Brent Johnson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
TRENTON — The war over Atlantic City's future continued to churn Monday, with a group of state lawmakers urging Gov. Chris Christie to compromise on a rescue plan to save the Jersey Shore gambling resort as it gets closer to running out of money and faces possible bankruptcy.
Christie, meanwhile, once again said state Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) should stop playing politics and have his chamber vote on the aid package as it currently stands.
Atlantic City has seen its tax base wither thanks to the closure of four casinos in recent years. Mayor Don Guardian said he will be forced to close city hall for three weeks — with police officers, firefighters, and garbage collectors working for IOUs — beginning April 8 if the city doesn't get help from the state.
And if Atlantic City goes bankrupt, experts say, the credit ratings of all New Jersey's municipalities will be damaged.
But there have been weeks of bickering. Christie and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) have pushed legislation providing aid as long as it comes with a measure that would allow the state to take over key parts of the local government for five years.Read more
JT Aregood, Politicker NJ
TRENTON — With the state takeover of Atlantic City’s finances going to a vote in the Assembly, Senate sponsor Steve Sweeney (D-3) chose not to strike back against his Assembly counterpart Vince Prieto (D-32) Monday. Prieto has been a voluble critic of the legislation for the broad powers it would give the state to renegotiate or terminate collective bargaining agreements, and several Assembly members have come out in support of the speaker against the takeover.
Asked about the feud with Prieto at a press conference Monday, Sweeney parried the question by revisiting Governor Chris Christie’s pocket veto of a payment in lieu of taxes agreement for Atlantic City’s remaining casinos that Sweeney co-sponsored. That bill would stem the losses to the city’s ratable base from repeated casino tax appeals, and is now joined with the takeover bill. Sweeney said that he sees no alternatives to the choice between a takeover and a bankruptcy.
“We passed the bill in the Senate. It’s up to the Assembly and the governor,” Sweeney said. “Obviously Atlantic City, I think, has major problems. I was not happy when the governor vetoed my PILOT legislation.”Read more
Christian Hetrick, Press of Atlantic City
Atlantic City picked up additional allies in fighting a state takeover of the resort on Monday, as the war of words continued over the city’s looming cash crisis.
Two more Assembly members and a state senator came out against the proposed state takeover, which would let the Local Finance Board director sell city assets, eliminate city departments and terminate collective bargaining agreements, among other powers for five years.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex, called on Gov. Chris Christie to work with the Assembly to find a compromise on the takeover bill. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has refused to post the bill until its amended to protect union contracts.
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) on Monday issued the following statement on the future of Atlantic City:
"The Governor would have everyone believe that the only way to save Atlantic City from insolvency is to trample public workers, strip residents of their right to a representative government and sell off city assets, perhaps irrevocably.
"Lost in all of this is one important fact that the Speaker pointed out last week - the Governor already possesses nearly all the tools he needs under existing laws and regulations to help Atlantic City.