I want to discuss one of those warts.
On August 28, 2013, ( see Part 9). before the CRIZ was approved, Lew Ronca set up a conference call with Mayor Callahan, Senator Lidsa Boscola and Ronca's partner in Martin Tower, billionaire Norton Herrick. The purpose of this call was to engage high power lobbyists. Who better than the very lobbyists who managed to get the NIZ enacted for Allentown? So the call also included lobbyists Rocco Pugliese and Heather Browne of Pugliese Associates. It also included governmental relations specialist Daniel Robinson, who most have been on board for the ride with Pugliese. .
Heather Browne is married to State Senator Pat Browne, a ranking Senate Republican whose support would be instrumental in getting the CRIZ enacted. And he supported it.
Browne denied his wife had anything to do with the NIZ, but it's pretty clear she had a lot to do with the CRIZ. How is this not a conflict of interest? When he ran against Senator Browne many moons ago, Rick Orloski discussed this arrangement:
"Pat and Heather Browne have injected something new into Lehigh Valley politics, namely, the husband and wife team working in the Capitol with Pat Browne receiving public monies and Heather Browne receiving private monies to advance private agendas. Senators are supposed to serve the public good, not private agendas. Maybe the ideal solution is for Pat Browne to relinquish his public position and join his wife's lobbyist firm."Under the state Ethics Act,
"A conflict of interest is defined as use by a public official or public employee of the authority of his office or employment or any confidential information received through his holding public office or employment for the private pecuniary benefit of himself, a member of his immediate family, or a business with which he or a member of his immediate family is associated."It appears that Browne's vote to support the CRIZ was for the private pecuniary interest of his wife and hence a conflict.
Let's discuss another wart.
According to the CRIZ application, Martin Tower represents a $175 million investment. There will be $.42.8 million in financing, with an annual debt service of about $3 million. It is projected to create 1,375 jobs. Total CRIZ revenue through 2024 is estimated at $34.2 million.
The only way that happens is with retail. Lots of retail.