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Foxwoods To ‘Consider’ Other Sites!


Speaking of things that have been going on for enternity: The casinos! Yes, two casinos are slated to open on the waterfront (one in Fishtown, one in Pennsport); they’ve been delayed by neighbors and politicians who realized they can use the casino issue to score political points. Fair enough.

Today, Foxwoods (the Pennsport one) has announced it is “considering” additional locations. With that comes the thinking that this whole thing could be slowed down… even… more.

Foxwoods and SugarHouse, another casino proposed for the Delaware riverfront, were awarded gaming licenses by the state in December 2006 but have run into a series of snags with the city government, state officials, neighborhood groups and anti-gaming protesters. Three other investment groups applied to the state Gaming Control Board for the two casino licenses in the city but were rejected. The decisions were based on the proposed locations, which prompted reporters to ask if the rejected casino applicants might now sue the state. “Anybody can sue anybody for anything,” said Rendell.

More lawsuits, more delays… remember when we were all going to get wage tax reductions by, like, 2006? Whoops.

Also, if you believe that Foxwoods and SugarHouse haven’t already extensively researched possible alternate casino sites in Philadelphia… well, just don’t believe that, okay?

Correction: A reader astutely emails, “Like gaming or hate it, the casinos that are operating have ALREADY contributed enough to knock the Wage Tax down by about a quarter point so as of July 1, 2008 the Wage Tax (once as high as 4.96% for residents) is now 3.98%… and it will go even lower based on already legislated city cuts and could go even lower still if gaming revenues increase.” I’m never making a wage tax joke again.

BREAKING NEWS: Foxwoods Looking At New Casino Locations [Clout]
Photo by Lisa Andres, Creative Commons license

Casino: Huge Anti-Casino Vote A Victory For Us


Casino Free Philadelphia released the vote totals of its “citizens ballot” yesterday live on its webcam. In a shocker, most of the people who voted decided the casinos should be kept 1500 feet from residences and churches and whatever.

Exactly 13,319 votes were cast in the election, and 12,592 voted yes on the measure. That’s just a shade under 95 percent of the votes for the yes side. Not surprising, since there were only a small number of people (727) stupid enough to register and then vote no.

Despite the 95 percent vote in favor of the measure, a Foxwoods spokesperson said it was a resounding victory for the casinos:

“We’ve always said that only a vocal minority oppose these casinos,” [Foxwoods spokeswoman Maureen] Garrity said. “This vote dispels the myth that Philadelphians are opposed to casinos.”

If a 95 percent vote against casinos doesn’t prove Philadelphians want casinos, then I don’t know what does.

Anti-casino group claims ‘landslide’ [Daily News]
Yesterday: More Hot Hot Webcam Action This Afternoon

Casino Sends Aliens To Harvest Organs Of Anti-Casino Folks


In their quest to invalidate the petitions attempting to get a question on the May 15 primary ballot banning casinos from the city, lawyers for SugarHouse casino are doing the only thing they can to make the community one day perhaps love their gambling mecca in close proximity to Johnny Brenda’s.

The Daily News writes a lawyer from SugarHouse and a private investigator knocked on the door of petition signer Cindy Farlino and showed her the petition she signed, asking if it was indeed her signature. After replying in the affirmative, they then asked to talk to her lawyer.

“I looked at it and said, ‘Yes, that’s my signature,’ ” Farlino told the Daily News. “Then they said, ‘Do you have a lawyer, because we’ll talk to him.’ That took me aback, made me feel like I did something wrong.”

The woman said she wasn’t answering any more questions after the two men showed her their IDs, and the two people hung out flipping through petitions in front of her house before driving away. (And, apparently they popped the hatchback so the woman couldn’t get a shot of the license plate. Hopefully the car’s spare tire fell out or something.)

Meanwhile, Casino Free Philadelphia filed an appeal against both Foxwoods and SugarHouse, citing “government-sanctioned creation of public nuisances and vice factories.” You might think those words are a bit strong, but look at the photo the Daily News ran on the cover: The casinos are sending green mutant men to intimidate the petition signers. It’s only fair.

Private eye grills petition signer; Judge to hear casino challenge today [Daily News]

Casino Activists, Casinos To Fight Under Queensbury Rules


Lawyers from Philadelphia casino bid winner SugarHouse have filed suit against the petitions essentially banning casinos from the city, citing “widespread and pervasive fraud” in the petitions.

Pennsport and Fishtown residents worked together earlier this year to get 27,000-plus signatures on a petition for a ballot question to be voted on while citizens choose their next mayor on May 15. Although they only needed 20,000 signatures to get the question before City Council — who must pass it by majority vote to put it on the ballot — lawyers for SugarHouse (who chatted with Foxwoods lawyers, too) say only 25 percent of them can be validated, leaving them far short of the 20k total.

While in the Inquirer yesterday noted bisexual/Philly for Change founder Anne Dicker said, “I don’t think a grassroots group should have to face this onslaught by corporations,” Casino-Free Philadelphia organizer Daniel Hunter has taken on a more chipper tone: “Some people have said this [referendum] won’t stand up in court or that the state will merely come in and take over. The ferocity with which they’re attacking us is a sign that this is a real threat to them.”

Okay, so, as expected, the signatures will be battled in court, probably one-by-one and blah blah blah. So where does this take its usual ridiculous Philly twist? Oh, right here: One of SugarHouse’s lawyers is also an investor in the casino. And he’s, of course, Vince Fumo lawyer and Queensbury rules boxer Richard Sprague.

