Op-Ed: Stand Together to Fight State Takeover

Ben Franklin said it best at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” These words are very applicable in Atlantic City and Atlantic County today, with the unconstitutional state intrusion, taking of tax revenue and giveaways in Atlantic City. County Executive Dennis Levinson has been authorized by the Freeholder Board to sue the state in federal court over the flawed PILOT program. The city and county residents must lobby to support those efforts and expand the cause of action to include the necessary constitutional and civil rights claims against the state. How would this be done?

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Brown Park Update


Last December, after years of false starts, renovation began on Brown Memorial Park in Atlantic City, which had become a hang-out for drug abusers, homeless and mentally ill. Now it’s fenced off and construction crews are at work. We stopped by to ask the neighbors what they thought of the changes. You can see our original interview with Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, who spearheaded the effort to renovate the park here.

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Search For Atlantic County Business Leader Turns Up Empty

Atlantic County has failed to hire a director for a planned million-dollar development corporation, a setback for a wider plan to steer the sluggish regional economy away from an unhealthy dependence on low-wage casino industry jobs. Even after a substantial search this spring and summer, no candidates from outside South Jersey could be drawn in to run the development corp. Instead, Max Slusher, the Atlantic County Improvement Authority’s (ACIA) economic development head, will perform double duty in the role for an interim period, the county’s chief of staff Howard Kyle said in an interview Monday. Although the non-profit development corporation, which should have about $1.2 million when it is fully funded, found candidates for the executive director gig, one turned it down for a better-paid alternative, and another withdrew, apparently because they couldn’t quite be persuaded to move to Atlantic County, Kyle said. Low local salaries and difficulties attracting workers to the county were both issues that were highlighted in a report by Austin, Texas-based consultants Angelou Economics that was commissioned by the ACIA and published a year ago.

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What’s The Deal With Atlantic City’s Municipal Utilities Authority?

Remember when Atlantic City needed to borrow $73 million from the state to pay its bills? Well, the Queen of Resorts got her money, but it came with a few strings attached. One involves Atlantic City’s Municipal Utilities Authority, which provides water to more than 8,000 residents, businesses and vacation-home owners.  

The small print of the loan creates a Catch-22 situation for the city and the water authority.  The loan says Atlantic City’s Council must agree by September 15 to an ordinance that would hand over the water authority, in the event the city is unable to pay back the loan. But the loan also says that if City Council can’t agree on that ordinance before September 15, it could wind up handing over the water authority’s assets anyway, since it would be violating its borrowing terms. And some people worry that if the city agrees to the ordinance, it will give the state a chance to seize the water authority assets anyway, even if the city follows the terms of the agreement.

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Escalating The Surreality Stakes

It wasn’t the first time he’d threatened to pack his bags and abandon the Revel. In fact, it wasn’t even the first time he’d threatened to do so this month. But Glenn Straub, the mercurial owner of the $2.4 billion defunct casino at the northeast end of the Atlantic City boardwalk, stormed out of a land-use meeting early Thursday afternoon, amid unspecific accusations of blackmail, saying he would “shut down” the mega-resort, which he bought for pennies on the dollar in 2015, “forever.” Revel is the second-largest building in the state of New Jersey, and the largest god-damned casino hotel in Atlantic City history. It has been closed for more than two years.

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You’re a sucker if you’re paying more than $1 for year-round AC parking

A law firm is paying the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) just $1 a year for 10 sweet parking spaces in the Authority’s swanky gated lot in Atlantic City, according to a document released to Route 40 as part of a freedom-of-information request. The lot abuts Gordon’s Alley, an historic Atlantic City retail lane, where businesses and workers said they’ve been adversely affected by the lack of convenient parking. The agreement between CRDA and the law firm is ridiculous for a few reasons:

The other weekend, I rode the jitney and met people who live and work in Atlantic City (and pay their taxes) and who can’t afford to drive to work because the parking costs* in this crazy city are too high. Apparently, they’re just not working for the right companies. CRDA’s main source of revenue is from parking fees.

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Ratings agency warns Stockton over debt for AC development

Stockton University will have a “weakened financial position” after issuing new debt to build a parking garage and residence hall in Atlantic City, and it may look to raise tuition fees, according to debt ratings agency Fitch Ratings. Stockton, which gained university status last year, is borrowing $70 million to pay for the Atlantic City development and $211 million to refund outstanding debt and finance $25 million in projects at its main Galloway campus. Since the University’s operating results were in the red last year in spite of healthy enrollment growth, Stockton needs to trim expenses and raise revenue – likely by making tuition “adjustments,” the ratings agency said in a statement on Wednesday. Without those changes, Stockton would not be able to borrow for any further expansion projects without risking a ratings downgrade, which would increase the cost of its borrowing and further worsen its financial position. “Stockton’s operating results have been negative since fiscal 2014,” said Fitch.

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Camp Revel

Sometime around lunch on Monday of this week, Bill Terrigino of 227 Metropolitan Avenue stood outside gardening in one of the two yards on either side of his home in the South Inlet neighborhood of Atlantic City. Close readers of this space may remember Bill as the oft-chronicled inhabitant of a charming, cedar-sided Victorian house, nearly 110 years old, that has the interesting fate of being located directly across the street from the Revel casino hotel resort, the second-tallest building in the state of New Jersey and the most notorious casino flop in the history of Atlantic City and probably of the world, which sat about 50 feet to the west of Bill’s geraniums,* humming like a spaceship that was running out of electricity. Revel’s owner, an eccentric millionaire named Glenn Straub, had set that coming Wednesday–about 48 hours in the future–as the deadline for what’s been described as a grand reopening, a “soft” opening, a “real soft” opening and a “flaccid” flop (the local press corps has some bros in it). Which made Bill’s neighborhood once again a subject of some media interest. Bill, who’d worked as a banquet waiter at the Golden Nugget back in the 80s, had lived with his family in the Inlet since the early 1990s, and had been in his house well over a decade when work began on the gargantuan Revel, and the South Inlet was turned into the biggest construction site New Jersey.

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