Good afternoon. Today’s points:
- Bridgegate in the rearview mirror
- New: Endorsements by zipcode
- Dowling redux
The trial is over for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. And he lost.
A federal jury in New Jersey found his former top aides Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni guilty Friday on all counts for their roles in the Bridgegate scandal.
David Wildstein, a Port Authority official and the mastermind of the plot, had pleaded guilty and testified against them. David Samson, a Christie political confidant whom the governor put in charge as chairman of the Port Authority, has pleaded guilty to bribery in a related case. It’s highly unlikely that Christie will face charges in the schemes, but not getting indicted and resurrecting your political career are two different accomplishments.
Baroni, Kelly and Wildstein arranged for lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge to be closed in September 2013 as political payback against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who hadn’t endorsed Christie’s re-election. Although Christie had said he knew nothing about the plans and wasn’t involved, his aides testified that he knew before, during and after the scandal erupted.
Christie still has a year left in office — and the New Jersey legislature likely wouldn’t have time to impeach him, even if it wanted to. But even if he serves the rest of his term, he’s unlikely to be able to do anything substantial with the time left. Already, some New Jersey politicos are lining up to try to succeed him.
A year without a powerful Christie could bode particularly well for the Port Authority, where Christie used his power to dole our political favors. Now, the authority might be able to move forward with key projects like the Gateway tunnel without interference from the lame-duck governor.
Randi F. Marshall
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New idea for Dowling’s future
Suffolk County Legis. Thomas Barraga is on a two-pronged mission to expand programs for four-year college degrees in the county — and one prong involves resurrecting Dowling College’s 50-acre Oakdale campus.
Dowling closed in August after losing its accreditation and mounting $54 million in debt. Barraga is proposing to make it a SUNY campus. Given the debt burden, he asks, who else but the state could take over? He’s pitching Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on the idea as a means to stimulate economic growth.
Barraga’s second prong is to expand Suffolk County Community College to also grant four-year SUNY degrees. He says he’s met with college president Shaun McKay, administrators and professors, and their response has been “positive.” Barraga says McKay has approached H. Carl McCall, chairman of the SUNY board of trustees, and that McCall is also open to the idea.
Suffolk is losing thousands of young people each year as they complete two-year SCCC degrees and leave Long Island to pursue SUNY bachelor’s degrees, Barraga says. Stony Brook University accepts only 37 percent of applicants and has nearly 16,000 full-time undergraduates. Barraga says his plan could add as many as 50,000 SUNY students in Suffolk County.
It might be one way to stop the out-migration of Long Island’s youth.
Point of Correction
George Marlin is a member of the Conservative Party. His party affiliation was wrong in an item Wednesday in The Point.