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.

Without the waiver, Atlantic City officials say they may have to virtually shut down city government. And that won't be pretty, especially at a time when there will be national attention on the city and a possible upturn in visitors in the wake of the HBO series.

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So part of me fervently hopes the city gets its cap waiver.

The other part of me wonders how the state can grant that waiver with a straight face. The city is supposed to show that it has made every effort to cut costs. Meanwhile, the city has practically thumbed its nose at a state audit that said the city's council aides are illegal in a town its size. City Council members are still tooling around the tiny town in city SUVs. Mayor Lorenzo Langford continues to hire friends despite a hiring freeze.

It will be interesting to see what happens.



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