It seems there wasn’t a whole lot of news in South Jersey yesterday beyond Stockton University’s hosting of the first debate among candidates for New Jersey Governor. There was a lot of Christie-bashing, which morphed into follow-up bashing of lead-candidate Phil Murphy’s ties to Wall Street. There was little in the way of new policy and there was broad agreement over funding schools and public pensions. Read The Philadelphia Inquirer’s take here and The Press of Atlantic City’s here. AC Beer Garden
A plan to bring an open-air beer garden to Atlantic City (between the Ritz condominiums and California Ave) is a step closer to happening after CRDA’s planning officer recommended the project go ahead.
Walmart Plaza Details
What else is going into the new Walmart plaza along the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Townships? We’re willing to bet you could probably guess the likely retail: yup, there’s a cellphone store (T-Mobile) and a nail salon (because 21st century strip mall). But there’s also a Starbucks, which I could see becoming a meeting spot for a lot of on-the-road sales people around here. Laura Stetser has the details. Mapping Immigration
Last week we wrote about New Jersey teachers working with students who speak foreign languages at home.
In some neat reporting that came out after the Roundup published on Friday, the Press of Atlantic City’s Christian Hetrick discovered that, in spite of all the hullabaloo over the county getting a lower cut of casino taxes, the casinos will actually pay a half-million more this year to the county. Read it here. But Atlantic County’s administrator said its municipalities are still facing tax hikes because there is a tax credit owed to the city for taxes the casinos overpaid in previous years. In response, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) snippily advised the county to check its math (the DCA is overseeing the Atlantic City takeover). Immigration Arrests
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested an undocumented immigrant in a Middlesex courthouse last week.
Atlantic City’s very own gadfly extraordinaire, William Cheatham, has long been trying to persuade younger people in the city to join him. Read Bill Sprouse’s profile of Mr Cheatham on Route 40 here and learn some more about the man who’s been married 71 years, including through two testing election campaigns. Teaching English
Most people have no idea that many schools in South Jersey have long-running and successful bilingual programs. We visited Pleasantville’s Washington Avenue school and met a bilingual teacher who was once a student in the same school. Elinor Comlay also took a deep dive into the various challenges facing bilingual and English-as-a-second-language programs, ranging from worries about parents being deported, to school funding issues. Also – did you know that school enrollment in general in New Jersey is flat over the last five years, but enrollment of limited-English speakers is up 30 percent?
A report by Pew Charitable Trusts has faulted the tax incentives doled out to New Jersey projects, such as the over $1 billion that has gone to Camden development projects and the millions of dollars used to fund Stockton’s Atlantic City campus, the Courier Post reports. New Jersey’s tax incentive program is classified as ‘trailing’ the leading programs in other states in part because it has not program to regularly evaluate the tax incentives. The state’s Economic Development Authority said the report incorrectly characterizes its programs, which are evaluated. You can read the Pew report here. You might also be interested in the State Auditor’s report from earlier this year into selected incentive programs, which also found some flaws with the Camden projects.
New Jersey on Tuesday suddenly got a new blueprint for managing water resources, after the state’s Department of Environmental Protection surprised everyone by publishing a document that had been in the works for 20 years, NJ Spotlight reports. The timing of the publication of the ‘New Jersey Water Supply Plan’ might seem like an omen if you’re in Atlantic City since the state – at the end of this month – is set to decide the fate of the city’s Municipal Utilities Authority. Yes, we’re that cynical. The blueprint will help value assets, which it says need ‘targeted investment’. Critics slammed the report as ‘flawed’ because it fails to lay out a plan to protect the state’s water supply.
Atlantic City Water
The fate of Atlantic City’s water authority is still unclear and Councilman Kaleem Shabazz is trying to revive talks with Atlantic County about possibly buying or leasing the water system, Christian Hetrick reported for The Press of Atlantic City yesterday. Under the state takeover law, the city has until the end of the month to “maximize the value” of the Municipal Utilities Authority. Separately, if you want a behind-the-scenes look at Atlantic City politics, read this Insider NJ piece on the mayoral race. Dead Deer
NJ.com has this listicle on the 13 worst counties in New Jersey for dead deer problems – you might be surprised to see the South Jersey counties that feature. Also, fun fact, did you know that deer carcass removal is pretty expensive?
Atlantic City kids will one day – in the not-too-distant-future – have a jazz school complete with a recording studio, thanks to the efforts of the people behind the Chicken Bone Beach concerts. A house on Indiana avenue was donated to the group and they are fundraising for the costs needed to renovate the property. Maxwell Reil has the details for The Press of Atlantic City. About Those Taxes
If you live in Atlantic County and you’re worried about your tax bill, you might want to take a look at this: the most expensive hotel sold in 2016 was Atlantic City’s Borgata. (Heads up – that’s a paywall link).
It was a fun day dream while it lasted but it turned out that – for the second time – there was no real money behind the latest plan to turn the shuttered Atlantic Club into a water park, reported Nick Huba for The Press of Atlantic City. The property’s owners are still hopeful they can find a buyer… AC Music Video
Atlantic City’s fight-stopping hero, Ibn Ali, is hoping to use his viral-video fame to spread more positivity around the city. Yesterday, he filmed a music video at Stanley Holmes Village – Lynda Cohen has the story at BreakingAC.Com. Reefs
The state Department of Environmental Protection, with sign off from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is going to build two reefs to help anglers in South Jersey.
Shrinking Jail Population
The number of people in jail in New Jersey is down 20 percent since the start of Gov. Christie’s administration and the costs of running the prison system have dipped below $1 billion, lawmakers heard yesterday. But amid continued discussion over the effectiveness of bail reform in New Jersey, which has done away with financial bail in most cases, it is not clear whether municipalities are now bearing more costs in cases where people fail to appear for court hearings and police have to track them down. An Atlantic County spokeswoman told us last month that the county jail had approximately 60 fewer inmates at the end of February compared to the end of December (before bail reform, initially designed to help more people avoid prison, went into effect) but there is no good data on how the reform has affected municipalities. NJ Immigration
Arrests of undocumented immigrants are up 20 percent since October, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Newark told NJTV News in this interview. The TV station also has this piece on a Rutgers student and immigration rights activist who came to the United States with her parents when she was four and recently learned that renewal of her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status was held up. Healthcare
South Jersey’s Tom MacArthur, U.S. representative for New Jersey’s third congressional district, is reviving efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and he’s getting heat for it from other Republicans, although he has the support of the Freedom Caucus.