Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford’s ongoing feud with Gov. Chris Christie got more national air time this weekend when “Saturday Night Live” spoofed the spat during its opening segment.
The skit starts with a mock post-Hurricane Sandy press conference with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Fred Armisen), then cuts to “Christie” (Bobby Moynihan Jr.) for 90 seconds.
After espousing New Jerseyans’ resilience, “Christie” relays a message for Langford, complete with a mispronunciation of his last name – seemingly to accentuate the exaggerated North Jersey accent Moynihan employs:
“Also, to the mayor of Atlantic City Lorenzo Langford who refused to evacuate: You are a silly, stupid (expletive). You disobey me, you disobey one of my orders? Well screw you, screw your city and screw all the people that listen to you. I’m gonna come rescue you, and then I’m gonna beat you to death, because that’s the Jersey way.”
The bit concludes with thanks and praise for President Barack Obama and “Christie”’s admittedly regrettable plan to vote for fellow Republican Mitt Romney in Tuesday's election.
The late-night parody picked up where the Today Show left off last week. Langford and Christie each made separate appearances on the morning television program Oct. 30. Christie had publicly criticized Langford during a press conference Oct. 29 before for sheltering Atlantic City residents on the island during the storm - reversing his praise Oct. 28 for Atlantic City and Atlantic County's evacuation efforts.
Ultimately, Christie's stance was that offering people refuge in advance of Sandy's landfall encouraged them to disregard evacuation orders despite urging them to heed the orders - a "mixed message".
When Langford announced the city's evacuation plans Oct. 27, he and other officials repeatedly urged residents to leave town. They also said buses would take people from local public schools to offshore shelters during the four hours leading up to the 4 p.m. Oct. 28 evacuation deadline. Some of those buildings would double as "shelters of last resort" opening noon, according to a city Office of Emergency Management statement released that day.
Local governments provided shelters in other barrier island towns, however, including Brigantine.
Christie did not have the same harsh words for Brigantine Mayor Phil Guenther during his stop there with Obama on their tour of the New Jersey coastline, said Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small, who challenged Langford for the Democratic nomination in 2009. Langford did not attend Obama's appearance in Brigantine, which is sits across mile-wide Absecon Inlet from Atlantic City.
Atlantic City's shelters opened before the storm, suggesting they were dedicated shelters, but were located in a floodplain, which is acceptable only for emergency shelters, according to FEMA guidelines.
Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said that dichotomy concerned him, so he contacted Christie. The governor reacted during a press briefing without speaking to Langford, who later said he hasn't spoken to Christie in a year or so.
Langford and Christie have traded barbs since the state established the Atlantic City Tourism District, which includes the casinos and surrounding commercial zone. Those laws also transferred local planning and development authority within the district to the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which is headquartered in Atlantic City.
Five months before those laws took effect, the state Local Finance Board started financial supervision of City Hall. The municipality agreed to oversight at the same time the board authorized tax appeal relief bonds - the first of three rounds of such borrowing. Heading into the third year of oversight, Langford recently described the city's relationship with the board as "congenial".
Langford and Atlantic City’s post-Sandy recovery were spoofed by The Onion this week, too http://www.theonion.com/articles/atlantic-city-faces-long-recovery-before-it-can-st,30207/