Monday, March 31, 2014

LA's Surprisingly Intimate Architectural Icon

Like many big time modern architects Frank Gehry brings no small amount of ego and self-promotion to his work. Sometimes his buildings announce themselves with such brazen audacity and self-awareness that we're left to wonder whatever happened to the "form follows function" mantra.
But then something like the Walt Disney Concert Hall  ops up amidst the endless freeways and concrete alienation of "downtown" Los Angeles and envelopes us with such a sense of wonder that we can't help but be smitten.
Its ever-changing reflection bathes us in LA's unique light. Its soaring curves make us want to take flight, like musical notes dancing above the proscenium. Its surprisingly cozy alcoves tease us, coaxing us to play hide and seek with art.
We experienced all of this during a recent tour of the concert hall  -- an instantly-recognized landmark, yes -- but also a real, working, admirable acoustic gem that in ten short years has quickly become a beloved musical treasure in the City of Angels.
Gehry envisioned a place in which people would come together and feel comfortable doing so - an iconic destination with which people would identify and think of as their own. He wanted to create “a living room for the city” where music would be accessible to great numbers of people. “I’m trying to make a building that invites you in - the body language is welcoming,” Gehry explained as he planned the structure.
In the architect's original design, Walt Disney Concert Hall was intended to be clad in stone. After receiving much acclaim for his titanium building in Bilbao, however, he was urged to change the stone to metal. With this new material Gehry was able to tweak the shape of the exterior, creating the shinnering silver sails we see today.
The end result is art wrought mammoth but in an manner and with a sense of balance that never overwhelms the visitor/participant. You're awe struck without being in the least bit intimidated.
A living room for the city? Yes, and so much more!

Gehry even designed the pattern for the rugs.

All photos copyright 2014 by Dan Cirucci.

Finally, Fosse Gets His Due, And Then Some

In 1964 British entertainer Anthony Newley brought a musical to Broadway called The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd.
Newley wrote the book, music and lyrics for the show and he starred in the show and directed it as well. In other words, he pretty much had complete control over every aspect of his creation.
That's something that dancer, choreographer, director and sometimes actor Bob Fosse always wanted. Something he always fought for.
And the funny thing about the title of Newley's show is that it perfectly encapsulated Fosse's view of show business. He loved the show but hated the business.
He had no time for what he perceived as the phonies, the dilettantes, the ass-kissers and the money-gubbing bastards who populated the world of entertainment from Broadway to Hollywood and beyond.  And like many entertainers he had a love/hate relationship with his own craft.
Fosse's background was acnhored in the dark, dying days of burlesque and the seedy world of one-night stands, dingy bars and dives that reeked of stale beer and tobacco. He grew up in Chicago and performed in such venues since he was a kid. And within that past Fosse suffered a trauma from which he never fully recovered.
Bob Fosse smoked too much, drank too much, took too many drugs, slept with too many women, made too many demands, suffered too many manic and depressive episodes, threw too many tantrums and hurt too many people (including himself) to survive very long. But in the process he created some great works and won some important accolades both on Broadway and in Hollywood. And even though Fosse barely reached his 60th birthday in 1987 his influence is still felt throughout the world of entertainment.
In fact, a Fosse show or movie is playing somewhere or other all the time. Right now, for example two Fosse shows (Chicago and Pippin) are big hits all over again on Broadway and Fosse's film of Cabaret is considered the benchmark for all modern movie musicals.
Yet, Fosse would be the first to remind you that Bob Fosse did not so much invent a new genre as reinvent one. All of Fosse's heralded tricks and twists and turns and jerks and tics were adapted from the tried and true, razzle-dazzle world of vaudeville.
Every bit of of this is entertainingly chronicled in Sam Wasson's big, new biography simply entitled Fosse. This is one bio that's both definitive and deliciously seductive.
Wasson spent three years researching and writing this book and it shows. It's a masterful production - one worthy of Fosse himself. But fortunately the chronicle of Fosse's life is much more organized, deliberate and rational than the life itself. Not that the book is in any way boring -- not by a long shot.
This is an exhilarating read -- thorough, engaging, visceral and passionate.
The author immerses himself in the world of Fosse and backs it all up with candid interviews, anecdotes, insights and details never before revealed.
This book also lifts the lid off the brutally competitive and challenging world of Broadway and Hollywood and starkly unearths all the phonies, has-beens, wannabes and BS artists that populate that world. It also details the unending toil, raw vulnerability, constant insecurity, relentless obsession  and naked ambition behind the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd.
After you read Fosse you'll never see a Broadway show or a watch a movie quite the same way again. You'll know, you'll understand and even if you're laughing through the whole performance, you'll still comprehend (if not feel) the anguish that went into it.
Wasson has given us a ravishing story that's worth your attention -- a story you'll never forget.

'Catholics For Corbett-Cawley' Debuts Trrow.

On Tuesday, April 1st, Governor Tom Corbett will announce "Catholics for Corbett-Cawley" in -Pittsburgh, organizing Catholics across the state in support of Governor Corbett's record of keeping his promises to Pennsylvanians. 
Governor Corbett was in Rome last week to visit with Vatican officials about the 2015 World Meeting of Families, and was able to personally invite Pope Francis to attend. It's estimated the event would bring more than 1 million people and $100 million in economic impact to Pennsylvania. 
A lifelong member of the Catholic faith, Governor Corbett has been a champion for family values and education, investing historic state funding into basic education while providing alternatives for learning in private, parochial and charter schools. 
The governor continues to work towards creating a brighter future for all Pennsylvanians. Governor Corbett and Lieutenant Governor Cawley continue to deliver on the “More Jobs, Less Taxes” agenda laid out in the 2010 campaign, keeping their promises to make government work harder and smarter for the people, reduce and eliminate taxes, balance our budgets on-time, hold the line on new taxes, empower the private sector to grow and create jobs by reopening Pennsylvania to business, responsibly use the once-in-a-generation opportunity our Commonwealth has in the Marcellus Shale to create and support jobs, reinvest in our communities and reduce energy costs, bolster support for our most vulnerable and invest historic amounts in basic education.

