Hard Rock, Ørsted, A.C. chamber team up to provide Airshow tickets to veterans

The premise made sense: Many of the veterans in the Atlantic City area had flown some of the planes that will be involved in this month’s Atlantic City Airshow, so they should be able to see the show, too.

Friday, officials with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, along with Ørsted and the Greater Atlantic City Chamber, announced they will be sponsoring two large tents on the beach, providing free tickets so the veterans will be able to see the show.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 22.

“It’s important to us, because they enjoy the Airshow,” Robert Lee, vice president, community relations, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, said.

“They’re veterans. Some have flown in some of those planes that will be in the Airshow, so to just support veterans all around is extremely important to Hard Rock.”

On Friday, members of the New Jersey Friends of the Guard and Reserves and the New Jersey Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve were able to pick up tickets for the show.

Ørsted and Hard Rock have also invited representatives from Stockton University’s Office of Military and Veterans Services and the 177th Fighter Wing to attend as their guests.

For more on the Airshow, click here.

Did Economic and Fiscal Review go far enough?

The report the Legislature’s Economic and Fiscal Policy Review Committee released on New Jersey identified a number of areas the state needs to address, offering suggestions on some.

It even went as far as to say, “The fiscal future of New Jersey is bleak.”

But the report has received lukewarm reaction by business entities such as the New Jersey Business & Industry Association and New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

And it drew criticism from Garden State Initiative.

GSI President Regina Egea, who served in the previous administration, said the recommendations are just another committee report.

“What was striking in the report was a lack of a plan of action,” she said. “Recommendations that do not include costs to implement and expected savings, along with a timeline of implementation, is not really a plan; but, rather, another committee report.

“Without a commitment to implement, residents and business leaders are likely to see this as just another report that will take its place on a shelf collecting dust,” she said. “It was heartening to see to the report include the recommendations on health benefits made by the Byrne-Healey Commission, albeit without mentioning their report.

“Unless we are willing to tackle the 800-pound gorilla in the room, which is the unsustainable level of payment of pension benefits, which this report fails to do, things like … consolidation and shared services are distractions that just nibble at the edges of our financial crisis.”

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tom Bracken said in a statement that the group’s recommendations are an important step, but more time is required to digest and analyze the details.

“Many of the long-term and systemic economic problems the workgroup identifies will be tough to solve and will require sacrifices and compromises on all sides,” he said. “We need to fully vet the recommendations with all involved parties, so everyone understands the direct impact and the unintended consequences that could result from them.

Committee member Marc Pfeiffer, assistant director at Rutgers University’s Bloustein Local Government Research Center, preached patience.

Pfieffer said he understands the road ahead will be tough, but the state has been delaying dealing with the issues for far too long.

“This group is the fourth such group that I have worked with in one way or another since the mid-’80s, which tells you we have had these problems for a long time, and there’s not any easy fixes to that,” he said. “There’s no quick fixes to these things, but there are things that we can do to set ourselves up in the medium to long-term that can bend that cost curve on helping our local governments, counties get more efficient and reduce the property tax burden.

“We’ve been doing shared services at the local level since the mid-1970s, they’re not new, they exist, they’ve been voluntary. What we want to start looking at is setting some minimum standards of services, saying what is the critical mass of population being served, where we can deliver some services very efficiently.

“We recommend the creation of some bodies to start looking at those issues, to see where we can go with that, and then ultimately recommend either regulatory (solutions) or legislation that will start us moving us on that curve to have municipalities and counties do their jobs better and serve the public in a more efficient way.”

Read more from ROI-NJ:

Is fixing PILOT regulations a way to fix school funding?

Marc Pfeiffer, assistant director at Rutgers University’s Bloustein Local Government Research Center, said the last time payments in lieu of taxes were addressed in the state was 1992.

The timing for another look couldn’t be better.

Pfeiffer was part of the Legislature’s Economic and Fiscal Policy Review Committee, which released a series of recommendations to improve the New Jersey economy Thursday in Trenton.

Pfeiffer said reworking PILOTs to make sure they support local funding, could have big impact on spurring economic development.

