Tag: Holly Schepisi

Schepisi Interview with PolitickerNJ

Source: PolitickerNJ -

Holly Schepisi

The star of State Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39) is ascending in the ever-changing firmament of New Jersey politics. Schepisi, 43, an attorney who lives in River Vale, is reportedly being considered by New Jersey Republicans as a future Congressional or statewide candidate, including for governor. PolitickerNJ named Schepisi as one of its two Rising Stars in its 2014 Year in Review. Schepisi recently addressed a constellation of issues with PolitickerNJ, trying to make sense out of New Jersey’s chaotic political galaxy.

PolitickerNJ: Now that there is a new Democratic Bergen County Executive [Jim Tedesco] in office, what should the Bergen Republicans’ political stance be going forward?

Holly Schepisi: There are fundamental ideological differences between Republicans and Democrats, and we have to ensure that we differentiate ourselves. But we don’t have to be contentious or cantankerous just for the sake of being so. What we need to is to focus on party building, what our messaging is, and what we’re looking to do long-term. We have to be able to get Bergen County its fair share, and to focus on why Bergen County, disproportionately from the rest of the state, receives the least amount back from the tax dollars we send down to Trenton.

PNJ: The footage of Gov. Chris Christie cheering on the Dallas Cowboys with team owner Jerry Jones at a recent playoff game has received a lot of attention. Do you think the governor’s exuberant behavior in the Cowboys owner’s box was presidential?

HS: With respect to the football game itself, I think the entire thing is silly. Here is somebody who has always been an avowed Cowboys fan. Was the photo of him being excited a little bit goofy? Yeah. But taking him apart because he’s a Cowboys fan is silly. It’s almost akin to coming after me because I like Bono better than Bon Jovi.

PNJ: Reports that Christie accepted plane and game tickets from Jones after information emerged suggesting that Christie impelled the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to sign off on a contract for a company that was partially owned by Jones came out after the game. Do you think there is anything to this story?

HS: I don’t have enough information about that component to make any sort of judgment. In the past 24 hours, I’ve been more focused about [Mercedes-Benz USA leaving New Jersey], so I haven’t really followed that.

PNJ: In terms of other figures involved in presidential politics, do you think [Democrat] Hillary Clinton is a particular threat to get independent female votes in 2016? Would the GOP prefer to have another opponent, or do Republicans think Hillary is a perfect candidate to tee off on?

HS: I think that Hillary is more of a threat than, let’s say, [U.S. Sen.] Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.) for example, because Hillary has potentially more appeal to independent voters than Warren, who is viewed to be much further to the left. Whoever the ticket is on the Republican side doesn’t want to be perceived as just the older-rich-white-men-running ticket. Our party has become more cognizant of trying to reach out [demographically], and I think that was seen in the last election with the Republican candidates that were elected into Congress.

PNJ: Later this month, you will be joining state Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) as part of the 2015 Republican Assembly campaign kickoff, focusing first on Bergen and Hudson counties. Do you plan on increasing your statewide appearances to support the 2015 GOP Assembly candidates?

HS: I will do everything I can to be supportive of our party. And if that includes a desire for me to attend events in other districts, I absolutely will show my support.

PNJ: Would that include supporting state Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-2), who is categorically opposed to any proposed casino being built in North Jersey, including a casino potentially being built in your home county of Bergen?

HS: I am a firm believer that you can still actively support somebody and disagree on certain issues. I don’t think that there is any candidate, or any person, that I agree with 100 percent. Chris and I have respectfully disagreed on some of these issues, but it doesn’t change my support in any fashion for him, or for what he’s attempting to do on behalf of the area that he represents.

PNJ: As a member of the state Legislative Special Committee on Investigation, what is your take on the progress of the committee’s Bridgegate investigation, following the recent release of the committee’s interim report?

HS: From a practical perspective, let’s assume that some sort of an indictment comes down stemming from the Bridgegate affair. There is no U.S. Attorney in the country that I am aware of that would permit a political legislative body, while there is an active criminal case pending, call before it witnesses with any sort of material knowledge of what occurred. If indictments do come down, there is no chance that we are at any time in the foreseeable future going to be able to call up before our committee anybody with relevant or pertinent knowledge.

There is also no criminal case that I’m aware of in New Jersey that from start to finish takes under a year, unless a plea deal is entered into. In general, you’re talking at least a year, which brings us into an entirely new legislative session. If we’re keeping this committee open with the hope that we’re going to be calling in David Wildstein or Bridget Kelly or anybody else to provide public testimony, the odds of that occurring are pretty small to non-existent. Plus, eight out of the twelve members of the committee are up for reelection this year. You could have a situation by the time we would be able to call anybody before us that you could possibly have a certain portion of the committee no longer being in office.

