Thursday, July 21, 2005

32: “An Open Letter to Governor Rendell”

Governor Rendell,

I am writing this letter in hope of appealing to, as Abraham Lincoln put it, “the better angels” of your nature. I am asking that you set aside the results of one of your long term goals as governor of our great Commonwealth.

By its nature, gambling in Pennsylvania has the appearance of a pot of gold under the rainbow, an answer to a growing state budget that is outstripping revenues. Unfortunately, the legislation presented for your signature last summer, Acts 71 and 72, falls far short in so many areas as to become some of the worst legislation ever written. It is full of conflicts of interest, ethical wrongs, and open invitations to graft and corruption.

Already, newspapers across the country are writing of conflicts involving lobbyists who own interests in gaming companies, making deals with gaming equipment manufacturers -- and not one spade-full of earth has yet been turned to construct a casino in Pennsylvania. A member of the State Assembly is under investigation regarding a land deal for a proposed casino -- and not one cubic yard of concrete has been poured yet to construct a casino. The State Assembly is one of the parties responsible for selecting members of the Gaming Control Commission, yet these same elected officials are permitted by language in Act 71 to own a percentage of a casino, or casinos – a clear conflict of interest. There is more, such as the oppressive language struck out of Act 71 by the Commonwealth Supreme Court that allowed the Gaming Control Commission to locate a casino wherever it chose, regardless of local zoning ordinances, or local opposition.

In Gettysburg, local opposition is extremely broad based and organized against the placement of a casino there. Polls conducted by the local members of the State Assembly over a year ago show a minimum of 70% of the local constituents oppose the presence of a casino in the area. More recent polls show a higher rate of opposition, and even more alarming, over 50% of visitors to Gettysburg who were asked, responded by saying they would not return to Gettysburg if a casino was located here.

Many in Gettysburg feel that one of the heroes of the great battle that was fought here said it best. Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment wrote after the war,

"In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear, but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field to ponder and dream; And lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls."

A casino would be most inappropriate here. Nevertheless, those investors have “gold fever”, and nothing else seems to matter but making their fortunes.

For the reasons stated above, I urge you in the strongest of terms to foster the repeal of Act 71 and Act 72. There is little to recommend either piece of legislation. Act 71 will make a lot of money for a few investors, but will do little for the communities in which the casinos are located but cause heartache and economic shortfalls, and corrupt the lives of many who are involved in the industry, even peripherally. As you are aware, Act 72 has been rejected overwhelmingly by the school boards of the Commonwealth. Few believe the funding for education will meet or even approach projected levels.

Good legislation, once passed, requires the confidence of the people, and neither Act 71, nor Act 72 holds such confidence. The reasons vary, but the lack is apparent. In general, both Acts were arrogant and misguided attempts to solve fiscal problems by involving the people of the Commonwealth in an industry that attracts addiction, and for which there is a side industry based on aiding the recovery from that addiction. That simply does not square with the meaning of the word from which we derive the word “Commonwealth”: commonweal, meaning the general well being of the people. Neither Act 71, nor Act 72 meets this litmus test.

Please foster the repeal of these two bad Acts, and sign the repealing legislation, rather than vetoing it. Set the State Assembly to the task of passing responsible legislation to develop alternatives to Act 71, on a much smaller scale than the current bill, and do not tie municipal or educational funding to it. They can and must do better than Acts 71 and 72.

Thank you Governor, for your time and attention to this matter.



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ShowMe said...

Great Letter !

And, it set me to 'thinkin', ......................

Researched and Sourced from:

“Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address
Franklin D. Roosevelt had campaigned against Herbert Hoover in the 1932 presidential election by saying as little as possible about what he might do if elected. Through even the closest working relationships, none of the president-elect’s most intimate associates felt they knew him well, with the exception perhaps of his wife, Eleanor. The affable, witty Roosevelt used his great personal charm to keep most people at a distance. In campaign speeches, he favored a buoyant, optimistic, gently paternal tone spiced with humor. But his first inaugural address took on an unusually solemn, religious quality. And for good reason—by 1933 the depression had reached its depth. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address outlined in broad terms how he hoped to govern and reminded Americans nation’s that the “common difficulties” concerned “only material things".

To read the entire Inaugural Address, one needs only to c/p or click on the url provided.

But, this preamble to the actual address, by a webmaster/contributor, of History Matters, has struck a chord that makes the fiddles sing in Gettysburg.

I feel the sentiments of Roosevelt at this time in History, mirror the plight of the No Casino efforts in Gettysburg........those that sit back on their haunches or their laurels, are defeating the essense of being an American and they are defeating the gifts of Freedom of Speech.

Join the efforts to defeat this BAD IDEA, you have nothing to fear but fear itself.

You can be neighbors and friends, and still stand up for what you believe in, as what is important is in your heart, your neighborhood and your relationships with those that you meet each day.

This effort to capitalize on your very being, is what Roosevelt reminded us of, in his address.

And, this is only about "material" things. Take care of business, true friendships will survive the storm, and your opposition will be grateful, however silent in the end.

Forgive them their fears, and convince them your efforts are pure.

And, take the wise advice of the Blog-miester here.



Also posted on NoCasinoGettysburg/Missouri