There are issues in Atlantic City with different groups that are trying to get control of the city. There was a lot of tension between groups in October of this year when Atlantic City mayor Frank Gilliam was forced out of office. Various businessmen and New Jersey politicians want new mayor Marty Small ousted and the current city council replaced by a smaller, more streamlined system of government. It is a power grab in the Garden State in order to take control of the gaming assets and funds.
According to a report from the Press of Atlantic City, the political action committee (PAC) known as Atlantic City Residents for Good Government has already had in excess of $150,000 in contributions. Morris Baily, who is the owner of the Resorts Casino Hotel, contributed some $126,000 of that total. Mark Giannantonio, the Resorts CEO, is in support of the council, as are casino unions, construction workers, and casino employees.
The main aim is to have an Atlantic City manager and a smaller city council rather than a mayor and the current larger city council. The PAC and its supporters want a referendum that would bring about change in Atlantic City. However, there is no guarantee that the leading politicians in New Jersey would agree to the idea of a new city council and it would not matter the amount of public support the proposition gets.
As of December 2019, there are enough signatures from residents of Atlantic City to have a vote for the proposed referendum. Bob McDevitt, the president of the Unite Here Local 54 union, backs the measure and believes most locals are behind it.
He said, “The only people that are (against this) are those who are part of the cartel. I believe we should have less people running a government. I think it’s more efficient and it makes sense for a community this size. No major city that has the kind of hospitality industry that we have has a main drag with the kind of undesirables and buildings that should be torn down.”
The power grab has been going on since Small was elected the mayor of Atlantic City in October. However, tension is increasing as the year draws to a close.
In June, when Small was the president of the Atlantic City Council, he said to a local news station, “It is at the height of arrogance and represents deep-seated racial bias and animus that makes us wonder which state are we living in: New Jersey or Alabama? The move reflects a mindset that believes African Americans and other races can’t govern and don’t have the backbone or the courage to fight.”
Also in June of this year, councilman George Tibbitt said of the proposed referendum, “Don’t sign that petition.” He went onto say, “It’s a scam. And even if they pass it, we’re going to give them a good old-fashioned butt whooping.”