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Thread: Christie says NJ Transit chief wasn't to blame for loss of rail equipment

  1. #1
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    Christie says NJ Transit chief wasn't to blame for loss of rail equipment

    http://www.northjersey.com/news/NJ_TRANSIT.html

    Wow. The Governor's explanation is so weak it is hard to fathom. He is truly teflon coated.

    $120 million in damage and a year later the Governor Christie goes with the "find a scape goat" and "blame it on Civil service rules" solution. An entire year and that is the best they can do. And folks buy it.

    Really?

    Why not fire director Weinstein?

    This is curious.

    I guess it is a good thing for Weinstien he did not cheat the state out of a free school lunch, because then the wrath of the Governor would have be brought down on him.





    Emails tracked NJ Transit's plan for rail fleet during Superstorm Sandy

    The day before Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, more than a dozen NJ Transit workers — from yardmasters to the top executive — shared emails describing where and how the agency’s rail fleet was being moved to shelter it from the storm. In one of the most questionable decisions made during the storm, many locomotives and passenger cars were parked in low-lying areas in Hoboken and Kearny — a key move that caused more than $120 million in damage after the storm surge flooded the rail yards with brackish water.


    How this occurred remains a mystery, particularly as damage was minimal to the operations of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority across the Hudson River in New York State, which faced the same devastating storm but managed to move its fleet to higher ground.

    This week, at a meeting with The Record’s editorial board, Governor Christie said the decision at NJ Transit was made by one employee who didn’t follow the agency’s plan and didn’t inform his supervisors about his actions. NJ Transit officials declined to elaborate on that remark Friday, leaving open the question of how a single low-level manager could be responsible for a decision that led to so much destruction.

    But a review of emails obtained through a public records request shows that in contrast to Christie’s remarks, at least 15 agency executives and managers, were aware of fleet movements into low-lying areas in the days leading up to Sandy. Included in at least one email, was NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein — whom Christie has held blameless for the damage and whom the governor praised enthusiastically during the editorial board meeting.

    Unknown is whether other directives went out that were not recorded in emails and that contributed to the decision to park the rail stock in Hoboken and Kearny. But the email chains establish that information on rail fleet movements was shared widely by top decision makers at the agency.

    “A person made a stupid decision that he was supposed to vet up the chain and he didn’t,” Christie told The Record’s editorial board on Thursday, when asked whether he had any confidence in Weinstein, given the damage to the rail equipment. “It was a lower level manager that made the decision on the cars that you’re talking about, where they were placed. It was not vetted up the chain as it was supposed to be vetted up the chain.”

    Christie, however, was decisive in targeting a single individual, and then said the agency could not fire him because of restricted civil service regulations. In fact, the agency is not governed by civil service regulations, but a spokesman for the governor, Michael Drewniak, said Friday that NJ Transit disciplined the employee “within the procedures provided for at NJT. The discipline was related to his particular failure amid the overall losses caused by the unprecedented impact of Sandy.”

    In one email — sent Oct. 28, roughly 24 hours before Sandy’s fierce winds struck the state — Kevin O’Connor, the vice president of rail, forwarded an update of rail equipment movement to Weinstein.

    “FYI,” O’Connor wrote at 5:12 p.m., “equipment being moved as planned.”

    It showed that as of 5:30 p.m., train sets were moving across the system, including dozens of cars sent to the low-lying Meadows Maintenance Complex where hundreds of pieces of equipment wound up getting flooded in Sandy’s surge. “Got it,” Weinstein replied 10 minutes later.

    In another email sent the same day by William Lawson, a superintendent of equipment management, numerous people were alerted about the movements of the last passenger trains in the shutdown. Following the storm, Lawson was moved to a project planning position at a salary of $100,000, down from the $110,797 salary he made as a superintendent.

    Lawson, a 25-year employee who worked his way up through the ranks, has not returned several phone calls, and agency officials declined to comment on whether he was the employee penalized for the decision or what his specific role was during the storm.

    Weinstein has yet to comment on Christie’s most recent statements about what occurred.

    But for the past year, Weinstein has told a different story, often passionately, about what he has said was a deliberate decision to leave millions in assets in the Meadows maintenance yard — a sprawling facility in the middle of the swampy Meadowlands, and in Hoboken, a site that has been known to flood during severe storms.

    Immediately after Sandy, Weinstein said the agency based the decision on the best weather models available and that those models predicted an 80 to 90 percent chance there would be no flooding. He has also said that the yards had never flooded before in NJ Transit’s 30-year history, so officials never could have known the equipment was at risk. Yet, four months earlier, the agency had received a $46,000 climate change report it had commissioned that warned the region where the two yards sit were flood prone. Weinstein in December admitted to legislators he didn’t read the report.

    Weinstein had also said the agency had a plan to protect assets during the storm. When The Record requested it, the agency refused to release it. The 3½ page plan was obtained only after The Record sued NJ Transit and showed the agency had a procedure for moving railcars and locomotives to higher ground. Nowhere did the plan recommend what NJ Transit ended up doing: moving millions of dollars worth of railcars and engines to a low-lying yard near water.

