Murphy and Camden Dems: BFFs- POLITICO12 min read
Good Thursday morning!
Gov. Phil Murphy is welcome in Camden.
“The last time you came to Camden City, you brought $250 million for the Walter Rand Transportation Center. Today you’re bringing $180 million. We look forward to your next district,” Camden County Commission Director Lou Capelli said during an even with the governor at City Hall Wednesday.
There wasn’t really any news made at the event. It was more of a low-energy pep rally. The governor was there to highlight the $180 million in various types of funding for Camden in the budget he signed a month ago, not including an extra $24 million in transitional aid his administration added from the last budget. If anything, the news was just how strikingly the governor’s relationship with Camden Democrats has changed in the last few years.
“What a treat to be back in Camden, one of my favorite communities anywhere in the state,” Murphy said.
Back in 2019, when the Murphy administration launched an investigation into tax incentives that keyed in on hundreds of millions pledged to companies either run by or connected to power broker George Norcross, several Camden officials, including state Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez, who was present Wednesday and also had nice things to say about the governor, told him he wasn’t welcome “until he stops attacking the city.”
Since then, the EDA has approved tax breaks for George Norcross’ insurance brokerage and its partner companies for their Camden building, the governor and Norcross have entered into a long-lasting detente, and officials are almost pretending like the biggest political fight of Murphy’s first term didn’t happen. There are still reverberations from the tax incentive fight. Some of the activists that allied with Murphy on the tax break scandal are suing to get a question on the ballot to require major corporations in the city to disclose where their workers live.
“He has been in the city after that so many times, not only bringing resources but helping the city of Camden, helping the residents. We are part of that team. We are a team,” Cruz-Perez told reporters after the press conference. But Cruz-Perez declined to go into detail on what’s changed, repeating “we are a great team.”
DAYS SINCE MURPHY REFUSED TO SAY WHETHER HIS WIFE’S NONPROFIT SHOULD DISCLOSE DONORS: 162
WHERE’S MURPHY? No public schedule
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “These are the fares on NJ Transit. The quest to understand it could be its own academic discipline. Each bus ride is a research project of algebraic logic. Fuck it. Here’s a 20, keep the change.” — A song posted on YouTube by Alex Davis, who runs the website NewBrunswickBuses.com, on NJ Transit’s complicated and inadequately-explained bus fares. It’s set to the tune of Offenbach’s Can Can, which you’re probably familiar with from the classic Shop Rite commercial.
TIPS? FEEDBACK? HATE MAIL? Email me at [email protected]
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Former Sen. Bill Bradley, Assemblymember Yvonne Lopez. Missed yesterday: CCDC’s Mike Porch, DOH Deputy Commissioner David Adinaro, Norcross staffer Dalin Hackley
ME, ATTORNEY GENERAL? — “Murphy’s N.J. attorney general nominee could soon move forward as key lawmaker gives approval,” by NJ Advance Media’s Brent Johnson: “Six months after Gov. Phil Murphy nominated him for New Jersey’s top law enforcement post, Matthew Platkin may soon be on his way to getting confirmed as state attorney general now that a key lawmaker has given his approval. State Sen. Richard Codey, D-Essex, told NJ Advance Media he now supports Platkin’s nomination moving forward — which clears the way for the state Senate to hold votes on whether to confirm the longtime Murphy confidant … Codey’s endorsement was the last hurdle for Platkin to get a confirmation hearing, thanks to an unwritten rule known as senatorial courtesy … ‘I think he’s doing a good job,’ Codey, a former governor, said. ‘It doesn’t change anything. … I think it’s time to move forward.’ … It’s unclear when Platkin may get a confirmation hearing before the committee. The Senate has scheduled sessions for Aug. 8 and 11, but it’s up to the chamber’s leaders to decide whether he would appear either day.”
RICK ROSENBERG — The Rick Rosenbeg Jr. Memorial and Scholarship Fund, in honor of the late and well-liked Republican consultant who died suddenly in 2017 at age 32, is hosting its fourth annual event tonight at Ria Mar Restaurant & Bar in South River. Tickets are $50. Get them here.
