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Saturday, August 30, 2014

LABOR DAY WEEKEND IN AC - THE BIG LAY OFF


   Its Labor Day Weekend in AC and many of the Casinos will be closing  after the holiday and laying off thousands of working people.Then to add an extra dollop of misery to this shit cake, on Sept. 8th Gov. Christie is coming to AC to  probably tell us of his plan to allow Casinos in other parts of NJ as his plan LOL to save us once again. Anymore of his plans and there won't be much left of us to save. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

THE MOST IMPORTANT STORY ON EARTH ?

An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth

A former AP correspondent explains how and why reporters get Israel so wrong, and why it matters

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A TV reporter does a stand-up near the Israeli/Gaza border as a 24-hour ceasefire begins on July 27, 2014. (Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)


The Israel Story
Is there anything left to say about Israel and Gaza? Newspapers this summer have been full of little else. Television viewers see heaps of rubble and plumes of smoke in their sleep. A representative article from a recent issue of The New Yorker described the summer’s events by dedicating one sentence each to the horrors in Nigeria and Ukraine, four sentences to the crazedg√©nocidaires of ISIS, and the rest of the article—30 sentences—to Israel and Gaza.
When the hysteria abates, I believe the events in Gaza will not be remembered by the world as particularly important. People were killed, most of them Palestinians, including many unarmed innocents. I wish I could say the tragedy of their deaths, or the deaths of Israel’s soldiers, will change something, that they mark a turning point. But they don’t. This round was not the first in the Arab wars with Israel and will not be the last. The Israeli campaign was little different in its execution from any other waged by a Western army against a similar enemy in recent years, except for the more immediate nature of the threat to a country’s own population, and the greater exertions, however futile, to avoid civilian deaths.
The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.
While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.
In this essay I will try to provide a few tools to make sense of the news from Israel. I acquired these tools as an insider: Between 2006 and the end of 2011 I was a reporter and editor in the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press, one of the world’s two biggest news providers. I have lived in Israel since 1995 and have been reporting on it since 1997.
This essay is not an exhaustive survey of the sins of the international media, a conservative polemic, or a defense of Israeli policies. (I am a believer in the importance of the “mainstream” media, a liberal, and a critic of many of my country’s policies.) It necessarily involves some generalizations. I will first outline the central tropes of the international media’s Israel story—a story on which there is surprisingly little variation among mainstream outlets, and one which is, as the word “story” suggests, a narrative construct that is largely fiction. I will then note the broader historical context of the way Israel has come to be discussed and explain why I believe it to be a matter of concern not only for people preoccupied with Jewish affairs. I will try to keep it brief.
How Important Is the Israel Story?
Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. It was higher than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted.
To offer a sense of scale: Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer. The AP’s editors believed, that is, that Syria’s importance was less than one-40th that of Israel. I don’t mean to pick on the AP—the agency is wholly average, which makes it useful as an example. The big players in the news business practice groupthink, and these staffing arrangements were reflected across the herd. Staffing levels in Israel have decreased somewhat since the Arab uprisings began, but remain high. And when Israel flares up, as it did this summer, reporters are often moved from deadlier conflicts. Israel still trumps nearly everything else.
The volume of press coverage that results, even when little is going on, gives this conflict a prominence compared to which its actual human toll is absurdly small. In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.
News organizations have nonetheless decided that this conflict is more important than, for example, the more than 1,600 women murdered in Pakistan last year (271 after being raped and 193 of them burned alive), the ongoing erasure of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, the carnage in Congo (more than 5 million dead as of 2012) or the Central African Republic, and the drug wars in Mexico (death toll between 2006 and 2012: 60,000), let alone conflicts no one has ever heard of in obscure corners of India or Thailand. They believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close.
What Is Important About the Israel Story, and What Is Not
A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.
Corruption, for example, is a pressing concern for many Palestinians under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, but when I and another reporter once suggested an article on the subject, we were informed by the bureau chief that Palestinian corruption was “not the story.” (Israeli corruption was, and we covered it at length.)
Israeli actions are analyzed and criticized, and every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported. In one seven-week period, from Nov. 8 to Dec. 16, 2011, I decided to count the stories coming out of our bureau on the various moral failings of Israeli society—proposed legislation meant to suppress the media, the rising influence of Orthodox Jews, unauthorized settlement outposts, gender segregation, and so forth. I counted 27 separate articles, an average of a story every two days. In a very conservative estimate, this seven-week tally was higher than the total number of significantly critical stories about Palestinian government and society, including the totalitarian Islamists of Hamas, that our bureau had published in the preceding three years.
The Hamas charter, for example, calls not just for Israel’s destruction but for the murder of Jews and blames Jews for engineering the French and Russian revolutions and both world wars; the charter was never mentioned in print when I was at the AP, though Hamas won a Palestinian national election and had become one of the region’s most important players. To draw the link with this summer’s events: An observer might think Hamas’ decision in recent years to construct a military infrastructure beneath Gaza’s civilian infrastructure would be deemed newsworthy, if only because of what it meant about the way the next conflict would be fought and the cost to innocent people. But that is not the case. The Hamas emplacements were not important in themselves, and were therefore ignored. What was important was the Israeli decision to attack them.
