You can hear the pain in state Sen. Jim Whelan’s (D-2) voice.
This is his first year in retirement from teaching but the wave of unrest from the casinos closing in his hometown has him on edge.
The chairman of a neighboring county laid into him today, criticizing the veteran senator – and former Atlantic City mayor – for discussing publicly the inevitability of North Jersey casinos.
“I’ve said I hope I’m wrong,” Whelan told PolitickerNJ. “We were in a meeting yesterday, the governor came out of the meeting with leadership of both parties from the legislature, and said, in response to a question about North Jersey casinos, ‘Everything is on the table.'”
Whelan reiterated his desire to keep casinos in Atlantic City alone, but insists he wants the South Jersey city to prepare itself for anything.
“My point if if this is going to happen – and it’s going to happen, quite bluntly – let’s cut the best deal we can for South Jersey,” he said. “You can go into all the arguments, pro and con. I’ve been back and forth between depressed, angry and frustrated. These are people who got in on the ground floor in this industry who are now facing the prospect, with the casinos closing, of not having jobs. They haven’t done anything wrong. They’ve shown up to work every day. They’ve got kids. They’ve got roots here.
“There is no single answer,” the senator added. “Whether it’s MGM or Hardrock. There is no single act or person or event that can turn this around.”