Corrected: This is a bad week for Jeff Pillets, the Pulitzer Prize nominated investigative reporter for The Record. On Monday, PolitickerNJ.com reported that Pillets faces allegations that he removed state documents from the Department of Environmental Protection — a charge Pillets disputes, saying he took the public records by accident. Now, the Chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority says that Pillets' story on Xanadu was "egregiously flawed." The Record says said that was an accident, blaming it on "an editing error."
The text of Carl Goldberg's letter to The Record:
I am writing in response to what we at the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority can only term an article on the Record’s front page “Xanadu project could soak taxpayers.”
The reporter Jeff Pillets interviewed me, as well as our primary NJSEA spokesperson John Samerjan, for a considerable length of time. During both those interviews we repeatedly pointed to the facts to date that the Meadowlands Xanadu project is privately funded, has been privately funded, and that there is no avenue in either the Redevelopment Agreement between the NJSEA and Xanadu nor the aquarium legislation for that to change. None of those remarks found their way into the article.
In fact there is no aquarium plan that has presented to the NJSEA, there is to date only enabling legislation.
It is further suggested by inference not quotation that I support potential public infrastructure investment for the development of an aquarium. I will reiterate to you that along with my fellow Board members, who broadly support the concept of an aquarium at Xanadu as a further fulfillment of the family attraction and entertainment component of the project, in no way have we wavered from our position that the project will be fully privately financed and private capital will be at risk.
We have had a good and open relationship with The Record including some frank and cordial exchanges at Editorial Board meetings over the look and development direction of Xanadu. That is of course fair game and we are more than willing to take our share of criticism for any decisions we make. But is it not fair in our view to expect us to be willing to accept a story that so misrepresents the history and financial facts of the project, our past, current and future position on public funding , and the seeming presupposition that something is in the works.
I appreciate you taking the time to hear us out on this story. It is an unusual step for me to be taking in writing, but we could not let this story stand without comment.
The text of The Record's correction:
"Because of an editing error, a story titled 'Xanadu project could soak taxpayers' in Tuesday's editions inaccurately indicated that all $300 million in public financing for the Encap golf project was guaranteed by public entities in New Jersey. The sentence should have read: 'The state also could lose more than $50 million from $300 million in public financing awarded to the nearby EnCap Golf project, which recently filed for bankruptcy.'"