At the cliff of a proposed state takeover of his town, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian struck back this afternoon against Gov. Chris Christie’s recollections of their discussions about the bill, denouncing Christie’s characterizations of their interactions.
Christie earlier today told reporters that he called Guardian from the presidential campaign trail in New Hampshire to discuss the takeover bill. Guardian said the call lasted nine minutes. The two politicians spent five minutes talking about the impending storm. During the second part of the conversation, Christie said, “listen, you’re willing to come back to the table because you find the takeover plan unacceptable,” Guardian recalled.
The mayor went to Trenton. The governor was cordial, he said. At the time, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) said he was “glad they were all coming together.”
Then the three men went out to the governor’s outer office to face the press. They stood at attention together.
It amounted a bum-rush, the mayor said.
“The governor repeated a statement that sounded like the old plan,” Guardian said. Following the press conference, Sweeney assured the mayor it was all just a big misunderstanding, he said, and told him “we’re going to pull the bill.”
“Sweeney assured us it would be a partnership with benchmarks,” Guardian said. “The governor either provided misinformation or his chief of staff provided misinformation.”
But the bill didn’t change then went to the senate where it passed, Guardian said.
The mayor appeared with Council President Marty Small and other local officials, and objected to the bulk of Christie’s comments the governor made in his earlier press conference. “The governor says he wants to cut our fields but our sports fields are synthetic,” the mayor said to local whoops and hand claps.
Small expressed equal irritation with state lawmakers from Atlantic County. “They’ve let us down, with the exception of [Republican Assemblyman] Chris Brown,” Small said.