Here is an end result of Gov. Chris Christie’s decision on Tuesday to use a State Police helicopter to fly from Trenton to his son’s high school baseball game in Montvale and then fly to Princeton for a political meeting. These are excerpts editorials that appeared in New York and New Jersey newspaper editorials on the helicopter trips.
New York Times:
What makes the governor’s helicopter excursions especially galling is that he has spent the last year and a half demanding sacrifices from everybody else in his state. After lamenting that New Jersey’s budget had a hole as big as the Grand Canyon, he has slashed funds to schools and communities. He wants a wage freeze from state workers, and he wants to slash Medicaid so that a family of three making more than $5,317 a year would no longer be eligible. For anyone doing the math, those helicopter flights reportedly cost about $2,500 an hour
Mr. Christie has built his image on tough talk about protecting the ordinary taxpayer. Does that taxpayer now need protection from the highflying governor?
The Record of Hackensack:
Well, most of us would like to share the governor's sacrificial choices of transport. There is no fiscally defensible reason for using a state helicopter to attend a child's ballgame. Even if the state were flush with cash, which it certainly is not, this is a prime example of government waste. Many New Jerseyans are struggling to get by. They hear Christie talk about fixing public schools while they see him able to send his children to exclusive private schools. They hear him defend both cuts in mass transit service and drastic hikes for that reduced service while they see him use a state helicopter to attend his son's ballgame.
Hypocrisy, even with the aid of a helicopter, does not fly.
The Star Ledger of Newark:
This issue is hypocrisy. This is a governor who holds a press conference every time he catches a public official eating lobster on the public dime, or getting free rides on E-ZPass. As prosecutor and as governor, he has given speech after speech telling public officials they should stay a mile away from even the perception of self-dealing. But taking a ride in a State Police chopper to see his son Andrew play ball is somehow kosher?
The governor yesterday showed characteristic chutzpah when he claimed that these trips are free, because the pilots need time in the air for training purposes anyway.
Please. A State Police spokesman said that if the pilots weren’t ferrying the governor to family events, they would be out inspecting rail systems, ports, and nuclear and chemical facilities. In other words, they would be doing their jobs. Is Andrew’s game more important than that?
The Asbury Park Press:
Well, Gov. Chris Christie was really batting a thousand Tuesday when it came to bad judgment and poor image-building. And the governor missed an opportunity to call for clear rules concerning the use of State Police helicopters for personal jaunts. On Thursday afternoon, faced with growing public outrage, he announced that he would reimburse the state for the cost of two helicopter trips to his son’s ballgames. Fair enough. But this should be a wake-up call to the governor to practice the “shared sacrifice” he preaches.
The Times Of Trenton:
The Christies’ back-and-forth jaunt sends a decidedly mixed message to taxpayers who have heard the governor sermonize again and again about the need for austerity. Gov. Christie often trades on his image as just a regular guy, speaking off the cuff at town meetings, getting riled up on talk radio, saying he represents the people in his blunt, bluff way.
The people, however, do not have recourse to a $12.5 million aircraft to get to their kids’ games or a limo waiting to transport them 100 yards to a ball field. Those are luxuries more befitting the state’s wealthiest residents, whom Gov. Christie continues to protect from the so-called “millionaires tax.”
The Courier Post of Camden:
So then, it's a head-scratcher that the governor didn't see how zipping around North Jersey Tuesday in a state helicopter for purely personal and political business and then initially refusing to reimburse the state for the costs could hurt his image and make him look hypocritical.
To impose austerity on such levels across state government, asking tens of thousands of public workers and millions of New Jerseyans who've lost their property tax rebates to share in the sacrifice, means the person asking has to lead by example.
—TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM