Gov. Chris Christie should debate Jim Keady

We would like to see Republican Gov. Chris Christie follow through on his challenge to debate Spring Lake resident and former Asbury Park councilman Jim Keady.

Voice of the People by James J. DevineChristie has been known for shouting down critics but his courage seems to wane when he is given a chance to face people with different opinions in a forum where he does not have complete control and an armed security detail.

Many of the boardwalks in New Jersey that were damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Sandy have been successfully rebuilt in the two years that have passed since the storm, thanks to President Barack Obama’s Federal Emergency Management Agency.

By comparison, most of the federal money turned over to Republican state officials for rebuilding has been sitting idle.

Christie got into a shouting match with Jim Keady, a Spring Lake resident and former Asbury Park councilman, during an event on Sandy’s second anniversary held in Belmar.

Christie yelled to Keady, “sit down and shut up,” shortly before a security detail confiscated the man’s protest sign that read “Get Sandy Families Back in Their Home / Finish the Job.”

Christie boldly charged that Keady “doesn’t know a damn thing about what you’re talking about except to stand up and show off when the cameras are here. I’ve been here when the cameras aren’t here buddy, and done the work” but his facts were off base.

Keady grew up in Belmar, now lives in neighboring Spring Lake, and he took a month off after the storm volunteering to aid recovery efforts.  They trusted me with one of their borrowed dump trucks and I was running clean up crews all over town,” Keady said. “I wanna know how many crawl spaces the governor was in, cleaning up.”

Keady said only 20 percent of the $1.1 billion program to get people back in their homes has actually gone out.

“His administration is sitting on $800 million of taxpayer money that was supposed to go to our fellow New Jerseyans,” Keady said.

The 43-year-old Keady is a small businessman who runs his family’s tavern, played pro soccer for the North Jersey Imperials as backup goalie to Tim Howard and founded a group called Educating for Justice, which protests working conditions at Nike factories.

Christie lost his temper in a shouting match with Keady, but he did challenge the man to a debate.

Keady later said the governor’s comments were “unfortunate” and that Christie shows “so little respect to the citizens of New Jersey” but remained open to a forum if the Republican is man enough to stand up to his challenge.

“I’ll be more than happy to have a debate with you anytime you like, guy, because somebody like you doesn’t know a damn thing about what you’re talking about except to stand up and show off when the cameras are here,” Christie said.

If Keady comes forward, it may be hard for Christie to weasel out of this confrontation.

Among the moderators who should be considered to conduct the debate should be MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki, WNBC reporter Brian Thompson, Paul Mulshine from The Star-Ledger, or someone from NJTODAY.NET.

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