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When Tom Carver was head of the Casino Association in Atlantic
City during the 1980s, he had a way of getting himself in trouble
with local politicians. Usually, it was something he said — bluntly
and colorfully, the kind of quotable guy reporters love.
The big news this week is the Revel story - the approval of the
$261 million state tax reimbursement and the fact that Revel is
getting back on track. (Sure, the bill-signing was terrific news,
too - but it was expected.)
The Community FoodBank on the Black Horse Pike has always
sparkled and caught the attention of passing motorists - the result
of a jaw-dropping mural that was built into just about every square
inch of its outside walls, a mural shimmering with mosaic tiles and
detailed inlay. The building itself always seemed to say that even
when times are tough and money is short, there is joy and beauty in
life and in helping others.
I was stumped about what to get my husband for Christmas
this year, so I asked At the Shore editor Scott Cronick whether
there were any celebrity chefs in town, hoping to get him tickets.
There weren't - but Scott suggested a class at Viking Cooking
School at Harrahs.
The Press ran a story a little while back about rural towns
complaining about cutbacks in the aid the state has long
provided to compensate towns for tax-exempt preserved land. I
got a letter shortly afterward from someone in tiny Washington
Township in Burlington County — one of the towns complaining — who
pointed out that the taxes were incredibly low there, and that the
community really had little reason to be crying the blues about
So the New Jersey PBA has decided to hold its annual spring
convention at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut to protest what it
says is Atlantic City's lack of support for the
city's police department - the fact that it laid off 60
police officers (17 of whom have been rehired).
I'm on vacation now. But when I get back in a week,
newspapers and wire services will be starting to put together their
picks for the top stories of the year. It's far from the
biggest story of the year, but here's my early choice for the
most important on the national level:
A recent Moody's report was skeptical whether the
state's plans for Atlantic City would improve the town's
bottom line - and some local observers were quick to note that
the bond-rating agency is hardly infallible in its predictions. Now
another New Jersey agency contends Moody’s is too glum: The New
Jersey Turnpike Authority.
"Who wrote it?" Senate President Steve
Sweeney joked after the state ballot question passed, despite
its absurdly convoluted language. "That's what I was
asking... But whoever wrote it should be shot."
At a political forum in Middle Township Wednesday, a Chamber of
Commerce member asked U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo if the new federal
health care bill included a 3.8 percent tax on real estate
Conservative activist James O'Keefe - who gained fame when
he posed as a pimp and surreptiously filmed ACORN workers giving
him advice on how to facilitate his business - is at it again, this
time filming a New Jersey teachers' union convention during
which attendees dissed Gov. Chris Christie in colorful language and
joked about how hard it is to fire a tenured teacher. The action
took place at a hotel bar, and they seemed a bit inebriated.
According to the union, O'Keefe and the so-called "citizen
journalists" who used hidden cameras to film the teachers
contributed to that inebriation by buying drinks and trying to pick
them up. The tapes, NJEA contends, were heavily edited.
Sen. Ray Lesniak railed in a Press story today about Harrah’s plans to take
a minority ownership in the troubled Foxwoods casino in
Philadelphia: “Harrah’s only interest is its corporate bottom line
in Nevada. They don’t care about Atlantic City. They don’t care
about New Jersey.”
Playing with stimulus numbers is a national, bipartisan sport.
But during a recent editorial-board meeting at The Press, U.S. Rep.
Frank Lobiondo, R-2nd, presented an interesting local example
of how the numbers can get skewed - and how the Ocean City-Somers
Point causeway project wound up No. 26 on the Obama
administration's list of the top 100 stimulus projects in the
The Wall Street Journal did an article this
week on “middle of the road radicals,” the huge group of
independent voters that is estraged from government, aligned with
neither party and increasingly swings elections one way or the
other. They are pragmatic, not ideological; centrist, not far-left
Former Commissioner of Education Bret Schundler is testifying
today before a state Senate committee. And his written testimony, released to the media
yesterday, contains some pretty damning words about the boss who
New Orleans and Atlantic City have more in common than just
being tourist towns that have suffered downturns in the past few
years - Atlantic City from competition and the economy, New Orleans
from Hurricane Katrina and BP.
Atlantic City's big day in the spotlight is Sunday, when its
fictionalized history debuts on HBO in "Boardwalk
Empire." But the big day for the real Atlantic City
is Friday - when the state may decide whether to grant the city a
$10 million cap waiver, the second-largest in the state.
On Friday, we ran a letter from a Linwood woman who told a
heart-rending story of how a thief stole the only gift her
3-year-old had gotten for her birthday: an electric Barbie Jeep.
The girl's father has been out of work for more than a year,
and the entire extended family had chipped in to get her the gift
she had wanted for months.
Casino Reinvestment Development Authority money has done a lot
to make Atlantic City a better place to live and to
visit. But outside the city, it's often just more free cash for
politicians to funnel into pet projects or those that benefit their
cronies. And nowhere was that more apparent than in 2006, when
Camden County Democratic boss George Norcross, who owned a hockey
team, wanted $16.5 million for a hockey arena at the site of the
Let's hear it for Wildwood and Boardwalk Inspector James
Nanos - who obviously subscribes to that social-sciences theory of
broken windows, in which one broken window can lead to a downward
spiral in a neighborhood.
I'm sitting in the office watching the gambling summit on
our webcam and wondering: Why didn't Jon Hanson's committee
just hold a few of these dog-and-pony shows (I'm not kidding,
there was a guy who played those racetrack bugle notes when the
summit began) and defuse some of the criticism and suspicion?
The U.S. correspondent for The Observer, a large British
newspaper, is in town doing a story on Atlantic City because of the
upcoming debut of the "Boardwalk Empire" miniseries on
HBO. Expect more of this attention, much more. HBO is hyping the
show big-time. Reporters from across the nation and around the
world will likely be descending on the city.
The Atlantic City plan promoted by Gov. Chris Christie envisions
an Atlantic City that has adult entertainment in and around
casinos, a Vegas-style nightclub area downtown - and fun for
families and kids on the Boardwalk.
Gov. Chris Christies statewide gambling/entertainment plan has
triggered the old north-versus-south battle, with northern New
Jersey lawmakers wanting slots in the Meadowlands and southern New
Jersey lawmakers staunchly opposed, preferring Christie's
approach to making Atlantic City a premiere destination resort.
Transportation officials say they are re-evaluating the $3.6
billion Atlantic City regional transportation master plan in light
of Atlantic City’s shrinking market and the state’s shrinking
resources. (Who didn’t see that coming?)
What bothers me about the planned $312,000 "snack bar"
in Northfield's Birch Grove Park isn't the price tag. It
may seem high, but it does include wheelchair-accessible bathrooms,
as well as meeting, office and storage space.
Editorials on the Opinion Page represent the
newspaperâ€™s institutional voice. Thatâ€™s why
theyâ€™re unsigned. But theyâ€™re written by real
life individuals - usually Carla Linz Callaway
or Jim Perskie.