Monday, April 30, 2007

Addicted to Speed?

The New York Times reported this afternoon that Governor Corzine's brand new GMC Savana van was speeding with the Governor on board, sometimes at sustained speeds 15 mph in excess of the posted limit on I-295, while returning him to Drumthwacket from Camden's Cooper Hospital earlier today. The story, Corzine Leaves Hospital After Accident by David Kocieniewski & David W. Chen, was posted around midday.

Corzine had been recuperating from severe injuries sustained in an early evening crash on the Garden State Parkway 18 days ago on April 12, 2007, while rushing back from Atlantic City to Drumthwacket, the official Governor's residence which is located in Princeton, NJ. He had been scheduled to attend a meeting with former radio jock Don Imus and the members of the Rutgers University Womens' Basketball Team following the brouhaha that arose out of Imus's on-air comments about the appearance of the players, an incident which ended up costing him both his TV and radio shows when sponsor support collapsed.

Though the superintendent of the State Police, Rick Fuentes, insisted for days that speed was not a contributing factor, and that a witness had come forward testifying that the vehicle was going at the posted speed limit (65 mph) at the time, a black box in the Chevy Suburban SUV the Governor was riding in at the time recorded the vehicle's speed at 91 mph just a few seconds before the crash. Corzine's injuries were exacerbated by the fact that he was not wearing a seat belt at the time, and he suffered a considerable number of fractures, including 11 ribs, a fractured sternum, a fractured collar bone, a fracture to one vertebra, and a compound fracture of his left femur.
Several issues arose from the circumstances, a few key ones of which remain unresolved.

Today, just before getting in the new vehicle for the drive back to Drumthwacket from Cooper, the Times reported a few remarks the Governor made, including the following,

“I set a very bad example,” said a contrite Mr. Corzine, who broke his left femur, his sternum and 11 ribs in the accident, speaking from a wheelchair just outside Cooper University Hospital in Camden. His voice breaking with emotion, he added: “I hope the state will forgive me. I will work very hard to set the right kind of example.”

The New York Times then reported that,

After the brief comments, Mr. Corzine was helped into a black GMC Savana van, with tinted windows, that he bought and had specially modified for his wheelchair, and left the hospital in a six-car caravan about 1:45 p.m. His vehicle followed a black state police Crown Victoria, and was followed by a Chevrolet Suburban — like the one he was riding in at the time of the crash — a Mercedes station wagon, and two other cars. The motorcade did not use emergency lights, as it had been just before the accident.

The governor’s motorcade moved with the flow of traffic on Interstate 295, at some points sustaining speeds up to 70 miles per hour several minutes at a time, according to the speedometer of a vehicle traveling alongside; posted limits were 55 and 65. Capt. Al Della Fave, a state police spokesman, said the commander of the executive protection unit, which provides security and drivers for the governor, told him on Monday that the troopers in the motorcade had been instructed to adhere to posted speed limits. He declined to identify the driver of the governor’s van or to make any of the drivers of the motorcade available for an interview.

Politicsnj, a political website posting and reporting a wide array of state political stories, had the Times article prominently linked on their website by a little after half past four in the afternoon.

By tomorrow, every paper in the state will carry the story, and it will likely continue as a prime topic on talk radio at NJ 101.5.

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At 7:46 AM, May 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was so happy that the Govenor paid his failure to wear a seat belt ticket. Such a fine example of leadership rarely seen in New Jersey politicians.

At 11:28 AM, May 07, 2007, Blogger Trochilus said...


In truth, it is unlikely that, in a less visible case, another person would have been issued a summons for the violation. The State Police and other police will frequently exercise discretion and not write a citation, especially in the case of someone who is seriously injured.

I guess the theory is that the person has no doubt reaped a tough lesson from the injuries, and that writing a seat belt ticket on top of that seems a little like "piling on."

However, in this case, they were pretty much compelled to do so, as a citizen stepped forward to push for the issuance of the citation. And coupled with the fact that Corzine was a vigorous proponent of states adopting mandatory seat belt laws while he was in the United States Senate, it made it inevitable.

So, I would respectfully demur from your conclusion that this represented, "a fine example of leadership rarely seen in New Jersey politicians" (unless your comment was a bit sarcastic?)

It is not likely that another reaction would have in any way endeared him to an already nonjurant public. He had to.

But what he will not do is press for an investigation into the State Police Superintendent's claim that a mystery witness came forward and stated that the car was doing the speed limit, just seconds before the crash. Given the fact that it was an obvious lie, one would think someone should be investigated for either making a false sworn statement or at least for obstructing an investigation. Don't you think?


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