Messages tie Christie benefit to N.J. traffic-jam



Traffic moves across the George Washington Bridge, in Fort Lee, N.J. A top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is linked through emails and text messages to a seemingly deliberate plan to create traffic gridlock in a town at the base of the bridge after its mayor refused to endorse Christie for re-election. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly wrote in an Aug. 13 email.

TRENTON, N.J. — A political dirty-tricks investigation of Gov. Chris Christie’s inner circle broke wide open Wednesday with the release of emails and text messages that suggest one of his top aides engineered traffic jams in a New Jersey town last September to punish its mayor.



An “outraged and deeply saddened” Christie responded by saying he was misled by his aide, and he denied involvement in the apparent act of political payback.

The messages were obtained by The Associated Press and other news organizations Wednesday amid a statehouse investigation into whether the lane closings that led to the tie-ups were retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie for re-election last fall.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote in August in a message to David Wildstein, a top Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“Got it,” Wildstein replied. A few weeks later, Wildstein closed two of three lanes connecting Fort Lee to the heavily traveled George Washington Bridge, which runs between New Jersey and New York City.

The messages do not directly implicate Christie in the shutdown. But they appear to contradict his assertions that the closings were not punitive and that his staff was not involved.

Democrats seized on the material as more evidence that the potential Republican candidate for president in 2016 is a bully.

The messages “indicate what we’ve come to expect from Gov. Christie — when people oppose him, he exacts retribution. When people question him, he belittles and snidely jokes. And when anyone dares to look into his administration, he bullies and attacks,” Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, Christie said: “I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.”

“People will be held responsible for their actions,” he added, but gave no details.

Kelly had no immediate comment.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich called it “appalling” that the traffic jams appear to have been deliberately created.

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“When it’s man-made and when it was done with venom and when it was done intentionally, it is, in my mind, the prime example of political pettiness,” he said. He said the gridlock put people in danger by holding up emergency vehicles, and he added that those responsible should resign.

While Sokolich is a Democrat, Christie sought bipartisan support during his re-election campaign to bolster his image as a pragmatic leader willing to work with his political opponents.

Democratic state Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who has been leading the investigation, said the material in the documents is “shocking” and “outrageous” and calls into question the honesty of the governor and his staff.

The tie-ups occurred between Sept. 9 and Sept. 13. Sponsor links:
www.kerneli.org/potties/nc-portable-toilets/portable-toilets-in-greensboro-nc/ . But no study has been produced.

As the controversy heated up over the past few weeks, Wildstein resigned, as did Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni, another Christie appointee. Wildstein, a childhood friend of the governor, is scheduled to testify Thursday before a state Assembly committee but is fighting the subpoena.

One of the released texts came from Sokolich, who pleaded on the morning of Sept. 10: “The bigger problem is getting kids to school. Help please. It’s maddening.”

Within minutes of Sokolich’s plea, an unidentified person commented in a text message: “Is it wrong that I am smiling?” Someone joked in another text that the youngsters referred to by Sokolich “are the children of Buono voters” — a reference to Christie’s Democratic opponent for governor, state Sen. Barbara Buono.

Also among the correspondence, some of which was blacked out, is an email from Wildstein to Kelly on Sept. 7, two days before the lane closings. He said he would call her “to let you know how Fort Lee goes.”

Most of the emails were sent using private accounts rather than government ones, which would be subject to open records laws and therefore public.

The Democratic National Committee seized on the disclosures, releasing a web video that details Christie’s prior assurances that neither he nor his staff had anything to do with the lane closings.

“I’ve made it to very clear to everybody on my senior staff that if anyone had any knowledge about this that they needed to come forward to me and tell me about it, and they’ve all assured me that they don’t,” Christie said in mid-December.

Wasserman-Schultz said the new material proves that “the governor’s office ordered lane closures that were intended to make first responders experience delays, kids sit gridlocked on the first day of school, and commuters hit logjams, to punish the Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse Chris Christie’s re-election bid.”

Sokolich said that because of the traffic backup, emergency calls that average a two- or four-minute response time took up to 16 minutes.

“To me it’s appalling and I got to tell you, somebody owes a lot of people a lot of apologies,” he said. “Somebody ought to contact families waiting two, three, four times the response times when their loved ones had chest pains. Someone has to apologize to the thousands of families who couldn’t get their kids to the first day of school on time.”

Fort Lee Councilwoman Ila Kasofsky said she knows of one woman who couldn’t get over the bridge to be with her husband, who was undergoing a stem cell transplant, and another who couldn’t get to New York to be with her son as he went through kidney dialysis.

