Gov. Christie, where are you?
A bill that would give the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority control of Atlantic City’s tourism areas was released by a state Senate committee yesterday. Assemblymen Vince Polistina, John Amodeo and others have been sharply critical of the measure for reasons I can’t quite understand — that CRDA is too “political,” for example, or that the controlling agency ought to be a “public-private partnership.”
Key Democrats say Christie tentatively supports the measure.
But the governor’s office is quiet. And Republicans have yet to offer an alternative bill that might give the public an idea of just what this much-vaunted “public-private” or “private-public” partnership is.
So governor, let’s get this discussion moving. Can you support this measure to put CRDA in charge, perhaps by changing the composition of the board or making other changes? Or do you have your own legislative proposal? If so, let’s get it out there. Time’s a’wastin’.
Frankly, I think the CRDA proposal is at least a good starting point. In some sense, it is a public private partnership — casinos have seats on the board, and so does the mayor of Atlantic City. The governor has the power to veto minutes and appoint board members. There are checks and balances.
What might be far more worrisome is an entity in which existing casinos hold too much power to control Atlantic City’s destiny. Casino interests and Atlantic City’s interests often merge — but they are not the same. Casinos have their own bottom lines to consider. They are worldwide corporations with interests beyond Atlantic City.
This piece of legislation is vital to Atlantic City’s future. It’s moving through the Legislature, and the public doesn’t have a clue where Christie stands on it.
The ball is in your court, Guv.