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PREIT Put $125K Toward Moorestown Referendum Campaign

Referendum opponent says PREIT's "grassroots citizen's" group is misleading because it's funded solely by PREIT.

Property Tax Relief for Moorestown, PREIT’s referenda campaign committee, has spent $57,000—nearly all of it coming from PREIT—on its campaign to sway Moorestown voters to allow liquor licenses.

According to campaign reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), Moorestown Mall owner PREIT (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust) contributed $50,000 and $75,000 to the campaign committee in July and October, respectively. The only other contribution, for $100, came from PREIT president Joe Coradino in July.

Thus far, Property Tax Relief for Moorestown has spent $57,045.52, according to the 29-day pre-election report filed Oct. 11.

Tax Relief spokesman Chris Russell said the money was spent on educational mailers, signs, media advertisements (including those on Moorestown Patch), and other public relations materials, including Russell’s salary. Legal expenses also account for a portion of those expenses.

Another section of the report shows an “outstanding obligation” of $150,000 to the law firm Capehart & Scatchard for legal services.

Moorestown resident William Cox, who has waged a () legal battle to strike PREIT’s referendums from the ballot, said the campaign report was telling in that all the money for the company’s campaign is coming from the company, not private citizens.

He said PREIT’s misleading people by describing Property Tax Relief for Moorestown as a “grassroots citizen’s organization”—as it states on the group’s website—if, as the reports show, all its support is coming from PREIT itself.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s a grassroots citizen’s group,” said Cox. “I would say our (opposition) group is a grassroots citizen’s group. We are not a formal group, but we are absolutely aligned. We communicate. We coordinate.”

Russell rebutted Cox’s accusation, insisting PREIT has been transparent since the beginning of the campaign.

“From day one we’ve never tried to hide that PREIT and the citizen’s group were connected,” said Russell.

While Property Tax Relief is not receiving monetary support from the citizenry, he said the group has people on the ground talking to their friends, making phone calls to supporters and putting up lawn signs.

“There are a lot of people working that are citizens of the community,” said Jacob DerHagopian, chair of the township’s Economic Development Advisory Committee.

DerHagopian has aligned himself with PREIT and Property Tax Relief for Moorestown, but said neither he nor anyone else involved was ever asked to give monetarily—only their time.

Russell said PREIT has plans to conduct another tele-town hall at 7:20 p.m. on Nov. 2. The time and date haven’t been set officially yet, but he said it’s “pretty firm.”

According to Cox—who has paused his legal battle until after the election—“there’s been something of a backlash” to PREIT’s campaign, which included another .

“It’s maybe a little heavy-handed approach,” Cox said, alluding to conversations he’s had with other residents. “Like PREIT’s coming in and saying, ‘We’re going to tell you what’s good for your town.’”

On the other hand, Russell said, “We’ve gotten very positive feedback about the campaign … Our feedback on the ground is a lot of people who were opposed last time (in 2007) have been very open about revisiting the issue and looking at it in a very clean way.”

