AC Exec Council

From left, Rob Long, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr. and Special Counsel Jim Johnson during a meeting of the Atlantic City Executive Council on Tuesday at Stockton University.

ATLANTIC CITY — There is a line in the sand for how much the governor’s administration is willing to allow the negative publicity stemming from the mayor’s personal troubles to overshadow the positive steps being taken to move the city forward.

But where that line is remains to be seen.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said there was “absolutely” a point at which Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration — which has control over Atlantic City — would not allow the legal problems of Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr. to obscure positive progress, but she declined to elaborate.

The lieutenant governor said the legal process has to play out before the administration can decide what course of action to take.

“I don’t have any information from federal authorities,” Oliver said. “I learn everything from the newspaper and all the (media) reports. So those are issues we’re just going to have to wait and see how they unfold.”

In the past month, the administration has faced questions about Gilliam’s behavior and potential legal issues, but has yet to publicly take a firm stance. Gilliam and Councilman Jeffree Fauntleroy II were captured on surveillance video getting into a melee outside Haven Nightclub at Golden Nugget Atlantic City at 2:22 a.m. on Nov. 11.

Then, on Dec. 3, nearly a dozen agents from the FBI and IRS’ Criminal Division raided Gilliam’s North Ohio Avenue home to execute a search warrant.

Gilliam avoided questions about the controversy surrounding his legal and political future before sitting down next to Oliver at the head of the table during Tuesday’s state Executive Council meeting.

It was Gilliam’s first public appearance since the raid.

Neither Gilliam nor his office has answered questions about the scope of the federal investigation. A request sent to the U.S. Department of Justice went unanswered Monday.

Gilliam and Oliver were joined at the front of the gathered stakeholders Tuesday, along with state Department of Community Affairs Deputy Commissioner Rob Long and Special Counsel Jim Johnson. Oliver also serves as commissioner of the DCA, which has direct oversight of Atlantic City’s finances following the 2016 state takeover.

Tuesday’s meeting was the first time media was allowed to attend a meeting of the Atlantic City Executive Council since the body of policy stakeholders was formed in October.

Members of the press were only allowed in during Oliver’s opening remarks, where she provided a status report on policy initiatives related to improving the city’s quality of life.

Members of the council said plans for a supermarket in Atlantic City were progressing and the goal is to break ground on new construction in 2019. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority recently approved a contract with Uplift Solutions to come up with a plan to bring a supermarket to the city.

“There are a couple of pieces of CRDA-owned land that are already being looked at as sites for it,” said Johnson, who co-authored the state’s transition report on returning Atlantic City to local government control. “We believe we can make the numbers work and get an operator in to start in 2019.”

The Executive Council, which was among the recommendations contained in Johnson’s report, also announced that another report idea, the Atlantic City Project Office, was operational as of Tuesday.

The Project Office, which is to be employed by DCA staff members, will facilitate and coordinate recommendations contained in the state’s report from within City Hall. CRDA approved $1.3 million to fund the office over three years.

Contact: 609-272-7222 Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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