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I could really take the easy route and do Trump again, but I won’t. You deserve more than that. Besides, I’m sure you hear enough about that clown in a week, it would probably make your head explode!

So, this week, I decided to kick the Trump tree and see how far away the rotten apple would land. Turns out, not very far.

I give you our Ass Hat of the Week, Carl Icahn. If you’ve never heard of him, he’s a billionaire who owns, among other things, the reason we picked him this week. The Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. If you haven’t heard, it will be shutting down after Labor Day.

Carl Icahn’s Profile on Forbes Website

“But doesn’t Trump own that?” You might ask. The answer, No.He licenses his Name to be on the building, but he doesn’t have any controlling interest in its ownership.

Here’s a brief history:

The Trump Taj Mahal is lit up at sunset in Atlantic City
The Trump Taj Mahal is lit up at sunset in Atlantic City, New Jersey July 5, 2016. Picture taken July 5, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

In 1990 Donald Trump opened the rather ornate Taj Mahal on the Boardwalk. He proclaimed it as “the eighth wonder of the world.” It was the epitome of all things Trump. There were million dollar chandeliers in the lobby. The hotel towered above the Boardwalk like a large bully, expecting the rest of the class to run (close down) or just capitulate. Excess everywhere!

Fast forward a few years, and THREE bankruptcies later, Trump’s organization was compelled to sell the now iconic Atlantic City landmark. That’s where Icahn comes in. He purchased the property at a bargain. It is now owned by him and managed by Tropicana Entertainment.

Tropicana’s CEO (Tony Rodio) had this to say:

“Currently the Taj is losing multi-millions a month, and now with this strike, we see no path to profitability,” Rodio said. “Our directors cannot just allow the Taj to continue burning through tens of millions of dollars when the union has single handedly blocked any path to profitability. Unfortunately we’ve reached the point where we will have to close the Taj.”

Management (and ownership) place the lion’s share of the blame on the local Union Branch, which has been on strike recently (it’s longest since 2004). The dispute is over the worker’s receiving health insurance and benefits on par with other casino workers in the city. These benefits were stripped when owner’s got approval of a Bankruptcy judge in 2014. Since then, Icahn has offered to restore benefits, but at a level below the other casinos. The Union, naturally rejected the offer.

Read the Union’s Statement Here.

It is worth mentioning that Atlantic City casinos have been loosing money steadily for years. The rise of gaming in surrounding states (like Pennsylvania and New York), the prevalence of Indian casinos like Foxwoods in Connecticut. The “Great Recession” that affected the disposable income of many Americans (i.e., their customers). These are just some of the reasons.

But Icahn and Tropicana choose not to bring these up to the public, opting to blame the “evil” Union for being intransigent and unwilling to give ground. Basically, standing up for the rights of the workers.

So instead, they are just opting to close the property, putting 3000 people out of work, because they wouldn’t agree to do right by their workers.

Now, I’m sure there’s someone out there who is willing to defend Tropicana’s and Icahn’s position. It’s not me! The closing of the casino/hotel only represents a minor inconvenience to Icahn. A line item on his deductions when his company files taxes. He will take the loss, and use it to reduce his tax burden.

However, if you are one of those 3000 workers, it’s a much bigger deal. That’s up to 3000 families losing an income. That’s 3000 more people looking for a job being added to the already crowded space of job seekers. That’s families having to use savings for retirement and credit cards to buy the essentials to survive. That’s up to 3000 new unemployment claims, and families that potentially have to go on government assistance. That’s 3000 individuals and families whose lives will be put on hold until they can “get back on their feet.”

I take the the worker’s side! Not the multi-billionaire who can just wash his hands of the matter, and move on to the next business boondoggle, and ruin some more peoples lives.

Imagine if they would have put a few million dollars (a tiny amount compared to what they claim they were losing) into their workers. They might have alleviated their concerns and made them more productive. They might have gotten them on their side, and as a team, saved all their jobs. But instead, they went with “our way or the highway!”

For this, Our winner and Ass Hat of the Week: Carl Icahn. (With an Honorable mention for Tropicana Entertainment and their CEO, Tony Rodio)


PS, It’s probably worth a mention that Icahn’s name has been repeatedly floated by Trump for Secretary of the Treasury. That sounds like a great idea, right? (yes, that was sarcasm)


Amid longest labor strike in Atlantic City history, Trump Taj Mahal casino to shut down