To go on dates (whether you are single or married) you generally need to have some money, otherwise your date might be nothing more than staying home and making love all night. Ugg! How boring. Yeah, right. Actually we do need money to enjoy entertainment and that is just one of the reasons we work, the other reasons being - food, shelter, and sex - well at least the first two.
In recent years we have experienced a serious recession and that has surely had an impact on the spending habits of many people. Back then, restaurants were empty, concerts and shows were not as well attended and there was a general morass concerning joy of life endeavors.
The recession we were told was over years ago and all is well... well, not really. At least not for many in depressed areas were they have been living more like in a depression era. That takes us to Atlantic City. The town has been hit by a wave of casino closings and reassessment of the remaining casino properties. As a result, the city income from real estate taxes has gone way down. Not to worry. City, state and federal governments don't have to skip date nights because they have no need to cut their expenditures. All they have to do is bill the taxpayer. Raise taxes and keep on spending. That's what has happened for way too many years. In AC they raised property taxes 20% last year and now 29% this year. Let's celebrate! Let's go on a date! Oh, wait. We don't have any money after paying these outrageous taxes. Lots of people are losing jobs in AC. Where are they going to find the money to pay their taxes? They can forget about date night.
I went to the Atlantic City Tax Appealers meeting held at City Hall to hear what this group of concerned citizens had to say. There was over 100 people there from all levels of income including the elderly and retired who have a much more difficult time paying their taxes. One elderly woman told us how her sister couldn’t afford the new high taxes and had to just walk away from her home. One gentleman accused the city of using outrageous tax hikes to steel the properties of the poor to make room for a more elite class.
These people were mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore. In attendance to listen to the people were Mayor Guardian, and City Councilmen, Tim Mancuso, Steven Moore, William Marsh, and Marty Small.
Each politician spoke about the need to raise revenue and cut costs. Are they really doing that? The mayor told us that through attrition we reduced the 1200 person workforce by 81 people. Attrition is not going to cut it folks. He told us there are close to 500 city vehicles that require maintenance and fuel. 500! Is he serious? Yeah.
Seth Grossman, from Liberty and Prosperity, a local organization educating people about government, stood up and made some great points. Read about them on their website: http://www.libertyandprosperity.org or check them out on Facebook. Their goal is to educate the people about how to take back their government from politicians who are either greedy, inept, play to special interests or just keep playing politics with our money. Seth says, "NO PLACE TO RUN. WHAT HAPPENS TO AMERICA HAPPENS TO NEW JERSEY FIRST."
I stood up and told two stories as a prelude to my question: "Is anyone watching what's going on in this very building?"
Story one: “My neighbor opened her tax bill and tears began streaming down her face. Two weeks later there was a sales sign on her lawn." I looked out at the people in attendance and asked, "How many of you are going to open your tax bill next year and have tears running down your faces?"
Story two: "Mr. Mayor, my father was born in Atlantic City 100 years ago, this month. I've lived in Atlantic City for twenty years and never came to this building for anything other than buying my two parking permits so I could park on my street. I never came here until I opened my tax bill three weeks ago. Now I am here to tell you that for the past 20 years when I entered the little room housing the parking permit employees, I find between two (minimum) and usually up to five city employees chatting away. They barley acknowledge my presence as if I'm about to disrupt their little party. No greeting, no hello, no how are you today? One lady takes my information and fills out a form while the others continue their banter. They laugh a lot. They must be a happy bunch. I'm then directed to the cashier, another city employee, who astonishingly has, for the past 20 years, been talking on her cell phone. I have to guess that she hangs up at times, like maybe when walking to her car at days end. Who know? Maybe it's just a coincidence. She too doesn't greet me, takes my money and hands me a receipt that I bring back to the chattering quintet. The one employee gives me my permit, and I'm on my way. Mayor, does it really take two to six full time employees to manage the parking sticker concession? Could this be done by mail or the Internet? If this is happening in one tiny room in City Hall, is it possible that there is other waste? Who are the other three bored city employees enjoying regular visits to the parking permit office? What department are they able to break away from? Is there any supervision? Is anyone watching what's going on in this building?"
I must say, the Mayor seemed aware of this problem, took some notes and nodded his head in agreement while I spoke. He stated that this matter would be taken care of. The mayor seemed concerned about everyone's complaints and addressed them accordingly. Hopefully he will get something done and fast.
We don't want AC to become the next Detroit, possibly the best example of poor government in modern America. We don't want more crime, more poverty, and more decay that shall surely happen if we don't get our house in order. The days of fat contracts between the city and unions are over. The time to make a realistic budget that doesn't break the backs of the taxpayers has come to AC.
We shall see what happens over the next few months. Mayor Guardian did inherit the problems from past administrations just like our illustrious President. Hopefully our mayor will not make poor decisions, poor policy, make excuses and blame everyone else for our problems over the next eight years as did our celebrated President. It's time to stop passing the buck. It is time for fiscal accountability. It is time for LEADERSHIP!
So, in order to enjoy the wonderful entertainment offered in Atlantic City for date night, it would be nice to have some spending money. It would be nice for our elected officials to be responsible just like they expect us to behave responsibly.
Just an afterthought. I notice that the city has placed beautiful flower boxes at every street corner on the Boardwalk. They are lovely. The other day I saw how they are maintained. As one city worker drove the city truck, stopping every fifty feet, the second city worker laid himself across the water tank in a position as prone as one could get to almost looking like he was lying in bed. He watered the plants as his loud radio disrupted the quiet atmosphere. Next notice how many of the city ambassadors in bright yellow shirts greet you. They do walk the boards in a cushy but necessary job. Wouldn't it be nice if they, too, got off their cell phones and said, "Good morning, sir. Nice day, isn't it?"
We need to take back our city. All around the country folks need to do the same before America becomes a second rate nation.
Here’s an idea. While working at your city job in Atlantic City and while driving on the streets let’s stay off the cell phones. If you have that much time to talk on your cell phone, you are telling us your job is probably not that necessary.