It looks like Chris Christie and his administration are using federally granted Hurricane Sandy relief funds in some questionable ways.
For the second time in the past week, it has been revealed that millions of dollars in Sandy relief funds are being used on real estate projects in areas hardly affected by the storm. First, NJ.com reported that $6 million in aid was spent building a senior citizen complex in Belleville, New Jersey. Belleville was ranked as just the 254th hardest hit town in New Jersey by Hurricane Sandy. It was noted that Belleville Mayor Raymond Kimble was a heavy endorser of Christie during his last campaign.
Yesterday, NBC New York reported that $4.8 million in federal aid was being spent building an apartment tower in New Brunswick, another area hardly affected by Hurricane Sandy. New Brunswick ranks as only the 188th most damaged town by Sandy.
The news becomes even more noteworthy when you learn that the apartment tower is being built by Boraie Development LLC. The Boraie family has been a major contributor to Christie campaigns in the past.
Christie and his administration must realize that the use of federal aid on both projects look questionable at best, especially given the self-serving ties Christy has to the people overseeing the developments.
Anthony Marchetta, head of New Jersey’s Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, glossed over questions from NBC New York asking if the projects represented a wise use of federal aid.
“We made an announcement to the development community that if you have any projects in those nine counties [where an emergency was declared] that would generate affordable housing, bring 'em on,” he said.
Marchetta’s answer here is less than satisfying given the legitimate questions being raised. This is especially true in light of what Hoboken, New Jersey mayor Dawn Zimmer told MSNBC in an interview about her town's experience with obtaining federal aid from Christie’s administration. Zimmer said the governor’s administration did not award enough aid to Hoboken, and that what they were given was withheld until Zimmer agreed to approve a new skyscraper in the city.
“The bottom line is, it’s not fair for the governor to hold Sandy funds hostage for the City of Hoboken because he wants me to give back to one private developer,” Zimmer said. "...I know it’s very complicated for the public to really understand all of this, but I have a legal obligation to follow the law, to bring balanced development to Hoboken.”