Whelan AWOL on AC Economic Devleopment, But is There for PA

?While Assemblyman Jim Whelan continues to insist that he is responsible for promoting Atlantic City?s economic resurgence through investment in the casino industry, the facts tell an entirely different story — one of indifference, poor judgment and abject failure,? former Atlantic County Republican chairman Ken LeFevre said today.

?When the Legislature was considering a proposal to reclaim a large landfill site in the city?s marina district as the first step toward redeveloping it in 1996, Whelan was invited to testify before the committee on the bill,? LeFevre said. ?He never bothered to show up.?

LeFevre, a member of the Assembly at the time, sponsored the legislation which provided incentives to developers who closed and remediated municipal landfills. Even though it was bitterly opposed by some, the bill passed and was signed into law in November of 1996. The property is now the site of the Borgata hotel and casino as well as the proposed MGM/mirage development.

?I extended a personal invitation to the Mayor to appear before the committee and express his support,? LeFevre said. ?He never responded despite being fully aware that potential casino investors had expressed an interest in building on the property and bringing thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in new ratables to the City.?

?He didn?t, however, hesitate to appear before a committee of the Pennsylvania Legislature and give support to a proposal to legalize gaming in that state, creating major and direct competition to Atlantic City?s casino industry,? LeFevre said. ?We?ve all seen the adverse impact of casino development less than an hour away — sharp revenue declines accompanied by equally sharp declines in tax revenue and layoffs in the industry.?

?As mayor, he couldn?t find the time to appear before a New Jersey legislative committee to support the landfill reclamation proposal which led to its development into a $2 billion investment, but somehow he could make time to suggest that Pennsylvania compete directly with us,? he said.

?His claims of leading the way to economic growth and development while he was mayor are thoroughly misleading,? LeFevre said. ?He?s attempting to take credit for the hard work of others, individuals committed to restoring the City to a place of prominence as a tourist and vacation destination.?

?The success of others is exceeded only by the failure of his tenure as Mayor,? LeFevre said.

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