Is Atlantic City’s Federal Safer Grant in Jeopardy? [VIDEO]
"Hurley in the Morning" has learned and confirmed that Atlantic City Administrator Arch Liston is once again jeopardizing a federal "Safer Grant" that could fund 85 Atlantic City Professional Firefighters.
We aggressively put the public heat on this matter last week and Mayor Don Guardian called into the "Hurley in the Morning" Program to unambiguously confirm that Atlantic City would apply for the federal grant before 3:00 p.m. last Friday, June 5, 2016. Always true to his word, Mayor Guardian filed the request with the federal government at 2:07 p.m. in the amount of $21,824,270.69.
Everything seemed to be right on track. For grants such as this, the federal government prioritizes those cities where layoffs would otherwise occur without the federal funds. Atlantic City was all set to layoff 85 professional firefighters. The federal funds would prevent these layoffs from occurring. Hence, there's almost no chance that Atlantic City would not receive the federal grant.
Liston had missed several other earlier deadlines regarding this matter. Many, (myself included) believe that Liston missed the deadlines on purpose. He was playing a dangerous game of waiting for a state arbitrator's ruling on a potential pay increase for certain professional firefighters.
In another story broken by "Hurley in the Morning," (last Friday) 195 senior firefighters have been awarded a $1,000 pay increase in 2016.
It should be noted that if the federal government had not extended the deadline (for this grant) at least twice; Atlantic City would have missed out on these crucial funds. Further, "Hurley in the Morning" has confirmed that there are no strings attached to receiving these federal funds. No matching payments by the City are required.
Now, just when everyone thought this matter was all set, "Hurley in the Morning" has learned that Liston will not send a letter to FEMA, which would confirm that if the federal grant is awarded, the City of Atlantic City promises not to layoff any firefighters.
This is very troubling and (a federal source advised) that it will jeopardize the grant. Other cities are licking their chops hoping that Atlantic City will blow this.
I want to share something else that I think is directly associated with this pattern of conduct by Liston. I called Arch Liston for the first time last Friday. A very polite female staff member took my call and advised me that Liston was in a meeting. Fair enough. I politely gave her my name, and, asked if Arch would call me back "today" ... that I needed just two minutes of his time regarding the Fire Department Federal Grant.
I further told her that this is the first time that I have ever called Arch and that I was on a deadline, and, would really appreciate it if she would convey to him my specific request.
Arch called me back yesterday at about 11:30 a.m. I told him that everything with the grant is now resolved, and, that we didn't have anything to talk about now. Those were the exact words I used. I did advise Arch that I had never called him before, and, that I would have appreciated if he would have called me back on Friday. That I needed just 2 minutes. He said he never received any information about the nature of my request. He said he just knew that I had called.
I told him that I found that very hard to believe because his staff member was so professional and so nice and I underscored how important it was for her to relay the specifics of my call to Arch.
Hence, I believe that Arch Liston directly lied to me yesterday.
Further, Arch Liston now knew exactly why I called. He heard me say how pleased I was that the "Safer Grant" was all set. That there was nothing nelft for us to talk about regarding this matter. I said those exact words. Arch Liston didn't say a word to me about the fact that he is still holding out, and, not sending the letter to FEMA that they have requested.
Let me make this clear. Don Guardian couldn't be more open and honest. He is a pleasure to work with. He never ducks. He never dodges. Arch Liston - on the other hand - has not earned my trust. It is deeply disturbing to have a direct conversation with someone, and, they intentionally don't tell you that the matter (you are calling him about) is not resolved. And, he knew it wasn't resolved, and, he led me to believe otherwise.
Just as I aggressively called on the City of Atlantic City last Friday NOT to miss the federal deadline... I am calling on Arch Liston to provide FEMA with the letter that they need to approve the Atlantic City Safer Grant.
I am also copying Mayor Don Guardian with this public appeal.
If Atlantic City loses more than $21 million, it would be a public disgrace and a potentially very dangerous situation for residents and taxpayers.
Hear Harry Hurley's interview last week with Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian here: