Here Joseph Polillo answers questions that were posed to candidates in June’s Mayoral primary. There are two months and two days until 4 November’s election. Voters will choose amoung Republican candidate John McQueen, Democrat Lorenzo T. Langford, and Independent Joe Polillo.
Mr. Polillo takes on a wide range of issues in this interview.
Jesse O. Kurtz: What makes you different from the other mayoral candidates?
Joseph Polillo: I pay my taxes on time. [Only] once was I late due to a death in my family.
I am a somewhat successful businessman. I owe no one money – I have no debt. I do not use credit cards. I have no mortgages. And after working a lifetime I have money in the bank; savings, investments and pension funds. I don’t call people names. I hate no one. And I don’t lose my self-control.
I am non-partisan, unaffiliated, and not associated with any politicians. I am an Independent person, citizen. I can not be bought or bossed. I have spoken out on many issues over many years that affect Atlantic City. The other candidates do not speak out. They are not pro-active. Most of the politics consist of name-calling. Seeking public office for their own benefit only and to give jobs to their family and friends. I seek not my own.
As a member of the Atlantic City community, and as a member of many civic and business groups, such as the Atlantic City Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Absecon Lighthouse, Chelsea Neighborhood Association, Midtown Business and Civic Association, Atlantic City Hotel and Lodging Association, Atlantic-Cape Big Brothers and Sisters, Rolling Thunder, and National Veterans Advocate Group. I have never seen the other candidates as members of any civic or business groups mentioned above.
A further difference is that I am a successful businessman, www.thepostcardshow.com; a successful television show for years. I have been an inspector for the City for 29 years, Vice President of the Atlantic City White Collar Professional Association, and a graduate of New York University with a Bachelor’s Degree.
2: How do you describe Atlantic City to people not familiar with the City?
JP: I describe Atlantic City as the World’s Famous Playground, a city with a great history since 1854. 154 years of greatness, a city of many firsts, the famous beach and boardwalk. It is the very first boardwalk. Atlantic City is the world famous rolling chairs, fresh air, year round great weather, free, no-fee beaches, brand-name casinos, wonderful hotels; a nightlife for all ages, fine restaurants, and all modes of transportation; a super modern convention center, a great convention hall, and all the major entertainment headliners of the world, bringing millions of tourists to Atlantic City every year. We are serviced by a major international airport and geographically located within 1/3 of America’s population.
There are many casinos and hotels to come with even greater job and career opportunities.
3: What does the Mayor of Atlantic City do?
JP: The mayor is to be the leader of the government and the community.
The mayor is to be the guardian of city funds, and to bring efficiency, and to manage the affairs of the city.
However, over the past few years our mayors have done none of the above. They have not made decisions that benefit the people of Atlantic City. Their goal should have been to lower the property taxes, with land rateables. Revenue comes in to the city hand over fist. The spending continues. Mayors should manage the city monies in a more responsible way.
Other major failing of our mayors has been that they do not attend Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) meetings to defend the city’s best interest. The above mentioned action is what mayors should do.
4: What does the term “Moving the City Forward” mean?
JP: [No answer given]
5. What will you add to City government?
JP: I would add 24 hour / 3 shifts to city enforcement services.
I would add a Director of Public Safety – completing the form of government voted on by the voters.
I would add police neighborhood foot patrols – with beat patrol call boxes – the reinstallation of community policing.
I would reinstate the neighborhood watch program.
I would add a hiring freeze and use attrition to reduce the number of employees.
I would add uniform office operating hours. All offices should open and close at the same time.
6. What will you eliminate from City government?
JP: I would eliminate weights and measures office and return the office to the county.
I would remove the public library in to the county library system at considerable savings to the city.
At a future date, I would like to eliminate the Mayor/Council form of government, which is too large, and return to the Commissioner form of government, which is the right size and has more accountability.
I would eliminate most automobiles and most cellular phones. Everyone does not need a vehicle and a cell phone.
I would eliminate all motor vehicles from the Boardwalk.
7. Do you support an ordinance banning smoking in casinos?
JP: Yes! 100%. The state failed in its responsibility to protect the public’s health and welfare statewide, when it passed the cigarette smoking ban on all public buildings, bars and restaurants, and gave the casinos an exception, permitting them to allow smoking while banning it for everyone else at great financial hurt to all small businesses.
There was an ordinance passed by Atlantic City permitting smoking in sections on the casino floors (75/25). When that compromise was reached, the casinos failed to fulfill their part of the agreement, to implement and construct the sections, whereas the city passed the 100% ban of smoking on the casino floor by October 15th, 2008.
I expect the state of New Jersey to lift the exception and for the federal government to ban smoking in all public places nationwide.
8. Should casino employees be able to run for political office?
JP: Yes! Casino employees should be allowed to run for public office. A casino employee should step up and run and challenge the law.
The restriction-ban on casino employees running for public office in Atlantic City is certainly an unconstitutional provision of the casino legislation law.
Any law left unchallenged shall stand.
9. Do you prefer a larger legal department that does less contracting of attorneys, or a smaller legal department with more contracting of attorneys?
JP: I support a law department of a city solicitor and in-house assistant solicitors. There should be no out-sourcing of contracts for cases; and the law department should handle all cases itself.
At this time the city does both! The city’s law department should be reinstated. The contracting out of city legal matters should stop.
The establishment of a department of law was an idea of mine for years. The department should not be large!
10. Do you support the City’s employment of lobbyists?
JP: No! I do not support the city’s hiring of a lobbyist, at a cost of $100,000 or more. It is a total waste of money. There is no need to hire a lobbyist – we have State Senators and Assemblymen to lobby the state.
Further, that is the job of our elected officials, such as our Mayor and our elected Council and our appointed department heads.
