Bill Ba­roni is the Bridge­gate patsy

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - THE TIMES HERALD -

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.

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