    The governor made it clear on Thursday, however, that he doesn’t blame Weinstein for the damage.

    “Jim Weinstein doesn’t have ESP. He doesn’t know that this guy is gonna not do what is written down on paper that they’re told to do,”
    Christie said, calling Weinstein “a stand-up guy” who took responsibility.”

    “I have great confidence in him and I think he’s done an extraordinary job,” the governor said.

    Jeff Tittel, president of New Jersey’s Sierra Club, said he doesn’t believe it is possible one person could act in isolation, particularly because Christie was “hands on with Sandy.”

    “I think it sounds like, ‘The dog ate my plan and the sun was in my eye,’ ” Tittel said.

    Phil Craig, a member of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers noted that O’Connor has said publicly that it takes at least 12 hours to move rail equipment to safety, making it difficult to know how one person could orchestrate the movement of several train sets to the yards without his bosses catching on.

    Christie said Weinstein never knew what the employee was doing with the equipment and could only demote him.

    “Jim Weinstein didn’t know about it until after it happened,” he said. “Everyone else at NJ Transit executed that plan except for one guy.”

    Email: rouse@northjersey.com

  2. #2
    "This week, at a meeting with The Record’s editorial board, Governor Christie said the decision at NJ Transit was made by one employee who didn’t follow the agency’s plan and didn’t inform his supervisors about his actions. NJ Transit officials declined to elaborate on that remark Friday, leaving open the question of how a single low-level manager could be responsible for a decision that led to so much destruction."

    Too, too funny!


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Buster View Post
    Wow. The Governor's explanation is so weak it is hard to fathom. He is truly teflon coated.
    How so? It's not like he personally runs NJT you know. Wait, you DO know that right?

    An entire year and that is the best they can do. And folks buy it.
    Probably because it's true.

    Really?
    Really.

    Or would care to explain, based on your years of service in Public Transportation, why it's implausible that a lower-level (which isn't that low really) made an operational decision that could cause this?

    Why not fire director Weinstein?
    Probabloy because it was found he wasn't accountable for it.

    This is curious.
    Only to conspiracy hunters and Anti-Fatboy Democrats.

    Typical uninformed, politically-directed Buster Bluster.

    By the way, how's your Solar Panel installation coming along Sunshine?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    How so? It's not like he personally runs NJT you know. Wait, you DO know that right?



    Probably because it's true.



    Really.

    Or would care to explain, based on your years of service in Public Transportation, why it's implausible that a lower-level (which isn't that low really) made an operational decision that could cause this?



    Probabloy because it was found he wasn't accountable for it.



    Only to conspiracy hunters and Anti-Fatboy Democrats.

    Typical uninformed, politically-directed Buster Bluster.

    By the way, how's your Solar Panel installation coming along Sunshine?

    The Governor tells us how "hands on" he was during sandy. He is widely applauded for that. But on this little itty bitty $120 million mistake, he knew nothing and neither did "his" guy Mr Weinstein.

    One man messed it all up, one man had $120 million dollars worth of trains put in the wrong place. Because we know running a railroad is always a one man show. Oh, and the Governor tells us that this one man is protected by civil service rules so he can't be fired. And BTW Civil Service rules are currently what the Governor is trying to eliminate. Oh and according to the article above NJ Transit is not part of the Civil Service so therefore the guy isn't protected by civil service rules. Oh and they wont say who this guy is and NJ Transit won't comment on what happened.

    Curious

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Buster View Post
    The Governor tells us how "hands on" he was during sandy. He is widely applauded for that. But on this little itty bitty $120 million mistake, he knew nothing and neither did "his" guy Mr Weinstein.
    You'd have to be the most ill informed moron in existence to think the Governor is making operational decisions as to where to store NJT equipment for safekeeping during a storm.

    You cannot possibly be that dumb.

    If you do believe such a thing, you simply have no idea how Government or management of an independant agency work.

    Lol, Gov. Fatboy making equipment decisions. Do you blame him when your train doesn't have enough seats on a busy day too?

    Maybe it's a conspiracy against you Buster, hatched by Gov. Fatboy, to make you stand.

    Curious.

    One man messed it all up, one man had $120 million dollars worth of trains put in the wrong place. Because we know running a railroad is always a one man show.
    The one thing this lolfest of a thread tell me Buster, is that you have no idea of any kind how a railroad (or Government) is run.

    Curious
    I'm sure Investigator Bluster will get to the bottom of it.
    Last edited by Churchill; 10-13-2013 at 10:47 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    You'd have to be the most ill-informed moron in existence to think the Governor is making operational decisions as to where to store NJT equipment for safekeeping during a storm.
    Where did I say that?

    Did you read the article or did you just jump right into your elementary school teacher mode?

    There was a plan. A new plan. Bought and paid for. But NJ Transit did not follow it. Therefore a $120 million of damage was done to NJ Transit trains. Mr Weinstein said they did not think it was a necessary action. Then he said he never read the 3 page plan. Then Governor Christie blamed someone else. And the Governor gives and excuse as to why he can’t fire this nameless bureaucrat that just so happens to tie into his latest public policy initiative. And then that excuse is BS.

