We have obtained a copy of a wide-ranging, 3 page letter written by New Jersey State Senator Vince Polistina to Richard T. Smith, President of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference.

The letter is partly the result of a recent position taken by Atlantic City Council Vice President Kaleem Shabazz …  in his position as President of the Atlantic City Chapter of the NAACP.

Polistina writes:

This effort is why I reach out to you. Some in the city have ignored our request for meetings to discuss the future of Atlantic City. Yesterday, Councilman Shabazz (in his capacity as a local NAACP leader) went so far as to say that a piece of legislation he has never seen and won't meet about is unconstitutional, threating to sue for "depriving citizenship rights and suppressing voting." Today on the radio he said he was going to mobilize the state and national NAACP to oppose the legislation even though he hasn't sat down to talk about it. I'm trying to understand how reducing the number of council people and involving other industry representatives, who have a vested future in the city, is depriving citizenship rights and suppressing voting but that is the concern being expressed Since he mentioned that he would mobilize you in opposition, I'm requesting a meeting with you in your capacity as the state leader for the NAACP, writes Polistina.

Polistina also wrote that “I'm not sure you have the time to follow the never ending problems in the city but in case you don't, here are some of them:

  • Lighting in the city continues to be a concern. For years, the city pointed the finger at others when lights need to be fixed. Finally, a state of emergency was declared to get lights fixed.
  • Shootings are occurring at an unacceptable level including numerous murders since the start of 2024. Another shooting occurred as recently as April 15th.
  • Roads are not getting paved with a portion of city streets being in terrible condition.
  • Homelessness seems to be worse than ever.
  • Drugs are being sold illegally while the city seeks to continually expand areas where drugs can be sold in the tourism district.
  • People living under the boardwalk have begun several fires which have damaged the boardwalk and casinos on the boardwalk.
  • Some residents of Stanley Homes Village haven't had heat or hot water for two (2) years.
  • Visitation to the city is down.
  • Brick and mortar revenues for the casino industry are down.
  • Despite spending significant amounts of money on public education, the educational system and graduation rates remain a concern.
  • The city still has one of the highest levels of poverty in the state.
  • Food insecurity is a huge concern for many residents.

Polistina always does his homework. The above is an important and comprehensive list of just some of the current problems that must be dealt with in Atlantic City.

Here is a copy of the entire Polistina latter:


Polistina concludes his letter by saying:

“I don't understand the mindset of immediately rejecting conversations about the city, seemingly just wanting to continue a cycle of poverty and decline. Perhaps you can lend your perspective on the city with the hope of building consensus and collaboration between everyone having an interest in the future of the city,” wrote Polistina.

Polistina‘s letter is both thoughtful and thought-provoking.

SOURCES: Senator Vince Polistina letter to  Mr. Richard T. Smith President, NAACP New Jersey State Conference.

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