Forget it, Jake, it’s Atlantic City.
PJM Princeton, NJ: Is it something in the water cooler at City Hall? Five of the last seven mayors of Atlantic City have pleaded guilty or have been convicted of some crime -- and now Robert W. Levy has resigned under a cloud of deceit, depression, and substance abuse. Fausta Wertz reports that none of his replacements look very promising, either.
October 14, 2007 - 12:00 am
The news isn’t new: Yet one more mayor of Atlantic City had to quit because of scandals and investigations.
Robert W. Levy, a Democrat who prior to being mayor headed the lifeguard’s organization, resigned after being AWOL from his job. As it turned out, Levy spent part of his two-week leave at the Carrier Clinic, a facility for the treatment of depression and substance abuse.
Levy’s under federal investigation for misrepresenting his Army service in Vietnam by claiming he had been a Green Beret (and possibly receiving benefits he didn’t deserve). In his absence, Dominic Capella, Atlantic City’s business administrator, appointed himself acting mayor last week, claiming Levy had transferred power to him verbally late last month.
As Louis B. Mayer once said, “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”. Sure enough, William “Speedy” Marsh, the City Council president, is, starting today, October 11, the interim mayor and will serve until the city council appoints a successor, who will serve until a special election is held next year.
Marsh didn’t waste any time and asked a state judge to delay a decision on how and when he must repay a $363,000 debt to the city “until this little mayoral thing works itself out.” The debt was Marsh’s share of a settlement that Atlantic City paid him after Marsh sued after being fired from his Board of Education job. Last May the NJ Supreme Court ruled that Marsh and a former mayor had should not have received the settlement, which the court termed “infected by intolerable conflicts of interest.”
Marsh was eligible for the job because the prior City Council president is serving 40 months in a federal prison for accepting bribes.
Not counting Levy, five of the last seven mayors of Atlantic City have pleaded guilty or have been convicted of some crime in recent years.
The other big news of the day is that MGM Mirage Inc. plans to build a $5 billion resort, the biggest Atlantic City has ever seen. The problem is, because of competition from casinos in Delaware and Pennsylvania and a partial smoking ban, the 11 casinos now operating in Atlantic City took in 10.6% less last month than they did in September 2006.
The possibility that casino revenues might decline for the first time in 29 years of casino gambling doesn’t seem to affect all the development in the city’s waterfront area. Neither does the fact that a net 75,000 New Jersey residents fled the state’s onerous taxes last year.
In a city where visitors outnumber residents 871 to 1, the city’s revenues do not depend on those who live there. But those who are running the city won’t be changing their ways any time soon.