Tag Archive: Xanadu

Ferriero Trial – Break out the Popcorn

Cross posted at my blog at The Epoch Times.  

Next week the racketeering trial of Joe Ferriero, the former Chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization begins. The antics of Mr. Ferriero, who the New York Times portrayed as a modern day Boss Tweed, is the reason I became a political blogger in New Jersey in the first place. Next week, the biggest rock in New Jersey is about to be overturned in front of a jury and the politicians are about to scatter every which way. It will be quite fascinating. I know I will be breaking out the popcorn.

The charges are for racketeering. A nice way of saying Ferriero ran the most affluent county in NJ like Tony Soprano, minus the murder. Everyone had to kiss his ring. Even Hillary Rodham Clinton herself when she was running for President. I remember because I was there as a Bergen County Democratic Committee member and shook hands with her husband at the Hackensack Courthouse steps. Boss Joe was the most powerful Democratic Chairman in the state, even more powerful than Democratic Boss George Norcross of the South, who ascended to power when Christie indicted Ferriero on his way to the Governor’s mansion.

These Bosses are so powerful, even Governors and US Senators are afraid to cross them. But when you make deals with them, stuff happens. Chris Christie elevated Norcross by indicting Ferriero, and then went on to make deals with Norcross, to the utter consternation of the loyal Republican legislators who faithfully refused to overturn a single Christie veto. That courting, and Christie skipping town during their convention last week, is what has caused State Republicans to seriously consider dumping their embarrassing uncle. Christie is drawn to power, and in blue NJ, the guys with power were Ferriero and Norcross. Senator Loretta Weinberg succeeded in weakening Ferriero by exposing his corruption, and Christie took the opportunity to indict Ferriero because the writing was on the wall, and it gave him some corruption busting cred, even if that was only short lived. I expect if Christie announces a run for President it will be during Boss Joe’s trial to get that credibility back.

Xanadu: bipartisan consensus, public opposition

One of those moments of bipartisan consensus that Gov. Christie likes to brag about came this spring, when both parties came together to bail out the Xanadu mall with up to $800 million in public funds. The money will bail out a project that is not only figuratively underwater, but also literally sinking into the Meadowlands swamps. The State Senate voted 36-0 and Assembly 71-6 back in June to approve $200 million of the $800 million package.

The mall will be called “American Dream Meadowlands” – which led KendalJames to point out a couple months back that perhaps in today’s age of bailouts, getting free taxpayer money for a megamall is the real American Dream.

It turns out that this bipartisan consensus is wildly unpopular, with 58 percent opposed and only 31 percent approving. The opposition is bipartisan – coming from both liberals and conservatives, according to the pollster.

It makes you wonder – how does a development get $800 million in public funds in a time when such funds are incredibly scarce and our urban and suburban schools are struggling, homestead tax rebates are cut, and transit fares and tolls are going way up? And how does a bipartisan consensus form around a project that neither party’s base supports?

Publicly-Funded Tax-Free Financing – The REAL American Dream

We are out of money, New Jersey! Shared sacrifice, pension rollbacks, pay freezes, pay cuts, higher fees, reduced services, shitting all over our public employees, women, the poor, kids with disabilities – PANDEMONIUM!

Oh, wait. You say you’re the Ghermezian family from Canada, and you’re worth $4 Billion American sawbucks? You’ve taken over Xanadu, re-named it American Dream and stand to turn an obscene profit?

Well then why wouldn’t every-day middle class folks be happy to bankroll your request for tax-free PUBLIC financing to the tune of $800 million. Oh, and Triple Five would also like Bergen County to pony up $450 million in bonds, too.  

Yeah, that sounds totally cool.  

The $25-from-every-New-Jerseyan-for-Xanadu bill and what else to watch for this week

Are you ready to give $25 from your pocket to Xanadu ($100 for a family of four)?

That is one of several important questions to be decided this week in Trenton, each of which we’d be seriously fixated on if not for the undoubtedly even more important anti-union armageddon currently unfolding. Still, these things are worth keeping an eye on because they all have a huge impact. Here are the top five, in no particular order:

1. Will thousands of working families be kicked off of Medicaid? Gov. Christie (R-Rove) has decreed that working families earning more than $6,000 a year should be dropped from Medicaid. Thus creating new incentives to go from work to welfare. Will the Democrats stand up and try to block this change (not clear from the reporting exactly how much power the Legislature has, but at the least they could pass a resolution telling the Obama Administration to reject the waivers needed)?

2. Will we have to pay $25 each to bail out Xanadu? Sens. Ray Lesniak (D-Progressive Social Causes and Crony Capitalism) and Kevin O’Toole (R-Tool) have introduced a bill to expand the ability of the Christie Administration to give away our money to large developers to include the Meadowlands. If you have driven the Turnpike recently, you may be aware that the Meadowlands includes a large eyesore called Xanadu which has been a total failure. Apparently the solution to this problem is for everyone in the state to pay $25 (that is $200 million divided by the 8 million people in NJ) to a large Canadian developer in order to get the mall ready for opening. I have two questions: could those of us below I-195 at least have the option of giving the money to a more local mall that is not 100 miles away, or perhaps have it go to the casinos and at least get $25 in chips back? And if this expert is right that even with $200 million of our tax money the project only has a 50-50 chance of success (after all four prior owners have failed), do we get double our money back if it fails again? Seriously, is this really something that the Democrats are going to support instead of using to bash Christie?

