Cabeza Explosiva – Thursday’s Roundup

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The CEO of Holtec told reporter Anjalee Khemlani it’s hard to find the help these days, since there isn’t a culture of work in Camden.

“They can’t stand getting up in the morning and coming to work every single day.” Am I crazy or is the guy whose company got $260 million in tax incentives suggesting African-Americans inner-city persons poor persons get too much stuff from the government?  It’s enough to make your head explode.

If you haven’t yet read the CRDA audit, there’s still time before the apocalypse. It will and should outrage you, but who knows what kind of sinister game they’re up to with this thing, which was undertaken under a Republican governor and handed off after Phil Murphy got to put his people on there next to Steve Sweeney’s people.

As you read this, bear in mind, CRDA was created back in the early 80s when lawmakers realized these casinos were making a sh*t-ton of money and the idea that even 2% of it could fall into the hands of Black or Brown people was too terrible to contemplate, hence the legislative energies mustered to create a board of white, male overseers to guide the resources in an appropriate direction.

Now the first audit in 34 years reveals all kind of shenanigans that make your head spin, and that’s just the last four years.

A Convention Hall roof kerfulffle costs $2.1 million. There are $1.75 million in improper payments for beach concerts and “Boardwalk Hall” events. They have an odd habit of overpaying for things and then amending contracts months later.

They agree to pay half of Miss America’s production costs, which is weird to begin with, but to determine the size of that payment, presumably you’d need to know…wait for it…the pageant’s production costs, yet CRDA’s “…unable to provide documentation to support any efforts on their part to monitor the actual costs related to the Miss America Competition…”

Under the terms of the Miss America deal, Dick Clark Productions is supposed to broadcast a live-from-AC event on New Year’s Eve, to advertise Atlantic City to people who are into the Jonas Brothers or something, but then they (we, CRDA) never book a performer and can’t document even looking for one. They also estimate the economic benefit of the pageant at $60 million, then when the try to stand that claim up, find an actual benefit of $23.2 million. Even that seems bonkers, frankly.

The developer of The Walk (makes sign of the cross) gets paid $18.7 million more than the terms authorized by the board, because the CRDA Executive Director, “subsequently amended the agreement with the developer with material changes that no longer appeared consistent with the board’s authorizing resolutions…”

They also have a clause that allows the developer to get a refund on its loan payments if their rents are less than $30 million. Why $30 million? CRDA is “…unable to provide any documentation to substantiate sales projections of $30 million.” Why have a loan in the first place?

In the event, the “large retailer” (Bass Pro) makes less than 57% of that “gross sales benchmark” which was seemingly pulled out of thin air. As a result, “the developer received payment of approximately $1.5 million in rent from the retailer and reimbursement of principal and interest from the authority for 2016.”

They don’t use their office space efficiently. Their financial reporting is filled with errors. Transactions are not recorded in a timely manner. Approvals are limited. They don’t follow the practices laid out in their own manual.

Control weaknesses mean $153,635 gets lost in the cushions essentially. A check for $3.2 million is deposited 85 days after it’s dated (#relatable). Another check for half a million dollars (actually $529,000, but what’s $29,000 among friends?) is sent to an attorney by mistake then not sent back for 24 days. At one point they seem to have lent $2 million to a casino without documentation. Why not? It’s the casino’s money anyway.

Meanwhile they are laying off ambassadors and cutting staff. I used to laugh at those bumper stickers that said, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention,” but they’ve been proved right 100 times and now I hate that self.

Anyway! In more upbeat news, here’s a local kid who wants a job, despite what Mr. Holtec says. Read our profile.

And for more feats of journalism…

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