Saturday, May 03, 2008

Ed Rendell’s Astounding Stubbornness Regarding Casino Locations Now Bordering On Outright Psychotic Pitiful Stupidity

rendering of the delaware river waterfront
Ed Rendell is behaving like a whiny, spoiled, pre-pubescent bully. And his act is incredibly, incredibly tired.

The situation is this: everyone — and we literally mean EVERYONE — with a brain recognizes that putting two big-windowless-box casinos on the Delaware River waterfront just outside of Center City, bordering extremely residential neighborhoods, would be the biggest urban planning fuck-up anywhere in the United States in the last 50 years.

Except, that is, our proud and incomprehensibly obstinate governor who refuses to acknowledge the possibility of flaws in his pet casino legislation, and has now resorted to simply bullying anyone who disagrees with his unfathomable ignorance. How very mature.

It’s extra embarrassing because these folks aren’t even telling Rendell the casinos should be repealed outright, (for which there certainly could be an argument…). All they want is for them to be placed in a much, MUCH more appropriate location, one better suited for two shit-tastic slot barns and two equally shit-tastic giant parking garages.

And that location is at the Philadelphia Airport.
In September, [two Philadelphia state representatives, Michael O'Brien and William Keller] introduced a genius bit of legislation, House Bill 1840, that offers an honorable compromise for everyone with a stake in Philadelphia's gaming experiment - the operators, neighborhood residents, Philadelphia politicians, and Gov. Rendell.
Their draft provides the first practical solution for getting the casinos off the riverfront and out of the neighborhoods, while still guaranteeing the state a stream of gambling revenue.

O'Brien and Keller want to eliminate the stipulation that Philadelphia's casinos must be located 10 miles from the two others on Pennsylvania's eastern flank, Harrah's in Chester and Philadelphia Park in Bensalem. Once you get rid of the 10-mile rule, you open up all kinds of less intrusive sites. The bill doesn't specify a favorite, but for O'Brien it's Philadelphia International Airport.

The airport location is the equivalent of hitting three cherries on an old slot machine. It has it all: great roads, plentiful parking, nice hotels, and, best of all, no neighbors - plus a SEPTA train connection and a continuous cycle of shuttle buses.

The airport landscape, once an environmentally rich marsh, is already carpeted in asphalt and concrete. The city has sizable real estate holdings there, making it possible to swap land with Foxwoods and SugarHouse. [Chance To Save Riverfront]

On Thursday, May 1, there was a City Council hearing about the Foxwoods location and this proposed legislation, first conceived in 2007, came up again as it’s now garnering a lot of support.

Inga first wrote about the genius legislation back in January. (But apparently Anna Verna doesn’t read the Inquirer’s most important city columnist: “’Explain it to me because this is the first I'm hearing of it,’ Verna told O'Brien and Keller [on Thursday], who were at the hearing to testify.” Confidential to Anna: way to stay on top of things important to your constituency. Also, you should be reading Inga every week, without fail.)

What’s critical here is that the new legislation is obviously ismart. It “would require the Gaming Control Board to hold a series of public hearings about the casino locations and then issue a report within four months on alternative locations. If the casinos didn't agree to new locations the board could revoke their state gaming licenses. [And the legislation] would "end the standoff" between the casinos and the city on where to build.”

Seems like a fantastic fucking idea to us.

To Rendell? Not so much.

Ed Rendell’s very thoughtful, diplomatic and visionary dogmatic reactionary response: that “he would veto such legislation ‘in two seconds.’ […] "The bottom line is those two casinos are going to be built in those two locations."

Hmm. Actually, Eddie, we disagree. Strongly, we might add. And it appears that you are rather shockingly and alarmingly out of touch. WE are pretty confident that these casinos will NOT get built where they’re currently planned. (And you can quote us on that.)

Because, collectively, Philadelphia is getting A LOT smarter about planning. And it’s transparently obvious that putting the casinos, as-designed, in these locations would irreparably ruin the Delaware River Waterfront for the next 50 years.

And we doubt Philadelphia is simply going to give in to your invectives and diatribes just because you USED to be mayor here. Precisely because Philadelphia is not “gutless.” Philadelphia is in a better place than it’s been in about 50 years. And if you haven’t noticed, it’s "a new day and a new way” here, conveniently leaving zero room for cronyism.

The city now has the 'guts' to stand up to terrible legislation dictated to it by a shitty state government. And Philadelphia is not about to have its riverfront ruined just to accommodate your back-room bullying and temper tantrums.

You did well by us in the 90s and we appreciate it. But if you don’t start curbing your pride on these casinos — like fucking immediately — Philadelphia is going to have ample reason to disown you altogether. (Your non-stop panhandling for Hillary over the last two months was pretty much reason enough...)

We’ll again refer you to exhibit A, Penn Praxis’ brilliant and inspiring vision for the Delaware River, produced in 2007 by doing the exact opposite of what your exclusionary Gaming Review Board did — actually engage the community and ask the residents of Philadelphia what THEY want for THEIR riverfront. And guess what they DON’T want? Surprise — casinos.

Have the decency and the balls to admit when a better idea/solution surfaces. It’s not the end of the world. You should be used to it. (And stop calling people names as we can do it right back. Obviously, it’s you who needs to learn how to move on. )

Furthermore, the casino legislation has always been inherently flawed — because 1) most of the revenue should have been dedicated to improving public education, not property and/or wage tax relief and 2) slot-barns are not casinos; boutique casinos with table games and Borgata-like non-gaming entertainment should have been chosen if you’re going to legalize gambling at all; who the fuck wants to go to a slot-barn?!?

So consider yourself lucky that these egregiously shitty slot-barns are going to be operating anywhere in the city at all.

Bottom line: don’t be so arrogant as to think you still know what’s best for Philadelphia. You clearly don’t. And Philadelphia is very close to not wanting anything at all to do with you anymore/ever again.

Chance to save riverfront [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Philadelphia lawmakers take another stab at casino relocation [ Philadelphia Daily News ]
Bill to challenge casinos' locations [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Lawmakers eye airport area for controversial casinos [ Philadelphia Business Journal ]
To Mayor Elect: Look Toward The River Plan [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
A Civic Vision for the Central Delaware [ Plan Philly ]

1 comment:

Zach said...

Love the passion. You're right on the spot. Could do with about 30% less filthy talk though (can show passion but can also detract) Sometimes you just need to air it out though. You state things as they are, just as I would. Keep up the good work.