Much of Gov. Chris Christie’s (R-NJ) appeal comes from the fact that he is often brash and a bully. People seem to love that he “tells it like it is.” Yesterday, however, Christie may have picked the wrong person to go off on.
During an event in Belmar, New Jersey on the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, Gov. Christie’s speech was met with “heckles” to “finish the job” from a group of protesters in the crowd. Christie took the chance to play up his tough guy image to the crowd and cameras and verbally unloaded on one of the group’s members, Politicus USA reported.
“I’m glad you had your day to show off, but we’re the ones who are here to actually do the work,” Christie shouted at the man. “So turn around and get your 15 minutes of fame and then maybe take your jacket off and roll up your sleeves and do something for the people of this state.”
The problem here is that the man Gov. Christie berated, Jim Keady, is a local small business owner, a former professional athlete (he played professional soccer in the 90s as the backup goalie for Tim Howard), and a former New Jersey city councilman.
Christie also said that he’d be “more than happy to have a debate with you anytime you like, guy, because somebody like you who doesn’t know a damn thing about what you’re talking about except to stand up and show off when the cameras are here. I’ve been here when the cameras aren’t here, buddy, and done the work.”
The irony in Christie making that statement in front of cameras at a staged political event aside, Keady does know what he’s talking about. He was at the event with other members of Finish the Job, an advocacy group looking to shine a light on the way the state has been spending the money in the billion-dollar program set up to help those homeowners displaced by Sandy.
According to Finish the Job’s website, of the $1.1 billion dollars in the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) grant program, two years after the storm only “$219.1 million has actually gotten out to people in need.” The Fund for Restoration of Multi-Family Housing also has another $379.5 million to help New Jersey families affected by Sandy; just $9.6 million of that has been spent.
When Bloomberg interviewed Keady about being told to “sit down and shut up” by the governor, he said, “[Christie’s] a bully. He tries to use his bullying routine to squash dissent. I’m a 6-foot-4, 215-pound former pro-athlete. I’m not going to be bullied by him. And when he goes into his bullying routine, it lays bare the fact that he does not walk to talk about the political realities that are being presented to him.”
After the storm, Keady took a month off work and volunteered “every day” in Belmar, his hometown. “They trusted me with one of their borrowed dump trucks and I was running clean up crews all over town,” Keady said. “I wanna know how many crawl spaces the governor was in, cleaning up. But he got his photo-op in Belmar.”
“It’s necessary at times to do small and large acts of civil disobedience so people’s voices can be heard,” Keady told Bloomberg. “And if Governor Christie doesn’t like that he’s in the wrong business.”
Watch Gov. Christie’s entire verbal attack.