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Schepisi talks about Port Authority legislation

Holly Schepisi

Source: Bloomberg -

Governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation passed unanimously in both of their state legislatures that would change the management structure at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Instead, Christie, New Jersey’s Republican governor, and Cuomo, a New York Democrat, said they accepted revisions recommended by a special panel to reorganize the agency, and urged their respective legislatures and the Port Authority to implement them, according to a joint statement released today.

The report’s recommendations include consolidating the agency under a single chief executive officer; the appointment of a chief ethics and compliance officer; making public-records rules consistent with state laws; divesting real-estate holdings that aren’t vital to the agency’s mission, including commercial properties at the World Trade Center; and building a new bus terminal in Manhattan, according to the governors’ statement.

New Jersey Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, a Republican from Westwood who served on the panel investigating the closings and sponsored the bill, said she was surprised by the governors’ moves.

“Am I disappointed that the bill was vetoed? Yes,” she said in a telephone interview after the announcement. “A lot of us worked very hard on it from both sides of the aisle. That being said, I’m going to reserve judgment on the overall rationale and the reason until I have a chance to review” the report.

The bills would have directed the Port Authority to file annual audits, protect whistle-blowers and require officials to appear before legislative committees. They also would have ordered the authority to hold at least six public hearings before raising tolls, required commissioners to file financial-disclosure statements and maintain records of all lobbying contacts, and made the authority subject to state open-records laws.

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Schepisi continues effort to keep Mercedes-Benz in NJ

Holly Schepisi

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer -

German luxury automobile maker Mercedes-Benz hasn’t even publicly said it’s considering moving its U.S. headquarters out of New Jersey, but some state officials are so concerned about the possibility they’re campaigning publicly to try to keep the company and its 1,000 jobs where they are.

The possibility of Mercedes-Benz USA, the U.S. marketing and distribution arm of Germany-based Daimler AG, moving from Montvale comes as the state is ramping up its tax incentives to bring companies in and keep those it already has.

A 2013 state law includes a tax break to keep car company headquarters in their current communities. That benefit could be worth about $15 million to Mercedes on top of millions of dollars in other incentives. It also could be used by several other car companies with U.S. headquarters in the state, including BMW, whose main North American office is about 2 miles from Mercedes’.

This year, the state has promised more than $2 billion in tax breaks to companies. Subaru of America agreed to stay, and the Philadelphia 76ers plan to move their offices and practice facility to Camden while continuing to play in Philadelphia, a short drive away.

At the same time, the state has lost some major businesses: Car rental giant The Hertz Corp. is moving to Estero, Florida, with the help of $85 million in tax breaks, and Bubble Wrap maker Sealed Air Corp. is moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, with the aid of $35 million in breaks.

The three state lawmakers who represent the district where Mercedes is located wrote a letter to the company asking it to stay.

One of them, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, a Republican from River Vale, said she has been speaking with Mercedes executives about incentives to stay and expects the company to make an announcement about its plans in the coming weeks.

“It’s something where it goes well beyond just the loss of those jobs,” Schepisi said this week. “You’re talking about the impact it would have on the small businesses in the area – restaurants, dry cleaners, cleaning crews.”

A billboard company, at Schepisi’s behest, donated digital ad space on four signs proclaiming Bergen County loves Mercedes-Benz, among the largest employers in the state’s most populous county.

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Schepisi, officials move to save Mercedes Benz jobs

Source: The Star-Ledger -

Mercedes-Benz has hired commercial real estate juggernaut CBRE Group, Inc. to help it find a new home as it considers leaving New Jersey, according to sources with direct knowledge of the action.

The German luxury car manufacturer has been based in Montvale since 1972, and employs more than 1,000 people in the state. The sources spoke to NJ Advance Media on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the negotiations.

The company’s potential move finds state lawmakers from Bergen County and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno scrambling to keep Mercedes-Benz from leaving. On Friday night, two digital billboards on Routes 80 and 17 began featuring a plea for the company to stay, par of a public relations effort by state Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen).

Holly Schepisi

Schepisi said that she “remains optimistic that we have the opportunities in the state that could counter any other offers from other states” such as Georgia, which has reportedly offered more than $30 million in corporate tax credits.

Schepisi said she and state Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen) had talks Friday afternoon with Mercedes-Benz general counsel Marco DeSanto about what could be done to keep the German luxury brand in the Garden State, where it’s been based since 1972.

A spokesman for Mercedes-Benz did not return a request for comment on Friday.

