At his first town hall since the governor became embroiled in a scandal over his aides' involvement in the George Washington Bridge lane closures, New Jersey residents were concerned not with Christie's political troubles, but rather with their own difficulty in securing aid to assist in their recovery after Superstorm Sandy. That was Christie's focus as well in his opening remarks, where he did not address the bridge scandal.
Christie says the total allocation could fall $20 billion short of rebuilding needs, and answered many frustrated residents by kicking the blame up to the federal government.
One resident sought help for people who owned second homes that were destroyed by the storm, who have been excluded from federal help.
"I want to the president personally and said are secondary homeowners going to be covered...we're talking about working class families in New Jersey, they've had these homes passed down from generation to generation," Christie said. "The president refused to put it in the bill he sent the Congress, and Congress refused to change the bill to cover secondary homeowners."
He added, "your only option left now is to sue the federal government."
Christie's administration has been criticized for the slow pace and confusing way the first $1.8 billion in federal storm aid is being distributed. The administration also is enmeshed in allegations that it leveraged storm recovery funds to win approval for a favored development project.
The governor's office has denied all charges.
One reference to the bridge scandal during the event was a lone audience member among the hundreds silently holding a homemade sign that read, "resign Christie."
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