NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—An event that brought Governor Chris Christie to the Hub City appears to have been responsible for the unauthorized takeover of several public parking meters on August 25.
Christie's campaign for President organized the event at the Chabad House on College Avenue, but never asked permission to take over the metered spaces on Senior Street.
At least a half-dozen meters were closed to the general public and identified as "Press parking ONLY."
New Brunswick Parking Authority (NBPA) Executive Director Mitch Karon said that he "wasn’t made aware that [the] Christie campaign would block any meters off."
A spokesperson for the Christie campaign blamed the meter takeover on the event's hosts.
"The Chabad House did it for us," said Christie 2016 spokesperson Sam Smith. "That was for press parking and I guess it's normal practice for what they do."
"That was already done by the time we got there," said the campaign spokesperson. "I did not see them do it."
But the leader of the Chabad House said otherwise, casting doubt on the Christie campaign's story.
"We were just the hosts for the news conference," Chabad's Rabbi Mendy Carlebach told New Brunswick Today.
"I dont know if it was the Governor's office or the campaign," Carlebach continued, speculating that it also might have been the police that put up the signs.
However, Rutgers and New Brunswick police both denied any involvement in the posting of the signs.
As we reported, the NBPA is currently in debt to the tune of more than $243 million, and recently pushed for a big increase in the rates at the meters.
"How does a parking authority get into debt?" asked the puzzled Christie spokesperson.
At first, the campaign said that they would reimburse the NBPA for the use of the meters "if there's any issue," but later said that would only happen if they receive a bill for it.
The NBPA said that as of Friday, August 28, three days after the event, they had not heard from the Christie campaign.
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 and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.