Locals respond with skepticism to Atlantic City takeover plan

While Gov. Chris Christie has said a plan to put Atlantic City’s finances under state control is just what the resort town needs, others are not convinced.

“We’ve been here 162 years. Let us continue to function,” said Rev. Ida Jones, who opposes state intervention in Atlantic City.

“This has been the playground of the world. Let us continue. Continue to [have a] partnership with us,” she said, “because, you know, Atlantic City is a good thing. It’s a great thing.”

A plan supported by Christie and Mayor Don Guardian — who had previously opposed a state takeover — was announced suddenly on Tuesday, just hours before local officials were set to meet about the possibility of declaring municipal bankruptcy.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“Basically there are four options. Do nothing, have the state take over, file bankruptcy, or form a partnership,” said Guardian. “Not hard to figure out what you want to do and what’s best for Atlantic City and the state of New Jersey.”

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney also was on hand to announce the deal with Guardian and Christie. Sweeney will rescind and modify a bill he introduced for a state takeover.

Locals in the seaside gambling town still bristled at the idea, despite assurances from Trenton that the proposal was not a “takeover” but a “partnership.”

“This is an infringement of our rights, because we have a right to self-governance,” said Betty J. Lewis, president of the Atlantic City chapter of the NAACP. “They do not have a right to come in here with the lousy track record of the state of New Jersey and tell us how to run our city.”

Florida developer Glenn Straub, who owns the former Revel casino and hotel, said Atlantic City needs to get its finances in order and attract more businesses to fully bounce back.

“You get people that are willing to take gambles,” he said. “Not sit there and gamble $75 on the craps table, but true gamblers that have to invest $75 million or $7.5 billion.”

Once drafted, the proposal will go to the state Legislature for a vote. Christie said he will sign it as soon as it reaches his desk.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal