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Christie’s Lt. Gov Denies Hoboken Allegations

Scandal stories may have Gov. Chris Christie and his administration reeling, but they are fighting back. Lt. Gov. Kim Gaudagno Monday took aim at Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s weekend claim that Sandy relief for her city was held hostage to a development project important to Christie. 

Guadagno, accused by Zimmer of personally delivering the ultimatum to her last May, said, “Mayor Zimmer’s version of our conversation in May of 2013 is not only false, but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined. I look forward to the inquires. I am sure, absolutely sure all of the facts will come out.”

“I thought we had a good relationship,” said Guadagno. “Frankly, I’m surprised that Mayor Zimmer has chosen to mis-characterize the conversation I had with her about development and job creation in Hoboken.”

The Hoboken mayor is standing by her story and has said she will testify to it under oath and even take a lie detector test, if asked. She responded to Guardagno’s denial Monday with a statement saying she is “genuinely disappointed” that Lt. Governor “has lived up to her promise that she would deny linking Hoboken’s application for Sandy hazard mitigation funding.”

On Monday, the governor’s office released a fact sheet providing details about Hoboken’s Sandy Recovery Aid. According to the document, “Nearly $70 million worth of funding for direct recovery and rebuilding efforts has been received and approved. Hoboken has in no way trailed similarly situated communities in the receipt of rebuilding funds.” The governor’s office said Hoboken has in no way lost out on Sandy relief funds. (See the entire Fact Sheet below).

Two legislative committees are already probing the Bridgegate scandal and have powers broad enough to allow them to look into Zimmer’s claims as well. John Wisniewsky (D-Middlesex), who heads the Assembly inquiry, said Sunday his committee will definitely do so.

Charges that George Washington Bridge access lanes were closed in September as political retribution because Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor would not endorse Christie’s reelection bid already had Christie’s office in damage control. Zimmer’s new allegations add to the storm.

Here is video of Guadagno’s statement Monday:

Governor Christie speaks with residents and reporters as Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and Sen. Steve Sweeney look on.
Governor Christie speaks with residents and reporters in Sayreville last year after Superstorm Sandy as Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and Sen. Steve Sweeney look on. (Governor’s Office)

More coverage:

THE FACTS ON HOBOKEN’S SANDY RECOVERY AID

 Nearly $70 Million Worth Of Funding For Direct Recovery And Rebuilding Efforts In Hoboken Has Been Received And Approved. Hoboken has in no way trailed similarly situated communities in the receipt of rebuilding funds.

  • Hazard Mitigation funding is federal funding specifically targeted to prevent and mitigate against future hazards and flooding. This is not funding for Sandy rebuilding efforts.
  • Municipalities across all 21 counties in New Jersey have requested a combined $14 billion worth of funding specifically for Hazard Mitigation projects.
  • Mayor Zimmer and Hoboken requested over $100 million in Hazard Mitigation funding, or roughly over one-third of all available statewide resources or roughly the entire pool of money available specifically for municipalities for a city that is only two square miles.
  • Hoboken’s other grant requests have not been denied. The State along with the Obama Administration continue to work with Mayor Zimmer on Flood Mitigation efforts as more resources become available in the months ahead.

Hoboken Has In No Way Lost Out On Relief Funds:

Separate from Hazard Mitigation funding, nearly $70 million worth of funding for direct recovery and rebuilding effortsin Hoboken has been received and approved. Hoboken has in no way trailed similarly situated communities in the receipt of rebuilding funds.

  • Hoboken residents received nearly $6.3 million through FEMA’s Individual Assistance program, which includes monies for home repair costs, rental assistance and other needs assistance. (New Jersey Sandy Transparency, Sandy Federal Funds Tracker, Hoboken, Hudson County, Accessed: 1/19/14)
  • FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program has paid out more than $43 million to homeowners and businesses in the City.  (New Jersey Sandy Transparency, Sandy Federal Funds Tracker, Hoboken, Hudson County, Accessed: 1/19/14)
  • Private insurance has also paid out over $80 million to Hoboken residents and businesses. Governor Christie have fought for residents for the acceleration of payment on private insurance claims. (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration;  New Jersey Department Of Banking And Insurance)
  • Hoboken small businesses have gained access to over $8.5 million in SBA loans with the assistance of Christie Administration led outreach efforts. (U.S. Small Business Administration)
  • Nearly 200 hundred Hoboken families have qualified and been approved for Resettlement grants which encourage residents impacted by Sandy to stay in their communities. (New Jersey Department Of Community Affairs, Homeowner Resettlement Program)
  • The State’s Economic Development Authority has approved a Stronger NJ Business grant to a qualifying Hoboken business in the amount of $46,000. (New Jersey Sandy Transparency, Sandy Federal Funds Tracker, Hoboken, Hudson County, Accessed: 1/19/14)
  • The Federal Transit Administration has funded approximately over $2 million in projects within the City.  (New Jersey Sandy Transparency, Sandy Federal Funds Tracker, Hoboken, Hudson County, Accessed: 1/19/14)
  • Through a program developed by the State to pursue creative and cost-effective alternatives to enhance statewide energy resilience and administered using HMGP funds, the City of Hoboken received an energy allocation of $142,000. (New Jersey Sandy Transparency, Sandy Federal Funds Tracker, Hoboken, Hudson County, Accessed: 1/19/14)
  • The City was also approved to receive post-Sandy planning assistance grants in the total amount of $200,000.  (New Jersey Sandy Transparency, Sandy Federal Funds Tracker, Hoboken, Hudson County, Accessed: 1/19/14)

