Hard Rock & Harrah’s Want Money
The Casino Reinvestment and Development Authority will consider projects from Harrah’s and the not-yet-rebuilt Hard Rock Casino at a board meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Could the Harrah’s project, dubbed “Harrah’s Atlantic City Project” be tied to the mysterious announcement made at the start of the month by Governor Chris Christie and executives from MGM (which operates the Borgata) and Harrah’s owner, Caesar’s Entertainment? CRDA officials did not respond to requests for comment on Monday. The agenda says the board will consider an “authorization to amend the project, and the donation–credit and project grant agreements.” It sounds like it is not a new proposal, but there are no public details of any existing project under the same name.
The board will also be considering the “Hard Rock Entertainment Retail District Project” for initial project eligibility. That is interesting, since CRDA has been trimming costs and restricting new projects since its budget was cut under the state takeover legislation last year, and the Hard Rock casino has yet to open or pay any casino taxes. (The takeover legislation diverted the casinos’ investment-alternative taxes to cash-strapped Atlantic City. Those taxes had long been returned to the casinos via CRDA to fund investment in the casino properties.)
CRDA does have some money earmarked for outstanding casino projects, however. The Authority’s 2016 financial report shows that it has set aside just over $2.8 million for “Harrah’s Non-Gaming Amenities” as well as $9 million for a Harrah’s hotel expansion. There is also $3.4 million for a Caesar’s hotel expansion, so perhaps some of that money will go toward funding whatever Christie, Caesar’s and MGM have up their sleeve.
In the rest of the news from the last 24 hours, a power outage caused a major sewage spill in Big Timber Creek between Gloucester and Camden counties, a former Obama aide from Marlton is planning to challenge U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur for NJ’s 3rd district, here’s a list of Cumberland County places to hang for your South Jersey staycation, and U.S. Rep LoBiondo came out strongly against offshore drilling yesterday. All that and more below:
Dr. Kauffman Ordered Detained Pending Trial–An armed standoff with police along with money and means weighed heavily in a judge’s decision to detain the husband slain Linwood radio host April Kauffman. BreakingAC
Body of Missing Atlantic City Swimmer Found on Beach in Margate–The body of 16-year-old Kaliyah Hand was found on the beach in Margate early Monday morning. A Margate police officer found the body at Jefferson Avenue, Atlantic City Sgt. Kevin Fair said. BreakingAC
Trump’s FBI Pick Billed Taxpayers $2.1M, as Christie’s Bridgegate Lawyer–President Trump's pick to be the next FBI director, Christopher Wray, billed New Jersey taxpayers more than $2.1 million in legal charges and expenses while representing Gov. Chris Christie as his personal attorney before, during, and after the Bridgegate trial. It is unclear what Wray and an extensive team from his firm, King & Spalding LLP, was doing for Christie — the bills provided to WNYC from the state attorney general's office are heavily redacted, and Wray has never spoken publicly about his role. www.njspotlight.com
State Takes Steps to Tap into $72.2M Volkswagen Settlement–The state yesterday took a step to obtain $72.2 million to fund a variety of programs to curb emissions from the transportation sector, the biggest source of air pollution in New Jersey. By a 27-7 vote, the Senate approved a bill (S-3029) that would allow the state to tap into its share of funds from a $1.2 billion court settlement with Volkswagen arising from the manufacturer’s admission that it installed software to cheat on emissions tests on millions of vehicles. www.njspotlight.com
From Tragic Death, a Law to Safeguard People with Developmental Disabilities–After nearly five years of citizen advocacy and legislative review, New Jersey is one step away from mandating greater state oversight and transparency at myriad independent programs that serve tens of thousands of adults with serious developmental disabilities. The state Senate cast the final vote Monday with unanimous support for legislation designed to better protect these vulnerable people in residential facilities and day programs; to ensure family members are informed of problems that develop; and to increase the penalties for front-line workers who harm disabled individuals in their care. Among other things, the bill requires state officials to conduct two site visits a year and forces program operators to report physical abuse to guardians within an hour. www.njspotlight.com
Sweeney, Prieto to Christie: School Funding First, Then We’ll Do the Budget–The constitutional deadline for a new state budget is now less than two weeks away, but Democratic legislative leaders say they won’t introduce a spending bill until they sit down with Gov. Chris Christie at the negotiating table to discuss their new plan to revise the state’s school-funding formula. Both Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto (D-Hudson) made their unified position on the fiscal year 2018 spending plan clear during separate interviews yesterday, saying they aren’t willing to send the Republican governor a budget bill and then helplessly watch him make changes to it using the line-item veto. www.njspotlight.com
Haddon Twp. Hosts Interfaith World Refugee Day Event–Since it was established by the United Nations in 2001, World Refugee Day has offered an opportunity to show solidarity with some of the most vulnerable people in the world. In support of those efforts, an interfaith gathering on Tuesday will shine a light on the plight of refugees, asylum seekers, displaced persons, stateless persons, and returnees in South Jersey. NJ PEN
Judge Rules State Monitor Overstepped Authority in Pleasantville Schools–The state monitor for the Pleasantville school district overstepped her authority when she refused to approve the school board’s choice of Clarence Alston as its new superintendent, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez has ruled. In a decision issued Friday, Mendez said that state law specifically limits the monitor’s actions to fiscal matters. It says that state monitor Constance Bauer’s decision was “woefully lacking of any fiscal rationale” as required by the law. Press of Atlantic City