CAMDEN CITY, NJ (January 17, 2020)(Gloucestercitynews.net)--Community reformers jammed the Delaware River Port Authority meeting on Wednesday calling on the governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania to investigate the connection of the DRPA board members with political
power broker George Norcross III.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the progressive political groups specifically cited the two parcels of land that the agency sold or optioned for development projects in Camden.
“It is time for a full accounting of the facts and to clean house in an agency that has acted for too long as a tool of special interests," wrote leaders of the two groups, New Jersey Working Families and Pennsylvania Working Families, in a letter addressed to Govs. Phil Murphy and Tom Wolf on Wednesday.
The groups also made that request in person Wednesday morning, when about a dozen activists filed into the DRPA’s 11th-floor conference room in Camden. Seven of them addressed the agency’s board, composed of members appointed by the governors of both states.
“There are people on the DRPA board, certainly on the New Jersey side … with very, very strong political connections and financial connections to a political machine that, in our opinion, prioritizes the lining of its own pockets and corporate interests over the interests of the public dollar and of public opinion,” said Sue Altman, state director of New Jersey Working Families.
The letter follows an Inquirer article, published last month, that detailed how South Jersey political power broker George E. Norcross III came to acquire a three-acre parking lot near the Camden waterfront. Both the DRPA and the Camden Redevelopment Agency held rights to the land, which was appraised at $2.3 million.
The DRPA’s interest in the land was appraised at $800,000, and in 2016 the agency sold the parcel for that amount to Liberty Property Trust, the onetime developer of a major waterfront project fueled by a controversial state tax-credit program. Liberty later sold the land to Norcross and his business partners for $350,000 according to The Inquirer.