Atlantic City: Where democracy came to die–and the Norcross family will come to get richer

Christie, Norcross, Sweeney: The New Jersey junta. Credit: Blue Jersey
Christie, Norcross, Sweeney: The New Jersey junta. Credit: Blue Jersey

The 25-year history of state control of local school districts is a narrative of an unworkable and poorly planned idea that, while initially promoted with good intentions,  has been transformed into a deliberate effort to suppress both the voting rights of minority men and women and the employment rights of public employees with the intent of helping the political and personal fortunes of the most powerful white men in the state, including Gov. Chris Christie, heir apparent Steve Sweeney, and political boss George Norcross III and members of his family.

With the effort by the Christie/Sweeney/Norcross junta to turn Atlantic City into a  proprietary colony of the powerful in Trenton and Cherry Hill, the idea of state control of local minority communities has taken a giant step toward ending democracy for the black and the brown and poor in the city.

The joint statement by the Atlantic City NAACP and the New Jersey ACLU captures most of the problem:

“The proposal being pushed forward by Governor Christie and Senate President Sweeney for the State to take over the operations and finances of Atlantic City raises serious concerns for the civil rights and civil liberties of Atlantic City residents.

“A cornerstone of our democracy is the right of the people to elect their local government and to ensure, through the ballot box and public participation, that it is accountable to the people. While we have no doubt that elected officials on both sides of this debate want to prevent Atlantic City from falling into bankruptcy, we urge lawmakers to address this crisis without abandoning basic democratic principles of accountable and open government.

“The Governor’s and Senate President’s plan would essentially dissolve local government by providing the State of New Jersey with the authority to dismantle any of Atlantic City’s municipal authorities or contracts, and veto any City Council vote. The State would be able to overturn and rewrite old ordinances, and it could institute entirely new city laws. State overseers would have powers to work in greater secrecy, sidestepping our open meeting laws and keeping the public in the dark.

“We hope that lawmakers from all factions across the state will come together, see beyond politics, and reach a compromise. Nothing less than the fundamental rights of Atlantic City residents and the integrity of our democratic system of government is at stake here.”

What happened in Newark and other state-seized school districts predicts what will happen in Atlantic City and other minority communities. After more than two decades of state control, the schools did not markedly improve. However, the Christie administration used its power over the state’s largest school system to promote privatization of public schools, the decimation of teacher and other school employee unions, and the enhancement of his personal power over the future of Newark’s people. Yes, Ras Baraka was elected mayor but his promise to improve public education was rendered meaningless by the deal he made with Christie.

With his allies in the Norcross family, Christie expanded the suppression of rights in minority communities by expanding state control in Camden–not just over the school system, but also over the police department as well, to say nothing of institutions of higher education and health care. Follow the money leading to where the Norcross family does its banking.

Now the metastasizing of this cancer may spread to all aspects of democracy in Atlantic City. Forgetting that it was the work of rich, white casino operators who helped destroy the city’s economy–including Christie’s new pal, Donald Trump–the Christie, Sweeney/Norcross axis of greed and ambition wants to turn that city into a powerless political ghetto where, as the NAACP/ACLU statement rightly argues, the most fundamental civil rights and civil liberties will be denied to residents and public employees.

In the New Jersey run by Chris Christie, Steve Sweeney, and George Norcross, members of minority groups are petty inconveniences to be disregarded–and public employees are enemies to be destroyed.

They are able to impose their will on the less powerful because of the divisions they created in the state, arguing to suburban audiences that urban residents are incapable of governing themselves–and that the needs of public employees who work for a living are somehow dishonorable. Unlike the  selfishness of the rich and powerful who drive mega-hotels and casinos into the dust pursuing their own greed.

The Christie/Sweeney/Norcross bill will destroy democracy and public employee rights in Atlantic City while enriching Christie and his greedy cartel.

 

 

 

5 comments

  1. Pingback: News Roundup & Open Thread for Thursday, May 12, 2016 | Blue Jersey
  2. Public Education Supporter

    Bob Braun: the voice of reason in a sea of madness. Yet it pains me to think that in all likelihood anyone who seeks out his voice on this blog already knows much of what he states, whereas the uninformed will remain so thanks to corporate media and/or their own lack of interest.

  3. Alene S. Ammond, Frmr NJ State Senator

    As a former NJ State Senator who voted for Gaming in A.C. I can state
    that a takeover of Atlantic city by the likes of a Sen Sweeney predicts
    the economic and moral downfall of New Jersey. George Norcross, the reigning political boss in Camden County has destroyed Camden County Government pursuing his own interests. Last year our Freeholders tried to take over our municipal police because Norcross wanted their Insurance contracts. Along with the Fraternal Order of Police we fought it and won. But Gov Christie has sold us out and is allowing an unelected individual to make public policy. We are fast
    going back to the days of the early 40’s in Chicago where thugs
    ran the govt. We must ask why the Lewis Katz plane went down
    with 9 passengers after he kept Norcross out of owning shares in the Phila. Inquirer? Why the Camden County Freeholders feel so free
    to treat citizens and our police with such arrogance and disdain?
    Under no condition should Sen. Sweeney aligned with Norcross be
    successful in an Atlantic City takeover. Alene S. Ammond, Frmr NJ
    State Senator, Cherry Hill.

  4. TK 2016

    Truth, Bob, for any, for all, still willing to see. Thank you.

