Atlantic City Officials Wary of State Takeover

Press of Atlantic City

Atlantic City officials are at odds with the New Jersey state government over what they call a takeover by Gov. Chris Christie, but he says the move will “stabilize the city’s future.”

A new piece of legislation was announced Tuesday that staves off bankruptcy for the seaside resort, which is located about two hours south of New York City. Christie says the bill will give the state the power to restructure the city’s troubled finances, dissolve municipal agencies, end collective bargaining agreements, and consolidate or privatize municipal services, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

The bill is a rehash of a previous one introduced by New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney, of which Atlantic City mayor Don Guardian had been critical.

“There will be things in the new bill that neither the city or the state is going to like,” said Guardian.

But the city is making its dislike of the new bill plain.

In a press conference, city council president Marty Small said that he and his colleagues were not included in the process of the new financial deal set by the state legislature and Christie.

“Nothing about his plans has been shared with City Council,” said Small. He noted that the city leadership has been compliant with the state and the emergency manager appointed by Christie in 2015.

“Despite our best efforts we have not been made a part of those plans for Atlantic City…the suggestion that City Council has been obstructive or uncooperative is just not true,” said Small.

Residents, as well, were skeptical and even critical of the new bill.

“I pray and hope the mayor and council haven’t been hoodwinked into giving up their control of the city,” William Cheatham, 86, told The Press.

Steve Young, president of the Atlantic City Chapter of the National Action Network, told The Press more sternly. “You got a seat at the table for giving away your city.”