Important, Inspiring Women? Don't Forget This One

Before Women's History Month draws to a close, we wanted to mention one Very Important Woman who deserves to be recognized.
Because, it isn't often that you can say that you know an honest-to-goodness legendary figure -- someone who's made groundbreaking accomplishments and changed life for the better for millions. This is a woman who's kept true to her ideals and principles, who has not only charted new paths for others but who has fearlessly and tirelessly championed the cause of justice at every stage of her life.
And she's still making a difference every day.
We're referring to Philadelphia's own Arline Jolles Lotman; a lawyer, activist, scholar, researcher and commentator who is also a treasured friend to all those who have the good fortune to know her as we do.
Arline's been a trailblazer from the getgo.
She was the first Executive Director of the Governor's Office on the Status of Women appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp in 1972.
In that capacity, she faced tasks and challenges that came with no guidebook. But she wasted no time in getting right to work.
She drafted and implemented Pennsylvania's state ERA required changes to executive, legislative and administrative departments and agencies under the Governor's Executive Order mandate. Under her leadership, federal ERA ratification was secured for Pennsylvania -- no small feat at the time.
She structured and chaired investigative public hearings to end gender discrimination in the public and private sector in health care, and credit granting. In fact, she presented testimony before many state and federal entities, including Congress the FDIC and the NIH. She testified during hearings on health delivery and its related institutions.
Her work in these and other fields helped to bring about regulation changes for state regulated entities and voluntary public written notice adherence by the Pennsylvania State Retailers Association, which included department stores, providing all employed women, whether single or married, with equal access to loans, credit cards, etc. That in itself was a huge achievement because it freed woman to pursue their own lives.
Though her work sometimes brought immediate change, in some areas it took decades. With the NIH, for example it took 30 years to achieve some significant results and still gender discrimination has not been eliminated in the vast scope of health related matters
Arline continues to fight for public policy and legal advancements that embrace gender equality.At the Governor's Office on the Status of Women, Arline opened hearings on gender protocols on drug testing and NIH representatives were witnesses at those hearings. But only within the last ten years has NIH had a protocol to test drugs on women as differentiated from men. Arline was on this case long before that and she's still studying the gender  differentiated implications of health care and drugs.
To give you some idea of how far ahead of her time she was, take a look at this recent CBS 60 Minutes report on how drugs can affect sexes differently and remember that Arline Lotman's pioneering work helped bring this to light:

Arline Lotman was also one of the first women to assume leadership roles at the Philadelphia Bar Association. For example, she chaired the Association's Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention which evaluated candidates for all levels of state judiciary and even some federal court prospective appointees. She led a panel of attorneys and non-attorneys as reviewers of qualifications and was the first Chair to add diversity to the panel by expanding its members to include representatives from the Bar Association's Minorities in the Profession Committee and Women's Committee.
In 1992 she was appointed by Philadelphia Mayor Edward G. Rendell, and President of City Council, John F. Street to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter Commission where she joined government officials, attorneys, business, political and civic leaders charged with statutory responsibility for drafting charter amendments for submission to the voters as ballot referenda. This was only the second time in the history of the City Charter that such a Commission has been impaneled.
Arline Jolles Lotman has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Medical Center, at Temple University and at the Villanova University Law School. She's served as President of the Temple Law Alumni Association, on the board of Temple's Law Foundation and on the Board of Visitors.
She has served on the American Bar Association's House of Delegates (the first woman Philadelphia Bar Association representative to do so)  and she has been a member of the ABA's Standing Committee on Election Law. She has also chaired the Philadelphia International Visitors Council and served on the University of Pennsylvania Public Interest Advisory Board. She's long been a champion of pro bono public interest work in the legal community and was one of the first to advocate for such work as part of the formal law school curriculum.
A prolific writer, Arline's work has appeared in the National Law Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pennsylvania Lawyer and numerous other publications. She brings to everything she does not only her scholarly gravitas (JD, MA, ADR) but also her lifelong experience and keen insight. Over the years, she has generously mentored and encouraged women in all walks of life.
And here's the thing: Through it all, she remains irrepressibly human, lively, inquisitive, fiercely loyal and genuine to the core.
We are proud to know her and honored to salute her.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Yo, Cherry Hill: Cherry Blossom Time Awaits!

A special message from Cherry Hill's indefatigable public-spirited citizen, Joe Zanghi:

On April 12th, 2014 - Cherry Hill Firefighters will continue their 40 year tradition of cherry tree plantings along Chapel Avenue in Cherry Hill, NJ. In addition to this effort - - American flags will be placed among the cherry trees at Kennedy Memorial Hospital and Joyce Kilmer Elementary School on Chapel Avenue in remembrance of the victims of September 11, 2001 and to show proud support for our brave men and women in the military.

Chapel Avenue’s two mile avenue of blossoming cherry trees is to encourage a “Celebration of Cherry Hill” event! Whereas the full community can have an opportunity to showcase all of the positive attributes of Cherry Hill by the staging cherry blossom themed activities during the time period of the cherry blossoms presence in Cherry Hill.

The cherry blossoms in Washington, DC are projected to arrive between April 8 and April 12th, 2014!

Based on this information we can expect the cherry blossoms to arrive in Cherry Hill sometime in the third week of April and lasting to the end of the month.

All are welcome to witness the two mile avenue of beautiful cherry blossoms. We encourage families to bring their children and explain to them what this cherry blossom avenue is all about. Have them place an American flag or a flower at the base of any of the cherry trees  - so that they can be taught a lesson of patriotism and love for country.

