Atlantic City politics is fraught with corruption. Within the Mayoral contest Joseph Polillo has sparked a glimpse of hope. Mr. Polillo’s release of tax returns has sent a ripple through the campaigns preparing for the June primary, in which Mr. Polillo is not involved. Michael Clark reported:
Polillo, who is running in November’s general election, handed his recently filed 2007 tax returns over to The Press of Atlantic City Tuesday, calling on the other opponents to do the same.
“I expect them to do the same as I did and release their income taxes,” he said Tuesday. “We want to see if everyone is ethically straight with their monies.”
The Press and local commentators have focused on the fact that Mr. Polillo lost money on his Atlantic City historical postcard business in the last fiscal year. His financial shortcoming has overshadowed the noble nature of his financial disclosure. National election law require extensive disclosure of assets. Local election law has more humble disclosure demands.
Mr Polillo’s financial disclosure is a virtuous act. His act signifies a desire to return to a prior civility in the public square, which is conspicuously absent from the ad hominem-laden political discourse of today. We highly doubt that any of Mr. Polillo’s opponents will reply to his challenge to disclose their tax returns before the June primary. Their behavior is yet another indication of the decline in the political culture.
Contrary to being a stunt, Mr. Polillo’s action stands alone in placing principle before political expediency. His gesture appears to be lost on the other candidates, who clearly are in no hurry to release their financial records. Lorenzo Langford wants the issue of finances to disappear because he owes taxpayers a significant amount of money. Both Mayor Scott Evans and Dominic Cappella may release their tax records if Mr. Langford and his competitor do so first. John McQueen, Jr. is dodging the question and Willie Norwood is on public assistance.
Thank you for showing us a better political way. This breed of politicians have no desire to follow your lead. Yet, your example is there for the next generation of political leader to lead a better and more virtuous public life.