Insider NJ

Face To Face With The Board, Camden Residents And Working Families Alliance Demand EDA Resignations

Insider NJ — May 14, 2019

By Max Pizarro

They don't want helicopter pads, they want trust in government.

They don't want shiny corporate buildings. They want safe schools.

They don't want welfare. They want to work.

They want jobs.

Camden residents protesting attempts to use their distressed, despairing community as a justification for fraud and political corruption today went to Trenton with the Working Families Alliance and SEIU 32BJ to demand data from the state Economic Development Authority (EDA) and subsidy recipients on Camden resident hiring.

They also want resignations from the embattled EDA Board, which consists of one woman and seven men.

"Resign! Resign!" they chanted.

"And have a nice day," one activist deadpanned, while board members, including Phil Alagia of Essex County and Bill Layton of Burlington County, sat and listened.

The residents and activists — with allies from different progressive organizations from around the state, including NJ 11th for Change — made it inside the EDA's hearing, where they directly addressed board members.

Working Families live streamed the event here.

"We're sick and tired of being sick and tired; we're tired of the injustice going on in Camden," said a man who addressed the board. "The injustices that have been happening in Camden have been happening for decades.

"We stand with Governor Murphy 1000 percent," he added to claps.

"We are all slaves, and George Norcross is our slave master," another activist said later, in the middle of a political war pitting the governor against the South Jersey Democratic Power Broker.

The action occurred under the leadership of the Working Families Alliance's new executive director, Sue Altman of Camden, who was in the crowd. Angered that money to help Camden isn't going directly to the people of the city, Altman and others charged the EDA with throwing away $11 billion in tax incentives, mostly during the years of Governor Chris Christie.

Christie's successor, Murphy formed a task force to examine how the EDA awarded tax credits, which led the board to make a criminal referral to the attorney general; and the surfacing of revelations about how Norcross allies allegedly gamed the legislative end of the equation.

Prodded, new EDA Board Chairman Kevin Quinn promised to go to Camden.

Dena Mottola of New Jersey Citizen Action dressed down the board.

"We cannot afford this program; we're broke as a state, as we all know," she said. "Stop investing in companies that are economically damaging to lower income people."

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