Bill -- is it Mattle?

MR. MATTLE: Mattle.


MR. MATTLE: That's correct.


MR. MATTLE: Thank you.

My name is Bill Mattle, and it's a pleasure to be able to speak with you this evening.

First and foremost, let me say that I am a resident of Atlantic City and a resident very much by choice. I relocated to the area approximately five years ago, and at that time I really had my pick of nice communities to live in, but I chose to make my home in the redeveloped northeast inlet, and at the time I was looking around, you could just sense that something very exciting was taking place. It was palpable. A community was being rebuilt. A neighborhood was being reborn, and I very much wanted to be a part of it and am very glad that I did so.

I know that you had an opportunity today to tour through Atlantic City, and I just wish that you could have been here this fall when I gathered with my friends and neighbors and we held our second annual Oktoberfest.

I'm proudly living today in a neighborhood that is as diverse culturally and racially as any. I am enjoying a strong sense of community that I have not experienced since I was a small child.

While I could certainly address the remainder of my remarks to the great experiences that I've had in my chosen home here, I'd like to direct those comments more to the point from my perspective as the Executive Director of the South Jersey AIDS Alliance, which is one of the nation's oldest AIDS service organizations and the largest in southeastern New Jersey.

I'm often asked as I travel around the Northeast or as I speak to my counterparts in other areas of the state, you know, "How is the problem in Atlantic City?" with somehow the understanding being that certainly all social problems must be that much worse because you live in a gaming town.

And in fact, I'm able to tell them that our experience has been just the opposite. Certainly Atlantic City has not been spared the ravages of AIDS. Parents who have buried their children, children who have lost their parents, whole communities and whole families that have been devastated by the untimely deaths of too many individuals, and Atlantic City has not been an exception.

We do not, however, face a problem that is in any way inordinate or unique to this area. We are facing the same challenges that every other urban community throughout the Northeast, throughout the State of New Jersey, and throughout this country is facing.

Where we do differ and differ greatly is in our ability to meet that need. The casinos have been a strong and powerful ally in helping us to do that and not just in dollars, although there have been hundreds of thousands of those. They've supported us in many different ways, with fundraisers, by allowing their employees to get involved, delivering food to the homeless, taking up toy drives, pouring out immeasurable technical assistance to help us build our organization.

In short, the casino industry knows that good communities just don't happen. They need to be built, and I'm proud to live in a town where the industry not only has taken up that challenge, but has supported its employees in doing the same, and at the end of the day, that's the kind of community that I'm very proud to go home and say that I fall asleep in.

Thank you very much.


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