News Column

NJ Gov. Chris Christie Hints at Development in Atlantic City in Speech to Laborers' Union

May 16, 2012

Sarah Watson

Construction jobs in Atlantic City will increase as the economy improves and efforts to revitalize the resort move forward, Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday while speaking at the Laborer's International Union of North America 2012 Eastern Region Conference.

Christie hinted that development projects within the city's tourism district could be moving forward relatively soon. "I think we're going to have some good news to announce in the next couple of months about more people coming to Atlantic City to invest in what we're doing," the governor said to several hundred people in a Harrah's Resort Atlantic City ballroom.

Economic revitalization statewide that could lead to construction jobs, including infrastructure improvements, made up the crux of Christie's 25-minute talk to Laborer members from Delaware, New Jersey and parts of New York. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell will address the conference Wednesday.

Assemblyman John Amodeo, when asked about what any announcement regarding development in Atlantic City could be, said Christie may have been alluding to the proposed Hard Rock casino at the end of Albany Avenue, high-rise residential buildings or other proposed projects that he could not discuss.

That Christie and other high-ranking political officials made the trip to the conference illustrates the union's sway, union Vice President Ray Pocino said during his remarks.

"It's a tribute to our role in politics and policy here in New Jersey that he is here today," Pocino said as he introduced the governor to the Bruce Springsteen song "Wrecking Ball." "The need for public infrastructure is high. The availability for public funding or political will is low and dwindling," he said.

While much of the governor's speech repeated talking points used at other events, including town hall meetings, Christie pointed out that one of the examples of the state working with private enterprise in an effort to spur jobs was the opening of Revel.

"When I became governor, there were cranes not moving, a half-built glass building that stood as a monument to the difficult times that this city was having," Christie said. "I said, 'I'm willing to bet on Atlantic City and I'm willing to bet on the workers who will build that building.'"

Christie, who has been lambasted for being anti-union because of his proposals for restoring the public pension system and attempting to lower property taxes, addressed the criticism by saying his ideas for fixing the pension system were looking at the larger picture.

"I want our pension system to be strong and safe," Christie said. "That's not an anti-union position. That's a pro-responsibility position. ... My emphasis is on doing the math."

Source: (c) 2012 The Press of Atlantic City (Pleasantville, N.J.)

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