In the prophetic words of Mayor Phil Guenther, the Brigantine City Council meeting of October 15, 2014 did contain what he predicted would be, “a very good YouTube clip.” Unfortunately, the portion of the meeting to which he was referring did not pertain to the over-inflated city payroll, the golf course or flood damage prevention. Instead, it showed a very revealing symptom of the problem at the heart of many of Brigantine’s ills: the arrogance and refusal to be accountable to residents displayed by the city’s longtime Mayor.
The video clip, which has gone viral, depicted the portion of the meeting devoted to questions and comments from residents. It is common knowledge that there have been frequent breaches in decorum during some of these sessions, sometimes by residents, more often by city employees. This, however, was not one of those instances.
Very politely, Mr. Marcozzi, an elderly Brigantine resident, approached the microphone and addressed a question to the Mayor. Mr. Marcozzi prefaced his question by proclaiming himself a registered Republican and member of the Brigantine Taxpayer’s Association. After stating that he did not mean his question as a personal attack and that he was only asking, “in a quest for information, for the truth”, Mr. Marcozzi began by quoting a line from one of the Mayor’s recent political ads: “Who Can You Trust When It Comes To Property Taxes?”
That very debatable question aside, Mr. Marcozzi went on to compare that ad verbiage to an ad placed by the McClay/Kern/Polillo campaign, which accused Councilman Andy Simpson of failure to pay property taxes for two years. The ad further claimed that Mr. Simpson had never received a Certificate of Occupancy, yet he was earning rent in excess of $100,00 per year on a property for which he owed $59,000 in back taxes, and that the Mayor had not only turned a blind eye to the situation, but had even attended fund-raisers at the house in question.
Mr. Marcozzi went on to ask Mayor Guenther if the accusations in the ads were true, and if so, what possible explanation he could offer. If the accusations were false, Mr. Marcozzi asked that the Mayor refute them and that Councilpersons McClay, Kern and Polillo explain themselves. It seemed like a very relevant, respectfully-asked question, with no political overtones, just a sincere inquiry regarding a specific and potentially very important subject. With both the accusers and the accused all in the same room, this seemed the perfect time to get to the bottom of this potentially very serious issue.
The Mayor’s response has raised more than a few eyebrows. Obviously feeling that he was being attacked, Mayor Guenther launched into an extended monologue about how he knew that televising Council meetings would result in “political attacks”, but that the good of keeping the community informed outweighed “some of the outrageous things that have occurred in this chamber.” While I’m sure we can all agree that some pretty outrageous things have occurred in that chamber, Mr. Marcozzi’s question was not one of them. It also seems significant that the Mayor’s first thought was not to answer the question, but to articulate his concerns on how this would be perceived by TV and internet audiences, now that the City Council is no longer a closed set.
The Mayor continued his non-response by attempting to turn the tables on Mr. Marcozzi, saying, “You are the only one tonight who has brought up political ads.”
Perhaps this was meant to to imply that his questioner was motivated by a political agenda, or possibly to relegate him to the “kook” category, a favorite tactic of the GOP when faced with persistent inquiries as to their behavior and policies. Whatever his motivation for this seeming non-sequitor, it did buy the Mayor time to quickly formulate what must have seemed at the time to be a better answer.
Under pressure, Mayor Guenther did an admirable job of deflecting the question by stating,“In the political season, anybody can say anything. And they can certainly exaggerate, or in some cases, even make some things up.” He went on to admonish Mr. Marcozzi for starting what the Mayor called “a political debate” during a City Council session. This evasive response was inaccurate and distorted Mr. Marcozzi’s question. The man was not asking the Mayor to respond to the usual vague claims made in virtually every political ad. It was not a case of, “Mr. Mayor, how do you respond to your opponent’s assertion that you are fiscally irresponsible?” This was a direct question regarding a specific accusation, that if true, could result in serious legal repercussions. A allegation has been made of improper, if not potentially criminal, conduct. It is in no way political for the taxpayers to inquire as to the truth of this matter. There is no “political debate” involved in a Yes or No question.
Mr. Marcozzi’s response to this tap-dancing was priceless. He resumed his place at the microphone and asked incredulously, “Are you saying that these accusations are POLITICAL?! I would say that if they’re true, they might even rise to criminal.” The Mayor’s choice of reply was sarcasm, as he condescendingly answered, “Nooo! You wouldn’t think that someone would write a political ad during election season!”
But the Mayor’s sarcasm was not enough to deter Mr. Marcozzi, who recognized the futility of seeking a straight answer and decided to play along. Regarding the Mayor’s assertion that people could basically lie in political ads, Mr. Marcozzi then inquired, “Is that what you do, in your ads?” Thrown off his game, the Mayor began to respond, “Everybody, in the political season…” but was cut off by Mr. Marcozzi’s interjection, “Everybody, including YOU?”
Visibly flustered at being cornered by his own words, Mayor Guenther went into the default response of, “I’m not going to have this debate with you!” After bitterly stating that he was sure, “This will make a very good YouTube clip”, the Mayor insisted that the only appropriate forum for city residents to raise such questions to City Council would be at the upcoming “Candidate’s Forum” being held by the Brigantine Taxpayer’s Association on October 25th. While this gathering will undoubtedly be informative for the island’s residents, the Mayor’s response raises a question: If not for residents to raise concerns and questions, just why does the City Council allow them an opportunity to speak at their meetings?
In demonstrating his reluctance to answer straightforward questions, or even engage a sincerely concerned taxpayer in a respectful, dignified manner, Mayor Guenther has provided more than just a “very good YouTube clip”. He has emphasized the unwillingness of many city officials to make even a cursory effort to avoid the appearance of impropriety. His non-answers to Mr. Marcozzi’s very legitimate questions reveals symptoms of the arrogance that comes with an uninterrupted 22 year reign, and a lack of concern for the importance of open dialogue between politicians and their constituents.
I congratulate Mr. Marcozzi for his brave attempt to clarify a very disturbing issue, his courage in standing up to the ridicule and resistance he received in return, as well as the poise he showed in not allowing the issue to be sidestepped. Since the video has been watched over 10,000 times, hopefully Mr. Marcozzi’s example will inspire other residents to assert their rights and demand real transparency in their government.
All interested residents should attend the Brigantine Taxpayer’s Association’s “Candidate’s Forum” at 10:00 AM on October 25th, at the 42nd St. Community Center.
It will be moderated by a neutral third party and, best of all, there will be no prepared questions. As the Mayor himself said, truthfully or not, this is the appropriate forum for whatever questions you’d like to ask. Nobody will shout you down. Nobody will make fun of you. Nobody will tell you your question is inappropriate. Ask your questions. Get your answers. Then vote your conscience.
At the very least, it should make for a very good YouTube clip.
Patrick Costello; Author of the Brigantine best seller: Greenhead Politics. The Story Brigantine Taxpayers Were Never Told.
16 thoughts on “Mayor Questioned by Taxpayers Association, Predicts Very Good YouTube Clip. WATCH VIDEO >>”
First and above all else, if someone falsely accused me of not paying real estate taxes and not having my rental unit safety inspected, I would scream from atop the water tower (the one Doran Engineering over billed the City of Brigantine for ) to clear my name. I would look for every public opportunity to call out the accuser and set the record straight. Be it at a council meeting, Elks club, farmers market, on line at ACME or ACE hardware, if these allegations are “outrageous, exaggerated and made up” I would be damned to end them ASAP.
What I wouldn’t do is sit quietly while my crony deflects the questions with nonsensical excuses.
Our Mayor confuses “this will make a very good YouTube clip”, with possible prosecution for tax evasion & criminal misconduct within the City of Brigantine government. The last I heard, tax evasion/criminal misconduct was a crime and should not be debatable at the Candidates Forum on 10/25/2014. This forum is to debate how the candidates intend to improve the City of Brigantine and make it more profitable and tax payer friendly. Not a haven for crooks and their friends/relatives.
If our Mayor and Mr. Simpson have proof that the taxes were paid and a correct occupancy certificate was issued, “PUBLISH IT” on BrigantineNow.com. If you don’t, I would say “Guilty as charged”. But Mr. Mayor, DO NOT use the tax/occupancy certificate as part of your debate. It is not a forum topic. Saturday could be better spent on current issues plaguing the island.
Also, I did some research. Philadelphia Police have a top salary of $60,000.00 after years of service. They are at risk 110% more than Brigantine Police. Does Brigantine have a cap? My job does, why doesn’t theirs?
I think the Code for Brigantine’s government needs to be re-written and brought in line with other cities in the area including a Code of Conduct that all need to abide by.
Looking forward to Saturday
Odd that the Mayor would classify unpaid real estate taxes and failure to comply with fire safety inspections “political”.
What if the Brigantine resident asked the question last year or the year before during a non election year? Would the mayor defer to the Candidates forum?
Too often citizen issues are thrown down the poisoned well call “politics”.
Are bloated city budgets, crony capitalism, waste, fraud and abuse of city assets “politics”?
Burden of proof?
If MKP is/are calling Simpson a “tax dodger” then the burden rests on them to back up their claim, until then Simpson doesn’t have to prove or disprove anything (although I would in my own interest and as the representative of Brigantine tax payers he serves).
MKP made the claim, Guenther calls it exaggerated made up politics, Simpson just sat there silent. Its time for MKP to back up their accusation.
If he didn’t pay his real estate taxes or paid them late, while everyone else pays their UNFAIR share running on a platform of “who can you trust with real estate taxes” then he should be removed from the ticket. Period. HYPOCRISY!
Obviously you were not at the council meeting! Mr. Simpson did respond to Mr. Marrcozzi ‘s accusations. He denied those accusations and that he ever owed or failed to pay taxes on any of his properties. He produced a receipt for three dollars and five cents for balance owed on a water bill.
That part was conveniently edited out of the video clip as seen on Brigantine Now.
You don’t read comments by Mayor Gunther or Mr. Simpson on this forum because they are denied access by the Editor who uses facticious names to provey his efforts to create controversy. That being said, Knobbs, I’m not so sure your a real person either.
I can’t wait until the facts come out , one way or the other , Somebody is going to look like a DISHONEST POLITICIAN. If it was false , why would the Ds go off the deep end?
Here is a little math homework for everybody . Take that 20 year – $20 million savings flyer that the School teacher , Superintendent Mayor Phil plus Andy the business man sent to everybody’s home. Add up the right column that says $$$$ saved and Multiply by 60 and you get the $20,497,560.
So that $20 million savings is BS. Fact is that we would have to have 60 police and fire employees start over at year 1 wages and work 20 year starting now to make those numbers work. FACT CHECK …….THAT PLAN IS A SHELL GAME. I can’t believe the 2 educators plus Andy the business man think people are that stupid. Do the math, if you can’t, get a calculator.
I wasn’t at the meeting nor did I see the live stream in its entirety. If parts of the Simpsons or Guenthers responses were conveniently edited out then it says something about this website although the point of the articles isn’t Simpson being a tax dodger or Simpsons response, it was the the Mayor in Chief making the youtube reference, brushing aside the accusation as exaggerated made up for politics and deferring to the candidates forum.
As I stated Simpson doesn’t have to prove anything, proof lays at the feet of MKP. For clarity since you were present, what does a water bill receipt prove?
In any event it’s hard for the average person to not put some stock into such an accusation. Would someone just flat out lie about Simpson owing back taxes? Would they make the entire story up without a shred of evidence? If so why Simpson? If so why wouldn’t Simpson hold MKP for libel?
I hope I have not been duped by the City of Brigantine’s water department.
Isn’t our water billed twice a year for a set amount?
And to what end does a balance due water bill prove?
If anything is opens more dialogue on why he has a balance.
Producing a paid tax bill and occupancy certificate would put all this dialogue to rest.
The sewer payment for $3.05 means little or nothing. Sometimes people pay water & sewer and under pay or have interest due for a few days. Let’s forget about $3.05 and get back to the real story….did he or didn’t he pay the huge tax bill. I have to agree with other reasonable people on here that more evidence is needed or it’s an accusation. Now to Mr. SIMPSONs response….he went off the deep end with a rant about his partner sold his business for $350 million and he himself has a $60 million business. The next day on WOND Don Williams radio show , he also mentioned he just got approved for a $5 million line of credit. He mentions all these huge $$$ figures & states that he pays his bills.
This sounds like a major issue about to blow up…..one way or the other. Somebody will either be embarrassed or elected, possibly both on the rock where the free beer and food bought a lot of votes. Only 2 more Friday newspapers plus the inter web until Election Day . I personally don’t think his supporters care one way or the other…..he is their man.
Knobbs, this is all true. If you would have seen the rest of Mr. Simpsons response you would have learned that his partner on the Sunset property sold his business at that time for 350 million dollars and trying to avoid paying any fees to the city is absurd. Title was transferred to the present owners and at that time there were obviously no open liens.
I have voted and supported the Democratic Party for most of my adult life. I, in the past have taken Mr. Gunther to task on many issues, but in this election he along with Mr.Simpson and Vince Sera are obviously the most competent candidates for Mayor.and Council.
If the allegations are true? What should be done to the B team? No comments on the $20 million dollar shell game described above ? Did you get the direct mailer from GSS with the faulty plan and poor math reasoning? Only way the plan works is if all police and fire retire and 60 new hires at 1st year pay start new.
McKay Kern and Polillo… the proof?
PAUL… the significance of water bill receipt?
Putting the real estate tax dodging aside for a moment what has he done to improve the quality of life for Brigantine residents? It appears he has certainly improved his own quality of life!
He probably will get re-elected by residents that don’t make $60,000 (except the city workers!) let alone owning businesses worth $60,000,000.
The residents that aren’t connected, the residents that aren’t Brigantine municipal welfare recipients ie. city workers, need to get out and vote. Brigantine residents need to understand that their vote matters, that every vote counts.
Knobbs you obiviously know nothing about Mr. Simpson except what his opponents would like you to believe. Mr. Simpson has been a significant figure here in Brigantine long before he sought political office.
As you know or may not know, Mr. Simpson has spawned several businesses in Brigantine that have continued to operate to this day. He sold and personally financed those businesses to competant employees allowing them the opportunity to support their families here on the island,something they may not have been able to do without his help.
In the past he has provided materials, manpower and his building expertise to build the Brigantine Rowing Club building that many have used and enjoyed.All at no expense to the taxpayers. He has also built numerous luxury homes throughout the island which their owners continue to live in and enjoy. They contribute to the ratables here in Brigantine. I might add that not one of his projects is left abandoned like those built by Builder/Developers that have long since walked away and left neighbors frustrated by deteriorating exteriors and over grown lawns.
You ask what is the significance of 3.05 water bill? After his opponents called him a tax dodger. He went to the tax office to investigate their claims. The only outstanding balance was a 3.05 water bill balance owed on one of his former properties. He promptly paid.
Mr. Simpson and his wife have been very active contributors to the Community Presbyterian Church and it’s Food Bank program.
I am personally aware that Mr. Simpson has in the past contributed to Funerals when the deceased families were unable to.
Can you honestly say that any of the present candidates has done anything that compares?
I appreciate your response. I do know the Simpsons more so his wife Linda, God Bless her soul. The examples you site (excluding those that would be considered “charity”) are totally self serving. Are you saying that Simpson started businesses and built and sold homes for the greater good of Brigantine and not for personal gain? The “opportunities” “enjoyment” and “ratables” that his investments provided are by products of profit motivated ventures and have nothing to do with civil service.
I wont address his charity work because that should be kept private. Would Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis be most qualified for city council positions?
The water bill receipt only proves what was owed at the time of his investigation and says nothing about amounts that were owed and settled. If he owed (which the allegations claim “OWED” not owes) two years back taxes for 2009 and 2010 and paid them in 2013 then of course his account wouldn’t be delinquent at the time of his investigation. Again a current water bill receipt does nothing to prove that he owed back taxes for some prior period.
What I will say is this… given all deeds and misdeeds that have come to light over the past 18 months, some largely credited to this website, while taking the summation of all that is wrong with Brigantine and all that could better for all residents full and part time, no amount of charity, goodwill and service can negate the neglect (willful or otherwise) by Guenther and Simpson to warrant re-election, plain and simple. Although it may not happen this election there is no denying eyes have been opened and tides have been turned and its only a matter of time before things change. In fact they are changing, we have candidates stumping and debating the issues!
Were all better off, when were all better off!
I was at that council meeting and I was at the Cellar afterward, when Phil, Andy, and their entourage came in. I was at the table next to his. Phil proudly asked his table mates, “Did you like how I cut Marcozzi off?” Sweet! He uses what his minions call the gag order to suit his own needs, then stupidly brags about it in a public place where he can be overheard. My dinner partner and I both heard it.
Is that real respect for taxpayers? He’s a holier-than-thou hypocrite!
Well I guess “Surety Title Agency vs 3 Sunset LLC and Andy Simpson” NJ Superior Court settles that!
Amazing that Simpson would be so brash (insert other adjectives) to allow the matter to reach the courts!
I say remove him from the ticket.