Cherry tree contribution are still needed for this year’s planting! If anyone cares to support this year’s effort of planting cherry trees on Chapel Avenue  - - a contibution of $100.00 will pay for one cherry tree. Contributors can contact me at:


Joe Zanghi

Witness a scenic drive-through Chapel Avenue's two-mile avenue of cherry blossoms in Cherry Hill, NJ

Driving West on Chapel Avenue:

More Great Scenes From Australia, New Zealand

The warm glow from our recent trip to Australia and New Zealand continues to linger.
Accordingly, here are a few more shops to brighten your Sunday.
All photos copyright 2014 by Dan Cirucci.

Bank & Bourbon At Loews: Quite Spiffy!

When your property is part of an iconic 20th century landmark, you play to your strong suit.
That's what Lowes Philadelphia Hotel has done with their new Beef & Bourbon restaurant and bar on the corner of 12th & Market in what Philadelphians have always known as the PSFS building -- the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society.
This architectural gem that defines the modern era has always been sleek and spacious -- a shimmering, cool, high-ceilinged temple to capitalism. But now Loews has taken this wraparound corner and updated it to create a restaurant, bar and lounge with a warm, inviting glow amidst an open floor plan offset by vivid blues and balanced by more private spaces for group meetings and events.
Though not officially open yet, Bank & Bourbon is already welcoming hotel guests and those who just can't wait for the grand debut on April 9.
We dropped by recently and were so impressed we couldn't help but snap these photos for you.
Bank and Bourbon will offer modern versions of seasonal American fare at breakfast, lunch, dinner and during bar hours. The restaurant clearly announces that it means business and represents a definite step up for the neighborhood. And that "bourbon" connection is no accident. Look for this spot to become a haven for bourbon affcinados or those who aspire to such status. Bank & Bourbon will feature the only custom bourbon aging program in the city.
We figure this will be a hugely popular hangout not only for hotel guests and conventioneers but also for in-the-know Philadelphians looking for a power breakfast, business lunch or simply a place to unwind after work.
It looks like a winner!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Inside Bridgegate's Web of Relationships

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." -Sir Walter Scott

They're calling it "venomous, gratuitous and inappropriate."
Some have even termed it "sexist."
Do you know what we're talking about? Have you been following this?
We're talking about the Mastro Report - the internal review of the Bridgegate affair conducted by the law firm of Gibson Dunn under the direction of former federal prosecutor Randy Mastro.
Although the Gibson Dunn investigation did not include interviews with key figures Bridget Anne Kelly, Bill Stepien and David Wildstein (it seems none of them are speaking to any investigator right now) it does come to conclusions about their participation in the Bridgegate affair and it contains this paragraph:
And when speculation of political retaliation surfaced as a reason for this lane realignment, Mayor Sokolich said he found it “incomprehensible that there’s any truth whatsoever to these rumors.” Something happened to change this dynamic dramatically, however, in August 2013. By that time, Kelly had become Deputy Chief of Staff, assuming the post left vacant by her predecessor, Stepien, who had departed in April 2013 to run the Governor’s re-election campaign. Because Stepien was her “benefactor,” Kelly relied heavily on him during this transition. And at some point after Stepien’s departure to run the campaign, Kelly and Stepien became personally involved, although, by early August 2013, their personal relationship had cooled, apparently at Stepien’s choice, and they largely stopped speaking.
It seems a lot of liberals, a lot of Democrat officials and a lot of critics in the media are upset about this aspect of the report. They want to know: Why discuss a supposed personal relationship such as this in the context of the investigation?
What does one thing have to do with the other?
According to Mastro, this bit of business about a discontinued "personal relationship" was included because it may have some bearing on why Kelly and Stepien were apparantly not communicative during what may have been a key period in the whole series of Bridgeate events.
From that standpoint, including it seems to make sense to us.
We've worked in situations where co-workers have developed an attraction for one another, became an item and then uncoupled. It isn't always pretty. And oftentimes it spills over into work.
Either of the parties in the relationship can and often do confide in another co-worker. Likewise one of more co-workers may view one or another party in the relationship as vulnerable after the breakup. Third parties may see opportunities, both personal and professional.
Or, one of the uncoupled co-workers may turn on the other (either directly or indirectly, openly or surreptitiously) in the workplace setting.
We're not saying any of this actually happened in Bridgegate. But we have seen these kinds of things happen.
And when these kinds of relationships occur in the world of power politics, well -- you've got a whole new dynamic.
Let's be frank about this: People who work at this level in the highly-charged world of government and politics work in an all-consuming atmosphere where the lines between the personal and the professional often become blurred. This is a world that assumes an air of unreality - an insular world fraught with pressure - a world of endless days and long hours. People become consumed with the heavy air of power that surrounds them and often, more than a little of it rubs off. They can start to feel invincible.
Also, there isn't a lot of time for contemplation. This is a tough, hard-knuckled world --  a world where people may be inclined take their solace when and where they find it.
Indeed, the Mastro Report takes note of the blurred lines between the personal and the professional in such a setting when it recommends new restrictions in the Governor's Office as follows:

Restrict the Use Of Personal Email Accounts For Conducting Official State Business
– The individuals responsible for these acts used their personal email accounts to communicate about this plan. That practice has to end. Absent extraordinary circumstances, public employees working in trusted positions should use their official state email accounts when conducting state business. As a matter of transparency, accountability, and public access, that is the prudent and responsible thing to do. The Governor’s Office should also make State employees aware of the implications, pursuant to public record disclosure and retention requirements, of text messaging to conduct official state business. This will further promote transparency, accountability and public access. 
So, yes it all of this goes into the mix.
Everything often is related to everything else and all of these factors bear on one another.
In fact, when the details of Bridgegate first began to emerge we confided to friends that we wouldn't be at all surprised if more than professional inter-relationships had some role in all this.
It's safe to say that we'd be even less surprised now.

