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Grapevine: Leap year for lobbyists, Roche rush

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The law firm of John P. Inglesino catapulted ahead on the latest NJBIZ ranking of lobbying firms.
The law firm of John P. Inglesino catapulted ahead on the latest NJBIZ ranking of lobbying firms.

Leap year for lobbyists

The law firm of John P. Inglesino catapulted ahead on our latest ranking of lobbying firms, rising from No. 99 last year to No. 10. The lobbying revenue for Inglesino, Pearlman, Wyciskala & Taylor vaulted from $16,000 in 2010 to $1.2 million in 2011, according to ELEC.

"We're not a lobbying firm; we're a law firm," Inglesino told Grapevine.

He said the law firm opened July 2, 2010, and it would have taken a couple months for receivables, and revenue, to start rolling in. In 2011, "the overwhelming majority of it is legal work," and the law firm reported it as lobbying out of "an abundance of caution." One example was representation of Jeff Gural as he negotiated to manage the Meadowlands racetrack.

"We were really negotiating a lease and other agreements between our client (Gural) and the Meadowlands," Inglesino said.

He said the bulk of 2011 lobbying revenue, $932,000, came from his partner, Steve Pearlman, who also has Edison Properties as a client. Inglesino said he booked only $40,000 in lobbying revenue in 2011 at his firm, where he said he spends about 90 percent of his time as a lawyer.

Inglesino also lobbies for Impact NJ, where he is of counsel — and Impact managing partner Michael Murphy also is of counsel at Inglesino's law firm. Inglesino said he didn't have a lobbying figure for his Impact work because he's on retainer there, versus billing by the hour at his law firm.

A source said Inglesino, who has close ties to Chris Christie, probably realized in 2010 he could start his own firm — instead of just working for someone else — with the new administration in place. Inglesino, who was chief counsel to UMDNJ's federal monitor, would also know those former U.S. Attorney's Office employees who now work in the Christie administration.

Inglesino acknowledged he knows the governor and others in the administration, "and that's a good thing." The former Morris County freeholder said, "Before Chris Christie was elected governor, nobody would care how much interaction I had with the state."

Other big jumpers on the lobbying firms list included Wolff & Samson, whose revenue jumped from $347,520 in 2010 to $1.2 million — exactly $4 less than Inglesino's firm — in 2011. An observer attributed that increase at least in part to Karen Kominsky joining the firm in late 2010 or early 2011.

Tonio Burgos and Associates' revenue rose from $464,334 in 2010 to $1.1 million in 2011, likely because it opened a New Jersey office again and hired Art Maurice in fall 2010, the observer said.

Roche rush

To say that Roche's decision to close its Nutley campus came as a shock would be an understatement. A company spokesman said the company called local officials, the governor's office and the state's congressional delegation to inform them of the pending announcement.

But Mayor Alphonse Petracco, who was sworn in last month, said the "courtesy call" from Roche didn't come until 11 a.m. June 26. The press release went out at 12:06 that afternoon.

"At first I thought they were kidding to be honest with you," Petracco said.

Clash of the (legal) titans

Two of New Jersey's legal heavyweights are squaring off in the looming court battle between Triple Five and the Giants and Jets owners, who have sued to stop the developer from reviving the former Xanadu project at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

In one corner is McCarter & English, whose clients, the NFL teams, believe game-day traffic would be exacerbated by visitors to the massive retail and entertainment complex. Representing Triple Five is Wolff & Samson. What's more, the lead attorney for the Canada-based firm is David Samson, the well-respected founding member of the firm and Port Authority board chairman.

The Giants and Jets filed suit against Triple Five on June 22, hoping to block the developer from resuming construction and rebooting the project as American Dream Meadowlands. The teams say the firm's plan to add indoor water and amusement parks to the complex violate a 2006 agreement, which gave them the right to consent to modifications to the project.

The teams, which play at MetLife Stadium, have spent months voicing concerns about how operation of the complex would affect game-day traffic, echoing concerns they had with a previous developer before the project was derailed by financing woes. Triple Five, which has said the impact would be minimal, had not filed a response to the lawsuit as of press time.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at swaters@njbiz.com.

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