Republican Assembly candidate William H. Michelson won a lawsuit this week striking down a mandate for a Special Improvement District in Rahway. His opponent, former Rahway mayor Jim Kennedy, was a driving force behind the SID both as mayor and as executive director of the Rahway Arts District Board.
“He’s been making money telling people in other towns his experience with downtown revitalization projects, particularly the use of special improvement districts. And it would have been nice if what he was selling to them was legal,” said Michelson.
When reached for comment, Kennedy was nonplussed and said that the ruling would likely not have “any effect on the election at all.”
The 22nd district, where Kennedy and Michelson will be vying for seats, is not expected to be competitive.
Kennedy secured a no-bid contract with the Rahway Arts District Board through his Skye Consulting group, which helped create the SID. The move incurred new taxes on business owners there, and Michelson represented a group of about 40 in their successful suit against the city.
“It is improbable that the legislature intended an entire city should be considered an SID. If this were the case, every municipality within the state would have municipality-wide SID ordinances, collecting special assessments from each non-residential property,” said Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy in her decision.
The Special Improvement District passed after Kennedy left office in 2010, after which the State Comptroller’s office sent two letters to Kennedy’s successor at the Rahway Arts District requesting copies of correspondence between the organization and Kennedy’s Skye Consulting group.