Patricia White October 27, 2011 at 09:05 PM
In what universe do 100 signs cost thousands of dollars???
Edmond George October 27, 2011 at 09:26 PM
Arnie, It is certainly easy for you to sit on your backside and criticize. I can tell you emphatically Arnie, I never seen anyone named Arnie on any of the committees in Town. You are likely someone who is not involved but loves to criticize. Someone should have told you that the way to make change isn't to criticize - it s to get involved. The residents signed the referendum petition - not the chairman. Are you suggesting the citizens of EDAC can't weight in. All of the EDAC members support this, not just the Chair. I can tell you EDAC has done more for this town than you know, and you obviously know little other than to attack a volunteer who is: (a) not in the liquor business; (b) not in the real estate business; (c) not a politician; and
Edmond George October 27, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Ms. White, where do you live again? I didn't see your name on the tax rolls. Again maybe I missed it. However, since you seem to know exactly how many signs were ordered, why don't you tell us why your group lied for the article? I note you are not saying no one gave money. So what you are conceding is that money was raised contrary to the statement that this is a simple grass roots process - guess what - your group is PAC. And by the way, we are waiting for the "White papers" where you are going to straighten everything up that is wrong in the town. Iamsure it willcontain revenue raising and cost containing ideas. By the way do any of you have any other ideas?
Patricia White October 27, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Edmond: Relax, have a drink. Your desperation is showing. I was merely challenging the inflated cost you mentioned for plastic lawn signs. I realize exaggeration and false accusations are the name of the game you are playing, but every now and again your claims are just too ludicrous to escape comment. Things appear to be slow in the ambulance chasing business or you wouldn't spend so much time tracking me down. Don't trouble yourself; I'm legit. Sorry to disappoint.
Edmond George October 27, 2011 at 10:01 PM
You are confusing me with Cox, he's the one in that business. You have the ambulance chaser on your side - I don't do that kind of work, but Mr. Cox is a plaintiff's attorney. Seems you only like attorneys when they carry out your divisive intentions. One thing you are not - is legit. You know you people bought signs, placed ads and raised money - and your PAC lied about it to make it look like a group of people acting independently. It is you who is eschewing the truth, including whether you pay taxes to have standing to even engage in this dialogue - or in your case - diatribe. Ask your lawyer, the learned hand of South Jersey about standing. It means a sufficiently strong interest in the outcome to justifying hearing you. If you are not a taxpayer you have no standing. Once again where is your name on the tax rolls? If you want to name call, I have heard it all, but the one thing you haven't said is the truth. In between soaps and bon bons, you come on to call me an ambulance chaser. You don't even show up on the tax rolls!!! You don't own property in town. You like to hear yourself speak. What committees are you on in town where you've lent your great wisdom? Likely you and Artie are both on the couch acting important.
Bill October 27, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Nice try at deflecing attention from the real issue, which is that PREIT, not Moorestown citizens, "paid for" ads and flyers. As I said above, I have no problem with PREIT spending money on this campaign, but be honest about it. Don't tell us our fellow citizens are paying for something when they aren't. BTW, if your group is paying thousands of dollars for signs, I hate to tell you, but you got ripped off. Perhaps you should have gotten a few quotes first. You can refuse to believe whatever you want, but unless the $2100 threshold has been met (and it hasn't), there is no filing obligation. Like it or not, that is the law. If you have some proof otherwise, let's see it or file a complaint with the Election Commission.
M.Verado October 27, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Bill, You're good at changing the subject by continuing your attack on PREIT (low income housing? annexing the Mall by Mt. Laurel?) That's a new one on me. I never heard that before..., must be one of your folks trying to muddy the waters. However, I noticed you didn't answer my questions above. As usual, you just level more contrived complaints. Preit explained the difference in the vacancy rates reported. You choose to ignore that. Why is BYOB ok on Main Street? Why is liquor in restaurants not ok? How will four restaurants increase crime? How much increased crime is there with BYOB's? How about an honest answer to those questions?
M.Verado October 27, 2011 at 10:23 PM
Great answer to E.G's comments, PAT. Avoid answering the points he makes by picking out something you think is inaccurate. I guess the rest of it is true then.
