Op-Ed: Things I Would Change

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Since moving into Atlantic City, there are things discussed daily among the residents, and things you just can’t help but encounter, that need improving, changing or fixing. I regularly post to Facebook different thoughts and I find some of those thoughts resonate among others. I also find there are things residents don’t want to point out for a variety of reasons, unfortunately, one of these includes retribution. So, I thought I would point out some things that I think we can more easily change locally, and some things I would change both locally and regionally.

  1. Way too much money involved in Atlantic City’s election from out of town. It’s a shame we can’t limit contributions to residents who are eligible to vote, and limit the amounts. For a town with no money, there’s an awful lot being spent.
  2. Partisan elections in town that divide our residents.
  3. The two parties of Republicans and Democrats and their candidates’ approach to each other in a little town where there are no fences until we build them.
  4. Superpacs. Get rid of them. It’s just another way to pump more money into campaigns with less rules so we can call each other names.
  5. A reactionary council fighting with each other.
  6. Dirty, seedy, and gritty…. One visitor in my car recently remarked, “It’s like you can’t get from Point A to Point B without going through a shit storm” as we drove down Pacific Avenue.
  7. Building codes and parking laws that are not enforced equally.
  8. Closed restrooms on the Boardwalk

    Closed boardwalk bathrooms during the heart of the day, while the boardwalk is crowded and the beaches are open. I often see patrons waiting. This can leave seniors and young children in a real lurch. We can do  what everyone else does: clean in sections and work around the visitors.

  9. Boardwalk speakers that are too loud.
  10. Not being able to see the beach from the boardwalk. Yesterday on my walk, I had visitors ask me where the beach was. This happens more often than it should. Pinky Kravitz fought hard to lower the dunes. Let’s continue the fight and make it happen.
  11. People shooting holes at the AirBNB rental market. We  must do what other coastal towns do, and find out how to make these rentals work better and get more of them. These visitors leave town at the end of the weekend, after spending pockets full of cash, which stimulates the economy. I am an AirBNB customer and so are many of you. Air BNB does not preclude hotel stays. It augments choices for the trip being designed. (As a footnote, within the last 10 years, Atlantic City Council, in its infinite wisdom, actually outlawed weekly rentals in a resort town. That was eventually thrown out in court.)
  12. A cancellation of the deal on Gardner’s Basin. It’s terrible how the Gardner’s Basin redevelopment plan occurred. Gardner’s Basin has been mismanaged by the foundation for years, under the ownership and auspices of the city. Another local jewel destroyed with no room in future plans for current businesses. Imagine the new Gardner’s Basin with no locally-owned Back Bay Ale House and local crafters…. I don’t like to, but it’s coming. The maps and terms can be seen here.
  13. People who want to be in charge, but not accountable.
  14. And, I’m scratching my head about this suggested change: No disrespect to Senator Whelan at all, but leave Boardwalk Hall’s name alone. Let’s not do it…. especially don’t do it without a groundswell of support locally.

Folks, we are in the tourism business, and we keep falling down on simple things that are easy enough to fix, and some harder things we can work toward fixing, which brings me to my good thoughts today.

Things I’m Bullish On

Atlantic City: Small investors and large investors are returning because they are cautiously optimistic, and, in some instances, bullish. If we try hard enough and point some positive direction, instead of fingers, we may be able to get the middle class back into every neighborhood, empower the small businessman by making sure they get a vested interest, and simultaneously re-create a city with a future for everybody.

In the last few weeks of summer I saw beach concerts, plays at Dante Hall, the ballet, festivals every weekend, watched an air show, attended the Miss America Pageant, enjoyed the Miss America Parade, saw creative arts everywhere and easily found something to do every day or night of the week that other towns just don’t have. We live in a vacation town, where every day can be our vacation too. It’s Oz on the Ocean, now we need to clean it up some, so more visitors see it too. We live in a town where one can stay out 24/7 or do absolutely nothing at all by relaxing on the beach…What could be better?

Miss America 2017 – Miss Savvy Shields and me

A note about pageants: Why can’t we let these wholesome families enjoy themselves without going into the political correctness of everything? None of the participants, or their families, has a gun to their head. The pageant has evolved and continues to evolve to meet modern mores. No longer local in nature, the corporate world now runs it.

Atlantic City’s own Miss America 1984, Suzette Charles

And, I agree, we’re spending too much to bring it to town, but that’s because of bad contracts. It is still a great time. Any other tourist town in America would love to have this upscale, week-long business, and, as a gay man, let me just say: Relax, and enjoy the camp! It’s great if you want it to be!


There is no question many of us love Atlantic City… We have everything here, we just have to spread the love and get rid of the anger. We’re like a small global village wrapped around a big city… We must take advantage of our human resources too, and try to bring our residents back into the center of things. Some of the finest people I have met live in AC. I contend we would have less of a crime problem if we had less of an unemployment problem. The city, the CRDA, and the citizenry would do well to find common ground. It can make the areas where disagreements still occur melt into the background and go away as we fix one thing at a time.

Thomas Caycedo with his sisters Gervase and Tanya

Finally, on a personal note: 10 years ago I lost an 18-year-old nephew, Thomas Caycedo, to cancer. He lived with me two of his teenage summers when he wanted to escape to the shore. On Friday, October 6 at 7 PM at the Ventnor Educational Community Complex, Opera on the Go (a non-profit that brings music to children and the general community by staging 150 shows yearly in schools and community centers in the New York Region) is hosting a concert. Under the artistic direction of Jodi Rose, a classically trained vocalist (and my sister) Opera on the Go will raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey, a temporary home and place to stay for families of seriously ill children in hospitals for extended stays. The concert features local talent and singers from four different states.

The Symphony of Hope centers on songs about family, love, and life from the American Songbook. Those of you who have stayed in the Ronald

Jodi Rose and me

McDonald houses know how much you’ve been blessed to have a home away from home. Tickets are available here. If you have questions, or would like to make a donation, feel free to call Jodi directly at 917-940-4043.

And, don’t forget – you’re always free to contact me by email or at 609-385-7585.

2 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Things I Would Change

  1. I really had hopes that this website would make a difference but you just proved that you know NOTHING about Atlantic City. Understand its political history and maybe you can understand the political divides. It’s no different than any other city in NJ. And your Gardner’s Basin comment was completely ridiculous. Do you even know the history of that place? The guy who ran it for the last 20 years ran it into the ground because he was friends with Langford. So unfortunately I’ve lost hope with this website to make any kind of difference. Maybe you can hire people who can either do research and talk to lifelong residents or make believe that they get it, like the Press does.

    • Your thoughts on Gardner’s Basin ‘it was run into the ground’ and Geoff’s ‘it was mismanaged for years’ seem to be more in accord with one another than in disagreement, so I’m not sure what triggered you exactly, but thanks for your comment.