Schepisi declined to discuss specific dollar amounts offer to or sought by Benz, or any New Jersey financial packages being explored, citing the confidentiality of the talks. But she stressed that “all parties are committed to exploring every possible avenue to retain them here,” and that “the opportunity to retain Mercedes still exists.”

Robert Auth

Robert Auth

Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-Bergen) said Gov. Chris Christie had deployed Guadagno to meet with Mercedes executives as soon as possible. He said while talks between Mercedes and GOP leaders were “pretty nascent,” Guadagno was “not the type to throw in the towel so readily” and expected to wage a robust fight to keep Benz.

Guadagno, reached by NJ Advance Media, declined to comment, issuing only a statement that the state has “enjoyed a working relationship with Mercedes.”

Due to the looming Christmas holiday, little actual negotiation is expected to occur next week. But as the sun set on Friday, two massive digital billboards along on Routes 80 and 17 glowed with the message, “Bergen County ♥ Mercedes Benz-USA,” underscored by the Twitter hashtag, #pleasestay, appearing in 8 second bursts.

Schepisi enlisted New York and Waldwick-based Judge Outdoor to donate four digital billboards – two between exit 63 and 62B in Rochelle Park on Route 80, and two more south of Central Ave. on Route 17 — to help immediately convey the desire to engage with Mercedes-Benz.

Marty Judge, a principal in the outdoor advertising firm, said he was moved to deliver the billboards — which reach 300,000 people a day — without charge partly because “it’s the holidays” and partly due to enlightened self-interest.

“You gotta do something with so many jobs on the line,” Judge said. “Plus, if Bergen thrives, it’s better for me,”

The loss of Benz would be substantial to the state, but especially rough on Montvale: Mercedes is the city’s second-largest private employer, second only to accounting powerhouse KPMG. According to the county’s Economic Development Corp.’s own data, Benz paid almost $1 million in local taxes last year

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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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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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Assembly Approves Schepisi Bill to Help Flood-Prone Neighborhoods

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Holly Schepisi co-prime sponsored legislation approved Monday by the General Assembly to help local officials remove debris and silt from streams to control flooding in low-lying areas across the state. The bill (A-3507), similar to bill (A-900) which was also co-primed by the Assemblywoman, increases the number of streams eligible for cleaning without obtaining a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), allowing municipalities and counties to quickly and effectively remove snags and other residue impeding water flow.

Holly Schepisi

“Residents in flood-prone areas live with the constant threat of streams spilling over the banks with every storm that hits our area. We have worked for many years to provide any form of flood relief for our residents,” said Schepisi, R- Bergen and Passaic. “To help control flooding, it is necessary to use all tools available, including allowing municipalities to properly clean out the natural and man-made debris and obstructions in the streams without having to go through costly and lengthy permitting processes. Vegetation, natural sediment, garbage, shopping carts and 55-gallon drums all contribute to costly flooding.”

Under current law, only stream beds 15 feet or less in width may be cleaned without DEP approval. The width is expanded to 30 feet by Schepisi’s legislation.

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Ciattarelli-Schepisi Pleased North Dakota and USDOT Addressing Safe Transport of Bakken Shale on Rails

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republicans Jack Ciattarelli and Holly Schepisi, who have expressed concerns over the safe transport of Bakken shale by oil tanker through New Jersey, lauded a recent news report that North Dakota oil producers must begin removing flammable natural gas liquids from the product before shipping. Bakken crude has a low flashpoint.

The legislators also expressed their support of a bipartisan budget agreement reached by Congressional leaders that sets aside funds for upgrading safety standards of the oil tankers transporting the product. The bill requires the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to adopt regulations by Jan.15 to upgrade tanker car designs. Fifteen new hazardous materials and rail safety inspectors will be hired and $3 million allocated to expand the use of automated track inspections.

Jack Ciattarelli

“The encouraging news from North Dakota and the USDOT indicates that concerns expressed by states through which this oil travels are being taken seriously,” said Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “I commend the North Dakota state regulators for requiring Bakken oil producers to remove the most hazardous liquids common in the North Dakota crude. Upgrading product standards and improving the safe transport of this commodity are imperative, especially in New Jersey where rail lines run through numerous communities.”

Anywhere from 15-30 trains come into New Jersey every week and pass through Bergen, Somerset and Hunterdon counties on their way to a Philadelphia refinery.

Holly Schepisi

“Coincidental or not, both North Dakota and the federal government are taking positive steps to improve the standards of tanker cars and the refining process of the shale before it is shipped,” said Schepisi, R- Bergen and Passaic. “Increasing our energy independence is a worthy goal, but we cannot sacrifice the safety of residents. These oil tankers travel through heavily populated residential communities. Upgrading transport standards and increasing the number of safety inspections will help protect our residents.”