There has been much discussion recently of Hamas attempts to intimidate reporters. Any veteran of the press corps here knows the intimidation is real, and I saw it in action myself as an editor on the AP news desk. During the 2008-2009 Gaza fighting I personally erased a key detail—that Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians and being counted as civilians in the death toll—because of a threat to our reporter in Gaza. (The policy was then, and remains, not to inform readers that the story is censored unless the censorship is Israeli. Earlier this month, the AP’s Jerusalem news editor reported and submitted a story on Hamas intimidation; the story was shunted into deep freeze by his superiors and has not been published.)
But if critics imagine that journalists are clamoring to cover Hamas and are stymied by thugs and threats, it is generally not so. There are many low-risk ways to report Hamas actions, if the will is there: under bylines from Israel, under no byline, by citing Israeli sources. Reporters are resourceful when they want to be.
The fact is that Hamas intimidation is largely beside the point because the actions of Palestinians are beside the point: Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story. In addition, reporters are under deadline and often at risk, and many don’t speak the language and have only the most tenuous grip on what is going on. They are dependent on Palestinian colleagues and fixers who either fear Hamas, support Hamas, or both. Reporters don’t need Hamas enforcers to shoo them away from facts that muddy the simple story they have been sent to tell.
It is not coincidence that the few journalists who have documented Hamas fighters and rocket launches in civilian areas this summer were generally not, as you might expect, from the large news organizations with big and permanent Gaza operations. They were mostly scrappy, peripheral, and newly arrived players—a Finn, an Indian crew, a few others. These poor souls didn’t get the memo.
What Else Isn’t Important?
The fact that Israelis quite recently elected moderate governments that sought reconciliation with the Palestinians, and which were undermined by the Palestinians, is considered unimportant and rarely mentioned. These lacunae are often not oversights but a matter of policy. In early 2009, for example, two colleagues of mine obtained information that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made a significant peace offer to the Palestinian Authority several months earlier, and that the Palestinians had deemed it insufficient. This had not been reported yet and it was—or should have been—one of the biggest stories of the year. The reporters obtained confirmation from both sides and one even saw a map, but the top editors at the bureau decided that they would not publish the story.
Some staffers were furious, but it didn’t help. Our narrative was that the Palestinians were moderate and the Israelis recalcitrant and increasingly extreme. Reporting the Olmert offer—like delving too deeply into the subject of Hamas—would make that narrative look like nonsense. And so we were instructed to ignore it, and did, for more than a year and a half.
This decision taught me a lesson that should be clear to consumers of the Israel story: Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here view their role not as explanatory but as political. Coverage is a weapon to be placed at the disposal of the side they like.
How Is the Israel Story Framed?
The Israel story is framed in the same terms that have been in use since the early 1990s—the quest for a “two-state solution.” It is accepted that the conflict is “Israeli-Palestinian,” meaning that it is a conflict taking place on land that Israel controls—0.2 percent of the Arab world—in which Jews are a majority and Arabs a minority. The conflict is more accurately described as “Israel-Arab,” or “Jewish-Arab”—that is, a conflict between the 6 million Jews of Israel and 300 million Arabs in surrounding countries. (Perhaps “Israel-Muslim” would be more accurate, to take into account the enmity of non-Arab states like Iran and Turkey, and, more broadly, 1 billion Muslims worldwide.) This is the conflict that has been playing out in different forms for a century, before Israel existed, before Israel captured the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, and before the term “Palestinian” was in use.
The “Israeli-Palestinian” framing allows the Jews, a tiny minority in the Middle East, to be depicted as the stronger party. It also includes the implicit assumption that if the Palestinian problem is somehow solved the conflict will be over, though no informed person today believes this to be true. This definition also allows the Israeli settlement project, which I believe is a serious moral and strategic error on Israel’s part, to be described not as what it is—one more destructive symptom of the conflict—but rather as its cause.
A knowledgeable observer of the Middle East cannot avoid the impression that the region is a volcano and that the lava is radical Islam, an ideology whose various incarnations are now shaping this part of the world. Israel is a tiny village on the slopes of the volcano. Hamas is the local representative of radical Islam and is openly dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish minority enclave in Israel, just as Hezbollah is the dominant representative of radical Islam in Lebanon, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and so forth.
Hamas is not, as it freely admits, party to the effort to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It has different goals about which it is quite open and that are similar to those of the groups listed above. Since the mid 1990s, more than any other player, Hamas has destroyed the Israeli left, swayed moderate Israelis against territorial withdrawals, and buried the chances of a two-state compromise. That’s one accurate way to frame the story.
An observer might also legitimately frame the story through the lens of minorities in the Middle East, all of which are under intense pressure from Islam: When minorities are helpless, their fate is that of the Yazidis or Christians of northern Iraq, as we have just seen, and when they are armed and organized they can fight back and survive, as in the case of the Jews and (we must hope) the Kurds.
There are, in other words, many different ways to see what is happening here. Jerusalem is less than a day’s drive from Aleppo or Baghdad, and it should be clear to everyone that peace is pretty elusive in the Middle East even in places where Jews are absent. But reporters generally cannot see the Israel story in relation to anything else. Instead of describing Israel as one of the villages abutting the volcano, they describe Israel as the volcano.
The Israel story is framed to seem as if it has nothing to do with events nearby because the “Israel” of international journalism does not exist in the same geo-political universe as Iraq, Syria, or Egypt. The Israel story is not a story about current events. It is about something else.