Pfeiffer had some recommendations regarding how to handle PILOT revenues:

  • Have a more transparent process in municipalities to understand add-ons to the levy cap to justify expenses of PILOTs and new assessments;
  • Share some of the revenue from PILOTs with school districts, which currently receive funding only from the land tax; meanwhile, the county and local governments share the PILOT revenue in a 5-95 percent split, respectively.

PILOTs have been a hot topic because residents often feel they are being cheated out of the economic benefit of a new commercial ratable on the scene, and school districts feel they are being cheated out of more revenue that municipalities are benefiting from.

This split increasingly has become a point of contention in places such as Edison, which has seen an ongoing presence of school board members and municipal meetings demanding a portion of the PILOT revenues.

Pfeiffer said it’s time to start the discussion.

“In today’s redevelopment environment, with all the other incentives that we now provide to businesses, and new incentives to come — more specifically on that is the federal Opportunity Zones, which we think are going to be a game-changer down the road — what is the place for payment in lieu of taxes as part of a new redevelopment?” he said.

It’s not the first time the issue has come up.

At a July event by the New Jersey Builders Association and New Jersey chapter of the American Planning Association in Morristown, the topic of PILOTs and tax abatements was the central focus.

Generally, speakers — which included lawyers, developers, mayors and planners — felt that the problem with these incentives was in the names.

Rather than reflect the stability and benefit of the revenue generated for the municipalities — as well as relief to provide community benefit in place of paying taxes for companies — the name makes it appear as though the companies are getting away with simply not paying taxes, which then leaves residents entirely on the hook for filling the hole in the municipal budget.

But the truth, many said, is that if the municipality negotiates the PILOT well, there should be no issue.

Michael Bruno, and attorney with Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla, said at the July event that the political leanings of the municipality often determine where the greatest pushback comes from.

“It depends on the political bend of the municipality,” he said. “Financially, it almost always comes out that it’s a better deal for the municipality. You can almost always negotiate a deal where they are going to end up with more money than they would under conventional terms. That’s why municipalities like it so much.”

Read more from ROI-NJ:

N.J., looking to build its brand, should take a lesson from Dubai. Yes, Dubai

Shortly after his inauguration, Gov. Phil Murphy suggested to ROI-NJ that he was “head of sales,” and that he was willing to advocate for the state in whatever capacity necessary to attract businesses and opportunities. We salute the idea, whether it’s Murphy or someone he selects. The bigger issue is finding a place to emulate.

We suggest Dubai. New Jersey would do well to examine Dubai’s meteoric rise on the world stage. It is fair to say Dubai was a regional afterthought in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Yet, in as little as 25 years or so, the world now recognizes Dubai as a budding center of commerce, tourism, sports and culture. Dubai’s determined brand rose from dust, literally. Yet, there would have no been investment in the iconic Burj Khalifa or Palm Dubai per se without the resolute brand leadership of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his team.

Nation branding as a concept is not new; it’s practiced by many countries, including Canada, France, Ireland, Taiwan, New Zealand and even the United States, among others. New Jersey ought to embrace similar strategies to grow its brand. This is no crafty advertising campaign or theater, but consistent and persistent brand diplomacy that spans across platforms showcasing the state’s business and lifestyle chops, driven by policies that are highly accretive to the state’s economy and lifestyle. Impactful brands don’t just happen, they need to be wisely cultivated and cared-for over time. Successful brand outcomes by themselves are actually lagging indicators. Usually, influential brands come to life after a product or service experience, messaging and hype notwithstanding.

New Jersey is at the center of the Northeast, which is the most populous megalopolis in the Western Hemisphere, with over 50 million residents. New Jersey’s proximity to New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Boston coupled with a highly-educated, diverse population and some of the best universities in the nation, places it at the crossroads of America’s Silk Road. Our shorelines are playgrounds for tourists from around the country, while New Jersey’s ports are responsible for a whopping $350 billion or so in trade, second only to the Port of Los Angeles. Also, we have some of the finest restaurants and exceptional health care providers in the world. Yet, high property taxes, unfunded pension obligations and affordable housing are only a few of the challenges that haunt the state’s brand.