Video: Megyn Sees 'Comeback' For Christie

Megyn Kelly's interview with Chris Christie on last night's Fox News Kelly File.
Tune in Monday night for more of this interview.

Christie: 'It Won't Hinder Presidential Run'

Lots Happening At Free Library Of Philadelphia!

Read All About It

Join the Free Library for a celebration of literacy and the arts at the eighth annual Philadelphia Book Festival! This beloved celebration continues with events at neighborhood librariesthroughout the city, along with headlining author events in the Parkway Central Library’s Montgomery Auditorium during National Library week from April 13-19, 2014. The Book Festival now stretches into every Philadelphia community, ensuring that book worms and literacy lovers from across the city can get in on the fun! Headlining authors that will appear throughout the week at Parkway Central include Debbie Macomber, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Pat and Gina Neely.

Check It Out

Would your business like a tax credit of 75% or more?

Consider joining the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program (EITC). Pennsylvania offers businesses the incredible opportunity to direct a portion of their state tax dollars to Educational Improvement Organizations like the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. These funds are used to support innovative educational programs that directly benefit students in Pennsylvania schools. Corporations that make a donation are eligible to receive 75% of their contribution in tax credit! Learn more here.

Take Action!

Every day, the Free Library works to provide teens with opportunities to master new technology and make their voices heard at our Hot Spots and through initiatives at libraries throughout the city. We now have the fantastic opportunity to expand this programming with our Library Bullhorn project. Through mentoring teens in blogging, web design, coding, video production, and more, we will give them a platform to engage in civic discourse in a meaningful way.

But we need your support! Help the Free Library inspire and empower Philadelphia’s teens by voting for our Library Bullhorn project in the Knight News Challenge.

Your support will help us provide positive opportunities for our city’s teens and truly make a difference in their lives. Please vote today!

Exhibit A

A photograph from Survival in Sarajevo
The Library will host a new traveling exhibition entitled Survival in Sarajevo: Jews, Muslims, Serbs, and Croats during the Siege of Sarajevo, 1992-1995, in partnership with, a Jewish historical institute dedicated to preserving 20th century Jewish family stories from Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Opening March 31 through May 2, Survival in Sarajevo will be mounted on the second floor of the Parkway Central Library and will be free and open to the public during regular library hours.

Survival in Sarajevo tells the story of La Benevolencija, the non-sectarian humanitarian aid agency established by Jewish families in Sarajevo’s last remaining synagogue and through which more than 50 Jews and Muslims, Serbian Orthodox and Catholic Croats all worked together to provide aid—and hope—to an entire city besieged by war. Digitally printed on 10 panels that were designed in Vienna, edited in The Hague, and printed in Bucharest, Survival in Sarajevo paints a broad picture of Jewish history, from the expulsion of the Sephardic Jews from Spain in 1492 to the heroic deeds of the last Sephardim living in Sarajevo 500 years later.

Start Here, Go Anywhere

April is a busy month in the neighborhood libraries! Join the Library for the 2014 Philadelphia Science Festival; celebrate Shakespeare's birthday with a bash at Parkway Central and events around the system; take cooking classes at Haverford; watch screenings of selectSundance films from Film Forward at various libraries; or practice English at Lillian Marrero. 

Now Appearing

Max Brooks | The Harlem Hellfighters | Illustrated by Caanan White 
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
Parkway Central Library
Free! No tickets required.
One of history’s least celebrated—and most successful—military units, the 369th Infantry, nicknamed “The Harlem Hellfighters” by their enemies, was the first African American regiment to fight in World War I. Simultaneously surviving prolonged attacks from the enemy—the Hellfighters endured an incredible 191 consecutive days of combat, more than any other unit—while suffering constant barrages of extreme discrimination from their own government, the nearly mythic 369th never lost a trench under its defense. Max Brooks tells their heroic story in his “intensely furious” and “painful, memorable” (Publisher’s Weekly) new graphic novel. A former Saturday Night Live staff writer, Brooks is also the author of the New York Times bestseller World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, a Studs-Terkel-meets-George-Romero verite take on the legions of the undead that was adapted into a film starring Brad Pitt; The Zombie Survival Guide; and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks.


Barbara Ehrenreich | Living with a Wild God: A Memoir  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
Parkway Central Library
Free! No tickets required.

“Veteran muckraker” (The New Yorker) Barbara Ehrenreich is the New York Times bestselling author of 14 books, including the working class exposé Nickel and Dimed andBait and Switch, in which she investigated the economic shadow world of white-collar unemployment. A journalist, historian, and social critic, she writes with great passion on subjects as varied as healthcare, sex, class, and families. In middle age, she came across the journal she had kept during her wild adolescence. In her new memoir, Ehrenreich—a staunch atheist and rationalist—sets out to reconstruct the philosophical and spiritual inquiry of her youth. 

