Eminent Domain, Marijuana, Amazon – Tuesday’s Roundup

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Eminent Domain
Everyone reported over the weekend the big news from the Superior Court of NJ Appellate Division who ruled that CRDA can’t take Charlie Birnbaum’s house after five years of trying to do so.

In their ruling, which you can read here, the judges gave a little capsule history of this long-running and very worthwhile dispute that included this enlightening nugget.

On November 17, 2014, a judge ruled CRDA had the authority to take the Birnbaum house since it had a general plan for the South Inlet and funds to implement it. But on November 12, five days earlier by my math, Jon Hanson (i.e. the Chairman Himself) had issued his famous report on Atlantic City, recommending changes to CRDA’s funding that diverted money from CRDA to the ACDevco.

This allowed Birnbaum’s lawyer to file for a motion to reconsider, which the judge granted, on the grounds that there was now “concern” that CRDA was “unprepared to proceed” with the S. Inlet development project since it no longer had the money. It didn’t hurt that the Revel–which was also supposed to supply funds from its operation–had closed down in September.

So here we see one group of out-of-town opportunists (the Devco) blocking another group of out-of-town opportunists (the CRDA) from taking Charlie Birnbaum’s house in order to hand over to a big chunk of the South Inlet to a friendly developer. I guess this is the famous streamlining the state was meant to bring to local affairs.

Elsewhere in internecine bickering, everybody reported that Phil Murphy and Steve Sweeney have laid down their swords or something long enough to reach a deal on marijuana legalization, though some details–for example the votes–remain unsettled.

There are also big questions about expunging old convictions.

Big Business 
County Executive Dennis Levinson wrote an open letter in a dubious font to Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, urging the internet retail giant that paid $0 in federal income tax last year to take another look at Atlantic County for its new headquarters, which seems like an inefficient use of government resources on the county exec’s part but what do I know.

Amazon’s not looking for a new headquarters anymore. But I guess the point is that the business-understanders in Atlantic County–where a casino monopoly underwrites a vast civil service–not miss the chance to tell those people in the financial capital of the known universe (New York City) how to structure their economy. “Hey New Yorkers! Ever heard of the ‘free market?’ Come get some!”

For more feats of journalism…

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