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Medical School-to-Roche Campus Deal is Done
NJBIZ
March 20, 2016
Original Article

Seton Hall University, Hackensack University Health Network, Roche and Prism Capital Partners have struck a deal to bring the yet to be formally named Hackensack-Seton Hall medical school to the 117-acre site on the former campus of Roche, which sits in both Nutley and Clifton, an insider told NJBIZ.

"It's done now," the source said.

The agreement creates one of the largest redevelopment efforts of the state. And while it was widely anticipated, the fact that four organizations (one of which is headquartered in Europe) had to come together to get it done made it an impressive accomplishment, the source said.

"This has been a huge undertaking; to get this done in just over a year is pretty big," the source said.

Seton Hall and Hackensack announced plans for a school on the site in January 2015. The medical school will be the anchor tenant of a park that is expected to include numerous life sciences companies.

'Top-loading' legislative agendas

If you're looking for peace and quiet, try visiting the State House sometime in the dog days of summer and you'll get your wish.

Schedule that visit during the fall or spring and it's likely to be a different story.

Right now, that's indeed the case, as Trenton is in the thick of budget season and there are a number of outstanding legislative agenda items still on the docket.

And lately, it seems like there is a single day each week that is especially jam-packed with legislative goodies, lasting from the first few committee hearings at 10 a.m. until the conclusion of a 2 p.m. voting session that likely started late anyway.

While that's all fine and dandy for the State House press corps, some lobbying sources are wondering if the powers that be have been deliberately "top-loading" some of the recent agendas.

"They've got us so busy all over the place. … Is there some calculation going on trying to throw us off guard?" questioned one source.

For instance, there was a Monday earlier this month that saw simultaneous discussion on tiered network health care plans in multiple committees, on top of testimony on items ranging from paid sick leave to DEP regulations to earned income tax credits.

"If I've got to be in eight different committees at the same time, that's when I want to legalize cloning," one source said.

Comella an important loss

It was quietly reported over a weekend earlier this month that Maria Comella, Gov. Chris Christie's former deputy chief of staff for communications and one of his longest-tenured and most trusted advisers, had officially called it quits in New Jersey.

Comella is often given credit for Christie's command of social media and YouTube, which helped to raise his national profile early in his tenure as governor and even make him a rumored potential presidential candidate in the 2012 cycle.

She worked hard on Christie's image amidst the fallout from the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal and joined his political action committee in the run-up to him announcing his failed presidential run.

It would be easy to say that Comella is simply jumping from a sinking ship now that Christie's presidential aspirations are done, but that always was the plan, a source said. She was just there for his presidential run.

Her departure may be less about Christie and his political future as it is a move to concentrate on her own career. While Christie may be angling for a spot in a potential Donald Trump-run White House, it's a safer bet for Comella to focus her talents elsewhere.

Not that Christie has nowhere to turn now.

Another source pointed out he has many trusted advisers — Rich Bagger, Michele Brown, Jeff Chiesa, Mike DuHaime, Kevin O'Dowd and Bill Palatucci to name a few — just a phone call away.