Atlantic City--The canary in the coal mine

By Seth Grossman, Esq.

I am an attorney and former Atlantic City councilman and Atlantic County freeholder.   I also teach history as an adjunct at our community college, and am Executive Director of www.libertyandprosperity.org.   I ran for Governor against Christie in the 2013 Republican Primary because I and most people in this area saw first-hand how his policies were making a bad situation in Atlantic City worse—and nobody else was running against him.    Most home and business owners in the beach towns also knew Christie was completely wrong about sand dunes.   We all know that most storm flooding comes from the back bay and that wide beaches and wooden seawalls protected the ocean side of most towns south of Brigantine since 1944.   Most local Republicans privately tell me they agree with these views: 

1.     Bankruptcy or a state court insolvency is the quickest, most orderly, and fairest way to give Atlantic City a fresh start and chance to recover from past mistakes:  Here is link to my recent published column in Star Ledger: http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/0/bankruptcy_is_the_best_solution_for_atlantic_city.html

2.     Donald Trump opposed a State Government takeover of Atlantic City in 1989 by correctly pointing out that state policies and actions caused most of the problems:   http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/opinion/commentary/seth-grossman-trump-weighs-in-on-state-takeover-of-atlantic/article_d9acb5b4-0f84-53a8-bbd7-07283f1159b0.html

3.      Our organization filed suit against the City and State officials last month.    We cannot understand why the NJ State Department of Community Affairs refuses to make Atlantic City comply with the Local Budget Law which requires every town and county to approve a balanced “cash basis” budget by February 10 each year.   Although the Department of Community Affairs often grants extensions to March and April, last year’s Atlantic City budget was not approved until September 22—when it already spent far too much money at unsustainable rates.  It is now May and Atlantic City has not even introduced a proposed budget!    We also alleged that the proposed PILOT (Peanuts In Lieu of Taxes) for casinos is blatantly unconstitutional and unfair.   Please ask your Legislators how they can seriously vote for a bill that declares the 8 most valuable properties in Atlantic City are “blighted areas” as described in NJ State Constitution?    Since the casinos now pay more than half the taxes in Atlantic City and one fourth of county taxes, how can any non-casino property owner afford paying double tax hikes during next ten years , so casino properties get no tax hikes?   Please find more details on our www.libertyandprosperity.org website.

4.     Years ago, coal miners brought a caged canary when they worked underground. If it stopped singing, they knew there was poison that would soon kill them too. Atlantic City government is like that canary in the coal mine.  What is now choking Atlantic City is already making the rest of New Jersey sick.    We need to identify and get rid of the poison—not give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the canary!

Seth Grossman is the Executive Director of the taxpayers' group Liberty and Prosperity.  For more information on the group, visit their website at www.LibertyAndProsperity.org