Holiday Closings

The Free Library of Philadelphia will be closed Friday, April 18 in observance of Good Friday.
For up-to-date information on neighborhood library closures, pleaseclick here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pope Francis: Confession 'Not A Sentencing Court'

This morning in the Hall of Blessings Pope Francis received in audience the six hundred participants in the annual course of the internal forum of the Apostolic Penitentiary. For a quarter of a century this dicastery has offered the course, especially to recently ordained priests and deacons, to contribute to the formation of good confessors.
In his address, the Holy Father encouraged those present to “treasure the experience acquired with wise creativity, to further help the Church and confessors to perform their ministry of mercy, which is so important”, and reflected on three key points related to confession.
“Firstly, the agent of the ministry of Reconciliation is the Holy Spirit”, he said. “The forgiveness that the Sacrament confers is the new life transmitted by the Risen Lord by means of His Spirit. … Therefore, you are required always to be “men of the Holy Spirit”, witnesses and proclaimers, joyful and strong, of the resurrection of the Lord”. The Bishop of Rome encouraged them to welcome penitents “not with the attitude of a judge or even that of a mere friend, but with God's charity. … A priest's heart is a heart that is able to be touched. … If it is true that tradition suggests the dual role of doctor and judge for confessors, we must never forget that the doctor cures and the judge absolves”.
Moving on to the second aspect, he explained, “If Reconciliation transmits the new life of the Risen Lord and renews baptismal grace, then your task is to give this generously to your brethren. A priest who does not take care of this part of his ministry … is like a shepherd who does not take care of his lost sheep. … But mercy is at the heart of the Gospel! It is the good news that God loves us, that He always loves man the sinner, and with this love he draws man towards Him and invites him to convert. We must not forget that the faithful often struggle to receive this Sacrament, both for practical reasons and for the natural difficulty of confessing one's own sins to another man. Therefore, it is necessary to work hard upon ourselves, on our humanity, so as never to be an obstacle to but rather to facilitate an approach to mercy and forgiveness. … Confession is not a sentencing court, but rather an experience of forgiveness and mercy!”.

Finally, Pope Francis referred to the difficulties that may frequently be encountered in confession. “There are many reasons, both historical and spiritual. However, we know that the Lord wished to offer this immense gift to the Church, offering the baptised the security of the Father's forgiveness. For this reason, it is very important that particular care is taken in the celebration of this Sacrament of forgiveness and salvation in all dioceses and parish communities. It is essential that in every parish the faithful know when they can find available priests: when there is trust, the fruits can be seen”.

Christie: 'I'm Determined To Be A Better Governor'

Christie: Hindsight Always Makes You Look Smarter

Watch Christie's Presser Live Here At 2:30 PM!

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will hold a news conference in Trenton this afternoon at 2:30 PM.
Watch it live right here!

Lead Investigator On Why Christie's Exonerated

Randy Mastro, the lead attorney for the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP team, appeared on Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File” with Megyn Kelly and “America’s Newsroom” with Martha MacCallum to discuss the findings of his independent third-party review.

Mastro, who is a registered Democrat, talked about his “exhaustive and thorough investigation” that included “more than 70 witnesses and more than 250,000 documents” and found “there’s not a shred of evidence that Governor Christie knew anything about this lane realignment decision before it happened. Not a shred.:

Below are the transcripts of two interviews:

Fox News The Kelly File – Randy Mastro – March 27, 2014

Megyn Kelly: Governor Chris Christie vindicated? That’s the question tonight, as a law firm hired to conduct an internal investigation into a scandal involving his office and traffic jams releases its findings. Tonight, they say Governor Christie was not involved in the so-called Bridgegate plot. But that’s done little to silence the Governor’s critics, who point out the key players in this scandal did not participate in this review. And joining me now in a Kelly File exclusive to discuss it: the attorney who led the investigation, Randy Mastro. Good to see you, Randy.

Randy Mastro: Pleasure to be here.

Kelly: And so you have exonerated the Governor and yet, already – for example, one of the other panels that’s investigation him, the New Jersey Legislative Panel – comes out and says “lawyers hired and paid for by the Christie Administration itself to investigate the Governor’s Office will not be the final word on this.” And they questioned your objectivity and thoroughness. Your thoughts?

Mastro: We did an exhaustive and thorough investigation. We interviewed more than 70 witnesses, reviewed more than 250,000 documents and have produced to that legislative committee over 50,000 pages of documents. There’s not a shred of evidence that Governor Christie knew anything about this lane realignment decision before it happened. Not a shred.

Kelly: And yet, one of the criticisms against you is that you and your law firm are tied in with the Governor and that you had a bias, you had a preconceived notion. How long have you know him?

Mastro: I met Governor Christie for the first time the day he hired us in mid-January.

Kelly: But you used to work for Rudy Giuliani, who’s tight with the Governor, who, a lot of his aides moved over to the Governor’s Office. Rudy Giuliani ever talk to you about this?

Mastro: Rudy Giuliani and I have never had an extended conversation about this. I was honored to serve in his administration, but as Rudy knows, I’m an independent and registered Democrat.

Kelly: Are you?

Mastro: I’ve represented Mayor DeBlasio. I’ve represented Bill Thompson, who was almost elected mayor.

Kelly: Did you go into this with an open mind?

Mastro: Completely. Because, Megyn, you’ve got to understand. It serves no one’s interest - not mine or my law firm’s, not Governor Christie’s, not the Governor’s Office or the people of the state of New Jersey - for us to do anything other than to try to get to the truth. There are these other investigations coming. We believe we’ve gotten to the truth. And we will be judged by whether we got it right. We believe we got it right.

Kelly: You say, besides Bridget Anne Kelly – the one who sent the email saying “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” – you found no evidence that anyone else in the Governor’s Office knew of this idea.

Mastro: Correct.

Kelly: But that’s not the same as saying no one knew of this idea in advance. You found no evidence of it. But the critics are saying that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist because you couldn’t talk to, you know, David Wildstein, Bridget Anne Kelly, or to this other guy Stepien.

Mastro: Here’s the rub. Certain people who are the focus of the investigation – like Kelly, like Wildstein – they’ve taken the Fifth Amendment. They’re not talking to me, they’re not talking to the Legislature, they’re not talking to the U.S. Attorney. But…

Kelly: Did you get, see their emails?

Mastro: …But we saw many of their emails and we saw the private emails and texts of the Governor, Lt. Governor, his current senior staff…

Kelly: He handed over his iPhone to you?

