A story in Forbes magazine on the 20th most miserable cities in America for 2013 includes Atlantic City as number 15 on the list.
I guess you, like I am, are surprised at some of the cities on this list, which places Detroit, Flint, Mich., Rockford, Mich., Chicago and Modesta, Calif., in the Top 5. It also includes New York, Camden, Atlanta and Cleveland. Without a doubt, you know that this corner is upset that Atlantic City is included.
The story stated the following as a reason for Atlantic City being selected: "In 2010, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the gambling Mecca and proclaimed, 'Atlantic City is dying.' Casino revenues have been in a downward spiral which contributed to a recent unemployment rate of 14.4%."
In the three years since Gov. Chris Christie's statement, there have been many changes of a positive nature that have taken place in Atlantic City. However, there are many problems that have not been alleviated and situations where no steps were taken to correct problems that exist in the city.
Out of the nine factors that were considered in the Forbes list, there have been improvements in several. Violent crime has been reduced dramatically and murder has been reduced from 17 last year to only three so far this year. The issue of commute times is not a serious problem except on holidays and weekends during the summer. As to weather, Atlantic City weather is desirous throughout the spring, summer and fall, and the winter weather is not too much of a problem.
Where Atlantic City stands out on the negative side is the high rate of unemployment, too many foreclosures and high property taxes that have just been raised 22 percent. Home prices are still a problem for many people.
The city also has a major problem with its streets, which are in dire need of repaving. In addition, the traffic light situation continues to be one that seems to have no direction for the public.
There is an opportunity for people in the community to come together and start working to correct the issues that have resulted in Atlantic City being named as one of the top 20 miserable cities in America. Atlantic City was also included recently when the magazine Conde Nast Traveler unveiled the results of its readers' choice survey on the world's friendliest and unfriendliest cities. Newark was No. 1 and Atlantic City ninth among the 10 most unfriendly cities in the world.
But big plus factors for Atlantic City include the development of Bass Pro Shops, the addition to Harrah's Casino Resort that will entice major corporations to hold their meetings in Atlantic City, the development of Margaritaville, the Steel Pier's new 200-foot-high Ferris wheel that will be operated year-round, the string of new retail units and restaurants that will be developed in front of the West Hall of Boardwalk Hall, the possibility of the sale of one or two of the casinos that will bring in fresh money to enhance them, and the return of Miss America to Atlantic City. All of these, plus some other items that are being considered, should be enough to help us get out of the list of miserable cities.
According to Forbes, the economist Arthur Okun developed the original misery index in the 1960s, and it combined unemployment and inflation. Forbes' analysis is more localized and includes other daily aggravations.
This year it examined factors for the 200 largest metro areas in the U.S. including violent crime, unemployment, foreclosures, taxes and home prices, as well as less weighty issues such as commute times and the weather.
The magazine said it dropped its rankings of both pro sport team success and political corruption, since both were based on regional, rather than city-specific data. It added net migration, calling it a "clear gauge of whether or not residents feel a community is worth living in."
Rodeo: Many are looking forward to the varied activities that will be taking place in October. Oct. 5 and 6 will see the third annual Atlantic City Boardwalk Rodeo in Boardwalk Hall. There are two good signs that people are truly waiting to see this exciting event. First is that the 50 slots for the Rodeo Day Camp have been sold out and there is a waiting list. The second is that they have sold more tickets to the rodeo two months in advance than had been sold in previous years. Tickets are available at the Boardwalk Hall box office. You can park under the hall and there is no fee for parking when you go to buy your tickets.
Beach horse racing: If the weather holds out through Friday, there will be two horses brought onto the beach to run through the sites that might be used for the American Palio race that is tentatively set for Saturday, Oct. 12. If all goes as anticipated, early risers may be able to watch them at about 7:30 a.m.
Columbus Day Parade: A colorful Columbus Day parade will take place on Atlantic City's Boardwalk on Sunday, Oct. 13. It is anticipated this will be one of the biggest and best they've had in years.
Ms. Senior America Pageant: Few people in the community know that the Ms. Senior America Pageant was held in Atlantic City during its early years and then followed the path of Miss America to Las Vegas. A few years ago, this writer convinced the Ms. Senior America Board to return to Atlantic City.
This year their event will be held in Resorts Casino Hotel's SuperStar Theater on Oct. 20 to 25. Each of the state queens must be at least 60 years of age. Watching these ladies perform is indeed a treat and it lets you know the 60s of today are like the 50s of yesterday. They have a session with the judges, present their philosophy of life, parade in an evening gown and perform their talent.
When they go back to their respective states, they provide entertainment for veterans, various hospitals, senior housing units, and aid and assist in different charitable organizations. By the way, the Miss New Jersey Senior America Pageant is held in June, here in Atlantic City.