Christie blasts Fulop as ‘a political boss’

Out stumping the country for GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump, Gov. Christopher Christie paused long enough to accuse Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop of being “a political boss.”
Christie claims Fulop is pulling strings on Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to assure that Jersey City will eventually get a gambling casino. Christie called Prieto “an obstructionist,” and said Fulop is using Prieto to influence public sector unions in order to promote an alternative Atlantic City takeover bill.
“The governor is mistaken here, and maybe if he was in New Jersey more he wouldn’t be so confused,” said Mayor Fulop. “Contrary to his accusations, I have nothing to do with his partnership with Senator [Steven] Sweeney or with the Speaker’s response with regards to Atlantic City. I think his comments today are more of an attempt to distract the public from failures.”
Atlantic City was once the great resort of New Jersey, a manufactured city designed to draw tourists from Philadelphia. But over the years, the city became shabby and tourists stayed away.
Nearly four decades ago, then state Senator and Union City Mayor Bill Musto helped save Atlantic City from financial ruin by pushing through legislation that envisioned the ailing resort city as a new Las Vegas. Some of the profits were also supposed to help support schools and senior citizen programs.
Gambling became the bedrock of its salvation. But unlike Nevada, the New Jersey legislature unwisely decided to limit casino gambling to Atlantic City. Somewhere in this transition, the leadership decided to create a city less ostentatious than Las Vegas – no smoldering volcanoes, no massive fountains or any of the other icons that have made Las Vegas a tourist as well as a gambling destination.
Instead of being a summer resort for Philadelphia, the new “AC” was supposed to draw people from up and down the East Coast. This was a great concept right up until other places began to open their own casinos, closer to New York and northern New Jersey.
Gambling and its associated entertainment element was the city’s biggest industry, but relying on a single industry based on recreational spending risked failure in an economic downturn. “AC”’s economy tanked. Now Christie and state Senate President Sweeney want to salvage the sinking ship without finding other industries to help bolster the local economy.
Atlantic City is too far away for people who want to simply go there to gamble. Meanwhile, other places in the state would like to develop casinos of their own, closer to the population that will actually use them. People are not going to travel to Atlantic City the way they once did when other options exist.
Fulop, to his credit, wants to better emulate the Las Vegas model and create a complex in Jersey City that is not exclusive to gambling, and which will provide other reasons for tourists to come. This would also be the case for a similar proposal in the Meadowlands.
Christie and Sweeney, apparently desperate to retain a gambling model that the public has clearly rejected, are blasting Prieto and Fulop for advocating a new model that will work. Instead of bailing out the sinking ship in Atlantic City, perhaps Christie and Sweeney should cease playing politics and start rebuilding a once great city, modeling it more after what Fulop and Prieto are proposing.
Atlantic City won’t be made great again by a roll of the dice that depends on clinging to the past.

Osborne will likely run for reelection

Candice Osborne, council person for Ward E in Jersey City, has had a tough month. At least two of her proposed parking changes for downtown were rejected by fellow council members – a council that is supposed to have been on the same page in most issues.
Although once rumored as a possible candidate for mayor to fill the seat vacated if Fulop runs for governor, it appears that she will seek reelection to her current seat.
Osborne is particularly popular in Ward E, partly because she spends a significant amount of time attending neighborhood association and other meetings.
There are other rumored candidates who may run against her next year. But most believe that Osborne can only be beaten if she moves on of her own accord.
On the other hand, Ward F Council person Diane Coleman has confirmed that she will seek the post of County Registrar next year rather than seeking reelection.
Coleman was a key player in the Fulop revolution. His help in getting her elected to the City Council in 2009 helped shift control of the city and eventually helped Fulop win as mayor in 2013.
But Ward F has become a political snake pit, and may be the breeding ground of an anti-Fulop ticket, as opposition tries to ride the tide of a recent spate of shootings and other criminal activity.
While the Fulop administration has tried to bring development to the southern portion of Jersey City, many of the poorest people live there, and have yet to fully benefit from the development of the Gold Coast.

Peace in WNY at last

Jamie Cryan, one time Democrat chair in Hoboken, was recently named town manager in West New York, a promotion from his previous role as director of the West New York Parking Authority.
Cryan appears to be playing a key role in rebuilding the governmental operations in West New York. Brought on by town attorney Donald Scarinci, Cryan helped restore confidence in a beleaguered parking authority. Scarinci was very concerned about some of the activities there and brought on Cryan to help do away with what were considered bad practices. A number of professionals associated with the parking authority were replaced.
Cryan’s role as town manager will be somewhat different.
Many of the headaches WNY faced faded away with the last municipal election. New commissioners breathed new blood into a town that had been split apart by political conflict. Recently, WNY Mayor Felix Roque made peace with some of his most ardent critics, paving the way for a more peaceful future. Part of this also has to do with a general peace in North Hudson between Union City and North Bergen.
WNY had been a battle ground between state Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco and state Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack. When they made peace, it created a template for peace in WNY.
“We have a lot to do in government,” Stack said recently. “We found that we can get a lot more done when we don’t have to worry about political warfare.”

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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