January 19, 2016

Checkmate Atlantic City and more on the Hillcrest Tavern in today’s Roundup

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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. James A.M.E. Church to oppose the state’s takeover efforts, calling for public hearings on Steve Sweeney’s bill to be held in the city, and invoking Martin Luther King’s legacy, on MLK Day, the A.P.’s Wayne Parry reports. “This is going to be a national issue if Sen. Sweeney doesn’t watch out,” Councilman Kaleem Shabazz said.

Following a “fiery series of speeches” (the indefatigable Amy Rosenberg’s words), Guardian said the city has been working “right along with” the emergency manager Kevin Lavin, whose team by the way has cost the state more than $2 million dollars. Guardian called the takeover plan, “absolutely senseless.”

Mayor Guardian also challenged the narrative that the city mismanages its finances, citing the many layers of state oversight already in place.

“We couldn’t mismanage a paper clip without a review.”

By the way this affects city firemen and policemen a lot.

The Press of A.C.’s Cindy Stansbury has great details from the event. Which seems like a quaint relic of a more democratic past: i.e. yesterday.

Hillcrest Blues 
Spencer Kent nicely curates community reaction to the news the Hillcrest Tavern in Bridgeton was “badly damaged” in a fire yesterday. We’re still uncertain whether the building is destroyed or perhaps can be salvaged. Readers of the Roundup will recall the state was poised to allocate $80 million (!) to fund various preservation initiatives this year, so perhaps the resources to save the historic tavern are available, somewhere.

Suburban Retrofit-ness?
The always great Kevin Riordan has an astonishing story on the community of mall-walking enthusiasts who get their exercise by hiking the halls of the Cherry Hill Mall and Moorestown Mall. Michael Lefkoe, a retired Cherry Hill accountant, logged 1,100 miles last year. “This year, my goal will be 1,200,” he said.

Protip: Cherry Hill’s steps increase your degree of difficulty!

Part of me is shocked they allow this.

Governor Christie’s move to cut food stamps to thousands of New Jerseyans came after State Human Services officials had assured food banks a new program would take its place, NJ.com’s Susan Livio reports. New Jersey has one of the highest long-term unemployment rates in the country.

A Trenton man froze to death, probably, after being turned away from a homeless shelter, The Trentonian’s David Foster reports. The official cause of death’s still pending, but Jose Velez was, “exposed to some brutal elements” in the hours before he died.

NJ Spotlight’s Tom Johnson has a capital-T Think-Piece on the “changing nature of New Jersey’s electric utility sector.” Unchallenged monopolies and a century-old business model could be challenged and reinvented.

The Irish Pub and Gilchrist’s are among the nine ways to “beat the winter blahs in Atlantic City,” Anthony Venutolo writes. The Howler hopes these treasured establishments don’t get too crowded.

Amy Kuperinsky has a rundown of all the X-Files episodes set in New Jersey ahead of a mini revival of the series, set to begin Jan. 24. Foremost of course is the hilariously Canadian Jersey Devil episode from season one.

Rutgers spends $2 million per year on “tutoring, mentoring and advising” for student-athletes, NorthJersey.com reports. The Howler wanted to play football for Rutgers but failed the “eye test” as well as several others, probably. Maybe it was for the best.

A community in northwest N.J. is considering the idea of a “food hub” to connect local farmers with customers, the NJ Herald reports. South Jersey has farmers too, I’m told.

Stockton is offering free naturalization classes at the Carnegie Center in A.C. Tuesdays from now until May. (The Current)

State police broke up a burglary ring in Cape May County, Cat Country reports. Cash, jewelry, prescription narcotics and hypodermic needles were found in a hotel in Middle Township.

* pocket vetoed.

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