Here’s some useful background on David Wildstein, one of the two guys – but I kind of suspect the guy – at the heart of the bridge closure scandal. It’s written almost two years ago in the Bergen Record. So there’s nothing about the current scandal. And it’s generally positive about him – or at least sees ambiguous points in the most positive light. (He and Christie were high school classmates.) But you get the sense of how things could go very wrong. Here’s a key passage right at the top …
Now, David Wildstein, formerly known by the pen name Wally Edge, is playing a key behind-the-scenes role in Governor Christie’s effort to get more control over the Port Authority, the bi-state transportation agency that has come under increased scrutiny since raising bridge and tunnel tolls in September.
The Port Authority, criticized as wasteful and dysfunctional, is the largest and most complex agency yet to be singled out by Christie as being in need of reform. And in Wildstein, an experienced political strategist who went to high school with the governor, the Christie administration may have found the perfect instrument to help shake things up, some say.
Longtime employees, however, privately describe a man intent on carrying out a political agenda rather than one built on reform or improving the region’s transportation system. They believe the appointment of Wildstein and dozens of others recommended by the governor — for jobs ranging from toll collector to deputy executive director — are evidence that political loyalty trumps merit.
If you missed it, check out this recollection from one TPM Reader of Wildstein’s time as Mayor of Livingston, NJ in the late 1980s where he seems to have had a reputation that makes his role in the bridge story not at all surprising.
The rest of the article in the record makes it pretty clear that Wildstein’s role at the Port Authority was one for which he had uncertain qualifications and undefined responsibilities. He was basically Christie’s eyes and ears there, his fixer.
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