The Old Blank Screen
For centuries, stateless Jews played the role of a lightning rod for ill will among the majority population. They were a symbol of things that were wrong. Did you want to make the point that greed was bad? Jews were greedy. Cowardice? Jews were cowardly. Were you a Communist? Jews were capitalists. Were you a capitalist? In that case, Jews were Communists. Moral failure was the essential trait of the Jew. It was their role in Christian tradition—the only reason European society knew or cared about them in the first place.
Like many Jews who grew up late in the 20th century in friendly Western cities, I dismissed such ideas as the feverish memories of my grandparents. One thing I have learned—and I’m not alone this summer—is that I was foolish to have done so. Today, people in the West tend to believe the ills of the age are racism, colonialism, and militarism. The world’s only Jewish country has done less harm than most countries on earth, and more good—and yet when people went looking for a country that would symbolize the sins of our new post-colonial, post-militaristic, post-ethnic dream-world, the country they chose was this one.
When the people responsible for explaining the world to the world, journalists, cover the Jews’ war as more worthy of attention than any other, when they portray the Jews of Israel as the party obviously in the wrong, when they omit all possible justifications for the Jews’ actions and obscure the true face of their enemies, what they are saying to their readers—whether they intend to or not—is that Jews are the worst people on earth. The Jews are a symbol of the evils that civilized people are taught from an early age to abhor. International press coverage has become a morality play starring a familiar villain.
Some readers might remember that Britain participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the fallout from which has now killed more than three times the number of people ever killed in the Israel-Arab conflict; yet in Britain, protesters furiously condemn Jewish militarism. White people in London and Paris whose parents not long ago had themselves fanned by dark people in the sitting rooms of Rangoon or Algiers condemn Jewish “colonialism.” Americans who live in places called “Manhattan” or “Seattle” condemn Jews for displacing the native people of Palestine. Russian reporters condemn Israel’s brutal military tactics. Belgian reporters condemn Israel’s treatment of Africans. When Israel opened a transportation service for Palestinian workers in the occupied West Bank a few years ago, American news consumers could read about Israel “segregating buses.” And there are a lot of people in Europe, and not just in Germany, who enjoy hearing the Jews accused of genocide.
You don’t need to be a history professor, or a psychiatrist, to understand what’s going on. Having rehabilitated themselves against considerable odds in a minute corner of the earth, the descendants of powerless people who were pushed out of Europe and the Islamic Middle East have become what their grandparents were—the pool into which the world spits. The Jews of Israel are the screen onto which it has become socially acceptable to project the things you hate about yourself and your own country. The tool through which this psychological projection is executed is the international press.
Who Cares If the World Gets the Israel Story Wrong?
Because a gap has opened here between the way things are and the way they are described, opinions are wrong and policies are wrong, and observers are regularly blindsided by events. Such things have happened before. In the years leading to the breakdown of Soviet Communism in 1991, as the Russia expert Leon Aron wrote in a 2011 essay for Foreign Policy, “virtually no Western expert, scholar, official, or politician foresaw the impending collapse of the Soviet Union.” The empire had been rotting for years and the signs were there, but the people who were supposed to be seeing and reporting them failed and when the superpower imploded everyone was surprised.
Whatever the outcome in this region in the next decade, it will have as much to do with Israel as World War II had to do with Spain
And there was the Spanish civil war: “Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which do not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. … I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what had happened but of what ought to have happened according to various ‘party lines.’ ” That was George Orwell, writing in 1942.
Orwell did not step off an airplane in Catalonia, stand next to a Republican cannon, and have himself filmed while confidently repeating what everyone else was saying or describing what any fool could see: weaponry, rubble, bodies. He looked beyond the ideological fantasies of his peers and knew that what was important was not necessarily visible. Spain, he understood, was not really about Spain at all—it was about a clash of totalitarian systems, German and Russian. He knew he was witnessing a threat to European civilization, and he wrote that, and he was right.
Understanding what happened in Gaza this summer means understanding Hezbollah in Lebanon, the rise of the Sunni jihadis in Syria and Iraq, and the long tentacles of Iran. It requires figuring out why countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia now see themselves as closer to Israel than to Hamas. Above all, it requires us to understand what is clear to nearly everyone in the Middle East: The ascendant force in our part of the world is not democracy or modernity. It is rather an empowered strain of Islam that assumes different and sometimes conflicting forms, and that is willing to employ extreme violence in a quest to unite the region under its control and confront the West. Those who grasp this fact will be able to look around and connect the dots.
Israel is not an idea, a symbol of good or evil, or a litmus test for liberal opinion at dinner parties. It is a small country in a scary part of the world that is getting scarier. It should be reported as critically as any other place, and understood in context and in proportion. Israel is not one of the most important stories in the world, or even in the Middle East; whatever the outcome in this region in the next decade, it will have as much to do with Israel as World War II had to do with Spain. Israel is a speck on the map—a sideshow that happens to carry an unusual emotional charge.
Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews, and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality. They may convince themselves that all of this is the Jews’ problem, and indeed the Jews’ fault. But journalists engage in these fantasies at the cost of their credibility and that of their profession. And, as Orwell would tell us, the world entertains fantasies at its peril.
***
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

