Backing off casino gambling

All it took was a trip to Atlantic City for Mayor Steven Fulop to decide that casino gambling might not be a good idea for Jersey City after all.
This came after months of rhetoric saying how a casino in Jersey City might generate jobs and serve as the foundation for entertainment and other related revenue-generating projects.
So what really happened?
Behind the scenes, people claim that not everybody was on board with the casino prospect, and that it was one of those divisive issues that has created a civil-war like political fight pitting North Jersey against South Jersey.
Even some high-profile political brokers in Hudson County don’t appear to be completely convinced about the wisdom of casinos outside Atlantic City, a city on the verge of bankruptcy and targeted for a state takeover.
With Fulop apparently planning to run for governor in the Democratic primary next year against State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (among others), the last thing Fulop needs is to give Sweeney an issue that can bring together South Jersey on Sweeney’s behalf.
But Fulop’s role in the Atlantic City takeover debate was a small one.
The battle that pits state Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto against Sweeny and Gov. Christopher Christie is about allowing all the people to have their input into the solution.
According to Prieto, Christie wants to create an Atlantic City czar with powers so overwhelmingly powerful that few people but the governor would have oversight.
Atlantic City is in trouble partly because the state has been draining it for revenue for years. This mattered very little during plush times. But now that Atlantic City has fallen on hard times, things have to change. The state can’t keep taking money without giving something back. Or more accurately, the state has to cease bleeding the city if Atlantic City is to revive.

A fitting tribute for Maurice

Former Hoboken Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons was a savvy political force for years. But he was also a remarkably personable politician, someone knowledgeable enough to run a clever election and yet also not offend a lot of people doing it.
This may be why naming a park in Hoboken after him saw no opposition, even from some of the people he helped run campaigns against.
While the park was a wonderful tribute, the unanimous vote that approved the renaming was even more remarkable.
Fitzgibbons was always part of the old school, one of the brains behind what some call “Old Hoboken,” and his untimely death in 2011 created a vacuum in political strategy that has yet to be filled.
He was constantly grooming new political talent, often to the frustration of his political opponents.
But Fitzgibbons was more than just about politics. He was deeply involved in Hoboken’s elder culture, and a tour with him of Hoboken or even Jersey City Heights often brought you into contact with some of the best places to eat. He spent a good portion of his life as an elected official pushing to expand the county school network to include one dedicated to the arts.
Since the park area named in his behalf will likely see performances as well as good food, it is aptly named.

Stumbling over Bernie

While it is most likely too late to change the outcome of the Democratic pick for president, a campaign rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders will come to Jersey City in May. This may or may not include an appearance by “Bernie” himself.
Sanders’ loss to Hillary Clinton in the April 19 New York Democratic Primary is more than likely the end of Sanders’s chances at winning the nomination. But he has vowed to keep on fighting until the end.
So to test the waters of what a rally in Jersey City might look like, I wandered over to Union Square in New York on April 16.
While Sanders was not physically at the rally, his eye glasses, his eyebrows and many semi-lookalikes were. The rally featured life-sized images of Sanders as well, along with anti-Clinton posters.
While there were a few old timers with long gray hair and outfits straight out of a 1960s anti-war rally, most of the organizers and the followers were young.
There were no counter protestors from the Clinton camp. But a few professionally-dressed women kept trying to convince some of the younger girls that they were “betraying their own” by supporting a man. By this they meant that Clinton could become the first woman president.
Hudson County – in particular Jersey City – will have a similar problem. Hillary Clinton is supported by the political establishment, the political elite. Sanders will likely draw on artists and others who in the past fell into line with whatever candidate the Democratic machine selects.
In some ways, the current election resembles the 1968 election, when popular candidates like Bobby Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy opposed the Democratic choice of Vice President Hubert Humphrey. This division led to the eventual election of Republican Richard Nixon.
While history doesn’t always repeat itself, the similarities to the 1968 election could foreshadow a serious problem for Democrats in 2016.
Local leaders, however, can’t gamble. They are following the party line, and must support Clinton.
For those still unwilling to vote for Clinton, there is still Libertarian presidential candidate Jack B. Robinson Jr., whose is proposing what he calls a revolutionary “trickle up” model to build wealth and cure America’s socioeconomic woes.
This, of course, sounds a little like Bernie Sanders on steroids.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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