New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced plans to take over Atlantic City in an effort to prevent bankruptcy. Although the gambling resort was once one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, the city is currently more than $240 million in debt.
Last week, the governor “pocket vetoed” proposed legislation, which was aimed at easing the resort town’s financial woes. In response to Christie’s veto, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, the struggling city would be forced to consider bankruptcy.
During a Thursday press conference, Chris Christie announced plans for a state takeover of Atlantic City. As reported by New York Daily News, the governor was joined by Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian and Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney when the announcement was made.
“Atlantic City’s government has too much debt, and it’s too expensive to run for the tax base it has. Atlantic City’s finances are now the greatest threat to the city’s well-being. The urgency of the city’s current financial predicament cannot be overstated.”
Indeed, the former tourist mecca was recently forced to close four of their 12 casinos. The Washington Post reports the closures led to the loss of nearly 7,000 jobs.
Atlantic City’s downfall was sparked by a number of factors, including the expansion of legalized gambling in surrounding states. Despite numerous efforts to revitalize the resort town, and attract more tourists, the casinos continued to lose revenue and the city’s debt continued to rise.
— CNNMoney (@CNNMoney) January 27, 2016
Christie’s plan for Atlantic City will give the state government control over the city’s finances. Although the governor did not reveal many details, the state is expected to make cuts to save money and, once again, attempt to revitalize the once-thriving resort town.
Atlantic City was designed by Dr. Jonathan Pitney and civil engineer Richard Osborne. Together, the men plotted the placement of the streets and gave them their iconic names. They also arranged for the construction of two railroads and a port — which facilitated the influx of tourists to the budding resort town.
By the early 1900s, Atlantic City boasted several upscale hotels, numerous fine dining establishments, and a unique boardwalk — which remains one of the United States’ most recognizable landmarks.
CityOfAtlanticCity.com reports the town maintained its boom through the early 1940s. However, by the end of World War II, the tourist mecca “lost most of its shine; and most of its tourists.”
“After the war, the public seemed to stop its love affair with The World’s Favorite Playground. Possibly because of the public’s access to national air travel, the shift of the population westward, the general deterioration of the city, or a shift in the public’s taste for more sophisticated entertainment…”
Although Atlantic City’s tourism increased in the late 1970s, with the state’s passage of the Casino Gambling Referendum, it never reached the heights realized throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s.
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) January 27, 2016
It is unclear whether Governor Christie’s plan to save Atlantic City will actually work. However, he believes a takeover is the best option at this time.
The governor and Republican presidential hopeful is likely to face stark criticism for his decision. However, he is no stranger to controversy.
Chris Christie is still facing negative repercussions surrounding his response to damage caused by Winter Storm Jonas.
Philly.com reports the massive storm caused widespread damage along the New Jersey coastline. However, the governor seemed to downplay the storm and its impact on the state. When questioned about his apparent lack of interest, Christie replied: “I don’t know exactly what you expect me to do: Go down there with a mop?”
New Jersey residents have also criticized the governor for the time he has spent outside the state while campaigning for the 2016 presidential election. They are specifically concerned, as he left again this week — despite the fact that residents were still reeling from the winter storm.
In response to the criticism, Christie made another controversial statement — which has only increased the complaints.
“… for your friends and family who are concerned about why I’m not there, I just wonder what it is they think I’d be doing today. I’m the governor. I’m not the chief engineer.”
Governor Chris Christie’s plan to save Atlantic City has been described as an attempt to prove he is still invested in New Jersey. Although it is unclear whether it will work, the governor said there were no other options.
[Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images]