SOUTH RIVER, NJ—A contingent of more than a dozen activists, including many Rutgers students on Spring Break, confronted Governor Chris Christie about an issue that hasn’t been addressed at any of his 2014 Town Halls.
The protestors went after the Governor’s administration for approving $4.8 million in Hurricane Sandy disaster relief funding to help build Somerset Mews, a luxury apartment building in New Brunswick that was approved long before Sandy struck.
“Governor Christie,” the group shouted in unison, in a style reminiscent of the Occupy Wall Street protests, “We demand you stop your corrupt uses of Hurricane Sandy money.”
“There are still families without homes who have recevied no aid, and yet Boraie Development is receiving millions to build luxury apartments in New Brunswick,” shouted the protestors, as they were escorted from the room by State Police.
The building in question, a 16-story, 248-unit building is currently being constructed between Somerset and Condict Streets near the city’s main railroad station. The Sandy funding came with the caveat that 24 of the building’s units be rented at affordable rates.
As we reported last month, Boraie Development had previously reneged on deals to build affordable housing units in New Brunswick. Various Christie administration spokespersons have gone silent about the issue ever since, refusing to answer our emails and phone messages.
Christie’s administration also came under fire this week after it was revealed an undercover State Police officer took photographs of the protestors. Attorney General John Hoffman has since directed the State Police to stop the practice and promised all the photographs taken Tuesday would be destroyed.
Hoffman indicated he would investigate to determine who gave the officer orders to photograph the protestors.
Christie dismissed their interruption as an effort organized by the Communications Workers of America, a union that represents public employees. It is unclear what role the CWA had in the protest, if any.
The South River meeting marked Christie’s first held in Middlesex County since last March, when he was questioned by the author of this article about a questionable school board election in New Brunswick.
Christie said Tuesday that he suspended the notorious Town Halls for several months last year due to accusations from election opponent Barbara Buono that they were taxpayer-funded poltical events.
But after coasting to re-election in November, Christie’s administration became ensnared in an embarrassing scandal on January 8, and the highly-produced Town Hall meetings have since resumed.
The Governor was in Flemington for a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, and has one scheduled for this coming Tuesday morning in Belmar’s municipal gymnasium at 601 Main Street
Residents can RSVP to [email protected]. Doors open at 9:30 am.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.