Through state federal disaster relief resources as well as private insurance, more than $8.5 Billion has already flowed into New Jersey to assist residents and impacted communities.

Walking Through Hazard Mitigation Funding:

Hazard Mitigation funding is federal funding specifically targeted to prevent and mitigate against future hazards and flooding. This is not funding for Sandy rebuilding efforts.

  • The claim that Hoboken has been denied any Sandy relief funds is FALSE. Hoboken has not been denied on a single grant application for recovery efforts under the current programs for which they are eligible.
  • Sandy rebuilding efforts for municipalities such as Hoboken with impacted public facilities are covered under FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program. Hoboken has already secured more than $4.3 million of this funding with the assistance of the Christie Administration. (New Jersey Sandy Transparency, Sandy Federal Funds Tracker, Hoboken, Hudson County, Accessed: 1/19/14)

Municipalities across all 21 counties in New Jersey have requested a combined $14 billion worth of funding specifically for Hazard Mitigation projects.

  • Out of the Sandy Supplemental Appropriation, only $300 million was dedicated exclusively for Hazard Mitigation initiatives.
  • Press Of Atlantic City: “Information provided Saturday from the state Office of Emergency Management shows more than $6 billion was requested from Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties for about $300 million available in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program money to address the needs of all 21 counties.Goepfert wrote in an email that requests from all 21 counties exceeded $14 billion.” (Wallace McKelvey & Donna Weaver, “Christie administration held Sandy funds ‘hostage,’ north Jersey mayor says,” Press of Atlantic City, 1/18/14)
  • In other words, only two percent of all Hazard Mitigation project requests across New Jersey could be funded.
  • Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Mary Goepfert: “That’s a reality of hazard mitigation. The state has a limited amount of money to work with.” (Wallace McKelvey & Donna Weaver, “Christie administration held Sandy funds ‘hostage,’ north Jersey mayor says,” Press of Atlantic City, 1/18/14)
  • Stafford Township Mayor John Spodofora (R): “We have gotten a very small fraction of what was requested. It’s not like it’s just any one town isn’t getting money — it seems like everyone I’m talking to is in the same boat.”
  • Given this extreme limitation on funding, priority was given to projects focused on elevations, buyouts, and energy and resiliency projects.
  • And since elevation funds and buyout grants go directly to homeowners, the amount available specifically for municipalities is approximately $100 million.

Mayor Zimmer and Hoboken requested over $100 million in Hazard Mitigation funding, or roughly over one-third of all available statewide resources or roughly the entire pool of money available specifically for municipalities for a city that is only two square miles.

  • Despite the extraordinary limitation of resources and the fact that Hoboken was not one of the state’s hardest hit communities, one of Hoboken’s grant applications was approved to pursue creative and cost-effective alternatives to enhance energy resiliency.
  • This grant was awarded from a $25 million pool for energy resiliency initiatives and was among those selected out of 400 requests statewide for energy projects. There was 5 times as much funding requested under this initiative than available.

Hoboken’s other grant requests have not been denied. The State along with the Obama Administration continue to work with Mayor Zimmer on Flood Mitigation efforts as more resources become available in the months ahead.

  • Hoboken has already been identified as a pilot community to receive comprehensive future resiliency measures to prevent flooding – one of only four projects in New Jersey selected by the Obama Administration.
  • In fact, Mayor Zimmer met with staff of Governor Christie’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding to discuss Hoboken’s Rebuild By Design flood mitigation and resiliency project less than 48 hours before her interview on MSNBC. (Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Twitter.com, 1/16/14)
  • In Her Interview, Mayor Zimmer Even Admitted Her Goal Was To Push Governor Christie To Support The Program She Had Just Met With His Staff To Discuss. Zimmer: “So part of what I’m hoping comes out of this, by coming forward, is to say, Governor, please, support this Rebuild By Design competition, come forward, fully support us, give it your — your very direct endorsement and understand, Governor, that we have to make, when we’re making our development decisions, we have some real challenges and we have to do it in a very balanced way and we have to be fair to all the property owners.” (MSNBC’s “UP w/Steve Kornacki,” 1/18/14)

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