1) A Democratic Governor, and a powerful Democratic State Senator, both from Philadelphia, decide that the best way to fuel economic development in Philadelphia is to put big slot barns down in the middle of neighborhoods. We can’t get the real changes we need to level the property tax and school funding inequities, so instead we take old ladies’ social security money as they feed it down a one armed bandit. Awesome.
Of course, the jobs that are coming are generally low paid. And, there is very little in promises that the jobs will even stay, as the slot machine world becomes more and more automated. Wonderfully, to stick the needle in the eye of East Falls, G’town, Nicetown and others, Tastykake uses Trump’s interest to pay their way out of Philadelphia, with their jobs following them.
2) Communities are repulsed by the idea, so they start to organize, organize, organize. But, there is a an odd feeling to it all, since it seems like the 2 parlors are a done deal. If so, the interest of keeping Trump out of East Falls, or a second Casino off of the Delaware, becomes Philly residents squaring off against Philly residents. The scraps get thrown off the table, and now it’s time for us to duke it out.
3) The Gaming Board is effectively a total joke, largely ignoring community input, meeting in secret, etc.
4) When things start looking bad for Trump, people like Larry Ceisler rely on the best friend of Philadelphia: race baiting. So what if the Casino in East Falls will sit next to a high school and sit across the street from a public housing project. Clearly, the opponents of Trump are just high-brow white people who don’t get it.
5) Along with the race baiting, the Casino operators realize that instead of meeting with communities that largely do not want them, they will simply pick out a few groups, and start dividing and conquering. They start promising to build a ball field, and sponsoring little league teams, all to show how terrific they are. In recent hearings, the board only listens to the few community groups that the Casinos have bought off, not the myriad of them that they have not come to agreements with. (I asked my dad to write more about the farce that were yesterday’s hearings, but he is in the middle of writing a reply brief to the PA Supreme Court trying to overturn the whole thing. Hopefully, he will in the next day or two.)
6) Celebrities are hired to somehow make it all OK. Apparently, because Pat Croce was a good president of the Sixers, it is clear that Casinos are good for East Falls. Also, because Sly Stallone is Rocccckkkkky, the same goes for his place along the waterfront. And Donald Trump, that wonderful humanitarian who was so bad at running Casinos that his own company fired his ass, is fawned over by the Gaming Board.
7) Philadelphians have to fight even to just keep their damn zoning rights for the Slot Barns. Only after a large scale campaign of letters, calls and faxes led by Hallwatch, do we even get that right back. And, that is our big victory.
8) City political leaders, even those nominally opposed to it, generally just stay silent.
I could go on and on and on. But the bottom line is this: This entire process, from the legislation itself to where we are now, makes me ashamed.