Also, she said, the heavy traffic delayed the search for a missing child, who was later found.

“I think this is 10 times worse than Watergate. Because this affected so many more lives and their health and safety,” she said.

Original: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20140108/news/701089865/

Harry Potter play to make debut on London’s West End phase

Original: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/20/us-britain-potter-play-idUSBRE9BJ17P20131220



The theatrical production will explore the previously untold story of Harry’s early years as an outcast and orphan.

Rowling will co-produce the stage show alongside experienced theatre producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender, according to a statement on her website.

“Over the years I have received countless approaches about turning Harry Potter into a theatrical production, but Sonia and Colin’s vision was the only one that really made sense to me,” Rowling said.

“After a year in gestation it is exciting to see this project moving on to the next phase,” she added.

In Rowling’s book series, Harry is introduced at the age of 10, living unhappily in a cupboard under the stairs in the home of his aunt and uncle. The new production would “offer a unique insight into the heart and mind of the now legendary young wizard”, the statement said.

Rowling will collaborate with a playwright on the new production but will not script it herself. British media said the production was expected to open in 2015.



Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book series has sold some 450 million copies worldwide and the eight movies from the Warner Bros. studios have taken more than $7.7 billion at global box-offices, making the films the largest-grossing franchise in history.

Earlier this year Rowling revealed she would also be working on a new Harry Potter-themed film series for the Warner Bros. studio.

Competition will be skipped by vonn in Beaver Creek

Url: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/other_sports/20131122_ap_cdb6f037ed664b13a1d3bffeaf52152b.html

DENVER (AP) - Lindsey Vonn will skip the World Cup races next week in Beaver Creek, Colo., as she recovers from a downhill training crash in which she partially tore one of the reconstructed ligaments in her surgically repaired right knee.

The reigning Olympic downhill champion will continue to go through therapy on her knee and is not ruling out a possible return to racing in Lake Louise, Alberta, the following week, her personal publicist, Lewis Kay, said in a statement Friday.




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The Sochi Games are less than three months away and it’s unclear whether Vonn’s crash earlier this week will affect her Olympic aspirations. The four-time overall World Cup champion fell during a training run at Copper Mountain, hurting the same knee she injured in a high-speed crash at the world championships in February. She also suffered minor facial abrasions and a bruised shoulder blade, which are on the mend.

On her Facebook page Friday afternoon, Vonn wrote: “Thank you all so much for your support and well wishes. It has been a very difficult few days and your positive messages have helped tremendously. Related articles:

Thank you again, I’m proud to have the best fans in the world! Love, Lindsey.”

She then added, “PS: don’t worry guys, this is only a temporary setback. Nothing will keep me from picking myself back up and continuing to fight for my dreams.”




Her surgeon, Dr. Bill Sterett, said that Vonn is “progressing well while not losing any of the strength she worked so hard to achieve.”

Vonn, who lives in Vail, was looking forward to making her season debut in Beaver Creek on a new women’s course set up ahead of the 2015 world championships. Vonn knows Lake Louise quite well, though, and has been so successful there - winning 14 times - that it’s become known as “Lake Lindsey.”

After Lake Louise, the World Cup women’s circuit swings back to Europe for super-G and giant slalom races in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Dec. 14-15. Then, it’s off to Courchevel, France, for a slalom event on Dec. 17.

Vonn remains three wins away from matching Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell’s record of 62 World Cup race victories.

Phamous Phil’s and Foo Pickup get TELEVISION time

Url: http://www.philly.com/philly/food/Phamous-Phils-and-Foo-Truck.html

, a nonetheless tasty barbecue joint on Germantown Pike in Lower Providence (outside Collegeville), sought out the services of Rocco DiSpirito and his new Food Network show Restaurant Divided, whose shtick involves splitting a struggling place in half and trying a new concept on one side.

Will a chop house work better than pulled pork?

Set your DVR for Thursday, Nov. 21 at 10 p.m. to see Restaurant Divided on Food Network.

The Food Network blurb:

Phil and Robin have depleted their life savings to fulfill Phil’s dream of opening a barbecue restaurant in their hometown of Collegeville, Pa. Phil is desperate to keep his dream from going up in smoke, while Robin thinks they need to transform into a more broadly appealing chop house restaurant to suit the region. Chef Rocco DiSpirito steps in to help both with their visions, and after seeing both restaurants open for a night, Rocco decides which concept will provide this couple the brighter future.

While you’re at it, set your box for Thursday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. to see as it dazzles on Eat St. on the Cooking Channel.