After what most peripheral players digested as productive talks by Assembly members, Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assembly Majority Lou Greenwald are at each other’s throats again.
Greenwald, who along with Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3), played the part of backroom negotiator for the Southern position in ongoing Atlantic City talks with Prieto, emerged with stinging words for the speaker.
“I’m shocked and outraged at the Speaker’s comments following our meeting that ‘bankruptcy is always the other option,’ suggesting that there is no rush in saving Atlantic City,” Greenwald said. “The callous disregard of the reality of bankruptcy to the residents of Atlantic City, Atlantic County and the entire region is appalling. I have made it clear repeatedly that this position is untenable and disastrous. Truthfully, I thought the Speaker understood this but perhaps this was his goal all along. I find it impossible to believe that anyone would show this level of indifference to a city in Hudson County, so I can only speculate about why it is occurring today in Atlantic County.”
Greenwald and Prieto are on opposing sides of this battle, entrenchments worsened by the assembly majority’s active efforts to derail Prieto’s bill in the two week lead-up to last week’s failed vote.
During the period of time, the majority leader felt out the prospect of a possible coup de ta t relieve the speaker of his throne of power.
Today, Greenwald said the issue isn’t Prieto, but the embattled seaside gambling hub.
“Time is running out,” the majority leader said. “We are trying to save Atlantic City and protect the families in that region. We need to avoid financial collapse and bankruptcy. If either happens it will be too late.
“We need to convene our house and pass the solution that has been offered by the Senate President and myself, which has been the center-point of discussion over the last 4 days – complete with the 150 day proposal to give the Mayor and City Council the time they need in the summer months to reform and stabilize Atlantic City,” he added.
Prieto fired off a response to Greenwald.
“Majority Leader Greenwald’s statement does not match what he has said behind closed doors, where I have told him several times that bankruptcy is always a last option,” the speaker said. “Even Gov. Christie said the same last week. I’ve sought a compromise for weeks, but anyone who feigns shock that bankruptcy is a last resort isn’t being honest with themselves or the public.
“It’s also strange that Asm. Greenwald forgets that just days ago the Senate bill received zero support in the Assembly Democratic caucus,” Prieto added. “Zero support. In fact, the Majority Leader emphasized several times behind closed doors that he wasn’t even asking for that bill to be posted anymore. The governor of course knows full well the authority at his disposal that he simply refuses to use for whatever reason. We’ve gone over that authority numerous times. Just because the governor says he lacks authority doesn’t make it so. This afternoon’s attack statements are a curious approach to compromise.”