Casino alleges foes’ petitions are fraudulent [Inquirer]
Casino foes smell fear [Metro]
Feb. 9: Richard Sprague To Defend Fumo, Gentleman Jim Corbett

DiCicco: It’s Irresponsible Not To Waste Money

Frank DiCicco

When we last heard from City Councilman Frank DiCicco (right), he was complaining that the federal government put him in Vince Fumo’s indictment just because he accepted free work from Fumo’s people even though they were being paid by Citizens Alliance to, say, put in floors in a house he bought. Wah, wah, he said, the government is just trying to make their indictment sexier.

Well, yesterday, DiCicco was leading the charge in City Council against the casinos, hoping to thwart or delay their arrival and to make sure his constituents re-elect him come May. Casino Free Philadelphia sponsored a petition with 27,000 signatures saying we shouldn’t have casinos.

The problem is, of course, that many of these proposals — such as the one banning all casinos from the city, the one letting residents vote on the casino proposals or the one that bans all casinos that rhyme with “Box Goods” and “Booger Mouse” — won’t stand up in court.

City Solicitor Romulo L. Diaz Jr. warned that approval of anti-casino measures by City Council would only delay the arrival of the casinos, cost the city money in legal fees, and possibly sacrifice whatever zoning power the city now enjoys over the casino sites.

“The city’s powers in this regard are limited,” Diaz said at yesterday’s hearing. “We must respect the Gaming Control Board’s licensing decision, or else we will face almost certain defeat in the courts and inevitably will lose any local land use control.”

Of course, DiCicco wasn’t having any of it.

Diaz: “It is my conclusion that such a bill would be most likely struck down by the courts.”

DiCicco: “To take the position that we just basically have to roll over on this one and agree that we’re going to lose in court and, therefore, let’s not do these bills, I think is irresponsible.”

DiCicco added, “It is a long tradition of City Council — indeed, all government! — to waste money on futile projects. Why not waste money on something that not only is something many people would like us to do but could also get me re-elected? If we can’t waste money on this sensible proposal than, I ask, what can we waste money on?”

City Council was so impressed they agreed to vote on the proposals next month.

Public vote on casinos is discussed [Inquirer]
Feb. 8: DiCicco Too Sexy For This Federal Indictment

Let The Lawsuits Begin!


Now that the two casino locations in Philadelphia have been selected — that’s Foxwoods, along the Delaware in Pennsport, and Sugarhouse, on the waterfront in Fishtown — it’s time for everyone’s favorite Philadelphia tradition: Lawsuits!

City Councilman Frank DiCicco has already announced his plans for a lawsuit against both locations, based on the fact his constituents will like him for it. KYW 1060’s Mike Dunn quotes DiCicco:

“There’s total gridlock today. And [with a casino] you raise the level of vehicles by somewhere between two and four million additional vehicles a year. I don’t know how anyone’s going to get to the river.”

God bless the automobile, for giving groups a reason to file lawsuits besides “my property values might go down.”

Councilman DiCicco Will Sue [KYW 1060]

Black Holes Of Money Announced


And the Inquirer Blogspot Slots BlogWordPress is free, people! — announces the winners:

SugarHouse Casino: a 550 million project on North Delaware Ave. at Shackamaxon St. in Fishtown. Project would include 3,000 slot machines

And Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia, a $560 million project in South Philadelphia…

I bet Pennsport residents are thrilled.

Slots in PA: The Vote [Inquirer]

Middle-Aged Mob Causes Havoc In South Philly


Yesterday, a group of residents from Pennsport (as well as a few other neighboring communities) took to the streets of South Philly to protest the possible Foxwoods casino at Columbus Boulevard and Reed Street.

The mob — we’re calling it what it is, people — even tried to overturn an “abandoned” car, as shown in the Daily News photo by David Maialetti. I’m not quite sure how it’s an abandoned car, since there’s an anti-casino banner apparently taped to the inside of the rear window, but I am fairly sure that the car wasn’t tipped over, so it’s perhaps a moot point.

(Note: Could you imagine the news media’s reaction if a group of non-white, non-middle aged people tried to tip over a car at a protest? Something tells me it wouldn’t just be documented with a photo that wasn’t even put online.)

The residents appeared to put most of the blame on the Foxwoods site on Ed Rendell, who, as we all know, owns Foxwoods:

Signs were abundant, including “Think traffic is bad now? Just wait… ” and “Don’t betray us Ed Rendell.”

“There is no good place for gambling, except this is the worst site. It’s in the heart of a thriving community,” said protest spokeswoman Rene Goodwin. “We don’t need their alleged economic development. It’s a solid residential community.”

One of the rally’s organizers, Ed Kirlin, spoke to the crowd in front of a silver hearse - its presence apparently a symbol of the death that a slots casino would bring to South Philadelphia.

“Ed Rendell said this was the best neighborhood in the city. The son-of-a-bitch ought to remember what he said,” Kirlin said, prompting cheers from the crowd.

But it wasn’t just car tipping, cursing out the governor and NIMBYism (okay, justified NIMBYism) that dominated the protest. No, there was also a bit of old-fashioned satire from 59-year-old David Charlton:

But one lone voice spoke out - satirically - in favor of the Foxwoods-backed project - a man named David Charlton, who donned a silky leopard-print top, with black skirt, thigh-high black hosiery and a gray, slightly puffy wig.

Charlton, 59, said he represented “Sluts for Slots” and hoped the new casino would “generate prostitution, which is a very nice profession” in the area.

“We can get a better rate [at the new casino site]. We get $20 an hour now on Broad Street, but we can get double here,” Charlton said, talking across the street from the 16-acre site where the proposed casino would be built.

Oh la la! Only $20 an hour, eh? That’s a deal! Are you a GFE?

S. Philly casino is a gamble they don’t want to take [Daily News]
GFE []