The local law was under threat of a governor's veto, thanks to a 2016 takeover law that allows the state Department of Community Affairs (oh the irony in that name!) to block actions taken at city council meetings within 15 days. But the ordinance passed by the Atlantic City city council on July 11 will stand.
That 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.
According to Food and Water Watch, "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, 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, released a statement, calling the state takeover legislation "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."
And, we hope, to the entire state! Congratulations to Atlantic City and to their responsive local elected officials.