A key element that unlocks brand value is found at the intersection of time and experience, with New Jersey as a product. Assuming it continues to innovate and deliver on its promise, New Jersey’s brand will transform positively over time, much like Dubai. In the meantime, the steady drumbeat of brand leadership and diplomacy must continue.

While it’s encouraging to see elected officials working in concert with business leaders to proactively proselytize for Jersey — and, frankly, it’s what the doctor has ordered — New Jersey must continue to amplify an inspirational brand with confidence, while never playing second fiddle to its neighbors near or far.

Ultimately, New Jersey’s reputation will be judged on the quality of life that it can deliver its citizenry and the strength of its business ecosystem. Building brands takes vision, time and commitment. From my vantage, New Jersey’s brand seems to be headed in the right direction. Let’s keep going.

Abe Kasbo is CEO of Verasoni Worldwide, an integrated marketing communications firm in Fairfield. Follow him on Twitter @akasbo.

Read more from ROI-NJ:

Leasing begins at Fields’ latest Jersey City property (slideshow)

Leasing has begun at a luxury apartment building in Jersey City’s Paulus Hook neighborhood, according to developer Fields Development Group.

The Hoboken-based real estate firm said in a news release that the Quinn property features 153 residences as well as 7,300 square feet of ground-floor retail. Leasing follows on the heels of the lease-up of Fields’ Lenox property next door.

“The leasing momentum from Lenox has carried over to Quinn, as we’ve already signed lease agreements for 20 percent of the new building’s apartments,” James Caulfield, co-founder and partner of Fields Development Group, said in a prepared statement. “Quinn is perfect for the renter-by-choice, who wants a spacious, well-designed residence with spectacular views, in the most desirable neighborhood in Jersey City.”

The 16-story building at 197 Van Vorst St. was designed by architectural firm Marchetto Higgins Stieve, and includes a range of studios and one- to three-bedroom apartments. Amenities include a roof deck with pool, 24/7 concierge and a children’s playroom, among others.

Bozzuto oversees property management for Quinn.

Dual-branded hotel opens at Glenpointe complex

Officials from developer Alfred Sanzari Enterprises and others cut the ribbon Thursday for a new Hampton Inn & Suites and Homewood Suites hotel located in Teaneck.

The ceremony celebrated the opening of the 15-story, 350-room dual-branded hotel, which Hackensack-based Sanzari called the first of its kind in northern New Jersey.

The property, developed and owned by Sanzari, will be managed by White Lodging.

A rendering of the hotel.

“As we analyzed the demographics and hotel offerings in the northern New Jersey marketplace, particularly within Bergen County, we recognized that a perfect opportunity existed for the construction of a hotel like this,” Ryan Sanzari, chief operating officer of Alfred Sanzari Enterprises, said in a prepared statement. “We would like to thank the township of Teaneck for their help in bringing this project to life, as well as our construction team for creating a truly unique hotel that will provide an exciting hospitality option for every visitor to the area.”

Representatives from both companies were joined by executives from M&T Bank as well as Teaneck officials at the event.

“For years, the Hilton brand has been synonymous with exemplary customer service delivered in exciting and unique hotels throughout the globe,” Kimberly Gagnon, the hotel’s general manager, said in a statement. “As their latest hospitality offering, the Hampton Inn & Suites and Homewood Suites at Teaneck will continue this proud tradition and offer guests the high-quality experience they have come to expect from Hilton hotels.”

At the hotel, 190 rooms are part of the Hampton Inn & Suites, while 160 are part of the Homewood Suites.

The hotel, at 1 Glenwood Ave., is part of the Glenpointe Campus at the intersection of interstates 80 and 95.

SITO Mobile names ‘tomorrist’ as new chairman

SITO Mobile Ltd., a Jersey City-based consumer sciences firm, said Thursday it has named a new chairman of its board.

Jonathan Bond, chief tomorrist at Tomorro and already a member of the board, was appointed to the new post by other members, according to a news release.

“I am honored to have been appointed as chairman by my fellow SITO board members and am excited to help the company grow its industry-leading location data technology and service offerings,” he said in a prepared statement.

Bond, a 30-year veteran of the advertising and marketing industry, is a former CEO, as well as a thought leader and entrepreneur.

