Corzine’s Dilemma – Campaign Contributors vs. Environmental Groups
Environmental groups may abandon their endorsement of Jon Corzine for Governor of New Jersey, according to the Press Atlantic City. Jon Corzine's unwillingness to take a position on Petty's Island and his recent hiring of Susan Bass Levin as his chief of campaign operations are causing them to question his candidacy.
The groups wondered whether Corzine's alleged connections with county Democratic political bosses affected his decisions.Corzine did not take a postion for or against the redevelopment of Petty's Island citing federal and state obstacles to the plan.
Southern New Jersey Democratic Party boss, George Norcross III, is heard boasting on the so-called Palmyra tapes that he controls New Jersey politicians, including former Gov. James E. McGreevey and Corzine. He has also called Corzine a "good friend."
"Are we going to have the same situation as Jim McGreevey when he tried to please everybody and then the county party bosses held sway?" said Jeff Tittel, executive director of the Sierra Club, which endorsed Corzine.
David Pringle, campaign manager of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, criticized Levin for pushing fast-track development around the state and for signing off on the Petty's Island redevelopment and the Xanadu project at the Meadowlands."She's willing to sell out her core beliefs at any second. Why would you want somebody like that working on your campaign?" Pringle asked.
Tittel said the Sierra Club would consider rescinding its endorsement of Corzine and possibly stay neutral. Pringle said the federation would meet over the next two months to discuss whom it will endorse.
Here’s where eminent domain pop’s up again:
But he did question the motivation of the land's current owners, Citgo Petroleum Corp.
"I also believe that the people of New Jersey should look very skeptically upon a foreign oil company that has chosen to cloak itself in the principles of environmentalism in exchange for huge tax breaks from the state, while avoiding substantial expense in cleaning up their own mess," Corzine said.
An underground storage-tank farm and a paved, industrial marine facility encompass more than half the island - once an oil refinery run by Citgo - which has made it difficult for the state to argue conservation merits over the objections of Pennsauken Township officials.
Citgo offered the property as a gift to New Jersey along with $2 million so the land could be converted into a wildlife preservation area after learning at least two American bald eagles lived on the site.But:
Pennsauken Township officials want to use eminent domain laws to take control of and redevelop the island, which sits on the Delaware River between Camden County and Philadelphia.Critics say the deal reeks of pay-to-play; the exchange of governmental contracts for political donations.
The redeveloper expected to do the work, Cherokee Investment Partners, has given millions of dollars in campaign contributions to Democratic Party leaders throughout the state. Cherokee plans a $2 billion redevelopment project, including construction of golf courses, low-density housing and a hotel/conference center.