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Christie on NJ Transit Storm Decisions: "Not A Hanging Offense"

Thursday, January 03, 2013 - 01:12 PM

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

NJ Governor Christie is offering a full-throated defense of NJ Transit chief James Weinstein's decision to store rail trains in yards that flooded during Sandy -- a misstep that cost the agency $100 million.

"Well, you know, if they knew for sure it was going to flood, believe me, [executive director] Jim Weinstein would have moved the trains," Christie said, in response to a reporter's questions. "This is a guy with decades of experience in government, with extraordinary competence, who made the best decision he could make at the time. Sometimes, people make wrong decisions. It happens. It's not a hanging offense."

Speaking Tuesday at a press conference, the governor reserved most of his ire for House Republican leadership, which failed to vote on a $60 billion Sandy aid package. But when questioned about his support of Weinstein, Christie said:

A transcript follows.

Reporter: in light of the report last week that NJ Transit had been warned months ahead of time that  rail yards in Kearny would likely flood in the event of a storm like Sandy, do you still support the leadership?

Christie's full response:

"I absolutely support the leadership -- and I don't believe that that's what the report said. I mean, I think you've gilded that report up pretty well in the lead up to your question. I don't think that's what the report said. I think these guys made the best judgement they could under the circumstances. And all of you are geniuses after. Once you see that the Kearny yards flooded, you could say 'well, geez, they should have moved the trains.’ Well, you know, if they knew for sure it was going to flood, believe me, [executive director] Jim Weinstein would have moved the trains. This is a guy with decades of experience in government, with extraordinary competence, who made the best decision he could make at the time. Sometimes, people make wrong decisions. It happens. It's not a hanging offense."

The head of NJ Transit, Jim Weinstein, told a state panel last month the agency relied on past experience -- and the understanding that it had up to 20 more years to prepare for climate change -- when it came where to store its rolling stock during the storm.

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