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Thread: George Zoffinger Resigns

  1. #1
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    Default George Zoffinger Resigns

    George Zoffinger has resigned from the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority. I know a lot has been said about him in other threads concerning what has gone on with the Giants and Jets stadium and so forth, but I have to say he has fought for New Jersey. He voices publicly that the Giants and Jets should be called NJ. It voted against the Giants/Jets Stadium that Codey rammed through. At the NJ Hall of Fame he referred to the Giants as the New JERSEY Giants. Many of his out spoken views have rubbed people wrong. Codey in the past has said that he was the head job at NJSEA - with the deal he made on the Giants/Jets Stadium, my feeling is that he would be the worst possible person for the position. If he wants it though, I'm sure Corzine will give it to him though.

    Here is an example of how Zoffinger stood up for New Jersey, yet was hamstrung by our politicians in Trenton -

    A strong-willed and colorful figure in New Jersey politics with an acerbic wit and rapid-fire speech, Zoffinger was never one to back down.

    Two years ago, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg sought special permission to fly in by helicopter to a Jets game at Giants stadium, asking Zoffinger to make an exception to security rules banning such flights immediately before a game.

    The two men had been sparring at the time over the Jets, after Bloomberg offered huge subsidies to lure the team to a proposed stadium in Manhattan, and Zoffinger was quick to say no.

    ‘‘Here’s a guy who is trying to take our team out of New Jersey,’’ Zoffinger said at the time. ‘‘I sent him a bus schedule.’’
    I love it - he sent Bloomberg a bus schedule. Sounds like something I would do.
    Sports authority chief quits amid ethics questions
    Zoffinger son’s job spurs probe
    BY JOSH MARGOLIN AND TED SHERMAN STAR-LEDGER STAFF

    George Zoffinger, who has headed the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for the past five years, resigned unexpectedly last night amid a state ethics investigation.

    Zoffinger said he will step down from his $195,000-a-year job as president and chief executive officer of the powerful state authority after Gov. Jon Corzine names a successor to oversee the agency that runs the Meadowlands sports complex.

    The investigation centers on whether Zoffinger — a former banker and millionaire financier who served as commerce commissioner under former Gov. Jim Florio — had violated state conflict-of-interest rules by failing to disclose that his son was an associate at the authority’s law firm.

    Zoffinger said that if there was an oversight, it was inadvertent. ‘‘If it’s a mistake, it’s an honest mistake,’’ he said in an interview last night. ‘‘It’s very disheartening to have to deal with it, but that’s the politics of New Jersey today.’’

    At the same time, he said he had been planning to leave long before the ethics questions were raised, and had offered his resignation to Corzine in December. As late as noon yesterday, though, he was saying publicly that no decision was imminent.

    Last night, he said he had decided to step down from the job in which he oversaw one of the premiere sports complexes in the country.

    ‘‘We just went to contract on a farm in Pennsylvania and I’m going to retire,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re going to raise horses and maybe goats and sheep.’’

    Corzine chief of staff Tom Shea confirmed that Zoffinger had previously offered the governor his resignation. He did not know how long Zoffinger will stay in his post.

    ‘‘We were working on a transition of leadership at the sports authority. We are working on an orderly transition to new leadership,’’ Shea said.

    Zoffinger, 58, who is also a member of the Rutgers University Board of Governors, gained a reputation for turning around troubled companies and helped bring the World Cup 1994 games to New Jersey. He was named as the authority’s chief executive by former Gov. James E. McGreevey in 2002.

    As the state’s sports czar, Zoffinger wielded widespread influence that extended well beyond the Meadowlands — home to the Jets, the Giants, the Nets, the Devils and the state’s top horse track —as head of a state authority with considerable dealings in real estate, finance and development.

    The sports authority operates the Meadowlands Sports Complex and Monmouth Park as well as three South Jersey convention centers.

    A strong-willed and colorful figure in New Jersey politics with an acerbic wit and rapid-fire speech, Zoffinger was never one to back down.

    Two years ago, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg sought special permission to fly in by helicopter to a Jets game at Giants stadium, asking Zoffinger to make an exception to security rules banning such flights immediately before a game.

    The two men had been sparring at the time over the Jets, after Bloomberg offered huge subsidies to lure the team to a proposed stadium in Manhattan, and Zoffinger was quick to say no.

    ‘‘Here’s a guy who is trying to take our team out of New Jersey,’’ Zoffinger said at the time. ‘‘I sent him a bus schedule.’’

