We heard so many good behind-the-scenes insights, so much speculation, we figured a special Grapevine edition was needed:
On Phil Murphy: “Did you see his Christmas card this year? Think about these optics: He talks about one kid at a private school and the family skiing. He’s running in a Democratic primary. It’s hilarious. You couldn’t have invented it if you wanted to.”
On Dr. Robert Barchi: “Bob Barchi considers himself the most interesting man in the world — he’s the guy in the Dos Equis commercial. He knows how to make clocks, he knows how to do mergers, he sails by the stars.”
On Jeff Chiesa (taking over at Wolff & Samson): “They’re very bullish on their prospects, very optimistic about the future. Of course, like Mike Tyson said, ‘Everyone has a plan until you are punched in the face.’” The future of the firm remains to be seen.
On Mack-Cali Realty Corp.: “Mitch (Hersh) gets the blame. Mitch is the fall guy and he probably was too late to change their strategy. (But) the board of directors is always the one responsible for management. In the end, the buck stops with the board of directors in whatever institution you’re at.”
On the Giants and Jets vs. Triple Five: “Their legal argument (the Giants and Jets) wasn’t good. There was a settlement, and like all good settlements, both parties go away unhappy.”
On Ras Baraka: “If he calls the governor, chances are, the governor is going to call five other people and find out what he’s calling for. But he’s not going to ignore him. He doesn’t particularly like him, but you can’t ignore Ras Baraka because he has a standing that I think is unique in the state right now. Someone who came up as an underdog, as a populist — and he was able to take an election away from significant power brokers in the state, including Norcross and Ray Chambers.”
On the governor’s office: “(The) people who understood the governor the best and the people who not only had direct access to, but were able to have real conversations with him aren’t around anymore. I wouldn’t have anybody in the front office in the top 50 because it’s not really functioning as state government. It’s all about the campaign.”
On the governor’s staff: “It’s in a holding pattern. If you are a senior staffer and loyal to the governor, timing counts. If (U.S. Attorney Paul) Fishman drops an indictment, you’re not going to jump anytime soon after that because you’ll look disloyal. That’s had a paralyzing effect on some of the commissioners who may have left in ordinary times but can’t because they don’t want to be perceived as jumping off a sinking ship.”
On casinos in North Jersey: “There will be two. The casinos in North Jersey is the perfect coalescence of all things that are good and make good policy. You can bail out the Atlantic City casinos by bringing gaming to North Jersey. People like gaming, so it’s good policy. Then the owners and operators can make a lot of money, so it’s good for them. Putting it in Jersey City, a world-class environment, can bring business to New Jersey from New York, and having one in the Meadowlands makes so much sense. Sometimes in politics if things make sense, it doesn’t happen, but here I think everyone got to the realization that this is just really smart. It’s going to happen.”
On the Port Authority: “The whole Jersey operation is totally shredded, it’s cut off. It’s the Port Authority of New York, and New Jersey has to ask permission. Jersey used to have a big say.” No more, they said.