Insider NJ

Advocates Gather To Condemn Anti-Democratic Practices At NJ State Houses

Insider NJ — November 22, 2019

George Norcross testified yesterday morning before the Senate Select Committee on Economic Growth Strategies. NJ Working Families held a press conference prior to the hearing; Norcross antagonist and Executive Director Sue Altman said the hearing would be 'a spectacle, pure theater'. Prior to Norcross' testimony, Altman and others were removed from the hearing room at the order of Chairman Smith (who had warned about inappropriate behavior at the meeting's start) following jeering from the back of the room during AFL-CIO head Charlie Wowkanech's testimony. Altman issued a statement shortly after decrying 'thuggish tactics to suppress speech' — and last night, 2020 presidential candidate Senator Warren tweeted solidarity with Altman.

Bedlam ensued as Smith called Norcross to testify, prompting another ejection. Norcross made his case for Camden's progress, testifying that he was an 'advocate' for the drafting of the incentive legislation and that 'a suggestion that the legislation was written for four or five companies is absurd'. Norcross took a shot at his critics, bemoaning those 'some [who] are against everything and for nothing'. Saying he is a 'cheerleader' for Camden, Norcross presented a non-controversial history of the tax incentive program, adding that Camden's progress wouldn't have been possible without tax credits.

After the hearing, CD4 Democratic primary candidate Jim Keady went to dais and told the committee members they should be 'ashamed of yourselves' for not pressing Norcross, while applauding Senator O'Scanlon's line of questioning. New Jersey Citizen Action released a statement calling the hearing a 'public relations exercise' for Norcross. The Central Jersey Progressives decried Altman's removal by Smith, calling it 'thuggery and violence'. Governor Murphy called Altman's removal 'outrageous and unacceptable', according to, and AG Grewal said he will investigate her removal. Speaker Coughlin released a statement commending the committee's work. Senator Weinberg said that the hearing 'included compelling evidence of the progress that has been made in Camden'. Camden County GOP Chairman Ambrosino was more circumspect in his assessment: nothing more than 'political showmanship from both establishment Democrats and the progressives trying to take control from them'.


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