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.

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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