According to reporting (Dec. 18) by Curtis Tate for the Gannett papers (USA Today North Jersey Network), NJ Transit hired or promoted ten employees connected to the administration of outgoing Gov. Chris Christie, even while experienced staff were leaving; in many cases, the Christie protégées enjoyed salary increases of as much as $70,000 over their previous jobs, and a minimum of $13,000.  In some cases, the new hires made more than the NJT employees they replaced.  All but one ended up making at least $100,000 at NJT; the median salary for all state workers in 2016 was about $73,000. NJT, for its part, denies that Christie exerted influence over the hires, or that career NJT employees were passed over in favor of the Christie administration hires.

One of the questionable hires is Jacqueline Halldow, NJT's chief of staff.  She should be qualified for the job: she held the same position until leaving for work in Trenton for Christie.  In the move to Trenton, her salary increased from the $132,00 she earned at NJT to $140,000.  But on her return to NJT, only 14 months later, her new salary jumped to $156,000.

Amy Herbold received the biggest salary increase in her move to NJT in 2016, where she became deputy executive director at a salary of $190,000, a $70,000 jump over her previous job as a Christie aide.  At NJT she replaced Neil Yellin, who was fired by NJT; Yellin, 66, has filed an age discrimination suit against NJT, charging that Herbold had nowhere near the experience and qualifications that Yellin has. Yellin's salary at NJT was about $10,000 less than Herbold's. Herbold subsequently resigned from NJT in November.

Other Christie veterans also enjoyed lucrative positions at NJT, and enjoyed frequent promotions and salary increases. Eric Daleo, who once worked in the law firm that represented Gov. Christie in the "Bridgegate" affair, then became a state employee as a representative of the state police, earning $110,000. He then somehow found employment at NJT for $132,000, but then was promoted to assistant executive director of capital programs and planning, at a cool $175,000.  Another veteran of the law firm, Megan Strickland, also found success at NJT and is now chief of capital compliance, budget, and administration, earning $141,000.

Further reporting by Larry Higgs for nj.com (Star-Ledger, Dec. 19) included facts from the northjersey.com article. Higgs' article quoted former NJT compliance officer Todd Barretta as saying that NJT has a "culture of (employees) going along with what political appointees want or (they) get out."