Over the past weeks we have watched as Speaker Prieto has proven himself as a man of his word in the ongoing fight for control of
Atlantic City. From the outset, the Speaker made it clear that he would stand and fight for Atlantic City’s working families and against efforts to destroy collective bargaining rights and he has done that. It has not even been five years since the last time the word came out of Trenton that our members would be made to suffer for the State’s poor fiscal management, so it is refreshing to see the Speaker, along with a number of other legislators, publicly stand and fight on behalf of our law enforcement members and their families.
Some of our “leaders” continue to attack the police and try and paint our members as the villain in this Trenton soap opera. The tactics being deployed by Governor Christie and his allies are no different than those used in 2011; smears and innuendo in conjunction with personal attacks and outright lies in an effort to curry public support for self-interested and disingenuous policies. Governor Christie’s daily re-run press conferences from his bully pulpit attacking Speaker Prieto and Mayor Guardian have not gotten us one step closer to a resolution, so the Speaker’s actions to advance towards a solution today are a welcome reprieve from the political rhetoric and lies we have all been fed.
The truth is that the Governor and his allies have consistently ignored the governor’s failed investment in the Revel Casino using taxpayers’ money and the fact that his own people have been in control of the city’s finances for the last six years. It was Governor Christie’s personally appointed state monitors who spent millions of dollars and placed the city in worse shape than it was before they got there. Instead of attacking everyone with a dissenting viewpoint, the Governor should look at the facts. The Atlantic City PBA has been working with Mayor Guardian on ways to help Atlantic City. The mayor and law enforcement have agreed to almost $10 million dollars in salary reductions, a 25% reduction in manpower, and a decrease in supervisory staff. Together, they have taken real steps to curtail overtime, significantly alter salary guidelines and reduce the top pay for patrol officers. In total, by working together, the compromises reached have allowed Atlantic City to realize a reduction of more than 20% in the cost of the police department while limiting the local impact on public safety. With Police Chief Henry White’s leadership, Atlantic City has experienced a reduction in crime despite the significant decrease in manpower.
A temper tantrum never solved a problem. Mature stakeholders who truly care about the city and its long-term health will solve the problem. Mayor Guardian is passionate about his city and has done more than any mayor in recent history to right the ship and Speaker Prieto wants to preserve one of the most basic principles of labor; a collective bargaining agreement. Thanks to Mayor Guardian, the Atlantic City Council and all of the unions in Atlantic City there is now enough time to sit and there is room to negotiate. Can you all get to the table before it really is too late?