Jay Greenberg October 27, 2011 at 10:33 PM
PREIT is developing a case study on a bad effort in building public confidence. Driving the WHOLE effort is the Burlington County GOP machine. Party bosses Chris Russell and Glenn Paulson are the ones getting the $150,000. Judge Bookbinder is part of the machine. Gallo Button and Testa are part of it, but were instructed to sit back, imply to the public that "there is nothing we can do", and let the county do the dirty work. It's been done twice in a row in odd numbered years, so that it won't risk the party losing the Moorestown council race over this issue. That's 100% why it was done in 2007 and 2011. No other reason. That's why rushing it this year instead of next. Go to the NJ Election (NJ ELEC) filing, referenced in this article, the officers of the Property Tax Relief 4 Moorestown are PREIT officials only. The president is Joe Coradino, and Coradino had the temerity to list a Philadelphia address on the form. Some grassroots.
Jay Greenberg October 27, 2011 at 10:33 PM
PREIT is developing a case study on a bad effort in building public confidence. Driving the WHOLE effort is the Burlington County GOP machine. Party bosses Chris Russell and Glenn Paulson are the ones getting the $150,000. Judge Bookbinder is part of the machine. Gallo Button and Testa are part of it, but were instructed to sit back, imply to the public that "there is nothing we can do", and let the county do the dirty work. It's been done twice in a row in odd numbered years, so that it won't risk the party losing the Moorestown council race over this issue. That's 100% why it was done in 2007 and 2011. No other reason. That's why rushing it this year instead of next. Go to the NJ Election (NJ ELEC) filing, referenced in this article, the officers of the Property Tax Relief 4 Moorestown are PREIT officials only. The president is Joe Coradino, and Coradino had the temerity to list a Philadelphia address on the form. Some grassroots.
Bill October 27, 2011 at 10:45 PM
Nope, the "low income" post was from this past Saturday and the "annexation" one from Sunday. Both by PREIT supporters. I'm not that creative. I couldn't make stuff like up. I responded to some of your questions. I'll deal with the rest now. PREIT's after the fact "explanation" doesn't change the fact that the initial "the Mall is 30% vacant" statement was false. It was only after they were caught red handed in their lie that they confessed the statement wasn't true. We don't see PREIT claiming in ads anymore that the Mall is 30% vacant, do we? Hmm. I wonder why? BYOB has been allowed in this town forever. The retail sale of alcohol has been illegal since 1915. You are mixing apples and oranges. With BYOB, the consumer buys the alcoholic beverage he is going to consume. What is the difference whether he drinks it at home or at a restuarant? Or are you next going to say why is it OK to drink a beer in your own home when you can't sell alcohol at the Mall? I don't think four restaurants at the Mall will increase crime. That is one point I agree with you folks on.
Jay Greenberg October 28, 2011 at 12:05 AM
Edmond George - you are a funny man. Always wondering if people pay their taxes, asking rude questions about where people live. How do you come up with all this stuff?
M.Verado October 28, 2011 at 12:18 AM
Bill, So I take an expensive bottle of wine to a BYOB, and then take home to finish later, but I am breaking the law (No open container in a vehicle). The difference between BYOB and Lisensed restaurants is the profit margin on over-the-counter drinks is such profit that I could afford to provide the best food at a better price. The profit ratio is an average 6 to 1. BYOB is 0. Why do you think licensed restaurants fair so much better than non-licensed restaurants. What is the turnover on Main Street?The only apples and oranges mixed is, one is profitable, and one is not. That profitibility helps the Mall, and in turn, the town. PREIT reported on the SEC report (because there was a provision that they must do so), a vacancy rate of 70%, and a rental rate of 92%. One Tenant still pays rent, but the store is vacant. Thus, their vacancy rate is accurate. I believe you have been splitting hairs to suit your own view which is labeling PREIT a liar.. I never said there weren't a couple of extremists on the pro-liquor side, if what you said about low-income housing, and Mt. Laurel annexation is true. On the other hand, the anti-liquor side is 90% outlandish, and totally illogical. I give you 10% for your fear of the unknown, which comes with thinking in a small box.
Black and Gold October 28, 2011 at 12:28 AM
Ed Carilli has officially switched his name again. Everyone meet Jay Greenberg.
Bill October 28, 2011 at 12:48 AM
I am sure you would put a cork in the bottle for the ride home so you wouldn't break the law. BTW, the law is a big difference between the two. One is legal in Moorestown, one isn't, and hasn't been for 100 years. I just don't think a strong enough case has been made to make such a radical change in the town's laws. I don't recall seeing anything on the SEC report regarding a 30% vacancy rate. The report says non-anchor space is 20% vacant but that still is 50% different than what was in PREIT's flyers and ads.
