Category: Clips

Schepisi talks with Mercedes about staying in NJ

Holly Schepisi

Bergen Record -

Responding to reports that the Montvale-based U.S. division of Mercedes-Benz is considering a move out New Jersey, a state assemblywoman told company representatives Friday that state officials are ready to work with the German carmaker to keep it in New Jersey.

And a billboard company put up signs on routes 80 and 17, asking Mercedes-Benz to stay.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-River Vale, declined to give details on her 40-minute call with Mercedes-Benz officials, saying she had promised to keep the conversation confidential. But she said that Mercedes-Benz executives are “amenable to continuing to engage in discussions.”

“There are a lot of factors that are weighing in any sort of decision as to their future,” Schepisi said. “New Jersey remains committed to working with them, and they are aware of that. The state has some very attractive [incentive] packages that they are able to offer.” A company spokesman declined to comment on the call Friday, and has not commented on any reports that it may move.

Billboard messages saying “Bergen County (heart) Mercedes-Benz” went up Friday afternoon on routes 17 and 80 in Rochelle Park. The sign space was donated by Marty Judge, co-owner of Judge Outdoors in New York and Waldwick. He said he planned to keep the billboards into the new year.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that Mercedes-Benz, which employs 1,000 people in Montvale, is considering a move South, possibly to Atlanta. The company has been on a 37-acre campus in Montvale since 1972.

Schepisi and her fellow legislators in the 39th District, Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Demarest, and Assemblyman Robert Auth, R-Old Tappan, wrote to Mercedes-Benz Dec. 8, asking to meet with company officials to discuss “options and incentives to encourage Mercedes-Benz to continue to make New Jersey its home.”

A departure by Mercedes-Benz would be the latest in a series of corporate relocations from Bergen County to the South. Earlier this year, the car-rental company Hertz moved from Park Ridge to south Florida, and BubbleWrap maker Sealed Air is moving its headquarters from Elmwood Park to Charlotte, N.C.. Both companies received tax incentives from those states.

Mercedes-Benz is Montvale’s second-largest private employer, after the accounting giant KPMG, according to the Bergen County Economic Development Corp. Mercedes-Benz is among the top 10 corporate employers in the county and paid $916,700 in property taxes this year.

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Brown on Taj drama that spilled into the Statehouse

Source: Inquirer -

The roller-coaster ride that was Carl Icahn on Thursday extended to the halls of the Statehouse.

It was a long afternoon in which the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and the package of bills to help save it and the resort city were on many minds.

But by 1 p.m., word filtered down that votes on the bills were being delayed.

The reason: A deal between Icahn and Unite Here Local 54, the casino workers’ union, had broken down at the last minute.

Chris A. Brown

Assemblyman Chris A. Brown was particularly critical of the PILOT program. His plan would freeze the city’s property taxes for five years at 2014 levels, including those of the casinos.

“Whenever you are allowing one group of businesses to pay less than their fair share, and then pushing their portion of the bill onto all of the middle class, hardworking families, that is unfair,” he said. “That is a form of corporate welfare.”

The situation with the Taj, which employs about 3,000, and the closures of four other Atlantic City casinos have created tension between the parties, and the city’s future will likely be a factor in next year’s legislative races.

On Thursday, Brown spoke out against the Democrats’ package and encouraged his GOP cohorts to vote down the bills.

“This is a move in the right direction,” Brown said when he learned the Democrats’ bills were stalled. “We’re in the middle of a summit where all the stakeholders are coming together to find the best approach to stabilize Atlantic City.”

Gov. Christie will hold the third day of a summit in Atlantic City next month.

The PILOT program is at the heart of Atlantic City’s recovery plan. The formula for calculating the payments for each casino is based on their annual gambling revenue, how much property they own, and how many hotel rooms they operate.

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Fiocchi Bill to improve living conditions in boarding homes awaits Christie’s signature

Source: Shore News Today -

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

Legislation sponsored by District 1 Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi to improve living conditions at residential health care centers, boarding homes and homeless shelters earned approval recently from the state Assembly.

The bill, passed unanimously by the Senate in June, now awaits Gov. Chris Christie’s review.

Fiocchi’s legislation would require inspection reports from residential facilities to be published for public review on the Department of Community Affairs website.

“There are residential facilities that chronically fall below acceptable standards. We are pulling back the curtain to expose these conditions,” said Fiocchi, a Republican representing Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland counties.

“The increased accountability from posting inspection details on the Internet will improve living conditions and safety in substandard homes.”

DCA officials provide inspections of residential health care facilities, while local officials are responsible for emergency shelters for the homeless and rooming and boarding houses. According to a statement from Fiocchi, under the bill, the commissioner of DCA will establish standard inspection practices.