    If I may? One small insert for the diagram of Governor Christie’s modus operandi and his political culture:

    At first he will USE, egregiously. Only then will he cravenly discard, as evident from the tippy top of his organization to its mournful bottom. Sandwiched in between are mayors and other mid-level players whom he succeeded in coercing, cajoling, and seducing – but not Sokolich, who seemed like such a little speck at the time.

    I imagine Christie’s first two (maybe three) thoughts of the day are not, in fact, what people like to believe. Does he really awake to images of what he is going to eat for breakfast and whether or not it should include dessert? Let’s get real.

    While the governor is scratching himself and checking the mirror, methinks he thinks not boxers or briefs, but on how to best cover his own caboose and whose first, today, to knock for a loop. In his smartphone is also a list of whose best to smooch. That’s it. The Christie food pyramid.

    Christie is a specialist. And his kind are in demand, nationwide. Why?

    Not just anyone is willing to plow straight into the common good in the most public of ways, hurting people, threatening people, disgracing himself, his office, and the reputation of an entire state, and then call it an excellent thing. To lie (not, his lips recite, if you’re as weaselly as he and you parse it just right), obfuscate, and manipulate – all for the benefit of the team – and then, if he happens to get taken down a notch (but not, amazingly, taken away, because this is where he positions his most careful investments in having all the right kinds of the wrong kind of friends), and he cannot, it turns out, snatch the flag for himself, well, it still doesn’t cause him much need for pause.

    He will still walk away, to become a rich man (yeah, Christie-rich) in the private sector, with a custom made bulletproof alibi, at the very least, while maybe he tones it down, for a minute, slyly awaiting his next shot through the revolving door.

    Yes, the tomcats are surely in with the canaries now, with feathers flying everywhere. And yet, the world goes on like no one can hear the ungodly screams. Who will follow Christie in?

    Baraka cannot afford to be the least bit naive about this. Neither could Bridget Anne Kelly.

    Christie (not to shortchange Cerf) must make it sound awfully damn good, because his echelon (see note 1. below) — plus his “lessers and betters” – have shown ready to sell their souls for a promise, and seem jolly enough in the process. Who can forget the Jerry Jones jump? Jeez-us.

    The public has been warned, but so many still fear that they have something left to lose and, apparently, something salvageable to gain. Why does anyone not-of-Christie still pay tribute to the power of Christie? Makes one wonder where he gets his from.

    And herein lies another key to his operation. I think that he has long taken cues, as an understudy, from operators much bigger than himself, and they have very effectively (and, in some cases, unintentionally) provided him with the absolute poorest of examples, to pick from, to emulate. Even as he slowly circles and angles to claim his title as First of the Worst.

    The king of the overly entitled orange-juicers.

    Strangely, in the proclaimed to be “greatest democracy the world has ever known,” there is a bull market for his brand of “talent.” That should tell us a lot about ourselves by now. Christie is jostling for a position to exploit this emerging market, too. It’s his political main vein. Our Governor will suck the juice out of anything. And who gets to ride in a more expensive helo than POTUS? With unlimited gas and no piddly restrictions.

    Can I get close to that, he asks?

    The latest Trump/Christie Unity Show is also bogus and the principals know it. Both these guys will always have to watch their backs, even from one another. Any organization Christie builds for Trump will get the memo, too. It’s coded into the business model. What a sordid arrangement.

    Why can we suddenly afford to suspend the law of the land? Because the big dollar boys feel themselves in the long-sought position to tell us exactly what time it is. That is precisely the point. I can feel them rubbing their palms. Stranger still but right on cue — how many will be too busy to notice anything amiss? How many of these are in the best positions to put a stop to it and don’t? Spoils. That’s the depth of these guys’ appeal.

    It cannot be said that you, Bob, were one to fail in your duty. Nor can it be said of Daryn Martin that he failed in his.

    Long live authentic journalism. I am relieved, with every post you make, that there are still writers who are old enough to know better, and who act accordingly.

    We are not born to be Christie’s play things. Ever true to form, Christie will insist on being the last to acknowledge it. So, gird up people, with whatever fight you have in you. It’s no longer a game, nor is it a deal that will be good for everyone, and seriously – it never was.

    1. Christie’s approximate echelon:

    Norcrossed, Trumpster-diving, Sweeney Blue Meanies, drawn up and spurting, from the perfectly messed-up, taxpayer funded, shareholder-enriching private insurance covered, razor sharp blunt tip new century delivery vehicle. Right into the main vein of the regional economy.

    Do you feel it going in? Are you liking it?

    A potent, legalized-cocktail-cum-killer-deal that who, heaven help us, can stand to refuse?

    Fishman, for one, does not stand that tall, and tellingly talks with a kindhearted tone, tending also to stock his own perp walks – sadly, I read — with far smaller fry.

    And when, all puffed out, we then beg to ask – even craning it back to query the sky – the difference? With Fishman? I get zero reply.

    Privacy concerns?

    From the sound of it you’d think our Paul was shy, or somehow at sea. But when will he arise, and do it — defend us, the free?

    Is he, too, now AWOL, like our ramblin’ man Gov? Stopped off, or waylaid, in a beefcake saloon? A flash VIP in some Dallas locker room?

    A bad scene, impossibly, from Christie’s successor, when what we most need is a courtroom aggressor!

    A whip-smart and serious – no elaborate BS – scale-bearing upright conveyor of justice who needn’t be THAT blind in leaving to others, who, my stars, decided to do what the New Jersey US Attorney is hesitant to.

    So, with awe for good women that know right from wrong, let’s see some towels snap!

    Commencing at noon.

    And, dammit, don’t be timid – make the welts strong!

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