Atlantic City leaders grapple with state takeover threat

Atlantic City leaders grapple with state takeover threat

Atlantic City leaders grapple with state takeover threat (1/13/16)

ATLANTIC CITY - Atlantic City's elected officials are struggling to respond to a threatened state takeover of the city's finances and assets, especially with the threat of casino gambling possibly being allowed in northern New Jersey.

At a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Don Guardian and City Council members said they want to work with the state rather than fight it.

But several also warned the city "will not be bullied," and Atlantic County Freeholder Ernest Coursey cautioned against adopting "a plantation mentality" regarding Atlantic City.

The threatened takeover comes in the wake of a bill introduced by state Senate President Steve Sweeney that would authorize a referendum on two new casinos in the northern part of the state. Mayor Guardian says that adding new casinos to North Jersey would be a mistake.

"No one's going to benefit from that.  We are living with the remnants of casinos and the saturation in the Northeast market,” he says. “Adding a casino in North Jersey and telling the people of North Jersey that they're going to have tens of thousands of jobs is a fallacy.  It's a lie."

The mayor says northern casinos would also cause more Atlantic City casinos to fail, causing a further loss of jobs.

Sweeney’s proposed bill for the takeover of Atlantic City would give the state vast power over most major decisions there, including the right to sell off city assets and land.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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