Mastro: Absolutely. And let me tell you this, let me tell you this, Megyn. The fact of the matter is we look at the hard evidence, we look to see what the documents show. The hard evidence shows the Governor had no role in this whatsoever and knew nothing about it beforehand. And last thing…

Kelly: The other thing I want to get to because I’m short on time.

Mastro: Please.

Kelly: The one piece of the report that’s not very good for Governor Christie is his aide David Wildstein, the guy at the Port Authority apparently is claiming that he did inform the Governor about the lane closures a September 11th Memorial. And I know the Governor says that he doesn’t remember that, he’s critics view that as the smoking gun. One of the guys involved claims he did tell the Governor about it. You have thirty seconds, I apologize for the shortness.

Mastro: I understand why that is both questionable and not significant. That’s what Wildstein claimed at a time when he realized that he was going to have to resign. And Wildstein claiming that he mentioned a traffic issue would not have been a meaningful event to the Governor. It’s the alterative motive: who knew about the alterative motive for a traffic study? There’s no allegation that anyone ever said alterative motives to the Governor. And the fact of the matter is: the Governor didn’t know beforehand; the Governor acted appropriately afterward and took appropriate steps. And in fact, Bridget Kelly covered up with her colleagues. She asked another colleague to destroy one of her emails that would have shown her participation in this – keeping it from the Governor and his Chief of Staff.

Kelly: I’ve got to go. Great to see you. Thank you for being here.

Mastro: Thank you Megyn.

Fox News America's Newsroom w/Bill Hemmer-Martha MacCallum – Randy Mastro – March 28, 2014

Martha MacCallum: All right, back to one of our top stories of the day. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is going to hold a news conference today at 2:30 PM Eastern after the release of a 344-page report that has cleared him of wrongdoing in the bridge lane closing scandal. Now the Governor sat down last night with ABC’s Diane Sawyer after this report came out.

Governor Christie: This report says that I had no knowledge of it before it happened, nor did I authorize it, and/or have anything to do with it. Not clueless, but it certainly makes me feel taken advantage of and also more importantly I feel like I let people down.

Martha MacCallum: Randy Mastro is the lead attorney in this investigation, into the Governor’s administration and he joins me now. Randy, welcome. Good to have you here.

Randy Mastro: Pleasure to be here Martha.

Martha MacCallum: You have said that you didn’t have a relationship with Governor Christie before this investigation because the criticism is that this is an inside investigation and that it reflects that way on him well.

Randy Mastro: I met him the first time in January the day we were hired. I had never spoken to him before that, never met him before that. Yes, I was Rudy Giuliani’s deputy mayor, proud to have served in his administration.

Martha MacCallum: Who has been a big supporter of the Governor.

Randy Mastro: Proud to have served in his administration, but I’m a lifelong Democrat. I’ve represented Bill DeBlasio, Bill Thompson who was almost mayor of New York City, Betsy Gotbaum, a Democrat who was our public advocate, other Democrats. I had no relationship with Chris Christie. I am a lawyer, former federal prosecutor who led a team of former federal prosecutors with more than fifty years of government experience to do a professional investigation to get to the truth.

Martha MacCallum: Their reputations as well as yours are on the line here, and that will be the question when they do the two other investigations. There’s a New Jersey state ongoing investigation into this matter as well as a federal investigation, so there’s two more hurdles for the Governor to cross here. Are you confident that they will be consistent with your finding that he knew nothing about it, that it was really Bridget Anne Kelly, the only person in his administration who had any knowledge of it.

Randy Mastro: Well I’m confident because we follow the evidence and the facts, and the evidence and the facts tell us that Governor Christie had no knowledge of this lane realignment decision before it was made and he played no role whatsoever in the decision to realign these lanes.

Martha MacCallum: How much of an impact—you did not have access to Bridget Anne Kelly’s e-mails or Bill Stepien’s e-mails or David Wildstein’s e-mails. Is that correct?

Randy Mastro: No, that’s not correct, so let me try and explain.

Martha MacCallum: OK.

Randy Mastro: What we had access to, because it was really extraordinary and unfettered access to documents in the Governor’s Office, even personal e-mails and texts of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, senior staffers, even former senior staffers, and as to David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, another person who has been mentioned in connection with these allegations—

Martha MacCallum: That’s right.

Randy Mastro: Both of them produced documents, including their personal e-mails and text messages in response to the legislative committee’s subpoenas.

Martha MacCallum: So you’re not concerned—I understand what you’re saying. You’re not concerned that there’s an e-mail that’s going to surface between Bridget Anne Kelly and the Governor that’s going to come up in these investigations—

Randy Mastro: I am not.

Martha MacCallum: That will make you say oh, we didn’t have that. You’re not concerned.

Randy Mastro: I am absolutely not, because we had access to the personal e-mails and texts within the Governor’s Office of the Governor and his other senior staffers.

Martha MacCallum: I understand. You got one end of the whole thing. But I want to ask you another thing about Bridget Anne Kelly and the suggestion in this report that there was a romantic relationship going on between her and Bill Stepien and that she was very emotional because one of the criticisms this morning is that you’re trying to make, that this report is trying to make I should say, David Wildstein looked like a crazy guy who had lots of crazy notions and things he wanted to carry out, had nothing to do with the Governor, and that she was unstable almost, emotional and dealing with some personal relationship issues.

Randy Mastro: Well, let’s be crystal clear. That fact, the short period of a personal relationship, and then, when it cooled, the lack of communication, that they weren’t speaking as of the first week of August is a relevant fact for among other reasons that this decision – Kelly green lighting Wildstein’s proposal occurs…

Martha MacCallum: To close the lanes.

