The Camden We Choose Coalition, representing several Camden County progressive organizations, announced today that they have filed petitions to force large employers in the city of Camden to disclose how many local residents they hire.
“For too long, powerful special interests have used Camden as their riverfront playground, enjoying tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks while leaving the families living in Camden’s neighborhoods behind,” Ronsha Dickerson, one of the activists behind the coalition, said in a statement. “The ordinance we are proposing would mandate transparency and force accountability by demonstrating, once and for all, whether large employers have had a true impact on creating economic opportunities for Camden residents.”
If the petitions are accepted and the city clerk rules the question to be valid, the Camden City Council will have to either pass the ordinance proposed by the coalition or allow it to go to the voters directly via a November ballot referendum.
Corporate tax breaks for Camden businesses have long been a subject of scrutiny; Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration was involved in a yearslong legal battle over tax incentives awarded to businesses with ties to South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross, who has hailed the tax breaks as helping fund Camden’s “renaissance.”
“For years, the Camden County Democrats, led by George Norcross, have imposed a corruption tax on Camden families, while claiming they are great philanthropists,” said New Jersey Working Families Party director Sue Altman, a longtime opponent of the Camden Democratic organization. “These corporations received more than a billion dollars in state subsidies – supposedly to bring jobs to a city that has long suffered from disinvestment and poverty, and we’re supposed to accept that without data? On what planet?”