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Grapevine: Bigger Barnabas

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Barnabas Health and Jersey City Medical Center are close to announcing a letter of intent for Jersey City to join the Barnabas system in some capacity, according to an industry expert. The two sides have been in talks, which are going well, the source said.

The move makes sense for both parties; Barnabas extends its reach into Hudson County, and Jersey City — the last remaining nonprofit hospital in Hudson County — gets a "strong ally" to compete with the growing Hudson Holdco system, the source said. Also, this year under CEO Joe Scott, JCMC turned down state stabilization funds for the first time in several years, making it a more attractive partner than in the past.

Barnabas Health declined to comment, and JCMC did not respond to a request for comment.

Power struggle's next chapter

The judge who will decide whether to uphold New Jersey's Long-Term Capacity Agreement pilot program has something of a history with the lead defendant.

U.S. District Court Judge Peter G. Sheridan, sitting in Trenton, last month ordered the case against LCAPP to proceed to trial. The ever-controversial LCAPP is a state attempt to subsidize new power plant construction. The case is known as PPL Energy Plus vs. Solomon, with the plaintiff as one of the utilities suing over the program, and the defendant being former Board of Public Utilities President Lee Solomon.

Sheridan was nominated to the federal bench in Camden in 2003, when President George W. Bush picked the Trenton lawyer and former state GOP chair over Solomon, who at the time was the top federal prosecutor for South Jersey. The move surprised many, and angered the state's Senatorial designation — so much so that Sheridan's nomination languished for nearly three years, until Bush reached a deal with the senators to appoint Sheridan to a federal court seat in Mercer County.

Solomon, meanwhile, was nominated to the state bench in Camden County in 2005 and served until Gov. Chris Christie picked him to head the BPU in 2010. Solomon left the BPU late last year and was re-nominated to Superior Court in Camden over the summer. Grapevine has previously reported that Solomon is a favorite to be nominated for one of two vacant state Supreme Court seats.

Sports betting a sure thing

A close watcher of New Jersey's push to legalize betting on professional and amateur sporting events is optimistic the state will prevail.

Twenty years ago, then-U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley authored the Bradley Law banning state-sponsored sports betting but gave certain states — including New Jersey — a one-year window to get into the game by passing sports betting legislation. New Jersey didn't act in time, but that shouldn't mean the state is prevented for all time from legalizing sports betting, the source argued.

Last November, New Jerseyans overwhelming approved a referendum in support of legalized sports betting, and the governor signed enabling legislation earlier this year.

"The courts will have to decide whether the law that Bradley got passed 20 years ago is constitutional — and I don't think it is," the source argued. "I don't think you can bar other states from doing what other states have done (legalize sports betting) simply because 20 years ago, those states passed a law to do it, and we didn't. That is not fair and equitable."

Healthy hire

It looks like the Employers Association of New Jersey will be making a new hire.

Marvin M. Goldstein, a partner in the labor and employment law department of Proskauer Rose, has been speaking with the association over the last six months about joining the group, a source said. Goldstein has represented employers in all aspects of labor and employee relations law since 1970.

The source said the association is gearing up for health reform regulations that will be issued next year and into 2014, and Goldstein's presence will allow the group's president, John Sarno, also a lawyer, to focus on those regulations.

Sarno, who teaches labor and health care law at Fairleigh Dickinson University, will most likely be leaving his teaching post to develop the business strategy for EANJ's Healthcare Trust, which currently has more than 10 percent of the association's membership enrolled.

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

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