VOTE YES! ON NOV. 4th TO DEFEND MARGATE!!







 Here we go again. One year ago, two of Margate's Commissioner's, Mayor Becker and Commissioner Taube insisted that unless they held a non-binding referendum last Nov. they couldn't make any decisions about how Margate should proceed in relation to the ongoing Absecon Island Shore Protection Racket.   They told us then that they needed a non-binding referendum to put this question to the voters and that they would then have the direction they needed going forward to either join the Beach Project if the voters said Yes, or to do what was necessary to not join it if they said No. The PEOPLE spoke LOUD and CLEAR 2 to 1  against the PROJECT!  Unfortunately, as I predicted back then, neither of these two were to be trusted in a non-binding election.  Sadly, I was right ! So, what are the real reasons behind this next referendum?

THE REAL REASONS WHY

Now Taube and Becker want us to  believe that its not  they don't know what the voters in Margate want as regards this issue, its whether these same voters want to spend any $$ to defend Margate's right to stay out of the project and in so doing mount whatever legal challenges are required to further that end. In fact, they've already rigged the vote  by writing the referendum question in such as way as to limit the amount of money to ( 200K) to be spent whether we vote YES or No. So, what they are really saying right up front is, no matter whether YOU the voters want to fight this or not, we don't. And if you Vote YES, we will only spend 200K in pursuit of a challenge, no matter what the actual amount required to win such a challenge might really be.  So, in reality the very wording of the referendum is already telling you they intend to surrender even if you vote YES. Its pretty obvious that given the situation, neither of them really want to go forward and fight the Governor's tyrannical and petulant demand that Margate be FORCED against its people's will to be part of the State's plan for its beaches. So why not just be honest and say no right up front to any further spending? Because, they have a political problem. You told them last fall to stay out of the Project, that you don't want to join or be joined involuntarily and they know that. So now they need  to muddy the water by having us vote to LIMIT the fight, because they are COWARDS and KNAVES  and only one of them has the BALLS ( Taube) to just step up and say were joining, whether we want to or not and why. So, not being able to get Mayor Becker to just openly join, instead they're going to let him join passively, whining like a 6 yr. old the whole way. In so doing, they've decided on a strategy of tying us up in another meaningless election. If they lose, they'll just move the goal posts again. All of this is so they can both go to the voters in next springs Commission elections and beat their chests about how hard they fought to stay out of the Project to no avail and that they just didn't want to spend tax payer $ needlessly in a futile attempt to fight the Gov's / Dictator's emergency decree. BULLSHIT!

