- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
An ambush at the Gaming hearings
Yesterday more than 70 Philadelphians headed to Harrisburg to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Hearing for what was supposed to be a "status update" on the Philadelphia casinos.
Instead, what many of us were greeted with was essentially an ambush - the announcement that Foxwoods used the status hearing to announce that they planned to move within a matter of months into the Strawbridge's building.
Residents and neighboring businesses have raised concerns over the scaffolding around the historic 8th & Market landmark which has been in place for weeks. After all, it would be highly inappropriate for a gambling establishment to start building out for a casino without first applying to the PGCB (the application process triggers a number of studies as well as some process).
According to PlanPhilly.com, Foxwoods said that a lease was in order, financing in place and that CED zoning - creating two on Market Street for the record - was promised to them "almost immediately." This still without a plan, any kind of studies and with dangerous precedents set both at 11th & Market (in terms of a zoning process that completely sidestepped planning and studies demanded by the public) and Sugarhouse (in their waiving of the air quality study).
We're not sure whether the allowing of public testimony yesterday meant that qualified as a PGCB hearing on Foxwoods. Prior to going at least a half dozen requests had been submitted to testify on the record. As of Tuesday afternoon they were being denied. Following the hearing, we have concerns that the PGCB and others may have known about Foxwoods' announcement, and may have permitted public testimony to count as one of the PGCB's quarterly hearings that allow public testimony. We certainly would hope that kind of a set-up hasn't been established - but we're going to check to make sure.
We're also wondering how the PGCB would find acceptable a delay so that the most profitable negotiation can be had for Ron Rubin, as chair of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, and Ron Rubin, as chair of the Rubin Charitable Trust Foundation which owns a majority share in Foxwoods.
In any case, what concerned Philadelphians have always asked for around casinos or for any development is a thoughtful process within a long-term vision for the city that counts economic as well as the social health of a community. Placing a gambling hall atop a major transit line, next to a popular youth hangout, in the midst of neighborhoods and homes in the poorest metropolitan city in the nation at a time when casinos are tanking across the nation is a sure sign of resignation. Visibly, little will change on Market Street - after all the casino is not supposed to touch the outside of Strawbridge's - so there's no new development happening. And there's absolutely no promises of spin-off development. Essentially at 8th & Market, all the city has done is to say they put 3,000 slot machines in, and to have made Ron Rubin a richer man.
A final note, yesterday the PGCB approved slots for Valley Forge, making Philadelphia with two casinos within its borders and three just on the outside, the most saturated slots city outside of Vegas and AC.
(This post will be updated with links.)