AGREEMENT INCENTIVIZES NJ TO PUSH FOR CIVIL WAR — “NJ, NY agreed to split Portal Bridge cost. But there are two reasons NJ will pay a bit more,” by The Record’s Colleen Wilson: “New Jersey and New York signed an agreement earlier this month to split the cost of the Portal North Bridge replacement that federal funding won’t cover: $386.2 million each. But that doesn’t mean each state is cutting a check for that amount. There are two main reasons New Jersey will shell out at least $193.9 million more than New York for the $2.3 billion project that has increased in cost bymore than 20% since December 2021. The first is because the Garden State is borrowing for the full construction costs of the bridge by issuing bonds … Second, in order to be eligible for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant, NJ Transit had to increase service over the bridge, which it proposed doing by purchasing 25 new multilevel rail cars for $71 million to serve passengers on the corridor … NJ Transit and Amtrak will also be responsible for unanticipated costs during the bridge’s construction beyond the agreed-upon amounts. However, if a “Force Majeure Event” occurs, which the MOU says includes ‘civil war,’ ‘acts of God,’ among other significant events, those unanticipated costs could be negotiated between both states, Amtrak and the other entities involved in the project”
—“N.J. public worker pension fund suffers through another rough quarter as losses widen”
—Murphy administration pushing feds for more monkeypox vaccines
—“The heat wave hit NJ inmates hard for an obvious reason”
—“4,000 tenants to receive state rental assistance out of 86,000 applicants”
—“Turnpike Authority denies petition opposing $4.7B widening project near Holland Tunnel”
—“NJ home foreclosure overhaul at risk of conditional veto, bill sponsor says”
—“NJ COVID hospitalizations surpass 1K for first time in 5 months as transmission picks up”
GOTNOIDEAWHATTODOHEIMER — Manchin’s latest shocker: A $700B deal, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine: Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer looked at loggerheads after their talks on a sweeping climate, tax and health care bill ran aground nearly two weeks ago. In fact, they were working on Washington’s best-kept secret. On July 18, four days after Manchin and Schumer’s talks seemed to fizzle out with only a limited health care deal, Manchin reached out to Schumer to see if he was amenable to picking things back up. By Wednesday afternoon, they had a deal on a bill that includes energy and tax policy, a turnaround after the two deadlocked on Democrats’ marquee party-line agenda … [M]oderate Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), who made state and local tax relief his red line, was noncommittal about whether he’d dig in even as his priority was left out of the bill: “Until I see specifics it’s hard to know.”
CHARLIE BAKER STILL SEES MURPHY AS A MASSACHUSETTS GUY — “Murphy still sees Dr. Oz as a Jersey guy,” by New Jersey Globe’s Joey Fox: “The governor of New Jersey and the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania are on the same page: Dr. Mehmet Oz is still a Jersey guy. Asked [Wednesday] about Oz’s U.S. Senate candidacy in Pennsylvania, Gov. Phil Murphy said that Oz – until very recently a denizen of Cliffside Park in Bergen County – is a New Jersey resident as far as he’s concerned. ‘Based on everything I know, he lives in Bergen County, and he’s running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania,’ Murphy said at a press gaggle in Camden. ‘At least where I’m from, that doesn’t add up.’”
—“House renews efforts to combat human trafficking by passing bill sponsored by N.J. congressman”
— “Van Drew opposing ID cards for undocumented immigrants through new legislation”
FRANK ‘DRIVERS EDUCATION’ GILMORE — “Two councilmembers call for DeGise to resign after hit-and-run video is released,” by The Jersey Journal’s Ron Zeitlinger and Jake Maher: “Two Jersey City councilmembers have called on fellow Councilmember Amy DeGise to resign after city officials released the hit-and-run video of DeGise striking a cyclist with her SUV last week. Ward E Councilmen James Solomon and Ward F Councilman Frank ‘Educational’ Gilmore, both critics of the city administration, came forward hours after the video showed DeGise not even slowing down after she hit cyclist Andrew Black in the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive and Forrest Street at approximately 8 a.m. on July 19. The video also shows that Black ran the red light at the intersection, contrary to what he told police in the crash report and what he said in a published interview”
—More: “Noticeably absent from the discussion across the city and multiple social media platforms is any support for DeGise from her city council allies and the mayor … On two separate occasions Wednesday, Mayor Steve Fulop declined to weigh on DeGise’s future. Members of the city council that ran on the same 2021 election ticket as DeGise also did not respond to requests for comment. Anthony Vainieri, chair of the Hudson County Democratic Organization also could not be reached.”
STEEL AND GLASS CITY — “Project to turn razed N.J. baseball stadium into 4,200 apartments clears final hurdle,” by NJ Advance Media’s Steve Strunsky: “The Newark City Council on Tuesday approved a tax break and other financial help for a $2 billion, multi-phase project that would include 4,200 market-rate and affordable apartments in 11 towers on the site of the old Bears & Eagles Stadium. In return for the help, the developer will have to pay union wages. Capping a public hearing Tuesday morning, the council voted 6-0 to adopt an ordinance containing a property tax abatement and a total of $18 million in assistance spread over the nine phases of the massive CitiSquare project”
HOLMDEL — “Holmdel votes against non-partisan elections, changes in township government,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Olivia Liu: “Voters Tuesday rejected a move to change the township’s form of government and switch to nonpartisan elections. According to unofficial vote totals, over 55% or 2,452 voters opposed the changes recommended by the township’s charter study commission, while 45% or 1,963 voters voted for them.”
