(TRENTON) — Assemblymen Timothy J. Eustace and Joseph A. Lagana (both D-Bergen/Passaic) on Thursday called on Gov. Chris Christie to do his job and use the tools already at his disposal to address the looming fiscal crisis facing Atlantic City:
“Holding an entire city of 39,000 New Jerseyans hostage because the governor refuses ‘…to negotiate with two sets of Democrats…’ is, at best, a naked abdication of his gubernatorial responsibilities. And at worst, it is the decree of someone who would much rather be dictator than governor.
“Yet, despite the governor’s best efforts, New Jersey remains a democracy, not a dictatorship. And as a democracy, we have the authority and the responsibility to stand against the governor’s naked grab for power and demand that he do his job with the tools already in his possession.
“Because — make no mistake — as the Speaker has been saying for weeks, the governor already has the tools and the authority to save Atlantic City. He just inexplicably is choosing not to.
“And so, I add my voice to the Speaker’s chorus and demand that Gov. Christie stop holding Atlantic City hostage; stop endangering the fiscal stability of the rest of the state; and start doing his job.”
“The proposed state takeover of Atlantic City strikes at the very heart of good and equitable representation. Governor Christie’s hardline stance on this issue is part of a divisive and faulty leadership strategy that includes a refusal to negotiate with the General Assembly.
“The governor claims Speaker Prieto stands in the way of Atlantic City’s future. Yet, it is Governor Christie who twice vetoed bipartisan supported PILOT bills that would have provided immediate and necessary financial stabilization to Atlantic City.
“We should not allow the governor to hold worthy legislation hostage simply so he can attack the rights of public workers. Under the governor’s plan, Atlantic City’s first responders would face the immediate loss of all of their bargaining rights and many would probably lose their jobs. These are the same first responders who agreed to work most of the month of April without pay if this impasse is not resolved.
“Time and time again, Speaker Prieto has exhaustively detailed the existing tools at the Governor’s disposal to help the city, including his appointed emergency manager, the state-run local finance board and the authority given to the Department of Community Affairs.
“Since my tenure began in the Assembly, Speaker Prieto has always been honest and open with the members and fair and deliberate in his positions. I applaud his efforts to negotiate in good faith, which the Assembly should be able to do as half of a co-equal branch of government.
“It is the Governor who has been unwilling to come to the table; therefore, it is he that stands in the way of progress. I respectfully call on him to change his course in this regard and do what is required for the people of Atlantic City and the State of New Jersey.”