Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Time to get serious...

The decision of whether I continue to live in the house I own today is in the hands of the Rhode Island voters.

It's Election Day and I voted. I hope you did too. I have become more politically aware since the election of that dope in power now than I ever was before. Part of it is because I didn't vote for him and I don't like what he is doing. A larger part of it is because of the issues in my very own town. The Narragansett Indians want to build a casino in RI; this is not new. They have wanted to do this for at least 10 years, probably more. However, for the first time, there is a real possibility of this actually happening.

The reason for that is because Harrah's, the largest casino company IN THE WORLD, has joined the Narragansett's side. At first glance, one would think this is a great idea. They have a million casinos, they know how to run one, etc. But it is a terrible idea for many other reasons: Harrah's would own 95% of the casino, the indians only 5%; Harrah's would have exclusive rights in RI to run private casino gaming; the site of the proposed casino abuts a RESIDENTIAL neighborhood of probably 500 or more houses including an elementary school (less than a mile away); there have been no relevant impact studies regarding traffic, water, utilities or fire/police needs. And last, but certainly not least, we would have to AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION in order to have Harrah's run the casino.

This is because the Rhode Island state constitution says that all lotteries may ONLY be run by the state. "Lotteries" covers casino gaming, the way that it is worded. There are two gambling institutions in RI: Lincoln Park - a dog racing track with slot machines, and Newport Grand - the former home of Jai-lai and another large slot maching establishment. These were grandfathered in because they are slots-ONLY, no table games. AND they pay a ridiculously high amount of taxes to the government.
But in order for the Narragansetts to have Harrah's as a business partner, we have to CHANGE the constitution to allow it.

There are promises of property tax relief and money coming into my town from the Casino. They don't talk about the money going out the back door; the funding that we presently get that the state legislature will give to OTHER communities because, hey look, West Warwick has all that money coming in from the casino. The Harrah's PR machine actually DENIES the idea that crime rates will rise, that traffic will be impacted, that local businesses such as restaurants and retail stores will be hurt, that venues such as the Providence Performing Arts Center and other small venues will be hurt by acts coming and booking at the casino rather than at those venues. They were initially spending $38,000 a day in advertising to send out mailers, post billboards and make TV commercials and a website promoting the Casino and the "benefits" to the community and the state. That figure rose to over $70,000 a day and the past few weeks it has been $140,000 a day (yes, A DAY) in advertising to promote a YES vote for the Casino question. Pretty depressing when you are trying to help the 'grass roots' effort to stop it from happening.

However, in the past few weeks, the opposition has been ramping up their campaign as well. Save Our State was founded by the former governor of RI, Lincoln Almond and he and his small staff have done a fantastic job of raising awareness and getting the truth out about Harrah's and the plausibility of taxes actually going down and all the rest.

Well, anyway, if this resolution gets passed, I plan on selling my house and moving elsewhere in the state. I will not sit around waiting for my property value to decrease and for the deal for this town and this state to go south once Harrah's has locked in their right to run this thing.

Here's hoping the voters in RI have not had the wool pulled over their eyes.

*Cross posted to LiveJournal HERE

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