"While redevelopment can bring about positive changes in communities, there is tremendous potential for abuse and corruption. Too often, redevelopment projects are awarded to large campaign contributors and are conducted as a reward to a select few inside political players." -- Harry Pozycki
Last week State Senator Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth) introduced the Redevelopment Reform and Pay-to-Play Protection Act which aims to curb the influence of pay-to-play contributions and create greater accountability to citizens with respect to redevelopment decisions. The legislation was developed by the Citizens’ Campaign Legal Task Force.
The leader of the Task Force, Harry Pozycki, today explained the need for reforming redevelopment in a column on the Citizens' Campaign website:
"A striking trend throughout New Jersey is the rapidly increasing number of large scale redevelopment projects. New Jersey’s redevelopment laws, which give nearly unfettered power to state and local governments to condemn property in areas designated for redevelopment, have long been used by cities as a tool for promoting new economic development and for improving blighted areas. Now, redevelopment projects are becoming common in the suburbs as well. While redevelopment can bring about positive changes in communities, there is tremendous potential for abuse and corruption. Too often, redevelopment projects are awarded to large campaign contributors and are conducted as a reward to a select few inside political players." The entire column can be accessed by clicking here.
The intersection of pay-to-play and no-bid redevelopment designations to campaign contributors was highlighted at the annual Alliance Program held last October. The event examined this and other flaws in the redevelopment process through the use of a humorous law-school styled hypothetical. See October 10, 2005 blog entry below. US Attorney Christopher Christie delivered the event's keynote speech: "The Costly and Corrosive Effects of Pay to Play on Real Estate Development in New Jersey." The Alliance Program was developed by Ted Zangari, Co-Chair of the Redevelopment Practice Group at Sills Cummis Epstein & Gross.