Bloggety Blah Blah Blah, Emergency Managers, Fundraiser — January 13, 2016 at 9:08 am

Without real journalism, democracy dies – and it’s dying in Atlantic City under Emergency Management


Journalism is defined as “the activity or job of collecting, writing, and editing news stories for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio.” In this new media age, you can add blogs and podcasts and other online news sources to that, as well. It is my firm belief that journalism – TRUE journalism – goes farther than that: it is a necessary element in a vibrant democracy and has the crucial role of revealing information that might otherwise be hidden and holding our elected officials and other leaders accountable for doing their jobs.

When people accuse me of being a journalist, I often brush them off saying that I don’t consider myself a journalist. But, the truth is, what we do here at Eclectablog IS journalism. We do some original reporting but we also “collect news stories” and present them to you in a digestable way, often connecting the dots between things that don’t always seem connected.

For example, we have been documenting the introduction of Emergency Managers in schools and municipalities since it began its new, more anti-democratic phase in Michigan starting in 2010. Part of that was to let people in Michigan know what was happening in their state. But along with that was an intentional sounding of the alarm to the rest of the country that the experiment with disposable democracy here in Michigan is something that the entire nation should be paying attention to.

And, sure enough, our disposable democracy model has now been exported to Atlantic City, New Jersey. With the implosion of their gaming industry, Atlantic City is massively in debt. And legislators there announced this week that they want to impose even MORE austerity on a city that has already carved over $60 million out of their annual budget. This time, bizarrely enough, it’s coming from a Democrat, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney. Sweeney told Atlantic City, “This is a very clear statement to Atlantic City. Get your act together, knock off the B.S., and start addressing what you need to address. The state is not going to come in and bail you out anymore. You need to fix this.”

Sweeney is planning to introduce legislation that will end democracy in Atlantic City:

According to a draft of the bill, which had not been formally introduced as last night, the state Local Finance Board would be given control of “any of the functions, powers, privileges, immunities, and duties of the governing body.”

Another Democrat, Senator Jim Whelan, is against the idea saying:

“Are there things the city can do? Yeah can always tighten up and so on, but the fact of the matter is they’ve cut 60 million dollars, that’s not an insignificant amount of money,” he said.

He said the city government and the board of education both have fiscal monitors, and every dime that’s spent is approved by those monitors.

“Things can be improved, but I’m not sure that there’s a magic panacea with a state takeover,” he says.

A takeover by the state,Whelan contends, would be a disaster. “Given its abysmal 30-year track record in taking over school districts, I seriously doubt the State of New Jersey will be the white knight to save Atlantic City,” he told

Blindsided by Sweeney’s move, Atlantic City mayor Don Guardian said, “It caught us completely off guard. It was our Pearl Harbor here.”

As in Detroit, Atlantic City’s water department, the Municipal Utilities Authority, is being considered for privatization.

So, yes, we do journalism here at Eclectablog and, given the state of traditional media these days, we are providing an essential clearinghouse where you can get an alternative take on the day’s news, connecting dots and holding people accountable. Our work has helped propel stories coming out of Michigan to the national stage. Emergency Managers, the Education Achievement Authority, prison privatization scandals, the poisoning of Flint’s drinking water by Snyder administration officials; these stories and more have been well-documented here and have gone national, in part because of the light we’ve shined on them.

All of this takes money because all of the regular contributors are paid for their creative work and that’s why, several times a year, we come to you to ask you to support alternative journalism as it is practiced at Eclectablog. Your financial support helps us keep the lights on and to grow so we can be even more effective.

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Thanks so much for your continued support,
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[CC image credit: Pietro Naj-Oleari | Flickr]