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- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
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- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
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- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
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Lipstick on a pig: casino design and process
Last week, the Inky reported on a secretive meeting between the Governor, Mayor and Sugarhouse developer Neil Bluhm as Sugarhouse angled to gain the Mayor’s approval for its waterfront site. Bluhm offered to change the proposed big box design to curry the Mayor’s favor.
Nutter seemed non-committal, but two things stand out.
First, what’s up with all the secretive meetings? The decision to move Foxwoods to the Gallery and smack in the heart of Chinatown happened at a closed door August 21st meeting between the Governor, Mayor and Foxwoods. Now comes the news that the Governor, Mayor and Sugarhouse met in hotel corridors at the DNC in Denver to conduct side business.
In an interesting choice of words, the Governor’s spokesperson denied such a meeting as "nefarious." State Rep. Mike O’Brien had a different point of view:
O'Brien said the secretive nature of the meeting "doesn't build confidence" with the public and those who had complained about the process of selecting casino sites.
"The people were promised an open and transparent process," O'Brien said. "They deserve nothing less."
While O’Brien is obviously a little late with his sentiment, the point remains.
Casino decisions are being made behind closed doors with absolutely no public input or review. Although the Mayor should be lauded for hearing the concerns of the waterfront communities, clearly he isn’t quite so hesitant about endorsing a re-site to other neighborhoods. And if Foxwoods serves as any lesson, any discussion of re-siting Sugarhouse should have plenty of other Philly neighborhoods concerned.
Second, casino design is a red herring and one that the design community should be wary of endorsing (though not so, for one particular group, Design Advocacy Group which sent a letter within 5 days of the Mayor’s announcement cheering on the choice of the Gallery site). The City thinks that in showing preliminary designs to Chinatown, community concerns about Foxwoods’ predatory gambling practices, crime, and the impact on residential neighborhoods and children can be magically diminished. Similarly Sugarhouse is trying to sell a bad proposal by prettying up the exterior.
According to an article on PlanPhilly.com (a site that’s really been taking on the casino design process as a priority issue), O’Brien’s spokesperson does a convenient flip-flop on process when it comes to the Gallery:
"Right now the situation is that people just have the concept of casino," Isaacson said. "That's enough for the "anti-gaming element" to know they don't want it," she said. But others "can't make an accurate assessment of what's proposed until they have the correct information in front of them, not just a concept."
Right. It’s the community that lacks the facts.
Not a city that has failed to create an overall design plan for Market East, or failed to engage in serious impact studies of the site, or failed to assess and include costs in their budget (though they’re all too happy to include revenues), or addressed well-known issues of gambling addiction in the neighboring community or the capacity of the city to address those needs.