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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Memo to Gov. Christie: Abuse of power reflects on leadership

You’re only as good as the people who surround you.
It’s hard to believe that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie didn’t know that his staff was intentionally creating major traffic jams as political retribution. But giving him the benefit of the doubt, he is still responsible for a staff — and a culture — where power could be abused with arrogance and confidence of impunity.
The now former aides and transportation cohorts compounded their stupidity with emails, which is fortunate because it made it possible to begin to track down who did what when. The number of people involved is likely to grow. How high the chain reaches remains to be seen.
Dirty political tricks are nothing new, but that doesn’t mean they should be shrugged off.
Whatever field you’re in, your basic responsibility is to make your boss look good. If Christie himself did nothing wrong, his staff still made him look terrible — and their behavior reflects badly on his leadership.
Several years ago, during a weekly newspaper department head meeting, one of my colleagues told our boss, the publisher, that he hadn’t completed a project assigned by the publisher because he was busy dealing with something he thought he needed to do to “cover his ass.” The publisher replied: “Your job is to cover my ass. If you have time after that, cover yours.”

Christie’s staff didn’t cover their own or his. 


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