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Christie announces Baroni out at Port Authority

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Christie announces Gramiccioni will be the new deputy executive director of the Port Authority on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013.
Christie announces Gramiccioni will be the new deputy executive director of the Port Authority on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. - (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

Gov. Chris Christie announced that he had accepted the resignation of Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni at a hastily called Friday morning Statehouse press conference.

The announcement comes as news continues to swirl around the September closure of three local lanes to the George Washington Bridge.

Christie said today that while he still believes the issue is a "whole lot of hullaballoo," he felt accepting Baroni's resignation, which is effective immediately, was the "appropriate" thing to do given the "distractions" the issue has caused.

Left unsaid was the impact the event could have – or has had – on Christie's political future.

Though Christie repeatedly has denied that he or any senior staff member in his administration were involved in the matter, state and national Democrats have claimed it was an act of political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing him for governor.

The announcement comes just a week after Christie appointee David Wildstein resigned from his post as director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority last week over the same matter.

Last month, Baroni testified before an Assembly panel that the lanes were closed due to the commissioning of a traffic study, which then authority executive director Patrick Foye later testified he knew nothing about.

Foye did say however, that Wildstein was the one who ordered the lane closures.

Christie dually noted that he had intended to replace Baroni at the Port Authority for at least several weeks. That decision, he said, was not based on the lane closure controversy but rather because Baroni's four-year tenure had extended too long.

"Four years is enough," said Christie, who went on to commend Baroni for the work he did at the authority.

As for a motive for the lane closures, Christie chalked it up to just being a mistake on the parts of Baroni and Wildstein rather than the result of a larger political plan. He said he doesn't think there's anything more to it.

"I have to assume they're not lying," Christie said.

Deborah Gramiccioni, Christie's deputy chief of staff for policy and cabinet liaison, will take over for Baroni.

"I'm ready to get to work," Gramiccioni said after being introduced by Christie.

 
 

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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