W&L: Track Changes

WINNERS:

Catherine Dunn and Andrew Seidman (with Joseph N. DiStefano, Jeremy Roebuck & Allison Steele contributing!): Who says investigative journalism isn’t what it used to be? The Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday reported in extraordinary and infuriating detail on the scandal former reporter Tim Carroll recently dubbed “On the Waterfront.”  The below-market land grab is one focus of the ongoing state and federal criminal investigation according to the report… might there be more?

The New Jersey Law Journal: In an impressive editorial this week, the state’s must-read publication for attorneys analyzed in detail the Norcross vs. Murphy decision and noted Judge Jacobson’s ruling was “comprehensive and soundly reasoned”, that the decision “laid bare serious problems in the award and administration of tax incentives relative to Camden”; and that [i]t is not lost on us that, not the EDA, but only a select few private companies are challenging what the court has deemed a lawful investigation of EDA operations.”

Money might buy your legislators George, but the New Jersey Judiciary is not for sale.

Bingo!: Over two dozen reformers who spent their Tuesday night outside of the General Majority PAC’s Mount Laurel fundraiser played Bingo with a poster of the usual suspects as they walked into the Westin. (We noticed many of them did a U turn after dropping off their checks…fun party.)

Then the ELEC filings came out. We suggest General Majority start a GoFund me page too because this week’s ELEC filings show that the once-mighty PAC linked to George Norcross has — not a typo — ZERO dollars cash on hand according to its October 15 filing!

And, it still owes a great deal of cash to folks like Krishna Singh and Jeff Brown, who are (coincidentally, of course) recipients of historically- massive tax incentives in Camden.

It appears General Majority is only spending money protecting their own turf in South Jersey, and not helping out Democrats in Union, Monmouth, Somerset, Morris and Bergen. Wondering if demonizing public unions & relying on corporate welfare organizations under investigation wasn’t the best fundraising strategy this cycle?

Looks to us like George’s influence is waning, afterall.

Matt Friedman: In yesterday’s Playbook, Friedman wrote that “[t]he tax incentive scandal hasn’t died down.” And sure enough, later in the day Politico reported on a draft memo revealing that Phil Norcross and Dana Redd’s top adviser were unhappy they could not “exert control” over the Camden non-profit. The draft was “authored by former Cooper’s Ferry Partnership President David Foster as he was reportedly facing pressure from Norcross and his brother, South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross, to sell the nonprofit’s right to buy the nearly 17-acre site to a private developer they preferred.”

Winner of the Week: Microsoft Word’s Track Changes: As Louie DiPaolo put it, thank you Track Changes for saving taxpayers millions!

The Tax Incentive Task Force held its latest hearing yesterday revealed, as one news outlet described it, a tax incentive program “riddled with problems such as unclear internal compliance standards, consultants’ dishonest tax break claims, and lax oversight in the granting of tax awards to a (Phil Norcross client) Philadelphia 76ers property.”

Site location consultants CBRE (also involved in the highly controversial Blue Hill, Camden Tower & Cooper Hospital applications) apparently falsified another out-of-state threat to help a client secure a GROW NJ grant.

And guess how they in part got tripped up? In part because track changes of a document showed they tried to backdate information! Not the first time Track Change fails have come to the rescue. Why’d they ever upgrade from Word Perfect??

Even the Wall Street Journal covered this one.

LOSERS:

Chris Christie Investors: Hard to believe that the guy who presided over 11 credit downgrades, the 8th worst economic recovery of any state in the United States of America, and remains proud of an Economic Opportunity Act that may actually surpass Bridgegate as his biggest scandal — yes that Chris Christie hasn’t found enough people to trust him with their money. Shocking!

According to Politico, “A private investment fund linked to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, had lofty goals when it launched in January, boasting of plans to raise as much as $250 million for real estate deals in federally designated opportunity zones. But 10 months later, the fund has failed to attract much interest, raising just $29 million as of Oct. 7, according to SEC filings.”

Perhaps we were wrong. Maybe civility is more of your calling Chris.

Crickets from every legislator (except John McKeon): Darryl Isherwood said it best: “Legislators on both sides of the aisle jump on even the thinnest transgressions and issue scorching releases. On this? On the last 7 months of findings by the task force? On dozens of stories from the press? Total. Silence.”

Can you imagine if New Jersey actually had a legislator like Michigan’s Mallory McMorrow?

The Courier Post: We really want to love you, we really do. But, dear Editors of the Courier: how can you possibly allow residents of Manhattan and Philadelphia to learn more about the current EDA scandal than Camden County residents? We don’t necessarily have a problem with your coverage of new Wawas in Cherry Hill, but can you at least acknowledge to your readers that there is a George Norcross scandal rocking New Jersey?

Joe D’s Priorities: In case you missed this week’s New York Times Story: “$200 Million, Jailed Immigrants and a Democratic Bastion Under Fire.” But hey, keep up those highly impressive Turtle Back Zoo op/eds Joe D!! (And, for what it’s worth, here we believe bears should run free in the forest, not in a zoo. But that discussion is for another time).

Kelly Ripa. Don’t do it Kelly! Yeah, we get it. We know you’re Dad is part of the Camden County machine and proud Ruler of Ballot Siberia. But please, PLEASE, @kellyripa have your publicist do a quick Google search of “George Norcross scandal” before Monday night’s $1,000 per head Camden County Democratic “32nd Annual Seafood Gala.” Don’t make us play Bingo again on Monday night!