- 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?
Foxwoods Casino Countdown: 3 . . .2 . . . 1
It’s hard to believe that today marks nine months to the day since a line-up of politicos from the Governor on down stood end to end in City Hall and declared the heart of Philadelphia as their target for the flailing casino industry. Employing every tactic in the book (including political threats and gaming board maneuvers), with a hearty dose of environmental racism toward Chinatown, Rendell and city leaders made it seem like there was no done deal like this done deal.
But after nine months, where have things gone?
The casino, in Dan’s colorful imagery, has now lurched to Strawbridge’s, its third attempted site, where it sits fallow today. No plans. No drawings. Nothing "on the back of a napkin" as Mayor Nutter said last fall, to show what this thing will look like, what it will offer Philadelphians, and how it will contribute to a desperate economy.
Is it telling that despite seeking PR for its support of last weekend’s International Championship bike race, Foxwoods gave up its promotional table to Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis Center – perhaps because there’s nothing to promote?
Is it telling that last week’s City Council session came and went with barely a mention of Foxwoods’ zoning permit for Strawbridge’s that has sat for over a month, while owners squabble?
And is it telling that with only two more Council sessions to go, neither Foxwoods nor the City has anything to show for all their boasting and posturing of a December 2009 opening.
At the same time, a number of things have happened that bodes poorly for Foxwoods:
Citywide opposition is growing.
- The No Casino in the Heart of Our City Coalition now has over 40 member groups and is organizing a campaign to demand that City Council and other officials take action to stop predatory gambling and lending practices by casinos (wherever they end up). Sign the petition here.
- Last month, a Pew poll showed that Philadelphians (roughly 60-40) oppose a casino in the heart of the city; barely half the people polled even support the idea of casinos in Philadelphia.
- And this past weekend, the role of predatory gambling toward the Asian community was presented to a national Asian American economic development conference in Washington, DC. National CAPACD is one of a number of Asian organizations nationwide which has begun recognizing the casino industry's targeting of Asian communities as potentially exploitive and predatory.
City leadership is lacking.
- Council abdicated its development responsibilities on the casino and punted to the Planning Commission, which is now in disarray with the unsurprising departure of Andrew Altman;
- Philly Mag published a merciless commentary on Nutter’s incompetency and indecisiveness on critical issues, including casinos.
A tanking casino industry isn’t good for credit.
- Their potential neighbors, and surprise! co-owners of the building, apparently don't care much for them.
- And to top it off, Foxwoods decides to partner up with PA Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), whose chair, Ron Rubin, runs a "charitable trust" that’s the primary investor in Foxwoods. Unfortunately, PREIT itself is going through its own hard times.
- Meanwhile competing priorities show greener pastures in Kansas where Foxwoods was cleared as a finalist for a $225 million casino project.
So, I’ll just start that casino countdown: one Council session down, two to go. And remind myself that a done deal is never a sure thing.