Fitzpatrick Votes Against Jobs, Now Complains About Economy

Fitzpatrick Votes Against Jobs, Now Complains About Economy

Former Commissioner refused to support job creating initiative not once, but twice

(Fairless Hills, PA) – Former Commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick refused to support workers and manufacturers despite having not one, but two chances to provide tax incentives for industrial development in Lower Bucks County. First he voted no, then he didn’t vote at all.

Fellow former County Commissioner Sandy Miller joined Patrick Murphy and workers on Friday to remind Bucks County voters of Fitzpatrick’s refusal to support job-growth measures like the business tax incentives. In spite of Fitzpatrick’s opposition to the proposal, the state designated a site in Fairless Hills as a Keystone Opportunity Industrial Zone (KOIZ), helping the county attract major employers and create thousands of jobs.

Miller was in office alongside Fitzpatrick during the discussions. “Fitzpatrick had his chance to stand up for Bucks County workers and help create jobs,” she said. “Instead, he turned his back on them.”

Jim Bauer, from Levittown, said that Fitzpatrick turned his back on working families like his own. Jim worked at U.S. Steel as a crane operator for 25 years before it shut down and he found himself without a way to support his family or use the skills he’d spent years building. Today, Jim is back at the old U.S. Steel site except now he’s constructing wind turbines for the clean energy company Gamesa Corp., which was recruited to the site with the tax incentives Fitzpatrick opposed.

“If Fitzpatrick had his way, the former U.S. Steel site would still be an economic and environmental brownfield instead of a growing hub for manufacturing and green energy companies,” Murphy said.

Miller also debunked Fitzpatrick’s previous claims that he refused to take the second vote due to a sudden “conflict of interest.”

“Fitzpatrick was the lead negotiator on the deal for a year and had already taken votes on the tax incentive proposal before just days earlier,” Miller said. “Fitzpatrick can make excuses, but the bottom line is that he voted against jobs for Bucks County.”

# # #

For Immediate Release, September 17, 2010
Contact, Tim Persico, (215) 785-3736

BACKGROUND:

Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zones are defined, parcel-specific areas with greatly reduced or no tax burden for property owners, residents and businesses.  KOIZ areas are designated by the State and approved by the local communities by resolution (including the county government).

They are a partnership between each community and region among state and local taxing bodies, school districts, economic development agencies and community-based organizations.  The Keystone Industrial Port Complex – the former site of US Steel (USS) in Fairless Hills – was deemed a KOIZ in 2004, without the support the Mike Fitzpatrick.

TIMELINE:
 
2003:  The Bucks Commissioners first considered a proposal, brought by U.S. Steel, to designate a site at Fairless Hills as a “Keystone Opportunity Industrial Zone” and provide tax incentives for industrial development in Lower Bucks.  When the issue first came before the Bucks County Commissioners in 2003, Mike Fitzpatrick “voted against USS’ request for a KOZ,” effectively killing chance of Bucks County to receive this coveted status.  (Bucks County Courier Times, 2/1/2004)
 
Early 2004:  A decision was made at the state level to grant additional KOIZ designations, and so the Commissioners – along with the local municipality and school board – were given a second chance to decide whether to allow the old U.S. site to receive KOIZ status. As the Courier noted, then-Commissioner Fitzpatrick became the lead point of contact for the County and actually lobbied to decrease the size and effectiveness of the site:  (Bucks County Courier Times, 2/2/2004, “Bucks Commissioner Michael Fitzpatrick agrees he’d like to see a shorter tax-free period, a smaller zone.”)
 
May 2004:  With the deadline quickly approaching for sites and corresponding political subdivisions to pass their resolutions of approval, Commissioner Fitzpatrick voted to table bringing up the resolution and it failed to move forward. (Bucks County Courier Times, May 30, 2004)
 
May 30, 2004: The Commissioners met with just hours left before the deadline by which they needed to approve the resolution to create the KOIZ. However, when the vote came up, Commissioner Fitzpatrick abstained from even voting on the measure, claiming he had a conflict of interest. He maintained this position despite having already voted on the measure numerous times (including just days earlier), being the lead negotiator with US Steel, and failing to mention this “conflict” until minutes beforehand. As the Courier reported, Sandy Miller, a fellow commissioner, criticized Fitzpatrick for that apparent contradictions – voting to table the matter the week before and to move on it that week, with no apparent concern about “conflict of interests.” According to that article, “Fitzpatrick had no response.”

The measure wound up passing only through the support of Commissioners Sandy Miller and Charlie Martin (Bucks County Courier Times, 5/30/2004).
 
Today: The KIPC at the former U.S. Steel site with its KOIZ status is considered a “national model for creating good paying jobs on formerly abandoned industrial space.” (United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Success Stories – Renewable Energy on Contaminated Land Keystone Industrial Port Complex, Pennsylvania.”)  The KOIZ status has helped create hundreds of jobs and recruit such major employers such as Gamesa Wind, AE Polysilicon, and Osteem.

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