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?
Tony’s Baltimore Grill, the Atlantic City institution with the kitchen that’s open until 3 a.m. and the bar that’s been open non-stop since 1970, presumably, has filed for bankruptcy protection, the tireless Reuben Kramer of the Press of A.C. reports (with a hat-tip to Dan ‘Lightning’ McQuade of Philly Mag). It’s important to stress the bar/restaurant is not closing, at least not anytime soon, but no one likes reading the words “bankruptcy” and “Baltimore Grill” in the same sentence, not at this time in our fair city’s history. Atlantic City without the Baltimore Grill is like the Louvre without the Mona Lisa or a chocolate cake without the chocolate. Or the cake. Or something.
Storm Coverage! If you need me to tell you there was a huge storm over the weekend, I assume you’re trapped in a well, yet still have internet access. In that case, call a first responder. But speaking of persons trapped in wells, here’s video of Chris Christie seemingly saying there’s “no residual damage. There is no residual flooding damage” in New Jersey on cable TV.
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.
NJ.com’s Brent Johnson has a listicle on things you should know about the possible bankruptcy being floated by Atlantic City officials. Foremost being: They need the state’s permission to declare it. “The last time a New Jersey municipality declared bankruptcy was Fort Lee in 1932 — in the middle of the Great Depression.”
Friendly reminder, the Press of A.C.’s John Santore was reporting Gov. Christie might use a PILOT veto to force regionalization of the A.C. Police Department and privatization of other city agencies, back in November. Meanwhile the Press’s Reuben Kramer reports on the $168 million the city owes the Borgata after the casino successfully appealed its property taxes. Mayor Don Guardian yesterday “floated two potential paths to resolution” of this debt, neither particularly appealing to the executive jobs-creators who brought you such innovations as the Borgata Babe.
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.
A.C. Takeover: Checkmate? Governor Christie vetoed the PILOT* (“Payment in Lieu of Taxes”) bill designed to stabilize Atlantic City’s municipal budget, precipitating an acute crisis for the city, whose many problems the state proposes to address through a more aggressive takeover of local government. This is a metaphor, the Howler can’t help thinking. The indefatigable Amy Rosenberg of Philly.com has many details on the implications. Christie’s move comes a day after leaders from around the city and the state gathered at St.
Atlantic City Takeover Talk Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, has an op-ed in the Star-Ledger in support of his takeover plan for Atlantic City, which he says would allow the city to “monetize” various assets including Bader Field and the Municipal Water Authority, and to “right-size” city government, “through shared services, consolidation and other methods.” Sweeney’s takeover announcement coincided with a call from the emergency manager to privatize the fire department and regionalize the police. Hard to tell if those are the carrots or the sticks. The alternative–municipal bankruptcy–would be a “disaster” Sweeney says, though for whom or what exactly is less clear. Presumably he means for the municipal debt holders, which is a surprisingly candid acknowledgement that bond traders run the city. And the state.
Atlantic City Austerity Emergency manager Kevin Lavin released his final report on the state of Atlantic City at five p.m. on Friday, the same day a Reuters story reported his team had cost taxpayers $2.6 million in the past year with little to show for it. Laving recommended the city privatize its fire department and regionalize the police force with neighboring towns, blaming “parochial politics” for hampering progress, though the Howler notes parochial politics didn’t cause the tax base to fall by $13 billion in five years. It also said the city should sell Convention Hall (or Boardwalk Hall), though not Bader Field on the water authority. Read more here. Lavin endorsed a state takeover of the city, saying he supports “legislative efforts underway in Trenton,” Philly.com’s Andrew Seidman reports, saying sales or privatizations of Bader Field and the utilities authority were among the recommendations, as was a sale of Gardner’s Basin.