RESIDENTS CONSIDERED SEIZING THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION BUT THEN REALIZED THEY ALREADY OWNED THEM — “Montclair residents fumed while council met privately for 2 1/2 hours during town meeting,” by The Record’s Julia Martin: “About 20 residents came to town hall at 7 p.m. Tuesday night prepared to speak for their allotted three minutes about their concerns − downtown building heights, the firefighting contract with Glen Ridge, the closed pools, the delay in opening the new parking deck, a lack of services and amenities for seniors. But at 7:30 p.m., after a few proclamations were issued, Mayor Sean Spiller announced that the council was going into closed-door session to discuss contract negotiations and litigation; public comment would commence when they were done. At first, knots of speakers waited patiently … As the hours ticked by, their numbers dwindled. Some got angry. A one-word sign − ‘RUDE’ − appeared on the podium under Spiller’s name … On Wednesday, Mayor Spiller said that an urgent matter had to be addressed and that a person crucial to the discussion had to meet with the council at that particular time”
IRONBOUND NOT ICEBOUND — “Newark is one of worst heat islands in the country. One community has nearly no trees,” by The Record’s Ricardo Kaulessar: “The city of 280,000 people was cited last year as being the second-worst heat island among 159 U.S. cities by Climate Central, a Princeton-based nonprofit research organization … The report named as key factors in Newark’s second-worst heat island ranking: population density, impermeable surfaces and building height. Those factors can be found in abundance in the Ironbound section, a four square-mile area with about 50,000 residents … Several major developments approved for the Ironbound won’t help cool things down … And then there’s a lack of vegetation and trees in certain parts of the Ironbound that makes it one of the city’s worst areas when it comes to heat”
AFTER NESTING SEASON THE BIRDS WILL FLY THE WAY TO SAN JOSE — “Nesting ospreys behind outdated Golden Nugget billboard on Atlantic City Expressway,” by The Press of Atlantic City’s Eric Conklin: “Yes, Golden Nugget Atlantic City is aware that its Dionne Warwick billboard on the Atlantic City Expressway is outdated. That’s because the casino is letting a group of ospreys stay comfortable on top of the billboard after they built nests there. The birds are currently in nesting season, so the casino will wait until Sept. 1 to take down the billboard promoting Warwick May 10 show. ‘Golden Nugget is doing our part in helping to conserve our local wildlife, the Ospreys,’ the casino wrote in an Instagram post published on Tuesday.”
—“Warehouses are a boon for a rural South Jersey town [Vineland] better known for its sweet corn, tomatoes, and peaches”
—“Tainted soil at a proposed preschool site in Paterson prompts a messy legal battle”
THE FIRST RULE OF PIPELINE FIGHT CLUB IS THAT YOU START WITH A LETTER TO THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION — New Jersey enters another gas pipeline fight, by POLITICO’s Ry Rivard: The New Jersey Board Public Utilities wants federal energy regulators to look at a study that shows the state doesn’t need to approve a major natural gas pipeline expansion because it doesn’t need the gas. The Regional Energy Access expansion, proposed by Williams subsidiary Transco, would bring enough new gas into New Jersey to heat some three million homes. PSEG and other utilities have already said they would buy gas from the pipeline — and a study for Williams said the expansion is needed to prevent natural gas shortages in coming years. New Jersey utility regulators aren’t buying that argument, though. The BPU commissioned its own study that found the state can “easily” meet demand for gas through 2030 with existing pipeline infrastructure. The board is now asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to look at the state’s study and reject Williams’ plans.
DISINHERIT THE WIND — “Jersey Shore residents demand more time to review offshore wind project,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Amanda Oglesby: “Jersey Shore residents, environmentalists and business industry advocates remain divided over whether to speed ahead or spend more time reviewing the environmental impacts of a plan to build a 1,100-megawatt offshore wind farm south of Atlantic City. Ocean Wind 1 ― a project by Denmark-based energy company Ørsted and Newark-based power company Public Service Enterprise Group, or PSEG — could power up to half a million homes in New Jersey once complete, according to Ørsted. But some environmentalists and coastal residents worry the potential impacts of the wind turbine array could disrupt the migration of critically endangered whales, irreparably harm the local fishing industry and ruin tourists’ views from shore.”
VIRTUAL REALITY — “Virtual work could cost these NJ employers $34M. Will others follow?” by The Record’s Daniel Munoz: “This spring, New Jersey officials put hundreds of businesses that had gone virtual on notice: Start bringing your staff back to the office, or risk losing millions in state tax breaks … In response, Holmdel software firm iCIMS and Pearl Capital Business Funding, a small-business financing company based in Jersey City, filed paperwork to forgo state subsidies that collectively would amount to about $34 million. Both were approved for tax breaks under a program known as Grow NJ. The state’s request — three days in the office and two at home — was par for the course in 2022, development authority CEO Tim Sullivan said in an April interview. New Jersey wants workers back in the office to do what the incentives intended, he said: spend money on eateries, parking and other local businesses … ‘When you incentivize somebody to go to Newark, Paterson, or Camden, or Trenton, it’s because you want them in those places,’ Sullivan said … ‘It is impossible to hire tech staff unless you offer to let them work fully remote,’ Pearl CEO Soloman Lax in an email.”
—“Warren Buffett firm to pay $20 million in redlining case out of Camden, Philly area”
—“N.J.’s 1st Amazon Fresh grocery store is a poorly stocked letdown. Here’s our review”