3. Does the Open Public Records Act still exist? First Gov. Christie refuses to let us know who is on the helicopter with him. Then he claims executive privilege for e-mails with Roger Ailes. Did OPRA get repealed while we weren’t looking? And is anyone going to hold him accountable?

4. Women’s health: what happens next? Planned Parenthood, our own Sen. Weinberg (D – Actually a D), and many others have been running probably the best progressive campaign of the year against Christie’s deeply unpopular cuts in women’s health. What happens next? Do the Dems take it up a notch? Like hold Xanadu, which costs over 20 times as much, hostage? Now, you may say: those are the kind of techniques that Republicans use, not Democrats. Which brings us to the next and final point…

5. Will the Democrats reverse all of their progress in making Chris Christie unpopular? For a while, Senate President Sweeney (D-Sorry About that Marriage Thing) and Speaker Oliver (D-What Happened to that Awesome State Convention Speech?) were on a roll – and Christie was having bad week after bad week – jobs numbers, helicopters, women’s health – and looked more arrogant than strong. Now, Christie is going to have a new round of bragging rights from overcoming the unions’ power. Christie this week looks more strong than arrogant. Are there any other tricks up leadership’s sleeve to help boost Christie’s sagging poll numbers?

It is going to be an interesting week with a lot at stake for our state’s future. And please post additions to this list if I missed something.

Deep Thought: “American Dream” or “What’s In A Name?” Edition

There’s something sad and poetic in the transformation of Xanadu to its new identity as American Dream at The Meadowlands. It’s in the turn of that phrase – “American Dream.”

Because the “American Dream” I grew up knowing cannot and should not be associated solely or in any official way with the type of mega-capitalism this facility will embody. The “American Dream” I know has more to do with equality and opportunity, and less to do with building a retail temple where locals and tourists alike may gorge themselves on all of the denim-coated Cinnabons America has to offer.

Of course, I’ll be glad to have a year-round artificial Hawaii within a quick drive.  

Xanadu is indeed today’s “American Dream”

It seems Chris Christie has agreed to give about $200 million to a developer to expand Xanadu. The developer, who runs the Mall of America, gets a low interest loan that they’ll pay back by keeping “most of” the sales tax. One condition is that they change the exterior.  

I for one wonder how anyone thought an indoor ski slope would succeed without an indoor water park. Well, I hope it’s a big success.

Needless to say, renaming Xanadu the “American Dream@Meadowlands” is the most delicious part of the deal.

Actions Speak Louder Than “Moments”

THE TICKLER FILE

Transportation Trust Fund As NJ Spotlight points out Christie is already two months behind his own schedule for producing a plan for the fund. He pledged during his gubernatorial campaign to use a “pay-as-you-go” approach, and he has consistently said he will not raise the gas tax. The Regional Plan Association has reported that former Governor Corzine’s $3.2 billion transportation spending level was not enough, but Christie has suggested his plan will be even less robust. Our infrastructure maintenance and repair needs are growing exponentially and threatening our lives and future. Governor Christie must stop delaying, establish  a new revenue source (probably increased gas taxes) and build a realistic medium-term plan to address our fraying infrastructure.

Medical Cannabis Regulations – The concurrent resolution adopted December 13 provides the Health Department 30 days to amend or withdraw its proposed regs or the Legislature may invalidate the regs. Hopefully the Health Department will make the four required changes plus others that experts have recommended. However Christie spokesperson Michael Drewniak suggested that only two changes based on Christie’s earlier “compromise” with Assemblyman Gusciora will be implemented. With people seriously ill and in pain, Christie can and must end his pettiness and do better.  

Xanadu Meadowlands Complex – Jon F. Hanson, who heads the governor’s commission on the state’s gaming and entertainment industry, said in November his panel expects to file recommendations to Gov. Chris Christie on the dormant $2 billion mall project before Christmas. He indicated four companies remain interested in the project, which could include the Izod Arena. It’s time to come to terms with a purchaser of this complex where current costs of upkeep are high but where long term value is much higher. Rather than more Christie YouTube “moments” we need more Christie action.

   

the hypocrisy of “dispassionate” budget cuts

promoted by Rosi

I randomly found something interesting. I stumbled onto a New York Times article about Xanadu, and here’s what our governor had to say about spending money to supplement billion-dollar projects three months ago:

With the Xanadu entertainment and shopping complex three years behind schedule and in need of an estimated $875 million to open, Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday that it was time for the state to help resuscitate the project.

So using state money to save a private, unnecessary entertainment complex funded by billionaires is more important than supplementing federal funds already appropriated to add a lifeline to a failing train fleet?

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