TO DEFEND OR TO SURRENDER IS THE REAL  QUESTION 

Here's how I see this phony baloney referendum. Its NOT really about $$ at all. It's about perception and politics. Becker and Taube want to be seen as responsible. Their NOT. Neither are they honest. They both want to have us waste our time and money fighting them and not fighting the "powers to be" that want to take our beaches from us forever and hand us the bill. That's their part of the game here folks. To run the clock out on us. They've already surrendered to the OUTSIDE POWERS that want that $20 mil. to ruin our beaches for the rest of our lifetimes. So no matter what happens, what we need to do on Nov. 4th is say YES. YES we want to DEFEND  Margate's RIGHT to say NO, to  a bunch of self-interested thieving  extortionists that claim that THEY have the right to just come here from DC and Trenton and smash and grab our LAND!! The Vote on Nov. 4th then isn't about spending MONEY,  its about whether to DEFEND or to SURRENDER! Becker and Abbott are a 5th column of defeatists. Taube is at least  up front about being on the Gov.'s and Army/NJDEP's team.  Becker and his Machiavellian Solicitor and adviser Scott Abbott, want us to believe they just want our advice, AGAIN!!  They don't and they have no intention of taking it even if we give it. Nonetheless, we need to send them another message this fall. SO I ask you to VOTE YES on Nov. 4th - TO DEFEND MARGATE'S right to manage it's own beaches as it sees fit.  Then we'll have to  deal with Becker and Taube next spring when they come up for reelection.


   

Saturday, August 23, 2014

MARGATE TO HOLD A SPECIAL MEETING ( For Summer residents as well) 10AM TODAY @ THE UNION AVE MUNICIPAL COMPLEX

Lucy the Elephant in Margate City, New Jersey ...
Lucy the Elephant in Margate City, New Jersey (photo taken July 2004) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Friends (especially Summer Residents)

Margate Commissioners are providing you the opportunity to have your voice heard at a Special Meeting on Saturday, August 23rd at 10:00 AM for (but not limited to) Margate summer residents at the Municipal Building on the corner of Union and Winchester Avenues.

Although as summer residents you can't vote in Margate elections, you have the right to make your voice heard to the full Commission about the Dune Project. Dunes are a redundant and costly endeavor. This project will dramatically alter the beaches and increase City spending for many years into the future.

In spite of a November 2013 referendum in which 65% vote against the Dune Project, Mayor Becker and Commissioner Taube approved yet another referendum for the November 2014 election to ask the voters if they want to spend up to $200,000 to protect their beaches and their vote.

This may be your one and only opportunity for you to ask questions, express your concerns and hear directly from the Commission about the  long term financial impact the Dune Project will have on our community. Cost projections for beach replenishment every 3 years for the next 50 years are estimated to cost Margate taxpayers approximately $20,000,000.00. Also, the Dunes will result in approximately  $100,000 per year in maintenance and repair costs, potentially $25,000 per summer in increased police patrols and hefty legal fees to defend tax appeals that will likely exceed $50,000. Two outside attorneys retained by the City project that a legal challenge to honor the will of the people in attempt to keep this unnecessary project off our beautiful beaches could cost between $30,000 and $200,000….one time! .

Please come to this very important meeting and find out why the majority of the Commission is ignoring the will of the people when the cost to protect their vote, their beaches and the City's tax base is negligible compared to the immediate and long-term costs of the Dune Project. These are your hard earned tax dollars and you have every right to be part of the decision of how they will be spent. 

