Less than a week into her term as supervisor, Laura Jens-Smith held a private closed-door meeting with the new partners of Daniel Preston (exposed by the News-Review as a serial fraudster) prior to the “qualified and eligible hearing” on the proposed EPCAL sale. In circumventing the open meeting law in a prearranged secret rendezvous, Ms. Jens-Smith engaged in exactly the same lack of transparency in negotiations with Luminati she campaigned against.
Aside from questions about the legality of a sale of the property to a different entity from Luminati or Mr. Preston, even a cursory review of publicly available information about the new developers raises real questions about their qualifications. Bloomberg, the Real Deal and New Jersey news sources report a history of delays, financial problems and broken promises with Triple Five’s project at New Jersey’s Meadowlands. Opponents of their mall in Miami note that the stalled New Jersey development “presents a cautionary tale …: Despite receiving over a billion dollars in public subsidies, construction has stalled, job and economic development promises remain unmet and what started as a dream has turned into a true nightmare.”
Unfortunately, Ms. Jens-Smith’s unilateral decision to meet with patently unqualified parties that have already been the subject of overwhelming skepticism and community frustration suggests that her back room dealings in the middle of a blizzard may be a prelude to a snow job for our citizens.
Editor’s note: Mr. Hariri screened for the Democratic nomination for town supervisor in 2011.