WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Christie Asks Ex-Sheriff Spicuzzo to Resign From Board
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
In the aftermath of his arrest on corruption, former Middlesex County Sheriff Joseph Spicuzzo was asked by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to resign from the board of the state's Sports and Exposition Authority on Tuesday. An attorney for the embattled sheriff told The Star Ledger he has resigned from the post.
Spicuzzo, the long time leader of the Middlesex Democratic County Party, resigned that post on Monday.
Christie's move comes at a pivotal time for the beleaguered sports and entertainment agency. The governor has pledged to re-invent the money-losing Sports and Exposition Authority. Last year, NJSEA had a $165 million budget with an operating deficit of $20 million dollars that it closed by dipping into reserves.
Christie nominated former Congressman Michael Ferguson to lead the authority last year to takeover for long time chairman Carl Goldberg. And after months of delay from the Democratically controlled state Senate, lawmakers are expected to take up Ferguson's nomination this week.
The Authority is at a major crossroads negotiating a take over of its Meadowlands and Monmouth racetracks. Decades ago when the Authority was established revenue from racing was a bright spot on its balance sheet. But with the proliferation of gambling the racing revenue dropped off dramatically.
NJSEA is also trying to close a deal to jump start the moribund Xanadu mega-mall with the developer who created the Mall of America. There's talk of expanding the project beyond its current two million square feet.
Sources close to the talks say Mall of America's developers Triple 5 find the current layout of the vacant Xanadu in need of major re-working. The Christie Administration has raised the prospect of offering $800 million dollars in economic development financing to help finish the project that has already cost private developers $2 billion dollars.
Xanadu, billed was a "private-public" partnership with the Mills Corporation that subsequently went out business. A second developer, Colony Capital didn't work out and now its in the hand of the banks who held the paper on the project.
Xanadu was built on Authority land, and has never opened but generated tens of millions of dollars in lease income for NJSEA. But that revenue has dried up.
To be a success the mega-mall would have to be up and running before the 2014 Super Bowl touches down in the Meadowlands.