President Steve Sweeney for blocking Christie’s two Supreme Court nominees.
“You have not heard one word in the press or even from partisans that somehow these men are not qualified. Why don’t they deserve a hearing? I’d like you all to ask Steve Sweeney. It’s now been nearly 60 days since they were nominated. What’s his excuse for not giving them a hearing?” asked Christie.
Sweeney’s not doing his job, Christie said, and should forfeit his paycheck.