Monday, July 17, 2017

Lawmakers: Public cut out of Christie’s $300M renovation

Boarded-up windows at NJy Statehouse, in Trenton, N.J. (Photo: Mel Evans, AP)
Michael Catalini reports for The Associated Press:

TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie’s administration sought to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to renovate New Jersey’s deteriorating statehouse four months before the project was authorized, cutting out the public in a process a bipartisan group of lawmakers describe as “rigged,” according to interviews and documents.

The Christie administration put out a request for proposals for a finance company to sell bonds to rehab the dilapidated building in December and selected RBC Capital Markets in January, months before an April meeting of a joint legislative-executive branch committee that approved the project, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press through a records request.

The Republican governor says that everything was done legally and has defended his handling of the sweeping project to renovate the executive wing of the building — part of which dates to the 18th century and has flaking paint, duct-taped skylights and inadequate fire safety devices.

There is little prospect for stopping the project, which could end up costing nearly a half-billion dollars and has drawn concerns about transparency and a lawsuit from Democrats and Republicans. A Superior Court judge ruled last month that the lawsuit was moot since the bonds to pay for the project had already been sold.


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