Randy Mastro: …to close the lanes. That occurs in a now infamous email on August 13th: time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee. That is after Kelly and Stepien are estranged and no longer speaking. Therefore, it is relevant to the way in which they communicated. Stepien is her former boss.

Martha MacCallum: Right.

Randy Mastro: Stepien goes out to run the campaign and they continue to communicate and consult about politically sensitive issues. They cease to do that by the first week of August, and that speaks not simply to Kelly and to how she communicated and what she doing, but to also about Stepien.

Martha MacCallum: You’re saying there was a behind the scenes thing going on that lead her to want to do this independent act and cause this controversy.

Randy Mastro: Well, it’s that the normal lines of communications were not going on during this period. And if Bill Stepien, who apparently was not involved in the decision itself, and not consulted about the decision itself. He knew of the idea and passed it on to Trenton, that’s what the evidence shows that we uncovered. He was out of that loop when normally decisions like this would have been made with Kelly and Stepien speaking. It speaks to both of them – both of their own state of mind.

Martha MacCallum: So you’re saying it was an unusual moment in time in terms of communication within the Administration…

Randy Mastro: Or lack of communication that might have prevented this from happening in the first place.

Martha MacCallum: Exactly. Understood. Alight, it’s very interesting.

Randy Mastro: Among other reasons.

Martha MacCallum: Randy, thank you very much for being here. We’ll look forward to talking to you as this progresses.

Randy Mastro: Thank you.

Martha MacCallum: Thank you sir.

Randy Mastro: Pleasure.

Martha MacCallum: You bet.

Christie Administration Marks Groundbreaking of Riverfront Village in Pennsauken Township

This morning, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) Executive Director Anthony L. Marchetta joined local officials, and Conifer Realty, LLC, to celebrate the groundbreaking of Riverfront Village, a 75-unit affordable rental community for working families in Pennsauken Township, Camden County. The HMFA, an affiliate of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), awarded the unique redevelopment project federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) that has generated approximately $14.6 million in private equity, and provided over $2 million in permanent financing.

"Riverfront Village not only provides quality affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate income families in Camden County, but also creates permanent supportive housing for honorably discharged veterans who are transitioning into permanent living opportunities,” said DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III, who also serves as Chairman of the HMFA. “Projects like this help meet the high demands for affordable rentals in New Jersey while serving hardworking families as well as those with special needs."

The redevelopment project involves the revitalization of approximately 9 acres of land within the township, including the demolition of a 24,000 square foot former ACME supermarket, excavation of a large impervious surface parking lot, and clearing of overgrown vegetation into a premier 75-unit affordable housing community with freestanding clubhouse. Among the units, 30 are affordable to individuals at or below 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI), 37 are affordable to individuals at or below 50% AMI, three are affordable to individuals at or below 30% AMI, and five are set aside for homeless veterans at or below 20% AMI. The project developer has partnered with the Volunteers of America Delaware Valley to provide the necessary supportive services for these veterans to live independently.  A full array of social services for the general residents will be provided by Center for Family Services.

The project, which cost approximately $19.6 million to develop, will not only provide affordable housing opportunities for working families in New Jersey, but also have a positive economic impact on the greater Camden County community. HMFA estimates that the project has generated approximately $29.5 million in one-time economic output and approximately 177 full-time jobs during construction. Upon completion, the project will continue to add value to the community by providing approximately $3.3 million in ongoing economic output and 19 full time jobs annually. Other funding sources for the development of the Riverfront Village include a construction loan from Wells Fargo, Camden County HOME funds, and a municipal contribution from Pennsauken Township.

Upon completion, the project will consist of several walk-up, townhomes over flats, and a clubhouse that includes an exercise room, computer lab, kitchenette, laundry facilities, and a management office. Each apartment will have a full kitchen, living and dining areas, full baths, generous bedrooms, ample closet space, energy efficient heating and cooling systems that meet the Energy Star Homes Program requirements, and Energy Star appliances such as a dishwasher, frost-free refrigerator, and electric oven and range hood. Located immediately adjacent to New Jersey Transit’s River Line, which provides convenient access to Trenton, Camden, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, among other job hubs, Riverfront Village allows residents to live an active, walkable lifestyle. Baldwin’s Elementary and Longfellow Elementary School, as well as various parks, places of worship, potential employment opportunities and Township facilities are located within a short walk from the site. Westfield Avenue and North Crescent Boulevard (Route 130) are located a half-mile and one mile, respectively, from the site. Both economic corridors include various establishments for shopping, dining, recreation, entertainment, and employment. 

Riverfront Village, which is located within close proximity to U.S. Route 130, New Jersey Route 70, Route 30, and Route 38, is part of Pennsauken’s Waterfront Master Plan, a designated Redevelopment Area pursuant to the NJ Local Redevelopment and Housing Law. Moreover, NJ Route 90 and Interstate 676 that provide access to the Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross Bridges are also close by. 

“The Riverfront Village redevelopment project will reposition a vacant and blighted ACME building, large surface parking lot and overgrown vegetation into a distinguish residential community providing  both a social and economic asset to Camden County,” said HMFA Executive Director Marchetta. “We are thrilled to have provided the capital financing that enabled the development of this project that provides residents with access to safe, decent, affordable housing while contributing to the local and state economy.”

Annually, states are allocated low-income housing tax credits by the federal government on a per-capita basis. HMFA, as the administrator of the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program in New Jersey, allocates approximately $20 million in 9% credits annually, which generates over $180 million in equity for the development of affordable housing in the State. Riverfront Village at Pennsauken was awarded the extremely competitive 9% LIHTCs from the 2013 non-Sandy Family Cycle that provided close to 79% of the funding.

The project is being developed by Conifer Realty, LLC, a real estate developer, general contractor and property manager based in Mount Laurel, NJ.

