Grapevine goofed last week on an item about John Wisniewski. To correct the error: The Assembly deputy speaker was never stripped of his transportation committee chairmanship. And a political observer explained to Grapevine last week that Wisniewski was already in the good graces of South Jersey Democrats, and would not have had to do anything to re-earn their favor.
Big stakes in Big Apple
Andrew Cuomo's efforts to build a casino in New York City might be hitting the skids, but that doesn't mean stakeholders in New Jersey aren't paying attention.
For Ray Lesniak, the prospect of another gaming venue across the Hudson River brings new attention to a plan to bring video lottery terminals to the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Such a plan was included in a 2010 proposal that the Union County state senator authored, which called for exploring whether Atlantic City casinos could operate the gaming and share the proceeds with the Meadowlands Racetrack.
"I keep reminding them about it as New York is making these moves, but nobody's biting," Lesniak said. "It's still relevant because of the slots at Yonkers (Raceway) and Aqueduct. It obviously becomes even more relevant with a New York City-based casino."
Atlantic City casinos are also keeping an eye on Cuomo's plan, sources said, but they might be well past the point of worrying about new competition on the gaming front. "That really wouldn't change the game" that Atlantic City is involved in, one source said, pointing to efforts to broaden the resort's appeal, increase visitation and revitalize the city through nongaming attractions.
Reboot for subsidy suit
Now that the unlikely suspense surrounding May's regional capacity auction is over, the latent legal case surrounding the long-term capacity agreement pilot program is beginning to show signs of life.
Last year, a group of energy companies — including Public Service Enterprise Group and Atlantic City Electric — sued the state over LCAPP, a program that will provide a subsidy to two power companies to build new natural gas power plants.
The case was filed in February 2011. A flurry of motions and filings followed. Then three months ago, the case screeched to a halt.
The plaintiffs filed a motion seeking summary judgment and asked the court to rule before May 7. The court didn't. Late last month, the state released financial details from the LCAPP contracts, quantifying for the first time how much ratepayers would pay to build the two power plants. After that, the legal case picked up again. First, plaintiffs' attorney William J. O'Shaughnessy sent the court a letter arguing that the newly public financial information bolsters his case. Next, an attorney for Competitive Power Ventures — one of the companies in line for the subsidy — shot back, saying O'Shaughnessy's letter contained "neither new nor material" information.
Last week, Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa discounted O'Shaughnessy's letter, saying, "We have not heard from plaintiffs regarding discovery since on or around May 19, 2012." It's still not known when the court might act, but O'Shaughnessy told the court it's "imperative" the case is resolved by next May's capacity auction.
Devils in the deadline
The team padded its bottom line somewhat with a long playoff run, but the New Jersey Devils are still in need of a financial savior to rescue it from a huge debt load, said to be around $80 million.
A source close to the team confirmed reports that Devils co-owner Jeff Vanderbeek has finalized a deal with an investor to buy out fellow owner Ray Chambers, but the timing of the deal has Grapevine wondering about its impact on the team's future. Contrary to published reports that the deal and the investor's identity will be revealed within two weeks of the Stanley Cup presentation ceremony — which took place June 11 in Los Angeles — the source said the formal announcement could take up to a month.
That would push an announcement well past the July 1 start of the free agency period, which could play a part in how the team's 11 unrestricted free agents weigh offers from the Devils and more fiscally stable teams. At the top of that list is U.S. Olympic hero and team captain Zach Parise, who will command expensive offers from such well-heeled suitors as the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, among many others, should Parise hit the open market.
But a source said timing won't have any impact on Parise's fate, noting Vanderbeek "has been crystal clear on his support" for keeping the left winger on the team's roster.
Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org.