An Open Letter from State Assemblyman John Burzichelli

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In case you haven’t been following the fight for Atlantic City’s future, here are some issues you need to be aware of:

The legislation backed by State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Jersey Mayor Steven Fulop allows two years for Atlantic City to achieve financial solvency, but bankruptcy and financial ruin will be here in mere weeks.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian had to hold a press conference on Monday just to announce that the city could pay one of its bills. This is beyond nuts.

The Prieto/Fulop bill is terrible for organized labor. Unlike Senate President Sweeney’s bill, it contains no early retirement incentive to
alleviate the burden on union families.

There’s been a lot of talk about collective bargaining from the Speaker himself, yet the Prieto/Fulop bill contains a provision to
destroy collectively bargained agreements.

Many of the provisions of the Prieto/Fulop bill would only take effect after years of failure, which allows Atlantic City to be in even worse shape than it is now.

By the time the needed provisions in the Prieto/Fulop bill come into effect, homes will have been foreclosed upon, casinos will have closed and thousands of jobs will have been lost.

Schools will close when the city fails to make its required payments to keep them in operation.

Families across our region will have dried up their children’s college funds just to keep paying their mortgages.

Speaker Prieto and Jersey City Mayor Fulop know they don’t have the votes in the New Jersey General Assembly for this bill.

Likewise, this bill has no support from the Senate or the Governor – instead of finding a compromise, Speaker Prieto and Jersey City Mayor Fulop are trying to pass a bill we all know is dead on arrival to prove a political point.

Every editorial board and columnist who has written about the Atlantic City matter, including The Press of Atlantic City, have acknowledged that the Prieto/Fulop bill is nothing more than a cheap political stunt.

Many legislative leaders urged us to seek consensus and work toward a compromise plan. That compromise plan was offered and yet that too was rejected by the Speaker.

If the Speaker allows Atlantic City to go bankrupt, the consequences are terrifying for Atlantic City, Atlantic County and our entire region. Undoubtedly this has consequences for places like Newark, Paterson, and other financially ­distressed cities.

Make no mistake about it, Speaker Prieto and Jersey City Mayor Fulop have been playing a game of political chicken with the future of gaming in Atlantic City.

The longer Prieto/Fulop push their bill to achieve a political purpose, we suffer. The eight remaining casinos have seen long­term reservations and convention bookings drop in the last month due to the continued uncertainty of our city’s future.

When this bill fails to solve our crisis, we know that bankruptcy courts won’t do right by working people – we have already seen that with the destruction of casino worker wages and benefits in the Taj Mahal bankruptcy process.

The gaming industry is just now beginning to recover from the bad times of the last decade, thanks in part to the efforts of Local 54. Their members made tremendous sacrifices during the lean years to keep gaming alive in Atlantic City, including concessions on paid time off and overtime.

The people of Atlantic City aren’t willing to lose their livelihoods over political theater.

It’s time for Prieto and Fulop to stop the gamesmanship at our expense.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. BURZICHELLI
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly (D­3)

An Open Letter from State Assemblyman John Burzichelli