Three Reasons Chris Christie Is the Wrong Man to Fix Atlantic City

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in Atlantic City N.J., on Thursday, May 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in Atlantic City N.J., on Thursday, May 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Here’s what stinks about New Jersey’s takeover of Atlantic City’s finances: Chris Christie hasn’t exactly proven himself extra-insightful about how to arrest the city’s decline.

Christie has doubled-down and then doubled-down again on projects and ideas that were clearly dubious, all in an attempt to extend Atlantic City’s shelf-life as a gambling mecca — and yet in the end he decided it was the city’s leaders who couldn’t be trusted with its financial future.

“I can’t wait any longer,” the governor said in announcing the takeover. “We need to take more aggressive action.”

Granted, there’s a lot of short-sightedness and blame to assign all around when we talk of Atlantic City’s stumbles. But Christie’s aggressive actions have been, taken as a whole, aggressively wrong.

Here are three reasons Chris Christie is the wrong man to fix Atlantic City:

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Christie Announces State Takeover of Atlantic City

Photo | Dan McQuade

Photo | Dan McQuade

Chris Christie took a controversial step today that has some Atlantic City politicians fuming. At his third summit on the city’s future, Christie announced the appointment of Kevin Lavin and Kevyn Orr as emergency managers in Atlantic City. Lavin, the emergency manager, and Orr, his special counsel, will have broad powers in A.C.

Lavin, who most recently worked at FTI Consulting, has years of experience in corporate restructuring. Kevyn Orr was Detroit’s emergency manager during its bankruptcy proceedings.

Detroit emerged from bankruptcy in December, shedding $7 billion of its $18 billion in debt. There are not any immediate plans to push Atlantic City into bankruptcy, though it is assumed they are on the table.

“I don’t think the residents will be very happy,” Chris Filiciello, a spokesman for Atlantic City mayor Don Guardian, told the Wall Street Journal. “They elected the mayor to represent them. He has been fulfilling his duties to the best of his ability and we’d like to know what an emergency manager would do that the mayor hasn’t done already.”

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Nevada Casino Expert: Caesars Bankruptcy Could Be Good News for A.C.

Bally's Atlantic City

How much is Atlantic City’s casino industry struggling? You only need to look at the numbers to find out.

No, not the four casinos that closed last year or the thousands of workers who lost their jobs — though those are signs, too. But it’s this: Since 2006, Atlantic City casino revenue has been cut in half.

And the signs point to another casino closing this year. While it may be the Trump Taj Mahal — which is open still because of a cash infusion to keep it operating late last year — Atlantic City mayor Don Guardian recently implied Bally’s would be the next casino to close. “While he would not name it,” the Associated Press’ Wayne Parry wrote, “his description of it sounded a lot like Bally’s Atlantic City.”

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Atlantic City Recovery Plan Gets Support

The City Council in Atlantic City has given its support to Mayor Don Guardian’s “recovery plan” for the city.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that the plan involves steep budget cuts.

The plan says the city must cut $40 million from its municipal budget over 10 years, with $15 million in cuts coming in 2015. It calls for layoffs and consolidation of city services across multiple departments, the selling of available city assets, and backs the casino taxation framework proposed by State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, which would see the city’s casinos collectively contribute $150 million per year at their current profit level.

It was a painful pill for the council to swallow: The bill had previously been tabled since its December 23rd meeting.

Revel Sold to Backup Bidder, Who Plans to Appeal Ruling

revel-closed

Photo | Dan McQuade

Update, 1:45 p.m.: A judge awarded Revel to Glenn Straub‘s company. Straub did not get a discount he’d requested, and has been ordered to pay the entire $95.4 million he bid for the casino.

Straub’s lawyer said he will appeal for a stay of the sale.

Earlier: A federal judge is set to hear arguments today regarding the sale of Revel to Glenn Straub, the man who last year floated plans to buy the casino and turn it into a “university for geniuses.”

Revel, which cost $2.4 billion to construct, has been closed since 6 a.m. September 2nd. But there’s been a lot of news in the past few weeks! Late last year, ACR Energy Partners missed a bond payment and asked a judge if it could cut power to Revel. ACR was created to power the now-shuttered casino, Revel is its only customer.

It’s not clear if Revel can get power from another source; shutting down power to the building could cause it to be ravaged by fungus. “You’ve got a very high humidity environment,” Drexel construction management professor Douglas Carne told the Press of Atlantic City. “That will be almost impossible to control without air handlers operating.” Tenants that operated businesses at the Revel remain locked out and are fearful of ACR cutting power.

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Atlantic City’s Pro Bar AC Resurrects for One-Night-Only New Year’s Bash

divas header

The newly revamped Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City is throwing a super queer bash on New Year’s Eve that is a major throwback to AC’s gay nightlife. For one night only, partiers will be able to enjoy the Divas Reunion Show, featuring some of the greatest impersonators of Joan Rivers, Patti LaBelle, and Dolly Parton, and if that wasn’t enough, Pro Bar, the gay nightclub that shuttered in 2013, is bringing back the dancefloor to Claridge for an all-night bender. Read more »

Only In Atlantic City: Anthrax Bourbon

anthrax-bourbon-indians-atlantic-city

If you happen to have a member of the family who likes both bourbon and the metal band Anthrax, we’ve got the gift idea for you: Anthrax bourbon. The band is now selling Anthrax Indian’s Bourbon and only at the Atlantic City Bottle Company in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Read more »

Union: Icahn Backs Out of Deal to Save Trump Taj Mahal

Last night, it seemed the Trump Taj Mahal had been saved with a last-minute deal. Carl Icahn, the lender for most of the Taj’s debt, agreed to a deal with the union to keep the casino running. Trump Entertainment Resorts CEO Robert Griffin signed off on the deal as well.

Well, not anymore. Local 54 Unite HERE said today Carl Icahn has backed out of the deal. The union released a statement:

We thought that we had come to an agreement with all parties that would resolve all of the issues with the Taj Mahal. We signed it, and the Trump CEO signed as well. At noon today, we were told that Carl Icahn had gone back on his commitment and would not enter into the agreement. This is what we have been dealing with for some time now at this property. We are disappointed that Mr. Icahn’s whims are going to add to the feelings of uncertainty and instability that the workers have had to live with and have to endure during this holiday season and beyond.

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