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National

N.J. To Take Over Atlantic City's Finances To Try To Reduce City's Debt

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The land dispute is a question of who's in control, and, in a sense, that is also the question in Atlantic City. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie favors state control for city finances. Here's Joe Hernandez from member station WHYY.

JOE HERNANDEZ, BYLINE: Christie announced his support of the plan yesterday, saying it was in response to years of financial mismanagement in the resort town known for casino gambling. Atlantic City's Republican mayor Don Guardian, who previously opposed a state takeover, now says the plan is to partner with the state.

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DON GUARDIAN: Basically you have these four options - do nothing, have the state take over, file bankruptcy or form a partnership. Not hard to figure out what you want to do and what's best for Atlantic City and the state of New Jersey.

HERNANDEZ: State lawmakers are still drafting the proposal. It's not clear what role city officials will play. The five-year program would allow the state to restructure debt, cancel collective bargaining agreements and sell off city assets. But after the announcement yesterday, residents and local leaders expressed anger at the possibility of a state takeover. Betty J. Lewis is president of the Atlantic City chapter of the NAACP.

BETTY J. LEWIS: We have a right to self governance. They do not have a right to come in here with a lousy track record of the state of New Jersey and tell us how to run our city.

HERNANDEZ: Government Christie promises to sign the bill as soon as it hits his desk. For NPR News, I'm Joe Hernandez in Atlantic City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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