The Mayor is to be the city’s lead lobbyist, the ambassador and main representative of our city. The employment of a lobbyist is duplication and duplication is waste, a total waste of money.
Hiring a lobbyist is similar to the city hiring outside lawyers to handle the city’s legal problems.
The city should not contract out the jobs to others that it pays its employees to do, which is total disrespect of the taxpayer dollars.
The lobbyist contract shall be rescinded.
11. Are you satisfied with the City’s public transportation regulations?
JP: Yes, to a point.
I believe Pacific Avenue should remain two-way. Atlantic Avenue should remain two-way also, where cameras and motion sensors are installed. New Jersey Transit has a right of way agreement that only NJT buses are allowed routes on Atlantic Avenue,
Jitneys will not be permitted on Atlantic Avenue, if Pacific Avenue goes one-way, or not. Jitneys should be allowed to extend their roués in to the local neighborhood. A route test run in to Chelsea Heights is planned at this time.
Further, CRDA has commissioned a regional transportation study. Due to the construction project underway, e.g. Revel, Pinnacle, The Chelsea, MGM and Gateway, plus Badar Field.
12. What are your priorities for upgrading City infrastructure?
JP: The city should have a capital improvement budget and a projects list for the future of Atlantic City incorporated by law within the master plan.
The following is my short list of capital improvement projects for the future of Atlantic City.
The projects listed below are to correct the city negligence and its failure to improve the city infrastructure over the past fifty years.
1) The redirecting of the entire Boardwalk w/rolling chair lanes.
2) A modern system of comfort stations to conform to state law.
3) Cul de sac street ends meeting the Boardwalk for easy vehicle turnarounds.
4) The reconstruction of Pacific Avenue with Jitney cuts.
5) The bulkheading of Chelsea Heights and Route 40 at the Albany Avenue intersection.
6) Span bridges, not draw bridges, at the entrance to Atlantic City.
7) Remove yellow lines atop Albany Avenue Bridge. Add lanes.
8) Remove Albany Avenue Monument in to Chelsea Park.
9) Shorter Atlantic Avenue bus stops. Add parking meters.
10) Removal of yellow stripes in median of Atlantic Avenue from Trenton to Jackson Avenues. Add another travel lane.
11) Add green arrow left-hand turn lanes, where necessary.
12) Install police and fire call boxes, for police foot patrols.
13) Make City Hall’s front entrance handicap accessible.
13. Will you promote more, less, or the same amount of public housing?
JP: [No answer given]
14. Are there too many, not enough, or just the right number of City employees, vehicles, and cell phone plans?
JP: There are too many city employees hired for NO reason. I would institute a hiring freeze.
I would phase out cell phone use altogether. Every employee has an office, a desk and a phone. There is no need for cell phones.
Some Nextel direct connect is possible for construction inspectors, code, health, and mercantile inspectors.
There is no need for 600 vehicles. I would cut the fleet. Set up carpools and use city transportation vehicles to transport inspectors for their inspections, or use public transportation.
I would save money on maintenance service and gas by selling off all out of warranty vehicles.
No automobile should be taken home. Employees must use their own automobile to drive to and from work.
15. Is there enough enforcement of drug, prostitution, and overcrowding laws?
JP: There is never enough enforcement. The police department is doing a good job. A hundred retirements did not help much. Undercover units are doing a good job. The police have some of the prostitution on the run.
The massage parlors are being raided and being limited.
Code enforcement is doing a better job.
Foot patrol in the neighborhoods is needed. Better utilization of the police force through day-to-day operations. Also, call boxes should be installed.
Community policing should operate in shifts out of city firehouses as sub-stations.
Citizens should be hired for police office work and officers trained – at great expense – should be on patrol doing police work, not office work.
More police are needed due to the large number of retirements.
16. Does the City have a role in enforcing immigration laws?
JP: All levels of government should enforce federal law.
Legal immigrants are very mad about illegal immigration.
Certainly the city should play a role in the enforcement of the immigration laws of our nation. To continue to do nothing is ludicrous. Enforce the illegal overstays on visas, also. Anyone in the country illegally, from wherever they are from, should be assisted to leave.
The oath of office for all our public officials is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States … officials should be asked to swear to secure the borders to ensure domestic tranquility.
The office holders and public officials are not up-holding their oaths of office.
17. Do you support the needle exchange program?
JP: No, I do not support the free needle exchange program.
Drug addiction is a disease. Giving free needles to the drug addict is condoning drug use. Saying “yes” to drugs, addictive drugs at that, is counter-productive to good health and the public safety. Drug addiction and its needs lead to crime.
If you know who needs the needles, then you know who is doing the illegal drug, and who is in possession of illegal drugs. The needle perpetrates the disease.
Do you give the pot smoker the cigarette paper? Don’t you lock-up the pot smokers and dealers with possession? Do you give the alcoholic a drink?
The diabetic can’t get needles for his high sugar without a prescription, but you give the drug fiend the needles for free. Is there anything wrong with that picture? This needle exchange has brought an abundance of heroin sellers to Atlantic City.
18. How will you avoid scandal and build a more positive reputation for Atlantic City?
JP: As the newly elected mayor of Atlantic City I would avoid scandal and build a more positive reputation for Atlantic City, by having no associations with anyone who has been associated with scandal and I would avoid any person who approached me in anyway in an inappropriate manner, seeking something to be done for them personally and asking for something to be done, which did not conform to the proper rules of law and ethics. There would be no deals and I will not associate with anyone who I perceive to have ulterior motives, other than the correct thing to do. Furthermore, I would conduct myself in the proper manner. There would be no scandal and the reputation would be positive for myself and Atlantic City. I would treat people with respect.