Sweeney’s Selective Schadenfreude

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney and LD22 Senator Nicholas Scutari

Schadenfreude is a dish best served discreetly!” — me, just now.

(Cherry Hill, NJ) — When Lizette Delgado Polanco, the embattled head of NJ’s Schools Redevelopment Authority, finally resigned this week, Senate President Steve Sweeney could barely hide his glee.

NJSDA is responsible for new construction and renovation of school facilities in 31 distressed districts throughout NJ. Their track record is mixed to put it charitably and they’re all out of money.

And now SDA is leaderless; well, at least it was until earlier today.

And Sweeney had a lot to say about it.

‘The problems at the SDA were serious and the accounts of operational failures seemed to mount each week. There is no doubt that the SDA had become severely harmed in its ability to perform its work and any confidence in its capacity to recover under current management was all but lost’, Sweeney said.

Saily Avelenda is Executive Director at NJ 11th For Change, the organization that sent longtime Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen into retirement. Ms Avelenda was drawn into public life when  Frelinghuysen decided he was gonna complain directly to Ms Avelenda’s boss about her activism.

A member of Congress actually did that.

Having put one powerful politician out to pasture, she’s happy to remind the world of Steve Sweeney’s double standards, especially when it comes to the NJ Economic Development Authority, a patronage pit that plays fast and lose with billions of your tax dollars.

“While I hope that the Senate President would hold the EDA Board members to the same high moral and ethical standards he held Ms. Delgado-Polanco these last few months, it is clear that the Senate President does not,” Ms Avelenda told InsiderNJ.

Why do you figure that is? Isn’t nepotism and mismanagement a bad things regardless of who’s doing it?

In this case, not so much.

“The EDA Board is comprised of individuals who do the bidding of the Senate President and his allies, for the benefit of a very few connected companies and at the expense of the people of New Jersey,” Ms Avelenda added.

Many EDA board members are Chris Christie appointees who’ve refused to step down despite 1) their track record ensuring rich companies pay no taxes and 2) calls from the Governor and activists to do so.

“The problems at the EDA are much greater than anything uncovered at the SDA,” Ms Avelenda told InsiderNJ. “Mismanagement, lack of oversight, testimony that alleges members of the Christie administration pressured officials to overlook the rules and approve incentives, and at least one criminal referral by Governor Murphy’s task force.

Yikes! Especially when you consider the costs.

So exactly how much money are taking about?

Brandon McKoy is president at New Jersey Policy Perspective. He spends lots of time with his calculator extrapolating data from numbers. And it turns out, subsidizing the tax bills of large corporations doesn’t come cheap.

“Since 2013, New Jersey’s corporate subsidies have been overly generous and poorly targeted,” Mr McKoy told InsiderNJ. “With the cost of every new job created ballooning from $16,500 at the turn of the century to over $83,000. In cities like Camden, the per-job cost far exceeds $250,000.”

We can debate whether it’s a good idea to keep giving huge corporations over 11 billion dollars (and counting) in taxpayer-subsidized corporate welfare.  But what’s not debatable is Steve Sweeney’s fluctuating standards.

Because the EDA is a A Hot Mess and Sweeney’s giving us crickets.

“Now, after a scathing audit, multiple whistleblowers stepping forward, and the governor’s task force hearings, we are learning that the EDA is in hot water not because of a few bad actors, but because the laws guiding corporate subsidy programs lack any meaningful safeguards,” Mr McKoy told InsiderNJ.

And NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney isn’t even mad.

If anything, he seems mad that we’re mad!

With due credit to the Senate President,” Ms. Avelenda told InsiderNJ. “He stated the following in the wake of Ms. Delgado-Polanco’s resignation as head of the SDA, I will use his own eloquent words to address the problems with the EDA:

“The problems at the [EDA are] serious and the accounts of operational failures seem to mount each week. There is no doubt that the [EDA has] become severely harmed in its ability to perform its work and any confidence in its capacity to recover under current management [is] all but lost.”

Jay Lassiter is a militant, unrepentant Oxford comma zealot. He penned the InsiderNJ OUT 100 Power List, a tribute to influential LGBTs in NJ politics. He’s on twitter @Jay_Lass.

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5 responses to “Sweeney’s Selective Schadenfreude”

  1. Jay is a Sweeney hater who has a forum here. Many ” progressives” have become the Lefts version of the Tea party and they always need a villain. Moderates like Sweeney are an easy target.
    Delgado -Polanco is a good Democratic Party soldier who got greedy with power and overstepped her authority. But she is a ” progressive” so the lefties had to defend her.
    The SDA is a pig sty that wasted money. Lefties should be happy it is getting cleaned up.

  2. I hope Jay Lassiter runs against Sweeney in the 2021 Democratic primary. He should be able to raise millions of dollars from the NJEA alone.

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