ATLANTIC CITY – When Mike Tyson fought Michael Spinks here adjacent to a site currently slated by the city for demolition, the terror from Brooklyn blew him out in one round, which is what might have happened to the people here at the hands of Donald Trump, but for their toughness and resilience, as they weathered the wreckage wrought by the Trump Plaza tycoon turned TV personality turned incumbent president with 41 days before the final bell, argues Mayor Marty Small.
“This is the Trump Plaza site,” the mayor told InsiderNJ, pointing toward the cavernous entrails of a building that looks like it’s teetering on the brink of hell.
It is, actually.
It’s slated for a January 29th public implosion.
“Debris was falling on the boardwalk whenever there was a northwest wind,” said the mayor.
It was a hazard, to say the least, and the ignominious aftermath of the Trump era in this beat-down town stuggling to climb off the canvas for a comeback. Owned by Carl Ichan, who bought the Trump Plaza from its namesake, Small describes it as an eyesore on the whole city skyline.
“We got one opportunity to get this right and as aggressive as I was to get this building down, I’m going to apply the same aggression to get the right development here,” said the mayor, who wants to see family entertainment on the site.
“We have to offer more amenities,” he added. “We have to attract families, not just gamblers.”
Small acknowledged the symbolism of the coming detotation of this once lavish home to the epicurean rituals of Trump – and the upcoming Nov. 3rd election.
“It is huge,” he said. “In 2014, four casinos closed [among them the Trump Plaza], which resulted in a loss of 10,000 jobs. Atlantic City is a resilient town. Every time someone counts us out, we reinvent ourselves and we come back. People always counted us out, but we’re stronger than ever.”
He says the reationship between the city itself and the casino industry has improved, but sees an opportunity for the people here to exact a measure of justice at the ballot box by repaying a president who he says abandoned Atlantic City.
“I’m all in on Amy Kennedy,” said the mayor, a former Stockton basketball star and local sports hero who is himself on the Nov. 3rd ballot.
Kennedy is running for the seat in Congressional District 2 currently occupied by U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2), who switched parties to stand with Trump.
“Our city is all in on Amy Kennedy,” said Small. “Jeff Van Drew switching parties and the people’s disastate for Donald Trump is a perfect storm. His personal and professional history here – he left a lot of people hanging and he actually bragged about it on a national stage. He used bankruptcy laws to his advantage, and as soon as he made his money, he got out. He’s an opportunist.”
Small said he and others supported Van Drew, only to find themselves allied with a political Judas.
“We get to kill two birds with one stone on November 3rd,” said the mayor. “We’re encouraging people to vote Column B to support the entire Democratic ticket.”
In a wide-ranging interview this afternoon at City Hall, Small spoke about his own record as mayor, the relationship between Black Lives Matter and the police, the challenges of a vote by mail campaign, and the uniqueness of his own political obstacle course. The implosion on corruption charges of his predecessor – who beat Small with the backing of Craig Callaway in 2017 – required Small to run this year to secure the remainder of the disgraced Frank Gilliam’s term, then run again next year for the full, four-year term.
“I put myself in a really good position for next June’s primary,” said the mayor. “We came in under a cloud and we stood up tall for the good people of Atlantic City. We came in in tough times and put confidence back into the mayor’s office. I cannot wait for 2021.”
In the meantime, Small sees Atlantic City collectively drilling the president into a national-sized canvas otherwise called payback.