ARC legal fees beginning to mountBy
As Gov. Chris Christie fights with the federal government for the right to keep $271 million earmarked for the ARC Tunnel, the state’s legal bill is beginning to mount. After just one month on the job, D.C. firm Patton Boggs had billed New Jersey Transit $330,000 for the effort. “NJ Transit’s budget contains funds for legal and other such expenses and this will come out of that,” Paul Wyckoff, agency spokesman, said. “There are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake here. This is certainly, we feel, worth the best legal effort we can produce. Patton Boggs is a highly regarded, highly professional firm that is working to save state taxpayers money as efficiently as possible.”
New Jersey politicians who have fought with Christie over the ARC cancellation since Day One again lobbed grenades toward the governor. “I’m not suggesting the state shouldn’t have counsel. I hope the state wins,” John Wisniewski, chairman of the state assembly’s Transportation Committee, said. “But $333,281 — there are lots of good lawyers in New Jersey that don’t charge $485 an hour.”
If New Jersey thinks it has a valid case to make for those federal dollars, the state has every right to employ outside counsel to do so, and Wisniewski has every right to complain about the fees. Ultimately, though, if they get to keep any of the $271 million, the $330,000 a month will be but a drop in the bucket. Still, the attempts to keep the money seem to be garnering more attention than the efforts to build a new cross-Hudson rail tunnel, and that’s not helping anyone in the region.