New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has a lot going for him these days, including a national base of support for his no-nonsense approach to governing. In addition, Christie has become a poster boy for fiscal discipline and frugality. That said, this story from the New Jersey Star-Ledger may be a bit unnerving for supporters of Christie's outspoken approach to state frugality:
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie arrived at his son's baseball game this afternoon aboard a State Police helicopter.
Right before the lineup cards were being exchanged on the field, a noise from above distracted the spectators as the 55-foot long helicopter buzzed over trees in left field, circled the outfield and landed in an adjacent football field. Christie disembarked from the helicopter and got into a black car with tinted windows that drove him about a 100 yards to the baseball field.
During the 5th inning, Christie and First Lady Mary Pat Christie got into the car, rode back to the helicopter and left the game. During a pitching change, play was stopped for a couple of minutes while the helicopter took off.
Seems a bit excessive, no?
When questioned about the unorthodox means of transportation, the governor's office defended the flight: "It is a means of transportation that is occasionally used as the schedule demands," Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said. "This has historically been the case in prior administrations as well, and we continue to be judicious in limiting its use."
The Wall Street Journal's Lisa Fleisher defends Christie's helicopter rides and notes that they don't *technically* represent an additional cost for the taxpayers because the money and flying time is already built into the state police budget for pilot training purposes. While I'm supremely glad to hear New Jersey taxpayers weren't burdened with any additional costs from the governor's trips, I still think using state police choppers to dodge traffic was a pretty obviously avoidable PR nightmare and needlessly opened the door to criticism from Christie's political opponents.