Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Two Faces of Steve Fulop

On February 22nd, Steve Fulop testified at the Senate State Aid Hearing in Newark and said that Jersey City could not lose state aid because only the Waterfront was doing well.

Saying proposals to reduce Jersey City's $420 million in operating aid
"only takes into account the affluent waterfront section of the [Jersey City] and ignores primarily minority portions of the Jersey City that are significantly less well off."

Fulop said, with a straight face apparently, that redistribution was:
“clearly an attack on poorer, primarily African American, Latino and minority districts,” Fulop said, claiming that a change would shift funding into primarily white school districts in the suburbs.

However, this claim by Fulop flies in the face of Jersey City's economic reality, which is indeed of a powerful, broad boom.

Even if you only look at Jersey City's official, non-PILOTed tax base, the last few years have seen extraordinary growth, with Jersey City's taxable real estate rising from 1.1% of New Jersey's total to about 2.25% of New Jersey's total

Note: Equalized Valuation does not take into account Jersey City's PILOTed properties. 

Fulop's claim also is belied by Fulop's own boasting of Jersey City's economic growth.

For instance, this is a statement Fulop's press secretary made on the context of casinos in Jersey City:

Our residential and commercial development has served as the economic engine for our region. That is a fact that is indisputable...We will continue that booming growth, but we must ensure that the first deciding factor in our decisions is based on residents first, and we reserve the right to reject any proposal that isn't in the residents' best interest."

During the last few years, Fulop (sometimes speaking through his press secretary) has made many equivalent statements.  Every time Jersey City's credit rating is upgraded, Fulop will send out a boastful press release.

Anyway, now Fulop is giving a series of "State of the City" addresses throughout Jersey City where Fulop directly contradicts the claim he made at the Senate State Aid hearing where he said that only the waterfront is thriving.

At his Journal Square speech, Fulop pointed out the obvious, which is that Journal Square is booming too.
Fulop, speaking in the auditorium at School 7 on Laidlaw Avenue, said Journal Square's "long road to recovery" is coming to an end. Citing the three-tower Journal Squared project, where the first 53-story tower will begin welcoming residents this year, Fulop said Journal Square's "best years are right around the corner." 
"From the top of the hill, the new Journal Square skyline will serve as a reminder that development in Jersey City is spreading west, and that our expansive skyline will soon rival that of any major city in the country,

YET more than the fact that parts of Jersey City other than the waterfront are indeed doing well is the critical fact that Jersey City is a single-entity from the point of view of taxation.  Even if Fulop's State Senate testimony were honest and only the waterfront were doing well, the waterfront would make up a gigantic share of Jersey City's total valuation.

The point remains, even if sections of Jersey City remain poor, on $25.7 billion in Equalized Valuation, Jersey City has the capacity to pay MUCH more than $116 million for its school system.  


See Also
"Bullshit, Lies, and Hypocrisy from Steve Fulop"

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