Tag Archive: Atlantic City

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, January 23, 2007

  • The Senate passed a bill to create a commission to study town mergers and a bill to eliminate (at least partially) pensions for elected officials convicted of corruption charges. Action on the proposed 20% propTax cut and the 4% cap on propTax increases stalled. Voting on the comptroller bill also stalled when, according to Senate Pres. Codey, the Republicans refused to vote for it. Sen. Barbara Buono also refused support because it had been too watered down.
  • The pot calling the kettle: also in the Star-Ledger article, Sen. Sharpe James, who held the office of mayor of Newark for six of his seven years serving in the Senate, will re-introduce a bill to ban the holding of two elected offices at once.
  • A compromise is being proposed so that Atlantic City could ban smoking in casinos but allow up to 25% of the gambling floor to be designated a smoking section, enclosed and with separate ventilation. Councilman Bruce Ward pointed out that there will still have to be people who have to work in the smoking sections.
  • The mayor and two councilmen of Logan Twp. left the Republican party and became Democrats due to dissatisfaction with their local party leaders. Apparently the move was a surprise to Gloucester County Dem officials.
  • In an effort to improve science education in high schools, tests on specific sciences will be added to the high school graduation requirement, starting with biology in 2008.
  • The Corporation for Enterprise Development, an economic development research group, has given Our Fair State a grade of B for quality of life and work for 2006. We ranked high in education, personal income and job quality, but lower in pay growth, income distribution, and the number of people moving away.
  • But starting this year, you can get divorced quickly! Irreconcilable differences divorces can be completed in six months, according to a new law signed by Gov. Corzine yesterday. The AP reports that “It was supported by the New Jersey Bar Association and opposed by the New Jersey Catholic Conference.” No kidding!
  • You’re on candid camera: new buses which NJ Transit plans to purchase will come equipped with security cameras. Big Brother is always watching.

Open Thread: What’s on your mind today, Blue Jersey?

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Sorry it’s a little later than usual; it’s a pretty big round-up today.

  • Gov. Corzine will hold the State of the State address today at noon. NJN will broadcast it live on TV, as well as radio and online. If you miss it, they will rebroadcast at 10PM. He is expected to stress property tax relief as the top issue for state government.
  • Yesterday, in time for the Gov’s speech, the Assembly approved an appointed state comptroller (A2) and passed a bill to set up a nine-member commission to study the state’s tax structure (A6). The Senate approved a bill which strives for more transparency in school board budgets and threatens reduction in state aid when travel expenses are too high (S4).
  • Other bills advancing yesterday: the full legislature has voted to improve the quality of foods offered in schools; the Senate voted to rename the Lincoln Highway Bridge in Jersey City after two police officers who died there in 2005; and the Senate voted to create a joint legislative committee to oversee affordable housing measures. Dick Codey also introduced a measure to update the state constitution’s language regarding the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. The Assembly voted to require 90 days notice when companies close a plant or lay off workers.
  • Trenton police chief Joseph Santiago can continue to collect his $96,000/year pension (from having been a Newark police officer) while collecting his $125,000 salary for his current position, according to yesterday’s ruling by the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System’s Board of Trustees. The state PBA disagrees, saying he functions as a police officer, specifically performing functions of deputy chiefs he laid off, and should be treated as an officer not as a civilian; they plan an appeal.
  • Atlantic, Cape May, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties would be eligible as pilot programs for county consolidation of school districts under a bill currently in the Senate (S49). Gloucester county officials promptly expressed interest, while some school boards and unions immediately criticized the plan.
  • Former Brick Township mayor Joseph Scarpelli pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Newark on Monday to taking more than $5000 in bribes between 1998 and 2003 from potential developers. The maximum prison sentence could be up to 20 years, but more likely would be about 24-30 months.
  • The Port Authority has dropped plans to allow billboards at the entrance to the George Washington Bridge after criticism over both the commercialization at the bridge and the paltry amount of money being charged for it. If you’re going to sell out, you should at least make it worth the while. (There’s a Joe Scarpelli joke in here, but I’ll let you make it.)
  • Racism is rearing its ugly head in South Harrison Township: the first black mayor, Charles Tyson, has been receiving threatening phone calls laced with racial epithets on his home and cell phones. “It isn’t going to affect anything,” said Tyson. “I am going to move forward and be there for the people of South Harrison. Life goes on, we have a job to do.” Thank you, Mayor Tyson.
  • Mass Transit use in Our Fair State is increasing. According to a report by the Tri- State Transportation Campaign, nearly 1 in 10 commuters uses public transportation, and ridership is growing at twice the rate as driving. A great trend!
  • Atlantic City’s famed Steel Pier will remain open one more year. It was scheduled to be demolished this year to make way for luxury developments but the necessary approvals have not been obtained, giving the landmark an additional summer in operation.