    Zoffinger also has sparred often with Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex), who was governor for a year, and has had a sometimes-testy relationship with Corzine’s chief economic adviser, Gary Rose.

    More recently, he has been presiding over mounting problems at the Meadowlands, including the near-collapse of Xanadu, a $2 billion retail and entertainment center; the loss of the Nets, who are slated to move out of the Continental Airlines Arena to a new venue in Brooklyn; and the impending departure of the Devils, who will play in a hockey arena being built in Newark.

    Zoffinger said the ethics questions were brought up only recently by state Inspector General Mary Jane Cooper, whose office has been reviewing all the New Jersey authorities.

    Cooper declined to comment last night.

    Zoffinger said she asked ‘‘in the last day or two’’ whether he should have recused himself from voting on matters dealing with Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, the authority’s general counsel.

    One of the firm’s partners is Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and a long-time friend of Zoffinger. The firm also employs Zoffinger’s son, Richard, as an associate, in unrelated work. He has worked there since 1998.

    Zoffinger said that at the time, he agonized about what the conflict-of-interest standards were in regards to his son, but did not believe there were any violations. He said he had always been forthright about his son’s position with the law firm at the time of his own appointment to the authority, and was told it was not a problem.

    ‘‘Everyone told me if it was a family member that was not part of your household, you’re not required to report it on your financial disclosures,’’ he said.

    Zoffinger said his son ‘‘has not lived in my household for over 10 years,’’ and does corporate law. At the same time, he said he does not review any of the bills for Windels Marx.

    ‘‘There really is nothing that’s gone wrong here,’’ he said. ‘‘If there’s some kind of a technical thing, I’ll correct it. I’m an honest guy.’’

    Zoffinger said he had a 30-year professional relationship with Coscia, hiring him to represent his companies in the private sector as a banking executive, and bringing him to the state Economic Development Authority in the Florio administration.

    He added that Coscia had been tapped for the sports authority by then-Gov. Donald DiFrancesco in 2001, a year before McGreevey appointed Zoffinger.

    ‘‘I had nothing to do with Tony Coscia’s appointment. When I got to the authority, I was very happy that he was already counsel,’’ Zoffinger said.
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  2. #2
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    Default I found George Zoffinger to be a walking

    contradiction. Yes, he could belt out zingers against NY, but I found some of his decisions quite puzzling. I remember watching Zoffinger on the news after the Nets were sold to Bruce Ratner. He said Yankeenets betrayed Newark, called co owner Lewis Katz a traitor to the NJ people. He said he would press legal action to keep the team from using the "Nets" nickname if they moved to Brooklyn, and said the team should be called "The Brooklyn Rats" or "The Brooklyn Katz'n'Ratz". Then just a few months ago, the NJSEA signs a new lease deal with the Nets that gift wraps Brooklyn to Ratner and penalizes the team if they decide go to Newark. Iwould have preferred George telling Ratner "Sorry Bruce. All the dates are filled up with concerts. You told us you were leaving after 2007." Also the whole Xanadu project was supposed to replace the Nets/Devils leaving for Newark. Back in 2002-03 he was critical of Yankeenets for reneging on the terms of the Newark Arena deal after Newark's share of the money was secured by the Port Authority lease. But just last year George Zoffinger jumps on the anti-Newark bandwagon after the city starts construction.
    However, I guess with all due respect, Zoffinger was stuck with a sinking ship. The teams wanted out long before he started at the NJSEA. He did help get rail service construction to the Meadowlands. And even though Xanadu has had delays and problems, he is trying to get new attractions to the area which was something that needed to be done a long time ago. I think before he came to NJSEA, the authority had become a do nothing political hack agency. He tried to get things moving again. George was really needed there 15 years ago.

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    Dont forget the Redbull nonsense and the banner he allowed to hang on Giants stadium that said New York Redbull. He caved into them very fast after all his threats. I am glad he is gone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NJPRIDE
    Dont forget the Redbull nonsense and the banner he allowed to hang on Giants stadium that said New York Redbull. He caved into them very fast after all his threats. I am glad he is gone.
    Actually it seems to have been usual NJ politics that had a role in this, not Georges decision. As was reported, he had many fights with the governors. His feeling is that any team that plays in NJ should carry the NJ name.
    New Jersey is the only state honored by two resorts at Walt Disney World. The Beach Club Resort, modeled after Historic Cape May and The Boardwalk Resort, after Atlantic City. If the Jersey Shore is good enough for Walt Disney to recreate, isn't the REAL Jersey Shore even better for you and your family?

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