Record Shows Grossman v. Levinson on ACUA Debt
By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
(Reprinted from January 27, 2010 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties.)
“Why didn’t Grossman speak out when he was a freeholder? If county policies were so wrong, why didn’t Mr. Grossman make his feelings known then? Why did he not offer a single resolution or even a statement in opposition?”?
—Dennis Levinson, Atlantic County Executive, January 18, 2010
Press of Atlantic City– March 1, 1989:
“Normally resolutions aren’t subject to public discussion, but Acting Chairman John Mahoney moved for an exception . . . The freeholders Tuesday were being asked to guarantee a $70 million bond that will be drawn in the name of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority . . . (for) an ‘interim bypass landfill’ and ash landfill, and a mass burn incinerator. . . After about an hour of discussion, the freeholders voted 5-2 in favor of the resolution. Freeholders Seth Grossman and Fredrick Nickles opposed the measure. . . .
Grossman said, ‘This whole agreement troubles me.’ (and that) his calculations showed that $51 million was being spent on land purchase, site improvements and landfill construction; the remaining 35 percent goes to consultants and salaries. . .”?
Press of Atlantic City-March 11, 1998:
“In a tumultuous meeting. . . the Board of Freeholders, by a 6-2 vote, with one abstaining, approved the Atlantic County Utilities Authority’s plan to charge municipalities and businesses the cost of paying down its debt. . . . Since Atlantic County didn’t back the authority’s debt, Freeholder James Curcio and others believe the county shouldn’t be responsible. .
“ACUA employees filled up most of the seating, causing many others to stand in the hallways.
“The situation prompted some heated exchanges between Levinson and audience members. Some continually said “can’t hear” and interrupted speakers, causing Levinson to say, ‘If you continue to call out, I’m going to get a sheriff’s officer’.
“Levinson and Seth Grossman, a former freeholder, Atlantic City councilman and now an opponent of the authority’s plans, also had several exchanges. . . Levinson was irked by some remarks made by people who were standing in the hallway. Levinson threatened to bring order by calling in a sheriff’s officer, prompting Grossman to say, “Yeah, go ahead and lock them up, Denny.” The exchange grew from there with Levinson eventually telling Grossman: ‘Another outburst from you, and I will have you removed from the building.’ A sheriff’s officer soon appeared on the scene, and the crowd quieted. . .”.?
Dennis Levinson’s response to my column on the ACUA’s request for a monopoly on trash dumping was disturbing in many ways. I urged our county freeholders to learn from Donald Trump and force the ACUA’s bondholders, not taxpayers, to pay for the ACUA’s losses. I said that if this could not legally be done, county government should at least raise its tax rate, and honestly pay for its mistakes, rather than hide a new fee on garbage into local property tax bills.
Levinson did not respond to the issues I raised in my column. Instead, he attacked me personally with false statements.
Did Levinson really forget these events? Did he also forget that my opposition to the ACUA debt is why the Republicans refused to re-nominate me, and gerrymandered my district so I could not win a primary in 1991? Or did he figure it all happened so long ago, he could make up anything, and people would believe him? Either way, we deserve better from the highest paid and most powerful Republican public official in South Jersey.
But what is most troubling about Levinson’s response is his refusal to admit and learn from past mistakes on public spending and debt. This will soon bring real hardship to everyone who pays property taxes in Atlantic County.
Atlantic County had $118 million of debt back in 2000 when Levinson became county executive. Levinson grew that debt to around $175 million today. This is causing tax hikes as more businesses close, and four casinos struggle to stay alive. There are now fewer taxpayers to share a much bigger burden.
But Levinson is right about one thing. Things would be even worse if Democrats ran the county. What to do? Understand that choosing between Republicans and Democrats in November elections is not nearly enough. Learn to be active in your local Republican or Democratic club. Get involved in choosing your local Republican or Democratic county committee members. Support and contribute money to candidates who share your views in the April 20 school and June 8 primary elections. And if necessary, be a candidate yourself!
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears live on WVLT-92.1FM heard throughout South Jersey 8to 9 am every Saturday. For information, see www.libertyandprosperity.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions every Saturday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Athena Diner, 1515 New Road, Northfield.