Open Thread: What do you want to talk about today, Blue Jersey?

AC Council Delays vote on smoking ban in casino’s

The Asbury Park Press is reporting that the Atlantic City Council delayed a planned vote on banning smoking in casino’s today to give them more time to prepare for the ban…

A final vote on the new proposal, which would go into effect April 15, was scheduled by the council for Jan. 24.

Members of the council said they made the switch to allow casinos to prepare for the ban, which the mayor is expected to sign. They said the original proposal to end smoking on casino floors, which would have gone into effect 30 days after it was approved, did not have the unanimous support of council members.

Sounds like they needed to change it to pass it, not give the casino’s more time to adjust to the change.  Municipalities are allowed to pass more stringent policies than state laws which do not currently bar smoking on casino floors.

News Round-up & Open Thread for Thursday, Nov 30

  • Governor Corzine visited Iraq and found it to be worse than he expected.

    Many Democrats, including Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, want the majority of American forces out of Iraq within a year. But Corzine said everything he saw on this trip convinced him that approach would be a mistake.

    Throwing more good lives at a bad idea would be a mistake. Luckily, this decision is up to Menendez, not Corzine.

  • The State Supreme Court blocked the bear hunt for this year by refusing to consider a last-minute appeal from hunters and conservation groups.
  • Casino employees yesterday urged Atlantic City’s council to close the smoking exemption for casinos.
  • The New Jersey All Stars awarded Newark mayor Cory Booker the Phat Friend Award for his work on the “Safe Summer Initiative”. Booker: “Thank you for calling me phat. It is truly the greatest honor I’ve received, not just since I’ve been in office, but in all my years in public office.”
  • A poll by the Eagleton Center found strong support (78%) for a family leave proposal that would grant workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave. Businesses oppose the plan. California is currently the only state with paid leave, offering their workers 6 weeks rather than 12. “Under the family leave plan crafted by state Sen. Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), workers who take leave would receive two- thirds of their weekly wages, up to $488 per week. It would be funded by a 0.1 percent charge against a worker’s wages.”
  • No news roundup could be complete without a corruption-related item. Cherry Hill received a subpoena from the feds asking for three years worth of billing documents from Senator Wayne Bryant’s law firm. “State records show that since 2005, when Bryant became chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, Cherry Hill has been awarded almost $3.5 million in special grants added to the state budget during secret negotiations among Bryant and other top Democratic lawmakers.”
  • You Don’t Mess With Vera

    I love Vera Coking like she was my grandma.

    I say that even though I’ve never even been formally introduced, and the closest I’ve come to speaking with her was a brief, shouted exchange through a thick pane of bulletproof plastic at her old boarding house on South Columbia Place, directly across from the port cochere of the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City.

    It was the early 1990s, and The Donald and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority were trying to use eminent domain to swipe the property out from under her and turn it into a parking lot for stretch limos. I wanted to talk to her about the court fight, and she told me — very faintly, ’cause that plastic slab was thick enough to stop a Howitzer shell – to call her lawyer in Haddonfield.