Mtown Talker October 28, 2011 at 01:57 AM
Bill, you think they were trying a plan B in those comments ?
M.Verado October 28, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Bill, I think you finally said what hasn't been said by any of the anti-liquor folks, they fear the so called radical change in our towns laws regarding liquor. Guess what, cell phones, the internet, and instant communication worldwide is radical. There is nothing radical about four restaurants serving liquor in a town that is already wet. The resulting effect of BYOB and/or liquor in restaurants is essentially the same. It's only the image that is different, and that is what you fear. You and others like you are horribly afraid that Moorestown might tarnish its' nineteenth century image. Pssst.., let's sneek off to a neighboring town and discuss this over a beer or hi-ball. I'll bring the hoods, and you bring the mints.
Mara Jacobs October 28, 2011 at 03:04 AM
My dear arnie, Having read this late at night, and personally being on EDAC for a number of years - you have NO idea what goes on in an EDAC meeting! EDAC works and stays on top of the economic "health" of Moorestown...what are you doing for Moorestown? Are we not part of this great United States where we all as Americans can lobby and fight for a cause we believe in? Wake up Moorestown....who is willing to take on the tax burden of our biggest taxpayer? I VOTE YES!!!!
Mara Jacobs October 28, 2011 at 03:07 AM
My, my, Pat...I would really watch where the desperation is showing...you try to personally attack people, not issues....I VOTE YES!
Terry October 28, 2011 at 10:56 AM
Speaking for myself, I fear the take over of our town by developer(s) who don't have our best interest at heart, not someone who drinks wine with dinner.
Ginger Hayes October 28, 2011 at 11:53 AM
Jean, be careful throwing around the word fake as well as your nasty insults when your name probably isnt even Jean. You have no right to be rude to someone who has the courage and conviction to try to help this town. You may not agree with Mr. George, but I bet you dont know him. I bet if you have children in the district that have benefited from the hundreds of hours and thousands of out pocket dollars spent by his wife as well as Mr. DerHagopian's wife. They do this because they believe in this town and the children who live in it. Please speak your opinion but leave the nasty remarks out of it, unless of course you are willing to sign your real full name.
Ginger Hayes October 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM
Ms. White I think what Mr. George is saying is that if in fact you rent rather than own you play no real estate taxes to the township. This idea came about as a way to relieve those of us that do from the heavy burden that the current taxes are weighing on some. From a moral standpoint if you dont agree with it that is your choice but given that this town has BYOB what we are arguing is where to purchase and who benefits. Yes of course PREIT will benefit as they should it is their investment, but the side affect of their success is income for our town. The only thing that will change is that rather than bringing a full bottle of wine to the BYOB you can order a glass from the waiter. The recent Sun article quoted several business in and around the mall that agree any foot traffic is good traffic because right now there isnt much.
Ginger Hayes October 28, 2011 at 12:07 PM
Terry, that is fair but what exactly are you worried about? What developers and how will they take over. We are talking about a property that already exists and that will be improved but not expanded. As for the best interests, many of these restaurants and business owners are the first to support fund raisers. A few years ago when H&S was doing a house tour OUTBACK Steakhouse which isnt even in Moorestown donated 200 lunches to help the event. The corporate offices of most of the chains that some dont want are actually the best neighbors. They have budgets for community events and such. I understand your concern if we were talking about a new shopping center, but in this case the developers will be contained.
Ginger Hayes October 28, 2011 at 12:14 PM
MAF, Did you go talk to Mr. Cordino on Moorestown day? I did. I asked questions. I noted my concerns even though I support the idea. He was very receptive to answering. I think at this point your emotionally violent opposition is no longer open to hearing the facts so why would he subject himself to the insinuations and slander you would throw at him? He doesnt owe you that. If you have sincere concerns of questions and in fact are open to the answers, call him. Ask him. Then share with your friends. You want him to stand in front of a crowd prepared to throw stones at him with clearly no indication of willingness to be open. You have made up your mind and that is that. OK. So vote your mind but stop with the accusations and false statements. PREIT has made themselves available you have chosen not to reach out.
Terry October 28, 2011 at 12:42 PM
