“Takeover” is a loaded word — especially in Atlantic City.
How loaded was apparent on talk radio last night in an exchange I heard between Pinky Kravitz and a caller. Pinky insisted what Gov. Chris Christie had planned for Atlantic City was not really a “takeover”; the caller insisted, rather abrasively, that it was.
I’m with Pinky on this one. Yes, the state wants to “take over” responsibility for the tourism areas of the city. But it’s not taking over City Hall. This isn’t a Camden-style takeover.
Fact is, on the face of it (and details are extremely sketchy), the plan looks like it could be a good deal for city politicians and residents. If the authority put in place to run the tourism zone is responsible for providing whatever services and oversight the city now provides in those areas, that leaves the city with money and resources to put elsewhere — whether it be hiring pals, getting City Council a new fleet of SUVs, or maybe, just maybe, coping with the rest of the city’s problems and/or lowering the tax rate. (Heck, if the state wants to come in and “take over” the business district of my town, come on down.)
Of course, this is a level of detail not available yet. And whether funding will be adequate and whether the state will do a better job are still question marks as well. Still, those Atlantic City people and pols whose knees jerk at the word “takeover” should chill.
Mayor Lorenzo Langford and some members of council seem to get this. Langford’s comments today on PolitickerNJ.com were conciliatory and well-chosen. He was irritated that he was left out of the loop — a misstep, in my opinion, on Christie’s part. But he said he welcomed the main tenets of the governor’s recommendation.