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Brown welcomes delay of vote on ‘corporate welfare’ for Atlantic City casinos

Source: Press of Atlantic City -

An economic recovery plan that would give Atlantic City’s casinos millions of dollars in tax relief was ensnared in a dispute Thursday between billionaire investor Carl Icahn and the union representing workers at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.

A final vote on the five-bill legislative package, which would help stabilize Atlantic City’s shaky finances, was postponed in the Senate and Assembly after Icahn could not reach a deal with Local 54 of UNITE-HERE.

Chris A. Brown

Assemblyman Chris Brown, a critic of the legislation and what he has called its “corporate welfare” for the casinos, said the delay will give more time to discuss the plan.

“As we saw today, rushing bills through that are not well thought out is unproductive. I believe we owe it to our middle-class families to work together in a bipartisan fashion and thoroughly vet each proposal through the summit process in order to make sure we get it right,” said Brown, R-Atlantic.

Under the plan, Atlantic City’s casino industry would make payments in lieu of property taxes amounting to $150 million annually for the first two years and $120 million annually for the next 13 years. Supporters say the so-called PILOT program would create stable and predictable payments in place of the Atlantic City’s volatile property tax structure.

The legislation includes substantial tax breaks for the casino industry. Icahn has been pressing for tax breaks or other economic aid from the state or city as part of his plans to take ownership of the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal was supposed to shut down on Saturday, but it now appears it will stay open indefinitely while Icahn tries to work out a “global settlement” with the state, the city and the union. Icahn pledged in a letter Thursday to the Taj Mahal’s parent company to invest an additional $20 million in financing to keep the casino open throughout the bankruptcy proceedings.


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Bucco Takes on Misleading “Buy American” Bill

Source: The Save Jersey Blog -

Anthony M. Bucco

“At the end of the day, I came to one conclusion: this is a bad bill with a good name. Let’s face it: if this bill was named ‘your cost of living will be going up by 20% bill,’ it would have never seen the light of day. But, in fact, that’s the testimony that we heard.”

That’s Anthony Bucco from the Assembly floor on Thursday, Save Jerseyans, delivering a particularly powerful argument against the “Buy American” bill (in actuality a series of 5 separate measures) which passed with 43 votes; if signed into law, all awarded N.J. public contracts, including any awarded by agencies like the port authorities, would require the recipient to utilize only goods “made in America.”

The inevitable result? Less foreign investment for New Jersey (not to mention that fact that ‘made in America’ doesn’t exactly mean what it did before globalization).

Listen below and please share! The substance of Bucco’s articulate opposition was not dissimilar from his colleague Michael Patrick Carroll’s Monday address offered in opposition to a resolution urging Congress to act against so-called “corporate inversions” at the federal level: the road to hell is paved with good intentions…

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Bramnick speaks on ‘buy American’ bills

Philadelphia Inquirer -

Bills requiring New Jersey public contracts at the state and local levels to use U.S.-made goods passed the state Legislature on Thursday over the objections of business groups, which argued that the measures would make the state less competitive.

The five bills – one related to state and local entities, including state colleges, and the others to bistate transportation agencies, including the Delaware River Port Authority – passed largely along party lines in the Democratic-controlled Assembly. In the Senate, which had previously passed some of the bills, the remaining bill Thursday garnered Democratic and some Republican support.

The package expands requirements for U.S.-made goods in certain public contracts.

Opponents, including other Republican lawmakers and business groups in and outside New Jersey, said the requirements would be too onerous. The bill applying to contracts with state and local entities wouldn’t just require that a product be made in the United States but that the majority of its components are made here.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R., Union), joined by other Republicans from the Assembly, criticized the legislation at a news conference Thursday, saying it “sends a very bad message to businesses.”

Assembly Republicans said the bills would result in increased costs to taxpayers. In the bill pertaining to contracts for state and local entities, waivers could be granted if the cost of a U.S.-made product was more than 20 percent above a foreign-made alternative.

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NJ Republicans sparring again

NJ 101.5 -

Democrats and Republicans are closing out 2014 by arguing over which party was more ineffective this year.

During a press conference on Thursday in Trenton, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) said top Democrats wasted 2014 trying to link Gov. Chris Christie to a scandal while ignoring the economy and the business community. But Assembly Democratic Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees) said Bramnick is wrong, and added that no one cares what Republicans in New Jersey have to say anyway.

Jon Bramnick

“For the past year, the Democrats in my judgment have concentrated on the negative – Bridgegate. A year of Bridgegate hearings did anything but instill confidence in businesses in this state,” Bramnick said.

For four days in September of 2013, access lanes in Fort Lee leading to the George Washington Bridge were closed without warning causing massive traffic jams. Many Democrats believe the lanes were shutdown as political retribution because Fort lee’s Democratic mayor refused to endorse Christie’s re-election campaign. Christie has denied any involvement and an internal probe cleared him, but the scandal is still dogging the governor as he mulls a run for president in 2016.