Ciattarelli and Schepisi said they are working to gain bipartisan support for legislation they sponsor (AR-171), which urges the USDOT to upgrade crude oil transport regulations.

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Schepisi talks about Newark Airport Pricing

Holly Schepisi

Bergen Record -

New Jersey travelers know that airfares for flights out of Newark Liberty International Airport, where United Airlines handles nearly three-fourths of all passengers, are generally higher than at either John F. Kennedy or La Guardia airports, where there is more competition.

This week, another seeming contributor to higher fares at Newark was brought to light when Chicago-based United Airlines filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration asking the regulator to investigate fees that the airport’s operator, the Port Authority, charges at New Jersey’s biggest airport.

But experts say fees are not a major cost to air carriers, despite the disparity in fees at airports operated by the Port Authority. The bigger cost driver for travelers, experts say, is the lack of competition at Newark, a situation repeated at other, mostly smaller, airports around the country where one airline dominates.

According to United, the flight fees it pays at Newark are much higher than at any other airport, and those fees put the airline at a competitive disadvantage to rivals Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, whose New York City-area hubs are at JFK.

Travelers who used Newark for flights within the United States paid the sixth-highest average round-trip fare in the country in the second quarter, according to the latest data from the Department of Transportation. The average fare at Newark, including taxes and passenger fees, was $491.42. JFK and La Guardia ranked 37th and 54th, respectively, with average fares of $416.11 and $398.17.

There is less competition between airlines at Newark as a result of the dominance of a single carrier, United, which handles 70 percent of the passengers. United became the dominant carrier at Newark when it bought Continental Airlines in 2010.

At Newark, which is a trans-Atlantic gateway airport where many passengers get off one plane and board another, United provides a mix of long, medium and short hauls.

Even though air travel experts say the disparity in fees is not a central pressure point for higher costs in Newark, legislators in Trenton were still tying the fees to long-standing claims that Port Authority management is making flights more expensive and driving up costs, with little public oversight.

“That special legislative committee should be looking at the cost of flights from Newark as well as other issues raised by United in its complaint,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-River Vale.

“The flights have become so ridiculously expensive,” Schepisi said. “Everybody out of Bergen County is seeking alternatives.”

“The rising flight costs also need to be seen as part of a larger problem with costs at the Port Authority,” she said. “And that includes recent toll increases and rising overtime payouts. “When you get all of these things together, it is desperately in need of looking at what is going on there,” Schepisi said.

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Schepisi: Republicans ‘no less’ harsh in Bridgegate report than Dems Read more at Schepisi: Republicans ‘no less’ harsh in Bridgegate report than Dems

Source: PolitickerNJ -

Holly Schepisi

A Republican Assemblywoman who sits on the Select Committee on Investigation, the joint legislative body tasked with investigating last year’s George Washington Bridge lane closures, defended a statement released by minority members this morning, just hours after a heated hearing had Democrats and Republicans at each others’ throats.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39) admitted her party’s 119-page Minority Statement, which was produced in response to the committee’s own interim report and sharply criticizes its Democratic members of partisanship, was “harsh” — though no less harsh than the committee’s co-chairs, Assemblyman John Wisniewski and state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, have been with their mostly Republican witnesses, she said.

Schepisi said Democrats on the committee — particularly Wisniewski, who Republicans have have described as an “opportunistic and power-hungry politician” who’s used his leadership position for political gain — went after witnesses “relentlessly,” mostly because they were connected-up with Gov. Chris Christie in some way.

Republicans accuse Democrats of using their yearlong investigation to conduct a drawn-out “witch hunt” after the Republican governor, who finds himself a potential 2016 presidential contender.

Those witnesses include Christie administration officials like his former chief of staff, Kevin O’Dowd, as well as former aide, Matt Mowers, who spent more than five hours testifying in front of the committee on the Office of the Governor’s connection to Bridgegate earlier this year.

Schepisi described Wisniewski as being bent on implicating the governor in the scandal somehow — which has turned the committee’s work into a “very bad waste of taxpayers dollars and of everybody’s time.”

“Was some of the stuff in our report harsh? Yes. But no more or less harsh than the chairman’s been with any person who has appeared before the committee,” she said.

At their hearing this morning, committee members voted along party lines to publicly release their interim report, which finds the committee currently unable to determine Christie’s connection to the lane closings, if any — though not before Republicans brought up their own report, excoriating Democrats and the investigation as “government gone wild.”

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