The recently released audit of the CRDA, Casino Reinvestment Development Authority didn’t surprise local officials. Most knew that financial monkey business was likely happening. Did some on CRDA’s Board of Directors have some inkling of financial foolery? Maybe a few more objections should have been raised? Maybe they were all kept in the dark, like most of us?
With the scathing audit report now public, elected leadership ‘hopes’ things get better. In our opinion, that’s the problem. Apathy. Laziness. Stupidity. Lack of backbone. Disrespect for local Atlantic City and Atlantic County taxpayers & residents.
The following excerpts, and our commentary, are influenced by this post in the Press of Atlantic City.
Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam, a board member of CRDA, said the audit’s findings show how CRDA has been “neglectful in how they spend money.” No kidding, Frank.
“Naturally, being Mayor of Atlantic City and seeing all this money going in different directions and not really being able to benefit the municipality specifically and the neighborhoods in the community that need it most, was very eye-opening. I just don’t see how those misuses of funds helped the city out at all.”
The 29-page CRDA audit detailed multiple examples of fiscal, operational and organization mismanagement.
In other words, the entire CRDA system is a complete cluster F.
While AC suffered with dark, poorly lit and potholed streets, violent drug-related crime, needle exchanges, sex-offender dumping grounds….. the CRDA squandered millions on projects meant to ‘revive’ the city. Miss America Organization, Tanger Outlets, and the Atlantic City Beach Concert Series.
During Audit Period, CRDA Leadership: Robert Mulcahy, John Palmieri, Chris Howard.
Most elected officials who spoke with The Press of Atlantic City about the CRDA audit, avoided any heavy CRDA blame. Instead, they expressed confidence in the new leadership. Really.
Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo: “Now that there’s new leadership, hopefully they start taking corrective action making sure dollars are spent wisely.”
Another wishy-washy CRDA AUDIT response came from State Sen. Jeff Van Drew.
From Press of Atlantic City: Van Drew said it was too early to say whether the existing regulations governing CRDA were not adhered to or if there needs to be more stringent laws in place to ensure proper fiscal management.
Another Van Drew tepid response: “now’s the time to start having conversations. There’s possibility for legislative oversight, but I hate that it would be necessary. I think what this really begs is more of a conversation with (CRDA leadership).”
Congressional candidate Seth Grossman didn’t pull his punches. Grossman says the CRDA audit shows many examples of epic, financial malfeasance: “CRDA is perfect example of NJ pay-to-play politics.”
Seth Grossman: The best way to revive Atlantic City is to abolish CRDA.
Grossman: “Let elected officials run the city and apply the full casino contribution to property tax reduction”
Seth Grossman is a long-time and vocal critic of the CRDA.
Assemblyman John Armato: “With new leadership, I would hope we can continue to course correct,” Armato said. “A true evaluation of programs worth investing in should be the first step in the right direction.”
AC Mayor Frank Gilliam is “excited” and “enthusiastic” about new CRDA leadership. Gilliam is ‘hopeful’ that Atlantic City’s needs will be heard in the future.
Atlantic City Council President Marty Small seemed to be mostly ambivalent about the nasty findings within CRDA’s audit. Small told the Press of AC that Council and new leadership at CRDA have committed to improving their relationship for the betterment of Atlantic City. (WTF?)
Small says Council will continue to focus on Atlantic City and ‘hopes’ CRDA will do it’s part to further it’s obligation to the city.
Marty Small said this to reporters from Press of Atlantic City: “The report is the report, the findings are the findings to ensure that CRDA takes the necessary steps to fix what’s in the report. I’m going to leave that to CRDA and continue to focus on making Atlantic City fiscally sound for the residents.”
Yup. That’s all the outrage Council President Marty Small could muster. Atlantic City residents must be so proud of him.
CRDA AUDIT REPORT >AC CRDA Audit 9.12.2018