Says Project Transparency, Not Ugly Facade, Should Be Governor’s Concern
TRENTON – On the day after Governor Chris Christie ripped the ugly exterior of the Xanadu complex at a town hall meeting in Nutley, State Senator Loretta Weinberg said today that the Governor should be more concerned with the relative lack of transparency surrounding his administration’s negotiations with third-party developers to rekindle the stalled project.
“It’s pretty plain to see that the exterior of the Xanadu project needs a lot of work,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “What’s not so apparent is whether Governor Christie and his administration are negotiating a good deal for the taxpayers of the State of New Jersey, because these negotiations have had zero transparency since they were announced on Christmas Eve. Multiple attempts to get information about what’s being discussed and what’s at stake have so far been ignored by the Governor and his administration.”
Yesterday, Governor Christie held a town hall in Nutley, and took aim at the Xanadu exterior, saying that addressing external aesthetics would have to be a priority if the project receives any more state funding. He acknowledged that negotiations between the State and private developer, Triple Five, could be concluded within months. He also said that the final deal would likely result in the State of New Jersey having a stake in the ownership over the Xanadu development, in return for an infusion of tax dollars into the project.
Senator Weinberg, in a letter to Governor Christie today, said that any negotiations concerning a substantial investment of taxpayer money should be conducted “under the light of public scrutiny, with a full accounting of the cost to the taxpayer, and the return on their investment.” She said that such consideration of public transparency and accountability standards is not taking place in this instance.
“For three months, we’ve been trying to get information from the Governor about the negotiations on the Xanadu project, and for three months, his reply has been deafening silence,” said Senator Weinberg. “I understand that Xanadu has the potential to be an enormous economic engine for Bergen County and the State as a whole. But that potential shouldn’t preclude a level of transparency and accountability that the New Jersey public has come to expect when dealing with massive sums of taxpayer money.”