The valuable NJSpotlight reports that the Christie administration paid $33.89 million in consulting fees to Bank of America Merrill Lynch for work it did last year on the governor’s plan to shift assets from the state lottery system so they’d go into the public-pension system instead of into the general budget. Doesn’t seem too terribly complicated but what do I know. Anyway. That’s $33.89 million.
The fees had not previously been disclosed and the Spotlight says they learned of them through a public-records request. Moreover they were “not fees paid as a commission but for time and work spent on completing the project.”
For comparison’s sake, Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi had only billed $2.5 million between November 2016 and May 2017, reportedly, which might explain why those lawyer guys seem so angry all the time.
A spokesperson for the state treasury says the $33.89 million was “commensurate with private-sector transactions of similar size and scope.” I’m sure it was!
In related news, these investment bankers can’t believe how much money they make! Where does it all come from?
Elsewhere in Public Finance
Matt Friedman says he was told a “swearing-in” party for Steve Sweeney at the Mount Laurel Westin raised “about $770,000” for the independent SuperPAC “New Jerseyans for a Better Tomorrow” which was founded by Sweeney’s old adviser Sean Kennedy. Philip A. Norcross and George E. Norcross III are also listed as organizers on the invitation for the event, which only cost $2,500 to attend!
Funny how many New Jerseyans for a Better Tomorrow are the same New Jerseyans Shitting up Everything Yesterday and making New Jerseyans so uniformly Grim and Depressing Today.
$120B is for Bullsh*t
Historically unpopular lame-duck governor Chris Christie said the other day during his State of the State speech he’d saved the NJ pension system $120 billion, and Sal Rizzo calls that claim “dubious” awarding it Three Pinocchios in his first fact-check as a new employee of The Washington Post.
For the uninitiated, Three Pinocchios means it contains “significant actual error and/or obvious contradictions” and “gets into the realm of ‘mostly false.’”
For the rest of the day’s news, including local takes on the fate of ‘Dreamers’, the knock-on effects of the Trump tax law and bail issues, see below:
NJ ‘Dreamers’ Cautiously Optimistic After Judge Blocks Trump’s Decision On DACA–After a federal judge blocked the Trump administration's plans to end a program that shields from deportation undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children, New Jersey immigrants and their advocates stressed that the ruling was temporary and made the need for a permanent legislation even more urgent.Nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants, including around 22,000 from New Jersey, have received protection from deportation and have received work authorizations under the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which President Barack Obama authorized in 2012. www.northjersey.com
NJ Politics Digest: Booker Gets Assignment Overseeing Justice Department–US Sen Cory Booker, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump and of Jeff Sessions’ appointment as attorney general, will now oversee Sessions’ Justice Department as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The high-profile appointment will give Booker even more opportunity to raise his national profile in the coming years, and the state’s junior senator seems eager to embrace it. observer.com
NJ And Towns Could Be Slammed By Christie Pension Move, Trump Tax Law And More–Looks like 2018 is going to be a tough year for New Jersey's state and local governments.A Wall Street agency said Wednesday that New Jersey and its local governments will be fighting pressures on multiple fronts as they grapple with the expiration of a key property tax control, a changing federal tax landscape and rising pension bills. www.nj.com
Purge Of Senior Staffers Underway At NJ Transit–A purge of political appointees may be underway at NJ Transit, with Gov-elect Phil Murphy asking for the resignation of a group of senior staff members, NJ Advance Media has learned.The requests were made in a letter sent to NJ Transit Executive Director Steven Santoro from Murphy's transition team. www.nj.com
Who’s Who, Who’s New, And Who’s Blue In 218th Legislative Session–Gov Chris Christie may have another week in office, but New Jersey now has a new, even-more-Democratic and less-experienced Legislature whose real work will begin after Gov-elect Phil Murphy is sworn into office. www.njspotlight.com
Man Spent 21 Days In Jail Before Charges Were Dropped. Now He’s Suing Police–A Williamstown man is suing Woodbury and several of its police officers over a 2015 arrest in which he claims he was wrongfully charged with various offenses.Ryan D Harley was arrested following a motor vehicle stop on August 27. www.nj.com
Cape May Residents Take Hard Pass On Redevelopment Plan–After hearing hours of testimony slamming the proposal, the Planning Board rejected a plan to designate a block near the Washington Street Mall an area in need of redevelopment.Residents turned out in force on an icy Tuesday evening to lambast the report, which some speakers said sounded like it described a block in Camden rather than Cape May. www.pressofatlanticcity.com
Fire Damages South Jersey Diner–An overnight fire has damaged the Country Town Diner on the White Horse Pike in Berlin Borough.The blaze was reported about midnight and it sent flames through the roof of the building at the southbound entrance to the borough’s downtown. www.philly.com