https://www.nj.com/news/2020/03/wheres- … break.html
As the mayor of one of New Jersey’s largest cities was scrambling to curb the spread of novel coronavirus earlier this month, the largest operator of malls in the United States had another idea.
This was nine or 10 days ago. New Jersey already had declared a state of emergency, at least one state resident had died and Gov. Phil Murphy called for cancellations of gatherings of 250 people or more when Elizabeth’s mayor called Simon Property Group with an urgent question.
“What’s your plan to shut down the mall?” asked Mayor Chris Bollwage, referring to the Mills at Jersey Gardens, one of the dozen Simon shopping centers in New Jersey.
“What’s your plan to cut my taxes?" replied Mike Romstad, an executive vice president at the company, according to Bollwage’s account.
Bollwage, in an interview with NJ Advance Media this week, said he considered it a “threat.” A Simon spokeswoman said company officials “categorically deny making a verbal threat to the mayor.” However, she did not deny that the request for tax cuts was made, and Simon less than a week later sent a letter seeking millions of dollars in immediate tax relief.
In Jersey City, Mayor Steven Fulop said he had to send his municipal prosecutor and armed police officers to Newport Centre, another Simon property, to enforce their city’s shutdown order after Simon refused to comply.
“They gave us a hard time — a really, really difficult time,” Fulop said. "It took us actually having police there ... until they actually acquiesced.”
Bollwage and Fulop both said Simon placed retail workers and mall customers at risk. Bollwage claimed the company conditioned closures on tax breaks and Fulop said Simon executives halfway across the country forced local workers to defy legal orders to close.
Public health experts have been urging people to say home and avoid large gatherings, but some pro-business advocates say things went too far, too quickly. Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, has decried state and local governments for issuing blanket shutdowns.
Fulop ordered the malls closed on March 16, adding to an earlier order shuttering stores and limiting bars and restaurants. When Jake Hudnut, the city’s prosecutor, arrived with police, Fulop said they were told, “Our corporate office in Indiana believes your city has no authority to order the facility closed.”
That same day, the company sent a letter to the city of Elizabeth — seeking millions of dollars in tax breaks.
According to a copy of the letter obtained by NJ Advance Media, the company wanted nearly $3.8 million in tax deferments until 2021 and a 40% reduction in its property tax burden, from $64 million to $38.5 million in light of the “unprecedented crisis."
This is why more people are going to die in "civilized" America than died in China. In China if the government ordered you close your mall, you did it and didn't ask for a handout too.
Simon, an Indiana-based real estate company, reported $5.7 billion in revenue in February, according to Yahoo News, but has seen its stock prices plummet in recent weeks amid the pandemic.
No bailout for Simon's.