I don't know many people who really believe that licenses will be kept to the mall. Quite a few posters here will only be voting yes on 1 only. If licenses are available throughout town then our town could experience some drastic changes all because the mall can not balance their books or maybe they just want to make more profit or sell?
Ginger Hayes October 28, 2011 at 01:00 PM
Terry what drastic changes are you speaking of? That is kinda random. Who cares if PREIT sells the mall? If they make this investment and the property becomes valuable enough to sell what difference would that make. Are you worried that the next owner would shut the mall down? This isnt about PREIT being able to balance their books. Like any business if you have no customers you have no income and with no income you can sustain your business. It would seem to me that we are lucky that PREIT is willing to take a chance on fixing this mall rather than walking away from a bad investment as so many other commercial real estate property owners have. Have you been down Rt 73 south on the way to the shore? Have you been on Rt 130N? I am voting no on question #2. I would like to see the recently close Acme on Young Ave occupied.
Edmond George November 02, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Living in fear of developer? Really? Were you in fear when "developers" in the town changed it from peach orchards and truck farms to sprawling developments which taxed our essential services, added tons of kids to our schools, and thousands of new residents over the past years? And this developer IS PAYING MONEY FOR THE LICENSES, not adding one kid to our schools and shoring up our commercial tax base. This is really nonsensical. We can't not move forward because of irrational fears.
Edmond George November 02, 2011 at 07:39 PM
To suggest as one writer does that Preit has not put resources behind this effort is silly. First of all, any one in business knows that in order to move public opinion moneys have to spend. That does NOT make it improper. They have been unabashed in admitting this will help them economically. So what? That does not make it inconsistent with the Town's interests. If you don't trust our elected officials, then the option is to vote in those elections. But the members of the Counsel who individually support this but are leaving it tot he residents, know the importance of revenue raising. I am still waiting for Dan Ricatto and the other remnants from his days in office to come up with an alternative. In the five years since I challenged Dan (a nice guy but misdirected) we haven't seen one option. Here is what we have seen: (a) a burnt out town hall where insurance is insufficient to rebuild it; (b) increased costs for essential services including pensions and benefits and no way you close the gap; (c) declining school enrollments, and (d) issues with teacher contracts and benefits. These issues are here and tax revenues will help ameliorate against the harm that these things cause.
Edmond George November 02, 2011 at 07:50 PM
Bill at least we have consensus with you on certain things, and one important one is that liquor at the mall will not change Moorestown. Once we get past that, is there really any economic shortcoming to doing this? Remember Bill, this is not a bailout, where PREIT is being given something for free. They are paying millions (and that is their first offer). Whether the mall makes it after this is all on PREIT and so they are willing to put all of their eggs in this basket. They are a large entity with experience in this type of thing and candidly can you seriously argue about the success of the Cherry hill Mall? To suggest as some have that PREIT is trying to tell us what's best, isn't that really silly? We are the ultimate arbiters of what goes on in this town, with the aid of our elective officials. PREIT is not hiding that they want this and guess what, we all know it's not 100% altruism driving it - but candidly that goes for both sides!!! PREIT need this to maximize value and profits and we need it to increase the value of the mall for our taxes. What doesn't fit?
Edmond George November 02, 2011 at 08:01 PM
It's ridiculous to say you were misled. What did you see that misled you? The EDAC, and its members have been out in front on this and in our individual capacity have been working to educate and inform people. You were not at all misled. There is a huge grass roots effort behind this, and I would venture a guess the vote will be a lot closer than the first time because: Poeple see our council has provided no alternatives; our commercial base is shrinking; PREIT is our largest taxpayer and neighbor, this assures increased revenues. PREIT never hid that they were putting money behind this but so you understand, anyone could have started those petitions. that PREIT chose to support and fund it only shows they understand the process and they are willing to put their money where their mouth is. So you can stop squawking, here is a news flash: PREIT wants this and so do many, many community members. That you don't is yor choice but lets be fair. You know all of it.

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