Detroit, Emergency Managers, Rick Snyder — November 13, 2014 at 7:01 am

Michigan exports its anti-democratic model: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie considers an Emergency Manager for Atlantic City


Remember when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to Michigan to visit Governor Rick Snyder in March? And when he came back again in September? At the time, everyone assumed that it was because he was fundraising as part of his role as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

It turns out that it may have been as much as fact-finding mission as anything else. This week, Christie announced that he is considering imposing an Emergency Manager on the city of Atlantic City:

An emergency manager to oversee the city’s troubled finances and the creation of a new public-private development corporation are part of a package of reforms Gov. Chris Christie will consider to revitalize the struggling resort town.

Christie stopped short of endorsing any specific proposals Wednesday during his second Atlantic City summit but stressed his willingness to unilaterally issue a series of executive orders to help solve the economic crisis.

“The first thing you need to do is stop the bleeding,” the governor said. “So let’s start there. Then you work on the recovery. But first you’ve got to stabilize the patient. That’s part of what we need to do. So stabilizing the patient would be considered a success in the short term.”

Atlantic City is reeling from the closure of four of its major casinos in recent years. It has lost 8,000 jobs this year alone and, with the Trump Taj Mahal slated to close next month, it will likely lose another 3,100 by years end. Much like Detroit, the city has been a one-note song in terms of its revenue stream and that is taking its toll. Christie referenced Detroit in statements on the matter:

“The underlying problem is there’s at least one similarity, the explosive cost of government,” Christie said in comparing Atlantic City to Detroit. “Absolutely the explosive cost of government is really what put Detroit in the kind of situation it is in. When you look at some of the specifics that are laid out in Mr. Hanson’s report, you see the explosive growth, and the cost of government over the last eight years here in Atlantic City has contributed to it as well.”

Christie is doing the same thing here as so many Republicans have done in Michigan: blame economic woes on “the explosive cost of government” rather than the underlying cause which is the implosion of the main revenue source. In Detroit it was vehicle manufacturing. In Atlantic City, it was the casino industry. Anyone who thinks that Detroit’s problems stem mainly from the cost of government is clearly either not paying attention or being willfully ignorant.

I’ve long said that Michigan is a testing ground for the expansion of anti-democratic actions like the imposition of Emergency Managers across the country that will allow Republican governors to assume control of largely Democratic areas in their states.

As it turns out, I was right.

[CC image credit: Peter Stevens | Flickr]