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On the job for a week, Working Families Alliance State Director Sue Altman of Camden this morning got out of a morning rain to rain on the board room parade of the embattled state Economic Development Authority (EDA).
“By far the most important voices belong to those in the community who are speaking out about their own experiences and countering the narrative out there by putting faces on these stories,” Altman told InsiderNJ.
Altman, Working Families, and other progressive groups today demanded the resignations of EDA board members who administered tax incentives to Camden corporate entities, mostly during the era of former Governor Chris Christie. Enabled on the legislative side by the alleged intervention of Philip Norcross law firm Parker McKay, the tax incentives in question benefited big business but not the people of the long-besieged Camden, the activists argue.
“This was a people’s EDA meeting, and the contrast was so stark,” said Altman, referring to the table of politically connected insiders. She praised an op-ed praised by fellow progressive activist, Saily Avelenda (also present in the room this morning), which lays out the political connections among the different board members.
Working Families had originally scheduled a press conference outside the Trenton meeting, but called an audible and went inside.
Altman acknowledged a growing synergy among different progressive groups, on display in the room today.
“As I said in my closing remarks, this is the issue unifying all these progressive groups,” she said.
She gave the board members an ultimatum:
Hand over data concerning minority employment in those businesses that enjoyed tax incentives and resign.
“If you don’t do it, we will continue to base-build,” Altman said.
A month ago, popular attendance at an EDA Board meeting was a fifth of what it was today, she noted.
Activists received no clarity from the board today.
“Not yet,” Altman said, “but I’m hopeful. I would be shocked if they laid down their arms today. I would welcome a dialogue with them. There are specific things I would like to get out of them. It seems that the new chair [The Governor Phil Murphy-appointed Kevin Quinn] is a step in the right direction. The ball is in their court.”