Referendum Still Alive Forcing Public Vote on Revel Bonding
By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
???? Last week, the newly built Eastside Cannery Casino Hotel in Las Vegas attracted a big crowd the night it opened.?? The casino has 1,275 slot and video poker machines, 21 table games, a 450-seat bingo hall, and keno, poker, and sports betting areas.?? The 16-floor hotel has 307 rooms, six restaurants, four bars and a lounge.?? Everything was built in less than two years for roughly $250 million.?
???? Meanwhile, the $5 billion MGM Mirage project in Atlantic City is “delayed.”?? So is Pinnacle’s $2 billion project and Hilton’s billion dollar expansion.?? (But MGM Mirage is still building its new $9.2 billion CityCenter in Las Vegas.)
???? Only Atlantic City’s Revel casino project is still moving forward.?? But Revel officials say their $2 billion project will also have “problems” unless Atlantic City taxpayers loan them $56 million (2.8% of the total cost) at half prevailing interest rates.
???? So Atlantic City’s council agreed to loan Revel $56 million at 4.5% over 30 years, something no private investor would do.?? It did so only after Revel’s high-price, power-broker/lawyer Lloyd Levenson publicly promised to improve some local ball fields and a firehouse, and hire some local people.?? Who knows what was said in private?
???? This inspired Local 54 of UNITE-HERE, the restaurant and hotel workers union, to also play this game.?? It demanded that Revel force all of its future restaurant concessions to hire only dues paying Local 54 members.?? When Revel refused, Local 54 organized a petition drive to stop the city from loaning money to Revel.
???? Two state laws give Atlantic City voters the right to block local ordinances by petition.?? NJSA 40:49-27. lets voters in any town block any ordinance which incurs debt.?? NJSA 40:69A-185 lets voters in “Faulkner Act” towns like Atlantic City block “any ordinance.”?? The petitions must be signed by 15% of the people who voted in the most recent election for State Assembly.??
???? In just over two weeks, Local 54 filed a petition with 3,000 signatures, more than three times what they needed.?? Maybe a lot of Atlantic City voters still think local government should pay for roads, schools, and fire and police protection for everyone – not for a sweetheart loan to a billion dollar casino company.
???? State law requires Atlantic City’s Clerk to check the signatures, and report whether the petition was signed by a sufficient number of legal voters.?? If so, the Revel loan ordinance would remain suspended until the November, 2009 election.
???? When Local 54 filed its petition, our daily newspaper, Democrat State Senator Jim Whelan, and Republican Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vince Polistina were all shocked.?? Who could possibly oppose loaning money to a company that would “create jobs” and “boost tax revenues?”
???? Anyone who understands New Jersey’s motto knows that only liberty brings prosperity.?? Despotism – where government officials use their power to help some by taking from others – destroys it.
???? A big part of liberty is applying fair and simple rules to everyone.?? If Revel is “entitled” to a 4.5% business loan, so is everybody.?? If New Jersey’s tax, zoning, and casino control laws were set up that way, Revel’s project would have been approved and built in half the time, for a fraction of the cost.?? And if Revel knew it could get all the permits and approvals it needed without any favors from any politicians, it probably could have saved a lot more money by not hiring politically connected law firms, contractors, and/or suppliers.?? How much money would Revel have saved??? A whole lot more than the $56 million loan it is now begging for!
???? We should stop giving these kinds of breaks to companies like Revel, and stop rewarding their high priced power-broker lawyers.?? If they had to pay the full price of New Jersey’s culture of corruption like everyone else, they might be helping us fight for “liberty and justice for all.”?? Instead, they empower and enable those who oppose us.
???? By the way, the headline in our daily newspaper, “Local 54’s petition on Revel roads dies in Atlantic City” was wrong.?? Only a Superior Court judge can declare that the petition is no good.?? City Clerk Rosemarie Adams does not have that power.?? Neither does the City Solicitor, nor the unnamed official in the state’s Office of Legislative Service who wrote a letter to Senator Jim Whelan.?? Each of the 3,000 voters can file a lawsuit to force the City Clerk to do her job-again.?? However, they must act within 45 days of September 5.
For more information, visit www.libertyandprosperity.org or contact Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-927-7333.??? Seth Grossman hosts a two way talk radio program every Saturday from 8am – 9am on WVLT Vineland, 92.1 FM, and breakfast discussion groups Saturday at 9AM at the Athena Diner, on New Road between Tilton and New Roads in Northfield.