Bill Baroni is the Bridgegate patsy
One of history’s most haunting moments is the video clip of Lee Harvey Oswald, hours after President John F. Kennedy was murdered, declaring that he was a patsy.
It’s always stuck with me as a compelling piece of evidence of Oswald’s semi-innocence. I say “semi” because of this: If he’s saying he’s a patsy, it indicates to me he knew of something about someone with probably a somewhere thrown in for good measure. Or something like that.
Was he wholly innocent? Probably not. Guilty of acting alone and shooting the president? Seems unlikely.
And while no presidents were killed in Bridgegate, I still believe — despite Friday’s guilty verdict — that Bill Baroni (and quite possibly Bridget Kelly) were indeed set up to be the patsy and that the jury fell for it, hook, line and traffic cone.
I do not think Baroni was in any way the architect of Bridgegate and I do not believe he is guilty of the vast majority of charges levied against him, and I certainly do not believe he is guilty of the prime charge, misapplying the property or money of the Port Authority.
Is he wholly innocent? Probably not, and I’ll get to that in a moment.
But is he guilty, along with Kelly and David Wildstein, of executing the closure of lanes from the jump? I cannot fathom it’s true.
I truly believe that at the time the traffic study was happening, Baroni believed it was a traffic study and nothing more. Remember: He was the deputy executive director of the Port Authority. He was the big boss. Imagine, for a moment, what must have come across his desk on a daily basis. A traffic study to Baroni would’ve looked like a clean-up in aisle 9 to a Walmart general manager. You know it’s happening, it wasn’t your fault, the clean-up is about a half-dozen delagated-s down the line, it wasn’t your decision, there’s not much else to do about it.
Now: In the hours and days (and months and years) that followed, a fair question, if you believe my line of reasoning, is did Baroni eventually find out this was some Wildstein-concocted revenge plot? I would assume he did, and if he’s guilty of anything, it’s of keeping his mouth shut and not blowing the whistle. I outlined this 18 months ago: “He didn’t go to the authorities once (if) he found out. Huge mistake. But consider: There’s tremendous personal risk to doing the right thing there; he’d certainly be bounced from his job, certainly ostracized in Republican circles, probably seen as a loon, because I’m sure Wildstein/Kelly and whoever else would’ve immediately pulled the plug on the whole thing.”
If Baroni knew about it and went forward, he would’ve been finished politically. If he kept quiet, he’d be hoping whatever happened never saw the light of day.
This is where one could find fault with Baroni. If he knew … if he knew … if he knew … he should have come forward. But would you have come forward if you were him? Highly unlikely. Career suicide.
But to think of him as a key cog in this disaster? It’s ridiculous. The thing blew up, Wildstein got pinched, told the feds a story, and his story won. “Baroni as patsy” won. It’s the wrong verdict. I wouldn’t be surprised if an appeals court agrees.