A.C. Fights Back, Lucy Loses A Friend and Our Crumbling Infrastructure in Today’s Route Forty Roundup – BETA
The Press of A.C. reports on the widespread opposition across Atlantic County to Steve Sweeny’s takeover plan. Marty Small said the plan robbed the city of its “sovereignty” noting no municipality in the country faced the problems Atlantic City had, while Mayor Don Guardian challenged the narrative the city was at war with the state, saying he and his colleagues were voted to be “diplomats.”
Moody’s said the plan to expand casino gambling would be “bad news” forAtlantic City and cause more casinos to close there, NJ.com reports. Because it’s helpful to have the banker perspective on every issue. Meanwhile, city gambling revenue has been cut in half since 2006, Politico reports (subscription). Rebecca Forand reports on the “swanky” Mullica Hill house Rowan University bought for its president, supplying many photos of the $975,000 spread, which, spoiler, resembles a bog-standard McMansion outfitted to the tastes of Marshal Tito. Meanwhile Rutgers is asking the state for $98.5 million.
Buena is in the Pine Barrens, about as far on the other side of Atlantic County as it’s possible to get from our fading Queen of Resorts. Yet it is suffering a similar financial crisis. Mayor Dave Zappariello put it this way: “It is a dire picture,” said Zappariello. “Buena Borough does not have a spending problem. We have a revenue problem.
Local musician (and restaurant owner) Herb “Bubba” Birch died Tuesday. Birch’s Bubba Mac Blues Band, which featured some of the best of the best South Jersey musicians, last performed at the Ocean City Spring Block Party on May 6. Read (and watch) SNJ Today’s piece on his career here. Beer Garden
The first beer garden on the Atlantic City Boardwalk could open for July 4, The Press of Atlantic City reports. (I’m calling it the first beer garden, since surely we could replace
some of the vacant lots or shuttered souvenir stalls with more outdoor drinking and eating establishments?) Anyway.
The Senate and Assembly primary races are on track to become the most expensive in New Jersey’s history, NJ Spotlight reports. One of the battlegrounds is here in South Jersey: Stephen Sweeney and his running mates have raised $2.4 million, spent $1.4 million and have $970,000 left in the bank. Not bad for a part of the state with above-average unemployment and poverty rates. CRDA
What has the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority been up to? The State Auditor’s Office began a probe of CRDA’s finances and performance last year and it is – just about – wrapping up, after a longer-than-expected investigation, Route 40 reports.
After a beautiful day yesterday and a sunny start to the week, it’s easy to forget the torrential rain we experienced on Saturday. If you live on Absecon Island, though, what is your personal limit for those days? Those days when you are either directly housebound because of flooding on your street, or you know that if you need to drive anywhere you’ll be risking your car through brackish water somewhere along the road. The Atlantic City marina saw some of the state’s highest rainfall on Friday. In just one day, the island saw almost the entirety of May’s average monthly rain.
Have you heard about Porchfest? It’s going to be a big party made up of a lot of little parties, on porches, with live bands, in Ventnor, on June 11. It’s a little different to your average shore town entertainment. We sat down with Michael Einwechter (of Ventnor Coffee) to find out more. PILOT Fight
Are you sitting comfortably?
Tax Rates Still Uncertain
Atlantic County says all municipalities except Port Republic and Atlantic City will see a county tax-rate hike this year, reports The Press of Atlantic City. The county is quick to lay the blame on the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) deal that the state handed the casinos. But it’s actually still not clear exactly what the rates will have to be per municipality, the Press reports. While we all sit and wait for the county to turn on its calculator, you can check out this NJ Spotlight interactive map on property taxes across the state for some perspective. Campaign Finance
If you’re following the election for governor, you might be interested in this NJSpotlight analysis of who has raised and spent the most money.
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?