Michael Reilly, Retired NYPD Lieutenant and Impressively Coherent Write-In Candidate for Mayor, Talks About the Job
As the November 5 general election approaches, the major candidates are doing their usual two-step. Among the other lesser-known candidates, there is the write-in campaign for mayor of Mike Reilly, a retired NYPD lieutenant and member of Staten Island's school board.
We write about Reilly, a 40-year-old married father of three, because he's kind of a sensible voice of the outer-borough middle class--a group that the major candidates claim to champion, but often disappoint.
"The candidates refer to the middle class, but it's really the working class," Reilly says. "It's people working from check to check. The property tax bills and water bills are through the roof. And, unfortunately, they are not hearing us."
Of the main candidates, he says, "They haven't offered real solutions to any of the problems or issues that we're facing. They've given us nothing but fluff. A lot of voters feel alienated from both sides. What we need is the ordinary people party."
Bill de Blasio's critiques of the NYPD have been hypocritical, he says. "As a city councilman and public advocate, he had all that time to address stop-and-frisk and the data-driven policing of CompStat, but he didn't say anything. Only now it's an election year. Where was he six years ago? Was it because he wasn't running for mayor?"
Likewise, Joseph Lhota has been a hypocrite, according to Reilly. "He advocated for toll and fare hikes as the head of the MTA, and then after he resigns and runs for mayor, he says he has a plan to reduce tolls. Well, if you were that good of a manager with the MTA, shouldn't you have done it then?"
Reilly grew up in Brooklyn, the son of a construction worker and a homemaker, and worked as a loader for UPS after high school, then entered the Army reserves. He got a degree from John Jay College for Criminal Justice. He graduated from the Police Academy in 1994, part of a 2,500-member class funded in large part by the federal Safe Streets, Safe City money that fueled the expansion of NYPD manpower.
By any standard, Reilly was a very active police officer, working in Midtown North, East Flatbush and Williamsburg during his 13-year career. He worked in uniform and in plainclothes anti-crime units. He logged some 250 arrests in five years as a patrolman, and assisted on another 1,500 busts throughout his career.
Reilly seemed on his way to captain, but his career was cut short when he was hurt in an accident while in pursuit of a man riding a unregistered motorcycle. Reilly and other officers were trying to sort out a burglary pattern when the motorcyclist ran a red light.
The police pursued, and eventually the man stopped short. The patrol car skidded into him. The man went flying, but he wasn't hurt. Reilly, however, suffered neck injuries.
"He was running because the plate didn't match the motorcycle," Reilly says. "I had to get spinal surgery. The guy just got a desk appearance ticket.
"My wife joked with me, saying, 'What are you doing running around out there? You're a boss.' But that's the way I was. I didn't want to retire, but I had to. It was unfortunate."
Reilly retired in 2006. He was given a what's known as a 3/4 disability pension, meaning because he was injured on the job, he would receive three quarters of his salary in retirement.
And so, he began volunteering at his kid's school. He created a "stop, drop, and go" program where parents would drop their kids at the school, and Reilly and other volunteers would escort them into the school. He also began giving cyber-bullying and Internet safety workshops to parents and kids at different schools.
In 2009, he was elected to the borough's volunteer school board overseeing a district of 60,000 kindergarteners through eighth graders. There, he has served on the transportation and public safety committee, and helped write a couple of school-related pieces of legislation that were passed by the City Council.
His grassroots mayoral campaign started with a push from one of the parents in the district. "She made a Facebook page for me, and then other people started sending me messages, telling me to do it," he says.
Reilly filed a letter with the New York City Campaign Finance Board notifying them he would be a write-in candidate, and indicating that he would not be fundraising or seeking matching funds.
On the stop-and-frisk controversy, Reilly says that it needs to be separated from the numbers-driven pressure of the NYPD's Compstat strategy. "It's something that every police officer should have available to them, but it needs to be taken away from the statistical stigma it has. You can't have officers doing it just to get their numbers. That data's not really doing anything to reduce crime."
Reilly is also a proponent of stopping the constant transfers of police officers out of their home precincts to do security in high-tourist areas like Times Square and lower Manhattan. "I would move 400 police officers back into patrol precincts from the World Trade Center command. Right now they have 600 assigned down there. We can use retired Police officers as patrolmen down there. They can be paid as Port Authority contractors. That would add manpower to the precincts and reduce response times."
Not so long ago, the NYPD created a fourth precinct in Staten Island, but when they moved to staff it, they pulled 103 officers from the three other SI precincts, and only 50 cops from elsewhere. "I think that the staffing should have remained and they should have transferred more officers from off-island."
On toll hikes and the express buses which speed folks to Manhattan: " A lot of Staten Islanders are upset because of the toll increase, and the bus lanes. People in the outer boros being treated like everyone is going to Manhattan. Each borough has its unique aspects. It shouldn't be one size fits all. Select bus service works in certain areas and not in others. In the outer boroughs, you're taking away key roadway space from motorists. The turning aspect of the red bus lanes, especially now that they have cameras, means that motorists are getting $115 tickets for making turns from the middle lane. They are confused."
On the Department of Education's "Common Core" curriculum: "It's supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread, but no one knows what it really is. The DOE's communication on it was horrendous. When you read the actual stuff on Common Core, it's like fluff. All they use is catchphrases. The DOE didn't send teachers all the material until three weeks into the year. That's unacceptable. They should have had the material they need.
"Here's an example: They are using 'Go Math,' there's a whole booklet. They keep saying 'We're not teaching to the test.' But when you open up the booklet, every top right corner says 'Test Prep.' You're sending a mixed message."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.