“Post January, all the Democrats were lining up either to run for governor or the alternative – find something bad about Chris Christie. Let us concentrate on making lives better in New Jersey, not on who was responsible for moving cones around on the bridge,” Bramnick said.

The Select Committee on Investigation has been probing the Bridgegate scandal for months. Greenwald is a member of that panel and he has consistently said that there is no evidence to link Christie to Bridgegate.

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Bramnick and Bucco talk about ‘Made in America’ bills


The New Jersey Assembly has given final legislative approval to a package of bills that require state agencies and public colleges to use materials made in the U-S in the fulfillment of contracts.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick says Republicans believe the so-called Made in America bills set a dangerous policy.

“We can’t afford in an economy that is somewhat fragile in New Jersey to do anything except promote our companies and some of those are international companies.”

Anthony M. Bucco

Republican Assemblyman Anthony Bucco says the bills will result in job cuts and higher prices.

“These are bad bills with a good name and if these bills were entitled to drive the cost of living up by 20 percent, they’d be dead on arrival, but that’s exactly what we’ve been told.”

It’s now up to Governor Christie to decide whether to sign the bills into law.

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Schepisi reaches out to Mercedes on potential move from Bergen County to the South

Bergen Record -

Nearly two weeks ago, three state legislators reached out to the head of Mercedes-Benz USA seeking a meeting to dissuade the automaker from leaving Montvale, but they did not got a response until Thursday.

Holly Schepisi

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-River Vale, state Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Demarest and Assemblyman Robert Auth, R-Old Tappan, jointly sent a letter on Dec. 8 to Stephen Cannon, president and chief executive officer of the German automaker’s U.S. unit, requesting a meeting with him and his team. But it wasn’t until Thursday that Mercedes-Benz finally responded and offered to set up a phone call between the company’s counsel and Schepisi on Friday, she said.

The lines of communication have been opened,” Schepisi said. “I am definitely cautiously optimistic. We have a lot to offer and we truly want to be able to work with the company and do whatever it takes within reason to keep them in our community.”

Media outlets this week, citing sources, reported that Mercedes-Benz is looking to relocate its U.S. headquarters to the South, most likely to Atlanta. The company has been in Montvale since 1972, and has 1,000 employees on its 37-acre campus.

Mercedes-Benz declined to comment on the letter from the three lawmakers, and has declined to comment on its potential move, saying it doesn’t issue statements on rumors and speculation.

“Mercedes-Benz USA has been a valued community leader and business partner in New Jersey for many years,” the letter said. “Hundreds of our District 39 residents work for the company and many more support it through local ancillary businesses. We are concerned, therefore, to hear that the company may be thinking of relocating its facilities to another state.”

The three legislators asked that before Mercedes-Benz and Cannon, a Wyckoff native, make any final decisions, they meet with state officials.

“If desired, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and members of her staff are available to join us to discuss options and incentives to encourage Mercedes-Benz to continue to make New Jersey its home,” the letter said. “We value you as our neighbor and hope that together we can continue that relationship.”

Schepisi said employees believe the move is a done deal, “which is causing people unnecessary angst and anxiety,” when “based upon the intel I’m receiving, it is not indeed a done deal, and that there still is an opportunity to retain them and their corporate headquarters within New Jersey.”

Mayor Roger Fyfe also has reached out to the carmaker, she said.

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Bramnick-Bucco speak on “Buy American” bill

Bergen Record -

The state Assembly on Thursday approved a package of bills that would require that all public contracts – and those awarded by various autonomous agencies, including the Port Authority – to use goods made in America.

Business groups strongly opposed the bills, saying they would increase costs and hurt the state economy, arguments Republicans cited when voting against the measures.

Nicknamed the “Buy American” bill, the measure requiring public contracts to be fulfilled with American goods passed with Democratic support, 43 to 25, with six abstentions.

The 24 Republican members voted against the bills, saying they would be detrimental to the state.

Anthony M. Bucco

“This is a bad bill with a good name,” Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, said of the bill requiring American goods for public contracts. “Let’s face it, if this bill was named, ‘The cost of living will be going up by 20 percent bill’ it would never see the light of day, but in fact that’s the testimony that we heard.”

Bucco said he was concerned that the bill would lead businesses to leave New Jersey, a concern echoed by Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick.

Jon Bramnick

“This is just another Trenton regulation with the word America in it,” Bramnick said. “We need to make it easier to do business in this state, not harder.”

The Senate approved the measures in June, but must again vote on the “Buy American” measure after the Assembly made minor tweaks. The bills regarding the autonomous agencies head to Christie for final action.

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