    That is a long string of fishy stuff.

    BTW, during Sandy the Governor was being all “… I’m leading my team from the operations center…” and “…my people have it under control because we are adults…”

    My question is in terms of politics why not just make Weinstein the scape goat and prove you’re a no sh!t Governor?

    More than likely the blame would have been hard to refute. Weinstein was the boss; his department ignored their own brand new plan.

    But I guess it is all good. The federal government gave NJ Transit $231 million for repairs.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Buster View Post
    That is a long string of fishy stuff.
    Not really. It's only "fishy" if you're a biased political hack looking for criticism ammo anywhere he can find it.

    BTW, during Sandy the Governor was being all “… I’m leading my team from the operations center…” and “…my people have it under control because we are adults…”
    You can say it as many times as you like Bluster, it won't change. If you think, in ANY way, that the statement above equates to "making operational decisions as to where to store NJT Equipment", you're an idiot.

    But we both know you're not an idiot. You're a political biased enemy who loathes Gov. FatBoy.

    My question is in terms of politics why not just make Weinstein the scape goat and prove you’re a no sh!t Governor?
    So you ask why he doesn't take a politically expedient "easy way out" and being critical that he didn't?

    Maybe he didn't take the easy way out because to do so would be wrong? Agency CEO's (or their equivalent) give orders and make plans, they don't call service-level staff to make sure it's being done, thats other staff job.

    It's 100% plausable that a "superintendent of equipment management" level position, which isn't that low level a job btw, could **** up hardcore, not inform his bosses, not follow policy and result in this outcome.

    Yes, that positions superior (who would very likely not be Wienstein, but a lower-level Manager) should be ensuring his guys get their **** done, but in this kind of circumstance, you often trust your guys to do their jobs, especially if they've been there a while.

    The only question I would have is why the employee wasn't terminated. I would guess there IS some form of employment protection in place, probably a Union if I had to venture a guess.

    The federal government gave NJ Transit $231 million for repairs.
    I didn't see that in the article you cited. Can you point out that line, or provide a source?

    If true, it's par for the course. Federal Money probably paid for a good portion of the equipment in the first place, putting in place a "must keep in working order" Federal interest requirement. Thats how it works.

  8. #8
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    http://www.northjersey.com/news/Sena...g_Sandy__.html


    Hearings loom on NJ Transit's Superstorm Sandy plan for fleet

    As the legislative and federal investigations into the George Washington Bridge lane closures continue, Governor Christie’s administration is now facing another potentially damaging probe, as a state Senate panel prepares to launch hearings to examine why NJ Transit left a third of its fleet in low-lying rail yards during Superstorm Sandy.

    Sen. Bob Gordon, chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee said on Friday afternoon that he received clearance from state Senate President Stephen Sweeney to begin hearings into how nearly 400 pieces of NJ Transit rail cars and locomotives were left in flood-prone yards in Hoboken and Kearny, resulting in $120 million in damage.

    “The issue is how did we lose $120 million worth of rolling stock?” Gordon said Friday. “A bigger issue is what can the state be doing to provide greater protection to its transportation infrastructure in light of the fact that we’re likely to see more frequent storms as a result of climate change.”

    Gordon said he heard about the explanation Christie offered to The Record last year: that a rogue, low-level employee moved the equipment to the yards on his own, without telling NJ Transit Executive Director Jim Weinstein.

    That explanation, Gordon said, has been “unsatisfactory.”

    The governor’s explanation also conflicts with the explanation Weinstein had been giving to the public and to legislators in the year since Sandy. He has said that the agency moved trains into the rail yards because it never expected them to flood and that data available showed the chances of flooding were small.

    The Record reported last year – after suing the agency for the release of public documents – that NJ Transit had a plan for relocating its equipment to higher ground, but that the plan was ignored.

    NJ Transit Spokesman John Durso, Jr. declined to comment on Friday.

    Gordon said legislative staff has been gathering information on the Sandy rail car damage for weeks and that he expects a hearing to be launched in a matter of weeks rather than months.

    “We’d certainly like to hear from people at NJ Transit, he said. “There are others who are not in the organization now who could comment on how NJ Transit works. I’m interested in what aspects of the organization can be improved so this” doesn’t happen again.

    NJ Transit did commission a $46,000 report that advised on how to protect its infrastructure for a variety of severe weather events resulting from climate change, including hurricanes. The agency received the report four months prior to Sandy making landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, 2012, but Weinstein told legislators he didn’t really study the report.

    And this past Christmas Eve, the agency released what it called an “after action” report for Sandy. However, the document, produced by the Texas A & M Engineering Extension Service, did not list any names of the people who put the report together or the people interviewed. It also included no references or citations of sources.

    It recorded observations of NJ Transit employees and praised them for working during Sandy. Gordon said he wants to see that report. But it made no mention of the low-level employee Christie blamed.

    Durso has refused to say when the agency received the report.

    Staff Writer Melissa Hayes contributed to this article. Email: rouse@northjersey.com

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