AC’s Cockamanie Convention Biz
We took a magnifying glass to the state’s assertion that last year was Atlantic City’s best year for conferences, tradeshows and meetings. It was, but there’s a big but. It turns out that when a state agency pays casinos to build fancy new conference centers, businesses start holding their events there, instead of at the Atlantic City Convention Center, which is run by the same state agency (CRDA). Of course, bringing a million people into the city last year was no mean feat and Meet AC deserves credit – but the luxury taxes paid by those visitors are right now being used to fund a $2 million bathroom refit at Boardwalk Hall. In a city where almost 40 percent live in poverty. To cap it off – the casinos got money to build the conference centers because they promised to add jobs… So we checked – and it turns out they actually cut jobs. Read the story, with documents, here.
“Finding sand for the beach sounds like a joke, but scientists say the ocean floor is mostly covered in mud.” You should read this great Philadelphia Inquirer piece that looks at where our beach sand comes from and follows the lives of the people who bring it to us.
Do you want to know how much New Jersey paid out to settle lawsuits last year? It was down – slightly – from 2015, but the state still spent $88 million on a range of tax court cases, medical malpractice suits and discrimination suits. Some great freedom-of-information reporting by NJ Advance’s S.P. Sullivan here.
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The rest of today’s headlines include a piece looking at the impact of changes in immigration policy in Atlantic County, a report from a new Atlantic County effort to fight the drug epidemic, the chance to vote for a Google Doodle by a Cherry Hill schoolgirl and an EHT chef who won a South Jersey cooking award. All that and more below:
2 Injured In Early Morning Vineland Hotel Fire–Two people, including a police officer, were injured in a fire that swept through a hotel in Vineland. The blaze at the Ramada Inn broke out around 2 am Friday and it took firefighters more than two hours to get the flames under control. Press of Atlantic City
Local Non-Profit Asking Community for Help to Ship Container of Goods to Liberia–A South Jersey high school soccer coach is getting ready to return to his home country of Liberia, but with more than just his suitcase.Eli Gbayee and his non-profit organization, Hope for Liberia, have been busy packing up a storage container filled with goods to ship overseas next month, but they need help. www.snjtoday.com
Using Faith to Fight the Drug Epidemic–Organizations are coming together in Atlantic County to fight a problem plaguing the Garden State, the drug epidemic.“In October, I lost a really close friend from school and it just rocked my world. I couldn’t believe that he died of heroin,” expressed Christina Smith of Egg Harbor Township. www.snjtoday.com
Rowan University Holds Networking Fair for Students all Across Campus–A networking event in Glassboro brought students and employees face-to-face with opportunity.Rowan University's Spring Career Fair welcomed students seeking full-time careers, part-time jobs, and internships in all academic fields. www.snjtoday.com
Military contractor admits bribes, kickbacks for work at N.J. bases–NEWARK -- A former construction contractor for U.S. military facilities in New Jersey admitted Tuesday to paying more than $90,000 in bribes to an Army employee to secure subcontracts at two bases. NJ.com
The nomads who bring sand to the Jersey Shore–Four miles off the coast of Cape May, in the bowels of a floating factory painted blood red, engineers sit in a cramped room, concerned about the fate of tourists’ feet. Philly.com
Pain Patients Urge NJ Medicinal Marijuana Panel to Include Them in Program–Patients suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, Tourette’s, and drug addiction — or family members serving as their caregivers — made a passionate plea to state regulators to expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program to cover their conditions, a move that would mark the first major change to the program since it was created seven years ago. www.njspotlight.com
Murphy Lays Out Big Ambitions for Urban Renewal in New Jersey–Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Phil Murphy put forward a wide-ranging urban renewal agenda yesterday, saying New Jersey’s cities “hold tremendous promise” that’s waiting to be unlocked after seven years under Gov. Chris Christie’s economic policies. www.njspotlight.com
South Jersey town discriminating against Islamic group, suit says–A Muslim group is suing a South Jersey city for allegedly using land-use regulations to prevent the expansion of a mosque, violating federal law and constitutional protections for religious liberty. Philly.com
Feds say they aren’t doing immigration raids in N.J.–ICE officials say they continue to focus on undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes, despite rumors of roundups. North Jersey
Atlantic County executive warns mayors of potential tax hike–Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson is warning local mayors that taxes will go up if the county does not receive the 13.5 percent share of the PILOT bill that was promised in April. Press of Atlantic City