“We eagerly look forward to a new era of success with Jon Bond’s advice and counsel as our new chairman,” CEO Tom Pallack said in a prepared statement.

Executive Moves: Banking and Finance (Tribal Capital Markets, Lakeland Bank and more)

Executive Moves is an occasional feature on ROI-NJ.com describing some of the important personnel changes in the New Jersey business community. Reports are based on news releases, edited for content, clarity and style.

Ian C. Burdette, Tribal Capital Markets LLC

Summit-based Tribal Capital Markets LLC has hired Ian C. Burdette as a senior managing director and head of trading and risk.

Burdette has an extensive background in financial markets and brings with him over twenty years of experience trading dollar-rate products, with a focus in the Agency and Supra/Sovereign debt markets. Burdette was most recently at Mizuho Securities USA, where he was the head of agency trading in the fixed income group.

He holds both the Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Market Technician designations.

Ellen Lalwani and J.D. Allen, Lakeland Bank

Thomas J. Shara, CEO and president of Lakeland Bank, is pleased to announce that Ellen Lalwani, executive vice president and chief retail officer, and J.D. Allen, vice president, finance, recently graduated from the American Bankers Association Stonier Graduate School of Banking held at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I strongly believe our staff members are the key to our success, so offering opportunities for our colleagues to expand their professional development is a top priority at Lakeland,” said Shara. “The Stonier Graduate School of Banking is an intensive three-year program that focuses on preparing students to be future industry leaders, and I congratulate Ellen and J.D. on their graduation from this prestigious school.”

Lalwani began her career with Lakeland Bank in 2008 as senior vice president, director of retail sales. She was promoted in January 2016 to first senior vice president, chief retail officer, and to her current position in October 2016. Allen began his career with Lakeland Bank in December 2014 based at corporate headquarters in Oak Ridge.

Bill Robb, Peapack-Gladstone Bank

Peapack-Gladstone Financial Corp. and Peapack-Gladstone Bank, based in Bedminster, announce the hiring of William M. “Bill” Robb as senior managing director and senior portfolio manager for Peapack Private, the wealth management division of the bank.

Robb joins Peapack Private from Glenmede Trust, where he managed portfolios for both high net worth families and nonprofit institutions. He will be based predominantly out of the Morristown location of Peapack Private Wealth Management.

“Bill has joined an experienced team of investment professionals charged with providing clients sound advice and the right investment solutions,” stated John Creamer, chief investment officer of Peapack Private. “We’re glad to have Bill join Peapack Private. His background and expertise in portfolio management and the complexities of wealth management bolsters and expands our client-facing team.”

(Not pictured.)

Robert Sammons, Brooks Insurance Agency

David Rosen, president of Brooks Insurance Agency, a Manalapan-based multiline wholesaler and broker, announced that Robert Sammons has joined the company as vice president and broker.

In his new role, Robert will be responsible for wholesale brokering and servicing small- and medium- sized retail agencies and brokers with a primary focus on Florida and the Southeast region.

(Not pictured.)

Costly, frivolous suits will result from ‘bad faith’ insurance bill

Insurance costs are a central component to the affordability challenges both residents and businesses face in New Jersey.

Policyholders in the Garden State currently pay among the highest average premiums in the nation. Instead of trying to find solutions that would lessen the financial burden, the New Jersey Legislature recently introduced a bill that could cause these already exorbitant rates to skyrocket and threaten the ability of businesses to operate in the state.

Assembly bill A-4293/3850 would rewrite the legal definitions of good faith and bad faith in a way that would open the floodgates for frivolous lawsuits based on bad faith claims, and could increase insurance costs by as much as 40 percent. This “bad faith” bill would allow individuals additional opportunities to sue insurance companies for minor delays in processing claims.

The legislation is so vague and overly broad that overzealous attorneys would be able to sue insurance companies for normal mistakes that occur in the ordinary course of business.

The unfortunate reality for many companies, particularly good actors, is settling the case out of court often makes more financial sense — even if the defendant is convinced the case is winnable.

Opportunistic lawyers will have free rein to target businesses with baseless lawsuits in the hopes of obtaining unjustified, lucrative settlements. The bill certainly offers a financial incentive to do so, as it provides for payment of actual damages, all litigation costs (including attorney fees) and triple damages.

