An emergency manager would likely help Atlantic City make important changes immediately, though it couldn’t make up for the closures in casinos that have driven the city’s difficulties, said Eric Scorsone, an economist at Michigan State University who teaches about distressed cities.
“I do think an emergency manager would be interesting and potentially helpful,” said Mr. Scorsone, who provided advice last year to New Jersey officials about how to handle economically troubled cities. “It might be necessary but I’m not sure if it’s sufficient.”
New Jersey doesn’t have a specific law that allows the state to take over a municipality through an emergency manager. Mr. Christie is expected to make the appointments through local finance laws that allow the state to impose fiscal monitors—as it is doing, in limited fashion, in places such as Newark.Another New Jersey state senator raised concerns about the legality of the decision, telling NJ.com he wonders where the legal authority comes from.
Bill Dressel, director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, said he was concerned about the state exerting this degree of control over a city, and questioned what laws the administration was using to justify its involvement. “Obviously I’ve got some concerns,” he said.
"I've heard rumors to the same effect that other people have heard," state Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic) told NJ Advance Media, referring to Orr coming to the city.Now that sounds like a familiar sentiment. Back in November, a state appointed commission recommended Christie appoint an emergency manager, but said that existing statute would likely have to be augmented by the New Jersey legislature to make it happen.
He added: "I wonder where the legal authority comes from for it, frankly, number one. Number two, I don't want to speak for the city or the mayor — I haven't been mayor for quite a while — but there's a philosophical question of we have an elected mayor and an elected council and we're just going to throw that out? On what basis? Detroit was in bankruptcy."
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