Respectfully,

Dan

Friday, August 22, 2014

A BEACH PROJECT BUILT ON SAND

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) logo
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Click of the link below at related articles to read a excellent NY Times OP ed. article about an ongoing Army Beach Project. Its a must read for all those interested in the on going battle over Margate's beaches.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Photo
The train station at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands. A proposal for a casino calls for up to 20,000 new parking spaces. CreditBryan Thomas for The New York Times
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With as many as four casinos shutting down in Atlantic City by the end of September, New Jersey is suddenly awash in plans for, well, more casinos.
The Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce is to unveil plans on Tuesday for a Las Vegas-style casino, two 1,000-room hotels, a one-million-square-foot convention center and a youth sports center at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, less than nine miles west of Manhattan.
The chamber says that it could be the most successful casino in the world, sitting northeast of MetLife Stadium, next to the planned American Dream shopping mall, water park and amusement park, and so close to New York City.
“We can turn this place into a fabulous sports and entertainment complex with elements for everybody,” said Jim Kirkos, chief executive of the Meadowlands Chamber, which has 1,120 corporate members. “We can really create an economic engine and make it a destination.”
Similar claims of glamorous, revenue-generating machines are being made by companies in New York State that are vying for casino licenses at locations within 50 miles of Manhattan.
But even as casino fever is intensifying near New York City, in Atlantic City, where the industry was once thriving, the picture is much bleaker.
The Atlantic Club casino closed in January; the Showboat casino announced that it would close Aug. 31; the Revel is to close in September, as is Trump Plaza.
The Meadowlands proposal, or vision, was prompted by discussions among Gov. Chris Christie; Stephen M. Sweeney, president of the State Senate; and other legislators about a constitutional amendment that would allow casinos outside Atlantic City.
This month, Governor Christie announced that he would convene a “summit” of local and state officials on Sept. 8 to discuss the future of Atlantic City.
“We’re happy that all of a sudden there’s this dialogue about gaming outside of Atlantic City,” Mr. Kirkos said.
For decades, there has been a political taboo against the expansion of casino gambling beyond Atlantic City for fear of undermining the 12 casinos there.
But Atlantic City casinos have been battered by the proliferation of casinos in surrounding states, especially Pennsylvania. Revenues have fallen by half since 2006. And now New York plans to license full-scale casinos within a short car ride of northern New Jersey and New York City.
So even as Atlantic City struggles to reinvent itself as a seaside resort and convention city that also happens to have gambling, some legislators, developers and gambling companies are looking to shore up New Jersey’s flanks against more competition.
“You’re losing four casinos in Atlantic City,” said Alan Woinski, publisher of Gaming Industry Weekly Report. “Why don’t you open a casino in another part of New Jersey? The customer in North Jersey is not going to Atlantic City anymore. They drive 70 minutes to Sands Bethlehem casino or to Yonkers.”
In July, Paul Fireman, the former chairman of Reebok International,proposed a $4.6 billion casino project with a 95-story skyscraper at the southern end of Jersey City, next to his 160-acre Liberty National Golf Course, a relatively remote location with spectacular views of Lower Manhattan.
Jersey City’s mayor, Steven M. Fulop, a supporter of the project, claimed that “it would be the highest-grossing casino in the United States.”
But proponents will have to overcome the misgivings of officials from South Jersey, where thousands of Atlantic City casino workers make their homes.
In a separate proposal, Jeff Gural, a New York real estate investor, wants to install slot machines at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, where he runs the racetrack and recently built an $88 million grandstand.
Mr. Gural is not looking to build a destination resort that would compete with Atlantic City. Under his proposal, he would operate slot machines at a 55 percent tax rate, with nearly half of the revenue dedicated to rebuilding Atlantic City as a resort.
“We have to come up with a plan that helps Atlantic City, and doesn’t put it out of business,” Mr. Gural said. “That’s in no one’s best interest.”
But the Meadowlands Chamber has much more ambitious plans.
Its proposal is to build a hotel and a convention hall, a large casino and a youth sports center in a building next to the vacant Izod arena. There would be a second, 1,000-room hotel next to the Meadowlands racetrack.
The proposal calls for up to 20,000 additional parking spaces in garages scattered across the 750-acre sports complex. In addition, a 1.5-mile monorail or “people mover” would transport visitors around the complex.
“We don’t only want a casino,” Mr. Kirkos said. “I want a convention center, a couple of quality hotels. I want it all.”
Raymond J. Lesniak, a state senator from North Jersey, is not so sure. He said he, too, welcomed a discussion about expanding casinos beyond Atlantic City. Any proposal, he said, had to help Atlantic City transform itself. Mr. Lesniak dismissed the proposal for a Las Vegas-style casino in the Meadowlands, in favor of one overlooking the New York skyline.
“The proposal for a megacasino at the Jersey City site” and a slot parlor in the Meadowlands, Mr. Lesniak said, “could produce in excess of a billion dollars over 10 years to be reinvested in Atlantic City.”