BY MICHAEL HAYNE
Governor Super Fleece seems so hell-bent on making as many public appearances as possible in the wake of his Superstorm Sandy response that he must have forgot that he's still beholden to scrutiny. And among that scrutiny is his questionable decision to blindly award Florida-based recovery company, AshBritt, a handle emergency debris removal services on Nov. 2 without bothering to actually take competitive bids.
Although officials claim the contract was handed out so quickly in order to expedite rebuilding, Democrats can't help but raise questions considering that AshBritt contributed $50,000 to the Republican Governors Association and the chairman of AshBritt’s lobbying firm is hosting a fundraiser at his Virginia estate for Christie on Thursday.
“These hearings will tackle questions regarding the expedited emergency contracting related to the Sandy response and recovery, and allow us to evaluate whether the contract awarded to AshBritt and the contractors retained were selected based on merit and represent the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” said Sen. Robert Gordon, D-Fair Lawn, chairman of the one of the committees involved in the joint hearing. “They will also allow us to examine and evaluate how the state performed in an emergency situation,” he said accroding to NorthJersey.com.
And in his typical Tony Soprano, Joisey Guy style, Christie predictably shot down the questions.
“I’ve got real things to do. I’ve got to rebuild communities. I don’t have time to sully myself with this garbage,” he said at an event in Little Ferry last week according to NorthJersey.com.
Perhaps that's true. David Letterman certainly has more doughnuts for Christie to eat on late night television.
“Legitimate questions have been raised about the process under which AshBritt received its contract, and whether the way it was handled was in the best interest of New Jersey taxpayers,” Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, said in a statement. “No one questions the need for a timely and ongoing clean up and response to Sandy, but it must be done in a way that ensures taxpayer money is used as judiciously as possible.”
Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate, Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), has also been critical of the AshBritt contract and introduced legislation last week that would create a competitive bidding process for contracts related to a state of emergency. The Joint Hearing on the no-bid contract will take place March 8th.