The tradition dates back decades. The Mayor of Atlantic City delivers an unofficial State of the City address at the annual winter gathering of the Metropolitan Business and Citizen’s Association (MBCA), held at Caesar’s Hotel and Casino.

The following past and present Mayors have made this annual sojourn.

  • Jim Whelan
  • Lorenzo Langford
  • Bob Levy
  • William Marsh
  • Scott Evans
  • Frank Gilliam
  • Marty Small

Yesterday, Small spoke for 1 1/2 hours (too long) and found out that the biggest reaction to his speech was not the big things, rather, it was the small things.

Elected officials often miss the point that residents place a priority on the basic things and not big promises that most often times are not realized.

People want:

  • Safety
  • Cleanliness
  • Traffic lights that are properly synchronized
  • Prompt snow removal
  • Other basic services that affect their daily lives

Atlantic City Mayor Small learned this in real-time, yesterday.

Small thought the biggest thing he talked about was a large-scale proposed $ 2.7 billion development project at Bader Field.

Fun Fact: Atlantic City’s Bader Field Airport is where the term airport was first created in America. A cool list of Atlantic City “firsts” immediately follows this article.

After all, if it comes to fruition, it will be a massive 141-acre project called “Renaissance at Bader Field,” proposed by DEEM Enterprises.

It would include:

  • Hundreds of condominiums.
  • High-rise hotel, with meeting and event space.
  • Retail space.
  • Educational space (teaching mechanics).
  • Formula One race track.

Mayor Small delivered a Power Point presentation with beautiful, impressive illustrations.

He thought that it was the Jewel of the Crown of his address. He was spectacularly wrong.

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No deal with DEEM Enterprises is signed. And, Small has absolutely no authority to consummate a deal with them or anyone else.

Because of so many promises that have been made and not delivered in Atlantic City though out the years, residents and stakeholders don’t get excited by “political promises” made. They’ll believe it, when they actually see it.

The state of New Jersey commands absolute authority over the City of Atlantic City and they have never wielded it more tight-fisted then during Small’s term in office.

The undeniable, biggest favorable reaction that Small received during his speech was when he promised to fix the decades-long problem with the traffic lights in Atlantic City.

With the great, advanced technology of today, you would think that it would be an easy task to properly synchronize the traffic lights in Atlantic City.

Anyone who drives through the city knows this all too well. It’s hard to imagine that it could be worse. The timing is so bad that you get stopped at one light … and, when your light turns green, you promptly get stopped at the very next light to wait some more.

It’s frustrating, inefficient and causes unnecessary traffic pattern problems. It’s been this way for decades.

In the end, Mayor Small’s biggest round of applause wasn’t over a grandiose $ 2.7 billion proposal that may never happen.

The biggest moment was his small promise to fix the traffic lights synchronization nightmare.

Let this serve notice that even when your name is “Small” that it really is the small things and not the perceived big things that residents want you to achieve.

Lesson learned.

Atlantic City's Firsts Throughout History

Steel Pier