To offset the costs of litigation, these companies would pass the burden directly onto policyholders in the form of higher premiums.

The unintended consequences of this legislation are immense. New Jersey’s taxes, among the highest in the nation, are already a deterrent for businesses looking for a new home. If this bill were to pass, the financial burden of operating a business in our state could be prohibitive. Whether it’s relating to business interruption coverage, general commercial liability insurance or workers’ compensation insurance, broadening the vague standards by which a claimant can pursue a bad faith claim will raise premiums for all of these necessary business expenses.

In the age of rapid technological advancement, New Jersey legislators should be doing everything within their power to encourage new and exciting innovative companies to set up shop in the Garden State. If this bill passes, our state could lose out on the opportunity to house the next game changing company and the good paying jobs that come along with it.

Our legislators must focus on enacting fair policies that would incentivize businesses to locate in New Jersey instead of restrictions that would drive them away and hamper the state’s economic future. All of this is why the New Jersey Business & Industry Association is trying to stop this bill in the Assembly.

Everyone will pay for the increased, unnecessary litigation that will result from a bill with such vague language. We need to prevent adding yet another cost burden on New Jersey residents and businesses. Please reach out to your Assembly members to vote “no” on the bad faith bill.

Chrissy Buteas is chief government affairs officer of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

Bipartisan group offers recommendations on tax structure

A new bipartisan report analyzing the inefficiencies of state and local government and the hefty property tax burden on residents was released Thursday afternoon by a group of legislators and experts around the state.

“The fiscal future of New Jersey is bleak.”

That was the opening line in the section dedicated to pension and benefit reform.

The Economic and Fiscal Policy Review Committee’s report paints a sobering picture of the state.

In its statement of purpose, the group of 25 legislators and experts said, “New Jersey continues to struggle with inefficiencies at all levels of government.”

The committee was formed by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) in February. It was tasked with reviewing the impact of federal policies on the state’s affordability and economic climate, which could lead to legislative solutions.

Many of the recommendations have been previously discussed in the state over the years, including consolidation of municipal governments and school districts, health and pension reforms and addressing the property tax burden.

But some were a reaction to the recent $10,000 state and local tax deduction cap at the federal level.

For S-corp businesses in the state, the group recommended a change in the way they pay taxes, in an effort to help reduce the burden of property taxes.

According to the group, the state collected $28.8 billion in fiscal year 2017 in property taxes, which is twice the amount of income taxes and three times the amount of sales taxes collected. As a result, enabling subchapter S-corporations, limited liability corporations and partnerships to pay taxes equivalent to their gross income tax obligations would allow them to make the state tax payment deductible on their federal taxes.

“This tax payment practice was in place from 1976 to 1993 and takes advantage of the fact that the federal tax law allows corporations, but not people, to deduct the full cost of their state and local taxes,” the group wrote in the recommendations.

“This change will provide a $450 million a year federal tax cut for the majority of New Jersey small business owners, professionals and their families, at no cost to the state.”

Additional tax policy recommendations include:

  • Establishing a permanent economic and fiscal policy committee;
  • Permitting a gross income tax deduction for charitable donations to New Jersey-based charities;
  • Focusing additional tax incentives towards small businesses to support more entrepreneurs with facilities located in New Jersey;
  • Splitting revenue from new redevelopment-driven payments in lieu of taxes among municipalities and school districts and counties — an ongoing point of contention between municipalities and school districts — based on current property tax ratios;
  • Analyzing the state’s sales tax exemptions to simplify the tax code and benchmarking sales tax structure against other states — any increase in revenue would be dedicated to municipal aid to reduce the property tax levy;
  • Reviewing the effectiveness and fairness of New Jersey’s property tax relief programs by either combining existing programs – currently totaling $1.1 billion — or providing a direct increase in municipal aid;
  • Permitting a revenue-neutral county or multi-county/regional 1 percent sales tax.

Gov. Phil Murphy issued a statement after the recommendations were issued.