    News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, October 17

    • The investigation of State Senator Wayne Bryant is expanding, with federal investigators subpoenaing financial records from Department of Children and Families’ dealings with Bryant’s former employer UMDNJ, and records from the Office of Legislative Services about public agencies’ business with Bryant’s law firm.
    • The Nat’l Republican Senate Committee is pouring more money into Tom Kean JUNIOR’s senate run, now to re-run an ad about ethics questions. No comment was made about the irony of JUNIOR redirecting attention with ethics questions.
    • Assembly Democrats are hearing updates and ideas from the special committees set up this summer to investigate property tax reform, hoping to meet the deadline they set of one month from now. Meanwhile, state Sen. Bill Gormely has proposed revamping the health insurance program for public employees, which would face strong opposition from the unions.
    • Moving forward: Lucile Davy is officially the state education commissioner now, while State Supreme Court Associate Justice James Zazzali has been approved by the State Senate judiciary committee to move to chief justice and Appellate Division Justice Helen Hoens has been approved to move to the high court.
    • Mayors are still allowed to collect fees for performing weddings. An ethics violation determination by the Department of Community Affairs has been dropped.
    • The Borough Council in Keyport is expected to consider a proposed ordinance that would fine landlords $1000 if they have units rented to illegal immigrants. “This is a racist ordinance with the sole purpose of getting rid of all Latinos in Keyport,” said the Rev. Miguel Rivera, president of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders. “We are ready to file a lawsuit in federal court should it ever be adopted.”
    • Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ has settled a class-action suit brought by 40,000 doctors who said they were shortchanged by Our Fair State’s largest HMO. Horizon agreed to “continue significant business practice improvements” and will pay the doctors’ lawyer fees.
    • Atlantic City’s Steel Pier Amusement Park closed its doors this past weekend. Trump Entertainment plans to redevelop the pier, but into what is as yet unknown.
    • Feel crowded in this morning? About 7:46AM today, the United States population crossed the 300 million mark.
    • Today is the LAST DAY to register to vote to be eligible to vote in the election on Nov. 7th. Go here if you need information, and pass it on! You can also go vote now, if you’d like- no reason is needed to vote absentee in Our Fair State.

    Open Thread: What’s on your mind today, Blue Jersey?

    Do the right thing

    As an example of doing the right thing for the wrong reason, let me present three New Jersey congressmen who have come out against the introduction of video lottery terminals, or VLTs, in the Garden State. Though the stated reason for keeping video gambling terminals out of New Jersey is that they would draw away business from the Atlantic City casinos, the real reason for opposing them — a reason I wish had been mentioned by the congressmen, or acknowledged by the reporters covering the story — is that they are socially destructive.

    VLTs have been called the crack cocaine of gambling. Unlike casinos, which are destinations set apart from the regular flow of life, VLTs can be jammed into convenience stores, diners, service areas and any other public area. The fast pace of the play has a literally hypnotic effect on vulnerable minds; VLTs are even more efficient than casinos at sucking dry bank accounts and credit card lines. Though I haven’t been able to find the link yet, I vividly remember a news story about a woman who let her young child die in a suffocatingly hot car while she stood inside a convenience store, obsessively working at a VLT. Multiple studies show that VLTs are the common denominator in many cases of gambling addiction. You won’t hear me saying many good things about James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, but the organization’s Web site has plenty of good information about the addictive nature of video gambling. Though the proposal for New Jersey is to locate VLTs in the Meadowlands and other racetracks, I hate to think of these things getting any kind of a foothold here. You can’t even argue for them on an economic basis: where the Atlantic City casinos have a limited benefit for the local economy (a highly debatable matter), VLTs benefit only the owners of the stores where they are located.

    If social responsibility is too embarrassing an argument to appeal to our legislators, then I guess we’ll have to settle for protecting the investments of the casino operators in Atlantic City, who vampirize the local economy at a much slower rate.

    Cross posted at The Opinion Mill.

    Wielding Power with Authority

    I kid you not, I received the following “notification” of Congressional action today:

    REP. LOBIONDO LEADS CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION IN EFFORTS TO PROTECT ATLANTIC CITY’S ‘BOARDWALK’ FROM MONOPOLY REDESIGN

    Yes, boys and girls, our fearless Republicans in the House are defending the right of Atlantic City’s boardwalk to be the highest priced property on the boardgame “Monopoly”.

    Then I started thinking…maybe the Congressional Dems signed on so that LoBiondo would be encouraged to “go public” with his assinine quest.

    Here’s what that might look like on CSPAN: