The 2006 government shutdown that pulled the plug on Atlantic City?s entire casino industry over the July 4th holiday was Jim Whelan?s single greatest failure as an elected official and expedited the economic decline of Atlantic City, charged Assemblyman Vince Polistina.
The shutdown cost Atlantic City casino workers approximately $9 million in lost wages and unfairly punished 50,000 local families. While Senator Gormley and others worked hard to negotiate a budget to avoid the shutdown, Whelan was nowhere to be found. The Press of Atlantic City named Whelan one of their ?Losers? of the shutdown for his role in the debacle, while Local 54 President Bob McDevitt said Whelan ?shamed himself? and ?lost the faith of his constituents.?
?As Atlantic City?s Mayor, Jim Whelan repeatedly increased property taxes, squandered millions on boondoggle project after boondoggle project, and got blasted in a state audit for mismanagement and political cronyism, but nothing he did was worse than shutting down the entire casino industry during July 4th weekend five years ago,? said Polistina. ?In more than twenty years representing Atlantic City it was his single greatest failure and will always be part of his legacy.?
Polistina called Whelan ?the least effective, least influential State Senator that Atlantic City has ever had,? citing the significant clout of Whelan?s predecessors, Frank “Hap” Farley, Joe McGahn, Steve Perskie, and Bill Gormley.
?Whether you agreed or disagreed with them on policy or politics, you could never question their fierce advocacy for Atlantic City and this region,? said Polistina. ?Jim Whelan?s colossal failure as an Assemblyman at the time of the shutdown made it abundantly clear that he was not going to be a worthy successor to those who went before him as Senator.?