ATLANTIC CITY — City Council and several members of the public continued to speak out in opposition against a proposal to change the form of municipal government.
Charles Goodman, a local activist and NAACP member, spoke directly to the camera during the public portion of Wednesday’s meeting and said that “five white males ... which only one lives and has been a part of the community of Atlantic City,” are trying to “disempower” the people.
Goodman, a former Atlantic City resident who lives in Mays Landing, said he was part of the effort in the late 1970s to change city government from an at-large commissioner form to its present mayor-council style.
He said the previous form of government did not provide adequate representation for minority communities.
Former Atlantic City Democratic Committee Chairwoman and former Councilwoman Joyce Mollineaux said she was standing with Council President Marty Small Sr. “in our quest not to change the form of government.”
A group called Atlantic City Residents for Good Government, led by Unite Here Local 54 President Bob McDevitt, is proposing a change to a council-manager form of government. The change would eliminate the position of a directly elected mayor and replace it with an appointed city manager who would run the day-to-day operations of the city. Five nonpartisan at-large council members would annually select a mayor from among themselves to oversee public meetings.
McDevitt and proponents of the change claim that a professional city manager with experience in municipal operations could better serve Atlantic City than an elected official. They also believe that local government with nine council members and an elected mayor is too large for a city with fewer than 40,000 residents.
Third Ward Councilman Kaleem Shabazz said he was told petitioners are providing residents with incorrect information to garner signatures.
Sixth Ward Councilman Jesse Kurtz noted that the previous change in municipal government only occurred after a lengthy process that involved community debate.
Venice Park bridge update
A winning bid for the design of the new bridge over the Penrose Canal in Venice Park on Ohio Avenue was awarded to Pleasantville-based Remington & Vernick Engineers. A contract is nearly completed, city officials said.
The bridge will be replaced, but no start date on construction was provided.
The second bridge on Ohio Avenue over the Venice Lagoon is “not happening at this time,” according to city officials. However, discussions about replacing the deteriorated structure continue.