TrueNorth – Polar Vortex Edition

NorthStar Strategies TrueNorth Insights

New Jersey’s Minimum Wage

New Jersey is set to become the fourth State – following California, Massachussetts and New York – to significantly raise its minimum wage, after the New Jersey Legislature passed a measure yesterday in Trenton to increase the wage to $15/hour. The bill now goes to Governor Murphy’s desk where it is scheduled to be signed into law on Monday February 4th.

The bill would increase wages for most workers from the current $8.85/hour to $10/hour in July and then increase by $1/hour each year before topping out at $15/hour in 2024. The bill would immediately affect roughly 100,000 minimum wage workers throughout the State. Business groups and Republicans mounted an aggressive campaign to defeat the measure but large Democrat majorities in the Senate and Assembly rendered the effort futile.

Murphy campaigned for Governor, in part, on a commitment to providing workers with a “livable wage.” Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney have likewise been vocal champions of the increase. Murphy, Coughlin and Sweeney reached agreement on a compromise bill – that addressed phase-in concerns and exemptions for certain workers – two weeks ago and the bill was fast-tracked, culminating in yesterday’s action.

Newark Air Train Rebuild

The New Jersey-New York region has a vast multimodal transportation infrastructure network that gives us an economic competitive advantage. However much of this infrastructure is at or beyond its useful life and needs to be repaired or completely rebuilt. The consequences of inaction are severe: our transportation infrastructure will deteriorate to the point of obsolescence and drag our economic prosperity along with it. We were thrilled therefore when New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) Chairman Kevin O’Toole last week announced a comprehensive plan to rebuild the aging monorail at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

The PANYNJ is already engaged in a $3 billion terminal modernization at EWR. Murphy and O’Toole are calling for another $2 billion to replace the Air Train, which launched in the mid-1990’s and is at the end of its lifespan. The combined investments are vital to the longterm viability of EWR. Moreover, the Air Train is by far the most important and relevant transit connection to the airport. Air Train links NJ TRANSIT to EWR and also provides a transit connection between the airport and New York City.

Necessary and massive overhauls are underway at the region’s other airports, specifically LaGuardia and JFK, but without a commensurate level of investment at EWR, the competitive balance between the region’s airports is threatened. United Airlines made a huge commitment to New Jersey a number of years ago and has turned its EWR terminal into the largest aviation hub in the region, serving more destinations than any other carrier. The PANYNJ’s investments in EWR, including the Air Train rebuild, will have similarly meaningful impact. New Jersey must continue doing everything possible to invest in EWR infrastructure and support carriers like United. Assuming the PANYNJ proceeds with a refresh of its capital program (which does not currently include funding for the rebuild), we are hopeful that the Air Train is funded at a level consistent with last week’s announcement.

We commend Governor Murphy and Chairman O’Toole for recognizing the importance of infrastructure investment and acting on the Air Train rebuild. That is precisely the leadership our region needs to keep our infrastructure in good working order.

Facebook Becomes Clean Energy Leader

Facebook recently became the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world. The tech giant accounted for more than 2.6 gigawatts of clean-energy deals last year, according to an article in Bloomberg, accounting for nearly 20% of total agreements to purchase clean power. Facebook is among a number of corporations leading a national green energy boom, spurring investment in wind and solar at a time when subsidies for those energy sources are beginning to expire and wane. Renewable energy purchases doubled from 2017, with Facebook playing a leading role. 

NorthStar has proudly represented Facebook since opening its doors in 2016 and applauds the company’s commitment to renewable energy.

NorthStar Fundraises for St. Jude’s

NorthStar has joined the nationwide alliance against childhood cancer by entering the 2019 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon as a St. Jude Hero. NorthStar CEO Joe Fiordaliso will fundraise while he trains for the race, to be held on Sunday March 17, 2019. Fiordaliso is being coached by NorthStar’s CMO Avery Pontell-Schaefer, a certified RRCA and USAT Running and Triathlon Coach and Founder of IronLife Coaching.

“I’m running for the kids who are too sick to run today, but who could one day be running alongside me,” said Fiordaliso.  “NorthStar is proud to support the important work of St. Jude’s Research Hospital.”

St. Jude’s, based in Memphis, TN, is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Please consider supporting St. Jude’s by helping Joe and NorthStar meet their fundraising goal.  Read more and donate here.

Mike Klein named to CSNY’s 50 over 50

Congratulations to our friend and alliance partner Mike Klein for being named to City & State’s 50 Over 50 power list for 2019. Klein, the Founder and Principal of Urban Strategies, LLC, joins such luminaries as Queens Democratic Chairman and former Congressman Joe Crowley, President & CEO of the New York City School Construction Authority Lorraine Grillo, and WNYC reporter and personality Brian Lehrer. NorthStar Strategies enjoys a strategic alliance with Klein’s Urban Strategies to provide expert and seamless consulting services to clients throughout the New Jersey-New York region.


In recognition of Super Bowl LIII, to be played this Sunday in Atlanta by the Saints…oh no, wait, the Rams and the Patriots, here are a few appropriately themed extras:

Murphy names Helmy starting QB

Governor Murphy announced the appointment of George Helmy, State Director to United States Senator Cory Booker, as his new Chief of Staff. Helmy succeeds Pete Cammarano who resigned in early January. Helmy is known as a policy guy with an affinity for infrastructure. He is also a seasoned professional who should lead the Murphy team down the field with a steady hand. We extend our congratulations and look forward to working with him in his new capacity.

Senator Dawn Addiego switches teams

Apparently not content with the direction her team was taking, the GOP Senator from Burlington County announced this week that she is switching parties and is now a Democrat. The move expands the Democratic majority in the New Jersey Senate to 26-14. In a statement announcing the switch, Addiego praised Senate President Steve Sweeney and aligned herself with several Sweeney priorities including his Economic and Fiscal Policy Work Group. Addiego’s home county has been trending Democrat in recent years and that blue wave may have crested in November when Democrats took control of the Freeholder Board and Andy Kim unseated Republican Tom MacArthur to capture the 3rd Congressional District.