For more information on HMFA programs, please call 1-800-NJHOUSE or (609) 278-7400, or visit

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Christie To Sawyer: It'll Make Me A Better Leader

ABC US News | ABC Business News

There will be more of this interview on ABC News' Nightline tonight.
But the bottom line is this: Governor Chris Christie admits he dropped the ball. He knows he let people down. He knows what happened is unacceptable. He feels awful about it and he takes responsibility for what happened (and what happens) in his administration.
But he will not be cowered.
He will not feel sorry for himself.
And above all, he will not quit.
He will do his job. He will work to learn from these mistakes. He will try to make amends to those he disappointed. He will make changes where and when necessary.
But he will not change who he is.
He means to move on, to look forward and to continue to fight for what he believes in, both in New Jersey and perhaps beyond.
And he will remain passionate, genuine, irrepressible.
To all that, and for that we say "Good!" And, we offer our wholehearted support.

Kelli O'Hara Goes Italian At Eataly, April 14th

The producers of the new romantic musical, The Bridges of Madison County, are excited to announce a special event between Kelli O’Hara who plays Italian- born Francesca Johnson in the show, and world famous chef Lidia Bastianich, who is also a part-owner of Eataly.  Eataly is the largest Italian marketplace in the world, committed to promoting high-quality, gourmet yet affordable “regional Italian food with a local twist,” and is home to its cooking school, La Scuola di Eataly New York (200 5th Avenue).    Lidia will be welcoming Kelli to La Scuola on Monday, April 14th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. (200 5th Avenue) to help recreate Lidia’s favorite dishes inspired from Broadway’s The Bridges of Madison County.  

Lidia and Kelli will be demonstrating and preparing dishes that celebrate the cuisine that results when Old World tradition meets local, seasonal ingredients. Guest will enjoy each course prepared in Eataly La Scuola's open kitchen and each course will be paired with wine by Eataly’s knowledgeable wine director. The class will be complete with wine tasting notes and recipes to take home. 

The menu that they will be demonstrating is the following:
  • Insalata di Finocchi & Gorgonzola (Fennel & Gorgonzola Salad)
  • Conchiglioni Ripieni con Mozzarella (Baked Stuffed Shells with Mozzarella)
  • Costata di Maiale (Pork Chops with Seasonal Vegetables)

The class is on sale to the public on Eataly’s website. To sign up or for more info,visit:

This is Lidia’s first time working with a Broadway show and star and this class with Kelli is a fitting first. 

“I really love to cook, but what I really really love to do is EAT,” Kelli O’Hara said. “In my family, the way we share love is to gather around a table for a home cooked meal, and making that meal always teaches us something about our past.  From watching ‘Lidia's Italy,’ I sense that her family is the same.   I am, by no means, a chef.  I am much more comfortable singing for my supper, but a chance to assist Lidia whom I admire so much and to learn from her is a chance to more deeply understand my character, Francesca, and to cook alongside a master.  I will be in Heaven.”

In The Bridges of Madison County, Kelli’s character, Francesca Johnson has moved from Italy to a country farm in Iowa. Although she is no longer in Italy, one thing she holds on to is her love for her Italian heritage and the gorgeous foods that come from there. There are many moments where she is cooking or eating on stage with Robert Kincaid (played by Steven Kincaid).

La Scuola di Eataly offers food lovers and home chefs the opportunity to improve their culinary skills by participating in demo-style classes that will focus on making risotto, fresh pasta, “Meatless Mondays,” and the regional cuisine of Italy, wine tastings, interactive “Chef's Table” dinners prepared in the open kitchen, “Food & Language” cultural classes taught by native Italian instructors and much more!


The Bridges of Madison County is the new romantic musical by the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning team of Marsha Norman (‘night Mother, The Color Purple) and Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years, Paradebegan performancesFriday, January 17, 2014, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th Street) and opened on February 20, 2014.

One of the most romantic novels ever written is now Broadway’s most irresistible new musical. Four-time Tony® nomineeKelli O’Hara stars with Steven Pasquale in the most romantic musical Broadway has seen in years.  Directed by two-time Tony winner Bartlett Sher, (South Pacific, The Light in the PiazzaThe Bridges of Madison County is the unforgettable story of two people caught between decision and desire, as a chance encounter become a second chance at so much more. 

The design team includes Michael Yeargan (scenic design), Donald Holder (lighting design), Catherine Zuber (costume design), and Jon Weston (sound design). Casting was by Abbie Brady-Dalton, CSA, from Telsey + Company.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office of the Gerald Schoenfeld theatre, by calling (212) 239-6200 or by


The Bridges of Madison County is the new romantic musical by the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning team of Marsha Norman (‘night Mother, The Color Purple) and Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years, Paradebegan performancesFriday, January 17, 2014, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th Street) and opened on February 20, 2014.

One of the most romantic novels ever written is now Broadway’s most irresistible new musical. Four-time Tony® nomineeKelli O’Hara stars with Steven Pasquale in the most romantic musical Broadway has seen in years.  Directed by two-time Tony winner Bartlett Sher, (South Pacific, The Light in the PiazzaThe Bridges of Madison County is the unforgettable story of two people caught between decision and desire, as a chance encounter become a second chance at so much more. 

The design team includes Michael Yeargan (scenic design), Donald Holder (lighting design), Catherine Zuber (costume design), and Jon Weston (sound design). Casting was by Abbie Brady-Dalton, CSA, from Telsey + Company.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office of the Gerald Schoenfeld theatre, by calling (212) 239-6200 or by

New York Magazine

“Kelli O’Hara confirms her position
as one of the most exquisitely expressive stars in Musical Theater.
The New York Times, Ben Brantley

“BRIDGES IS TERRIFIC! When O’Hara and Pasquale sing it’s magic!NPR

one of the best Broadway score in the last decade!”

New York Daily News