The Record has the kind of story on its website right now that makes you spit out your coffee, choke on your muffin or at least rub your eyes incredulously, because you can't quite believe what you're seeing.
And no, for a change, it has nothing to do with an it's-summer-and-mysteriously-it's-hot-outside story.
The paper is reporting that Honeywell International, in Morris Township, is threatening to leave New Jersey — again — unless it gets a major tax break — again. That's the problem with letting companies rewrite tax incentives guidelines; once they're allowed to make one change, why stop?
UPDATE: Josh Burd adds some interesting stuff to this report on our site. Check it out here.
Here's the real juicy stuff, though. Like almost everyone else in Trenton who's mad about something, Honeywell is, in part, blaming JCP&L for doubling the costs associated with the development project. Because the utility's performance during Hurricane Irene was on par with Dennis Kucinich's success rate in presidential primaries, the company needs extra money to perform upgrades to, according to its filing with the Economic Development Authority, the lobby, building façade and cafeteria.
So remember, next time you're waiting in the lobby of an office building, wondering why the owner hasn't bothered to replaced the time-worn, vaguely Ansel Adams photos on the walls, or spring for live greenery as opposed to plastic potted plants, remember: It's JCP&L's fault.
Anyway. Here's a trip down memory lane from the first time Honeywell got a major tax break instead of heading to Pennsylvania. At the time, Chris Christie said David Cote, Honeywell's chairman, was "going to be one of our ambassadors" for the then-nascent Christie administration.
Here's some other stuff from that story:
The state would not identify where Honeywell was considering for its new home, but Christie said "this guy is not a bluffer," and meant business.
I'm getting chills — anyone else remember the words: "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy, and we had a very good dialog. I was able to get a sense of his soul." Yeah, that's a chapter from the George W. Bush follies there.
So with the BRRAG incentive being rewritten around Honeywell — which rang up more than $33 billion in revenue in 2010 — will the state capitulate and give Honeywell what could amount to another $40 million to stay? I wouldn't count on it, unless Cote dyes his hair white and changes his name to Norcross. At some point, the state has to shed its image as a bank teller being threatened by a guy with a mask and a gun, and not allow itself to be intimidating into forking over millions of dollars every time a large employer threatens to leave. That money needs to go to other employers that could create their own jobs and spark development plans of their own.
Would we lose Honeywell as a result? As a rule, big companies don't like to move. You've got real estate concerns, an employee base that may desert you, moving costs — the list goes on.
It's nice having a big taxpayer like Honeywell around, but if we have to fork over millions in tax breaks to keep them, well, that kind of defeats the purpose.
I'm even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.