“We thank the Senate president for his working group findings and look forward to reviewing the group’s recommendations,” Murphy said. “My administration stands ready to listen to any and all ideas on how to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey without unfairly burdening the middle class.

“This administration inherited a fiscal mess, taking office after eight years when the conventional wisdom in Trenton was to keep millionaires and billionaires from paying their fair share while slashing benefits for middle-class workers. Our problem isn’t simply how much state government spends — it’s how. Protecting tax breaks for the wealthiest and special interests while asking the middle class to shoulder more and more of the burden isn’t fair and is the wrong approach to getting our fiscal house in order.

“We have a bold, smart, and inclusive economic vision for how New Jersey’s future can work for everyone. This includes reliable and efficient mass transit as both an economic engine and a way to improve the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of commuters, a thriving innovation economy with good-paying jobs in tech and the life sciences, a fast-growing clean energy economy, affordable higher education and a plan to fully fund our public schools.”

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tom Bracken said in a statement that the group’s recommendations are an important step, but more time is required to digest and analyze the details.

“Many of the long-term and systemic economic problems the workgroup identifies will be tough to solve and will require sacrifices and compromises on all sides,” he said. “We need to fully vet the recommendations with all involved parties, so everyone understands the direct impact and the unintended consequences that could result from them.

“I have had the privilege of working with many of the members of the workgroup on tax reform and on the Transportation Trust Fund and I know the quality of their work and the value of their insight. They all have the best interest of New Jersey in mind and that certainly shows in the work they have done here. We all hope that the bipartisan spirit in which this workgroup was supported will continue as we look to move forward with its recommendations.”

New Jersey Business & Industry Association CEO and President Michele Siekerka was also encouraged by the report Thursday, but cautioned further analysis was necessary.

“While these ideas will require further review and appropriate stakeholder input, there is no question New Jersey needs to plan and adopt long-term, sustainable solutions to our fiscal challenges,” she said in a statement.

“We need to see New Jersey’s future through the lens of regional competitiveness and affordability and many of these initial recommendations make a good first step in that direction.

“NJBIA looks forward to working with the Legislature to advance proposals that will begin to set New Jersey on a path of economic vitality and business prosperity.”

Whether or not these make it into legislation that eventually passes into law remains to be seen — or if any are addressed at all.

Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Newark) said the state needed to address the issues now.

“We cannot continue to operate without addressing the state’s tax structure and the continuous burden it places on New Jersey’s taxpayers,” she said in a statement.

“The challenge for this group was to help identify solutions so we can mitigate this burden and grow the economy. Their work is done and now ours begins.”

Sen. Steve Oroho (R-Sparta) said there is a new political will to tackle some of these older ideas.

“A lot of these suggestions have been studied before, but now we are going to have the political will,” he said.

Sweeney said that there could be fights over specifics, but if anything changes in the state, that is bound to happen.

Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Randolph) echoed some of Oroho’s comments, adding the goal is to address, in part, the outmigration of residents and businesses.

“It’s going to take the courage of the legislature to put some of these initiatives through,” he said.

Members of the committee include Sweeney, Oroho, Pintor Marin and Bucco, as well as:

  • Dawn Marie Addiego (R-Medford);
  • Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge);
  • Troy Singleton (D-Moorestown);
  • Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees);
  • Ray Caprio and Marc Pfeiffer, Rutgers Local Government Research Center;
  • Frank Chin and Ray Kljajic, American Public Infrastructure;
  • Henry Coleman, Rutgers University Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy;
  • Lucille Davy, Mason, Griffin & Pierson;
  • Feather O’Connor Houston, former N.J. treasurer and adviser for public media and journalism at Wyncote Foundation;
  • Richard Keevey, Rutgers University Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy and Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School;
  • Michael Lahr, Rutgers Economic Advisory Service;
  • Robert Landolfi, former business administrator at Woodbridge Township;
  • Jerry Maginnis, KPMG Philadelphia, retired, and Rowan University;
  • Donald Moliver and Peter Reinhart, Monmouth University’s Kislak Real Estate Institute;
  • Joel Naroff, Naroff Economic Advisers Inc.;
  • Kurt Stroemel, H&RHS Financial Services;
  • Ralph Thomas, New Jersey Society of CPAs.