A Push to Eliminate the Mayor in One City After a Mayoral Scandal

Former Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr., who resigned after pleading guilty to wire fraud.

Former Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr., who resigned after pleading guilty to wire fraud. AP Photo

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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Texas will review Confederate artwork in Senate chamber … Georgia Governor to fill vacant Senate seat … St. Louis makes commitment to end AIDS by 2030.

A consortium of Atlantic City casino owners and unions representing construction and gaming venue employees are pushing the idea of a referendum vote to scrap the current strong mayor system in the city. The petition they are circulating calls for doing away with an elected mayor and a city council for a city manager position and a smaller city council with a mayor chosen from among that council. The referendum’s key supporters include Morris Bailey, who owns Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel and contributed over $126,000 to the referendum initiative, and Resorts Casino Hotel CEO Mark Giannantonio. Unite Here Local 54 President Bob McDevitt, another supporter of the referendum, said a change is necessary following former Mayor Frank Gilliam’s guilty plea of stealing from a youth basketball league (he later resigned). “The only people that are (against this) are those who are part of the cartel. I believe we should have less people running a government. I think it’s more efficient and it makes sense for a community this size,” McDevitt said. Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, has charged the campaign with racism, noting that Atlantic City’s government leadership is majority black. “It is at the height of arrogance and represents deep-seated racial bias and animus that makes us wonder which state are we living in: New Jersey or Alabama? The move reflects a mindset that believes African Americans and other races can’t govern and don’t have the backbone or the courage to fight,” he said. City Councilmember George Tibbitt called the petition a “scam,” and cautioned constituents against signing it. “Even if they pass it, we’re going to give them a good old-fashioned butt whooping,” he said. [Press of Atlantic City; Casino.org]

ARTWORK | Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced that a special state Senate committee will review artwork in the legislative building, fulfilling a promise made earlier in the year when the Senate passed a bill that would make the removal of Confederate monuments more difficult. At the time, some senators raised questions close to home, pointing out portraits of Confederates in the Senate chamber, including one of General Albert Sidney Johnston. State Sen. Royce West, a Democrat, said that the painting was inappropriate. “It’s a painful reminder of the history of Texas. I often wonder why a Confederate general hangs in the state Capitol, specifically in the Senate chamber,” he said. The new Senate committee will be responsible for reviewing “the history and procedures for the placement of art and other decor” in the building. [Dallas Morning News; Longview News Journal]

GEORGIA SENATOR | Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to appoint Katie Loeffler to fill one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats that will become vacant at the end of the year when Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican, is set to retire for health reasons. The appointment would be made in defiance of President Trump’s wishes, who favored Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins over Loeffler, a financial services executive. Trump allies, including U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz from Florida, have condemned Kemp’s choice. “If you substitute your judgement for the President’s, maybe you need a primary in 2022. It’s not the establishment you are screwing with your donor-induced stubbornness. You are hurting President Trump. You know this because he told you,” Gaetz tweeted at Kemp. Ryan Mahoney, an advisor to Kemp, tweeted back that Gaetz’s opinion was unnecessary. “We don’t know you and we don’t care what you think,” he said. [Politico; Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

AIDS | On World AIDS Day, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson signed a declaration to end the AIDS epidemic in the city by 2030. There are 6,000 people living with HIV, the infection that can become AIDS, in the city, and Dr. Fredrick Echols, the St. Louis City Director of Health, said a lot must be done to ensure people receive treatment. "One of the things that we'll be doing is working to remove the stigma, so that not only public health professionals but persons in the community can treat individuals equally and not just because they're living with a condition," Echols said. The city became one of more than 300 cities that are committed to the FastTrack Cities AIDS declaration, which outlines goals that cities should meet by certain dates. Dr. Jose Zuinga, of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care, said that the initiative has already shown progress."Six cities have already attained and surpassed the programmatic targets that are part of the initiative. And, in the United States we'll announce tomorrow that New York City is one of them, the first in the United States,” he said. [KMOV; FOX 2]

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a state budget that would recommend $387 million for affordable housing initiatives. The funding would be divided between two programs, the Housing Initiative Partnership Program, which supports local governments with homeownership initiatives, and the Apartment Incentive Loan Program, which finances affordable housing construction. Trey Price, Executive Director of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, said that having the governor’s support will decrease the chances of the state legislature diverting that funding away from affordable housing.“In recent history here in Florida, the legislature has diverted at least some of the money that is supposed to flow into the housing trust funds. They divert some of that money usually back into general revenue which funds everything else. The good news is that the governor is on our side. That definitely helps,” he said. [WLRN]

Emma Coleman is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.

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