Contact: Lena Smith, [email protected], 732-839-0878
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ-- A community effort in Atlantic City scored a major victory against Governor Chris Christie’s state takeover, as a new law protecting the publicly-owned water system from corporate privatization will take effect.
Under the 2016 takeover law, Governor Christie’s Department of Community Affairs can veto all actions taken at City Council meetings within 15 business days. But the governor’s takeover authorities have decided not to veto an ordinance passed by the City Council on July 11. The ordinance, introduced by the citizens group AC Citizens Against the State Takeover, protects the public’s right to participate in any decision to sell Atlantic City’s water system.
Governor Christie and other state political leaders have long shown interest in selling the city’s water system to a corporation. While residents of every municipality in the state have the right to hold a referendum on any sale of a public water system, the state takeover law removed that right. The ordinance seeks to restore that power to Atlantic City residents. At the July 11 Atlantic City Council meeting, the ordinance was unanimously passed 8-0, with one abstention.
AC Citizens Against the State Takeover put out the following statement in response to the new development:
“The state takeover legislation was an act of complete arrogance on the part of the Governor and his Democratic ally, Senator Steve Sweeney. They expected to be able to come into Atlantic City and steal one of the most valuable assets that remains in public hands. We said no, and now people power has prevailed in Atlantic City.
“When the takeover law passed in 2016, Christie didn’t think the people of Atlantic City would come together and put up a challenge. He was wrong. The takeover law is a clear violation of our civil rights, and a threat to black and brown communities and hard-working communities across the entire state.
“Governor Christie’s arrogance was stopped by the people of Atlantic City. The next governor of the state should undo the damage done by Christie’s takeover by restoring full democracy to Atlantic City. We will continue to be vigilant in watching the state’s action regarding the water utility, and will continue to fight for our rights to publicly controlled water.”
AC Citizens Against the State Takeover is a project led by Food & Water Watch, the Atlantic City chapter of the NAACP, Atlantic City Civic Associations, ACLU of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center.