Editor's note: This week, we take a look back at the highs — and lows — of the first year of the Grapevine column.
The first item in the first column was about Panasonic exploring a move from Secaucus to Newark. NJBIZ was the first to report on what became, arguably, New Jersey's biggest business story in 2011. The original blurb said Panasonic might be attracted to Newark for tax breaks.
The Feb. 14 column reported on the "panic-sonic" after Newark learned from the media that $102 million in tax credits might be in jeopardy. Grapevine also predicted the dispute would get messier, saying Hartz Mountain would "fight tooth and nail" to block the incentives; sure enough, it soon filed suit.
Once LCAPP made an appearance in Grapevine — NJBIZ first reported jockeying by LS Power and others — it seems the Long-Term Capacity Agreement pilot program never left, even going so far as to appear twice in one column. LCAPP was the ultimate mainstay, prompting one person to joke that NJBIZ couldn't spell Grapevine without L-C-A-P-P.
PSE&G/PSEG also earned numerous mentions in the column. The Board of Public Utilities and Chris Christie's long-awaited energy master plan was also followed closely by Grapevine.
Off to the races
The column reported on scuttlebutt about Jennifer Beck's poor fate during redistricting after she challenged the governor. We also touched on possible candidates for U.S. Senate, including John Crowley and Tom Considine.
Triple Five and its plans for the former Xanadu site received a lot of ink in Grapevine. Our first reports centered on who would be picked to redevelop the site. Then we began reporting on financing issues and the timeline for the start of construction.
Grapevine staples in 2011 also included: hospital news, especially the Pascack Valley saga and possible mergers of other medical centers; unemployment insurance; company moves in and out of New Jersey; applications for incentives; and life at Gannett in the Garden State.
The column also was the first to lay out a predicted plan for the Rutgers-UMDNJ merger, with St. Barnabas expected to take over University Hospital. We are still waiting to see the result of that Feb. 21 forecast.
Grapevine also was first to print some of the early rumblings about cabinet changes in the Christie administration.
Finally, our first column ended with Sheila Oliver being bent out of shape that Christie had called her a liar. A year later, arrows are still being thrown between the Republican governor and the Democratic Legislature.
We mess up, we 'fess up
Out of 256 Grapevine items in the past year, we got five wrong. We reported that the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder had made inquiries about a move to Newark after the Nets leave for Brooklyn. The May 9 item provoked backlash, from Thunder fans and the Oklahoma team, which said our report was "100 percent wrong and untrue."
We were wrong twice on Richard McCormick. We reported May 30 on chatter that he would step down, but relied on a source who dismissed all the talk. A day after we closed the issue, McCormick announced to another newspaper he was resigning. We also reported McCormick sought a large bonus as part of his departure; Rutgers denied it.
We also goofed on an item involving Lou Greenwald, incorrectly reporting the role of his employer and how health insurers get regulated.
We also reported buzz, which turned out to be bogus, that Joan Verplanck might take a job with the state Senate's Democratic staff. But we did have the other half of that prediction correct: that she would land at Cushman & Wakefield.
Finally, a source told us Bayer HealthCare settled on a site in Parsippany for its East Coast operations center, but after we published that, Bayer chose a location in the Whippany section of Hanover. Our sources then told us our initial report was on target at the time, but a lawsuit over zoning approvals helped seal the deal for Whippany.
Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org.