Transit Agency gets Republican Praise, Sierra Club Wrath

Boats, dumpsters and other debris block the North Jersey Coast Line rail track. Image – REUTERS/New Jersey Transit/Handout.

Governor Chris Christie said something about a public agency that is way too rare among elected officials.

Christie was defending New Jersey Transit and its executive director for the ill-fated decision to leave trains in rail yards that ended up underwater during Hurricane Sandy and said:

“Sometimes, people make wrong decisions. It happens. It’s not a hanging offense.”

Many elected officials and reporters (especially those TV investigative reporters) are so quick to criticize public agency leaders and employees when something goes wrong.  Mistakes are barely tolerated and the results often exaggerated. Achievements are rarely touted. Some say the threshold should be higher for the public sector, since it involves taxpayer funds.

Here’s the full Christie quote:

“It’s not a hanging offense. . . .These guys made the best judgment they could under the circumstances. . . .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, 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.”

I love that quote.

Disagreeing with Christie is Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club, who said that “Christie was defending the indefensible. “Their mistakes have left one of the best transportation systems in the country a wreck,” he said.

It’s an interesting day when a transit agency gets Republican praise and Sierra Club criticism.


Gov. Christie gives vote of confidence to NJ Transit director, The Star-Ledger