George Norcross visited The Press of Atlantic City a couple of weeks ago for a 90-minute discussion about AC (and Camden, apparently) with the paper’s editorial board and reporters. The result was this interview published Friday, which is somewhat light on questioning of some of Norcross’ more bizarre assertions (“If we’d had casinos in Camden, you’d be looking at Las Vegas East”) but includes some interesting details, such as Norcross’s belief the state takeover of Atlantic City will continue even if Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy (who has said he would end the takeover) wins office.
The number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers written in some South Jersey counties increased between 2015 and 2010, bucking the national trend of a decline in opioid prescription rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. Cumberland and Cape May counties saw an increase in opioid prescription rates over that period, while the prescription rate in Atlantic, Camden, Salem, Gloucester and Burlington counties remained stable, but much higher than the prescription rate in North Jersey, the CDC found. The report, part of a nation-wide review of opioid prescription rates published last week, showed that South Jersey has some of the highest opioid prescription rates in the nation. The CDC report found some socio-economic characteristics were associated with a higher rate of opioid prescription: “a larger percentage of non-Hispanic whites; higher rates of uninsured and Medicaid enrollment, lower educational attainment; higher rates of unemployment; micropolitan status; more dentists and physicians per capita; a higher prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, arthritis, and disability; and higher suicide rates. Together, these factors explain approximately 32% of the variation in the amount of opioids prescribed at the county-level.”
Does it sometimes feel like a lot of people around you are packing up and leaving? If you’re in Atlantic County, you might have noticed a trend. The county lost more than 3,700 people in the last two years, more than 5 a day*, according to the latest estimates published by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday. The estimates show that the pace of population shrinkage in the county has increased, too. Check out how Atlantic County compares to other shrinking counties in South Jersey (Gloucester county is the only one of the six southernmost counties to show a population increase between 2010 and 2016, according to the Census Bureau estimates):
Last year the Atlantic County population shrunk faster than in any of the seven previous years of Census Bureau estimates, which are based on the 2010 census.
If your commute or general life in the area has been disrupted by work on the Black Horse Pike (our very own Route 40) near the mall lately, then The Current has some news for you on the progress of all that development. The bottom line is that the area is going to be a mess for a little while longer – but construction is finally set to begin on the retail park that the roadworks are in aid of. It’s called Gravelly Run Square and it will house 300,000 square feet of retail space. Hamilton Township’s director of community development, Phil Sartorio, told The Current that the road redesign in the area (which will also change access to the developments around the Mays Landing Country Club) should be completed shortly, while construction on the shopping center will begin this quarter. South Jersey > Middle Jersey
South Jersey is the coolest part of New Jersey and it’s true because Patti Smith said so.
The gas and energy company South Jersey Industries, which last week said it would look to raise about $200 million, on Monday told regulators it would sell its new shares at $26.25 each, a slight discount to where the shares were trading last week. The company expects to raise about $204 million after expenses and if the banks selling the stock exercise their so-called ‘greenshoe’ option to buy shares, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The proceeds from the stock sale will be used to invest in infrastructure for the company’s South Jersey Gas utility business, as well as paying down some of its debt, according to the filing.
Local gas utility company, South Jersey Gas, on Tuesday told regulators it plans to sell up to 7.5 million shares–worth around $200 million based on the company’s $27.60 share price before the offer was announced. You can see the full prospectus here on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s site, along with a presentation to analysts and investors, but here are some factoids on the regional gas provider that we gleaned from the announcement:
The company, known as South Jersey Industries and headquartered in Folsom, Atlantic County, had revenue of nearly $1 billion last year and a core profit of $157 million. South Jersey Industries operates throughout Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties and also covers parts of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties. Most of the company’s money comes from its gas utility business, but it also operates “South Jersey Energy Solutions”, which offers HVAC and meter-reading services as well as energy generation. According to the prospectus, the company is planning to invest in this business and earn more money from it in the future.
The tireless Reuben Kramer (Press of A.C.) reports Caesar’s is looking to hire 330-plus workers, and maybe another 120 temporary workers. Get on it. I’m told it’s a growth industry. Verizon Chronicles
Remember the coalition of 16 South Jersey towns who complained to Verizon about their terrible copper landlines? They (some of them anyway) are offended as hell by Verizon’s response, which came in the form of a letter to the BPU, NJ.com’s Spencer Kent reports.
Verily there was much booming and shaking abroad in the land this afternoon, as has been noted, and many theories on what caused it have been advanced and expounded upon. Earthquake? Supersonic jet? Volcano? Fracking?
Mature discourse continued to characterize discussions over the Atlantic City fiscal crisis, with Steve Sweeney labeling Mayor Don Guardian’s warning/threat about a possible bankruptcy, “idiotic” and Gov. Christie telling Guardian he should, “do his job.”
Christie, btw, is in New Hampshire, running for president, as a winter storm bears down on the state where his job is located. The Howler notes our guvnor has a peculiar gift for selecting rhetorical zingers that seem to refer back, in some weird subliminal way, to himself. FWIW, Sweeney, a little over a week ago, said he would support a bankruptcy filing for the city, but that was during a different hand of the poker game. Elsewhere, Mayor Guardian said the city made 300 job cuts and millions in budget cuts last year, and if Christie didn’t know about those, he should fire his chief of staff. “She knows 300 families are no longer working for the city, and that we cut $25 million from the budget.”
Our Crumbling Infrastructure
The likely carcinogen perfluorooctanoic acid has been found in twelve New Jersey water systems at levels at or above the “guidance level” set by the state as the upper limit for safe consumption, NJSpotlight writes.
Atlantic City officials are “threatening” (NJ.com’s Brent Johnson’s word) to declare bankruptcy for the beleaguered municipality a day after the governor vetoed* legislation designed, allegedly, to stabilize city finances, thus paving the way for further state control (i.e. takeover) of city government—for the next fifteen years. Given the city’s been on double-secret probation for some time now, it’s unclear what another “takeover” would actually entail exactly (“We couldn’t mismanage a paper clip without a review”), as Mayor Don Guardian points out in a rather long, impassioned op-ed in the Press of Atlantic City: Though that didn’t stop him and other city leaders from vehemently opposing the takeover. Among the many important points the mayor gets off his chest in the Press of A.C. op-ed, the Howler’s favorite facts include the $21 billion the city has sent to the state in taxes in the past thirty years (state officials aren’t really “fatigued” by the city) and the “600 parcels of land” the state owns around town, which add to the general post-apocalyptic charm of the place, and aren’t the city’s fault.
The Howler, peering into his crystal ball, thinks Atlantic City’s going to look like a much different place in five years, let alone fifteen, with far fewer of those vacant lots and far more conventional, city-type things like houses and businesses. He wonders if state pols aren’t already getting in line to take credit for the A.C. renaissance. Of course there could be something much more sinister afoot.