Wednesday, September 28, 2016

NJ's #1 Aid Hoarder Endorses Phil Murphy

Sept 28th in Jersey City:
Phil Murphy is Only Against Insiders Who Don't Back Him
Steve Fulop of Jersey City has announced he will not run for governor of New Jersey and is supporting Phil Murphy.

Fulop has become New Jersey's most scandal-tarred Democratic elected official.

Fulop's withdrawal is taking place amidst a swirl of negative publicity around shady dealing around his 2012-13 employment by a car importer that wanted to pay lower rent at Port Newark and a $1 million donation from Vivek Garipalli, the CEO of a for-profit hospital chain that is notorious for price gouging.  There is the backround controversy around Steve Fulop's own "mini-Bridgegate" regarding when the Jersey City police blockaded a Port Authority facility for no honest reason.

Fulop's withdrawal also comes amid intensifying criticism of the fairness of Jersey City's state aid, as Jersey City receives $130 million more than SFRA recommends it get and related criticism over Jersey City's exploitation of New Jersey's law on tax abatements, including from the State Auditor.

(Figures in Millions)
The embarrassment over Fulop's cancellation of Jersey City's long-overdue tax reval in 2013 hasn't ended.  Jersey City's last reval was done in 1988.  It had (and has) New Jersey's most unfair property taxes, and yet Fulop cancelled the reval, lying about a reval being a "back door tax hike."

Jersey City has lost the lawsuit from the reval firm that Steve Fulop refused to pay and legal bills and reval costs now exceed $8.5 million too.
So, Phil Murphy claims to be against "political insiders," but that's only when political insiders don't back him.  When political insiders like Sharpe James and Steve Fulop back Murphy, no matter how much mud they have on them, he loves it.

In announcing his endorsement Fulop twice talked about doing "what was in the best interests of Jersey City."  One of those references was closely juxtapositioned with the word "education."

It's a given that Fulop had no reason to endorse Sweeney.  Steve Fulop has been insulted by George Norcross, who is Sweeney's patron. Ideologically, Fulop might feel that Murphy is closer, although the main differences between progressive and moderate Democrats is pensions and Fulop used to support pension reform too.

However, in light of how early this endorsement is, this political background should be considered:
    1. Phil Murphy has little interest in state aid fairness. (he says little about public education in general)  He has been extremely evasive when asked if he would redistribute state aid.  
      • A redistribution of state aid, like Senate President Steve Sweeney champions, would mean at least $100 million a year less for Jersey City.

    2. Phil Murphy has shown no interest in reforming how New Jersey's PILOT law operates.
      • Jersey City exploits the PILOT law to artificially depress its Equalized Valuation and thereby deprive Hudson County of taxes and sustain its school aid.
      • Steve Sweeney has a plank about PILOT reform in his state aid reform bill and is pro-PILOT reform.

Fulop's claim that Phil Murphy is his "friend," is not believable.  Murphy made an ethics complaint against Fulop last month for Fulop's spending mayoral money on his gubernatorial campaign.  In March, Fulop made a veiled insult of Murphy for being a Goldman Sachs career employee, whereas Steve Fulop had left Goldman to serve in the Marines.  Two weeks before withdrawing, Fulop said Murphy's campaign was "desperate and floundering."  Murphy swiped back at Fulop in an ad reminding voters that Murphy hasn't gotten any anonymous $1 million donations.  (like Fulop had from Vivek Garipalli.)

So Murphy and Fulop weren't friends before this but they are now. Fulop is the first major Democrat to endorse Murphy.  Up until now Murphy's biggest prize was an endorsement from the mayor of Paramus.

So the Murphy+Fulop "friendship" is something everyone who cares about equitable aid should be concerned with.

Senator Ray Lesniak said it best about Fulop's endorsement of Murphy,"Phil Murphy cut a deal with the devil."

New Jersey beware.

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