Friday, December 23, 2005

77: “Kiss It All Good-Bye, Adams County!”


Once again the investors of Chance Enterprises have committed a public relations blunder of epic proportions.

Heaping one more disaster on top of a pile of public relations disasters, Chance Enterprises filed its economic impact study on Tuesday, with the Adams County Commissioners ("The Addams Family"), and the Straban Township Supervisors ("The Strabaddies").

There is a huge difference between facts and assertions. The "report" is full of assertions, very few of which are based on facts, and on Act 71 as it currently exists. Many of those promises of enormous sums of money to be realized by the local County and municipal governments are based on the Act 71 the Chance investors would like to see, and are vigorously lobbying to get enacted.

In other words, at this point in time, the promises of Chance Enterprises are as hollow, and empty as an acorn cap after a squirrel got to the nut.

What everyone needs to understand, including Marc Charisse, editor of the Hanover Evening Sun, is that no, Chance is not “back in the game”.

All the money that is legally promised to Adams County under Act 71 as it exists right now is the $465,000 to be paid to Straban Township, and Adams County’s share of about $12 million, split unequally four ways with York, Cumberland and Franklin Counties. That split is done by population proportion. If Adams share exceeds $1.5, or $2 million, we’ll be lucky.

Here’s the next hard fact that folks need to wrap their brains around: The casinos, all of them, and the legislators, all of them, and the Governor (all of him!), have promised the casino money several times over….the same casino money. You’ve seen them in the newspapers promising millions to schools, millions to social services, millions to communities, and baby, they have all done so in their best “
Elmer Gantry” personae! These folks make snake oil salesmen look like saints.

In a state with no lobbying laws, can you imagine the pressure on the legislators to pass amendments to Act 71? Each investment group for the proposed casinos is lobbying for its own set of amendments. Pressure? The pressure is on them because they haven’t passed the amendments. They stand to lose a good bit of money if they don’t. After all, they are permitted to own a 1% share in a casino, and IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE MADE PUBLIC! (If that is not an invitation to graft, corruption and ethical violations, I really don’t know how what is.) Local word has it Terry Punt, our State Senator is one of these.

The amendments would include table games (poker, black jack, roulette, craps), putting Pennsylvanians up to their eyeballs in the business of gambling

The "study" is a stultifying morass of misinformation, and pipedreams. Unlike Chance Enterprises, No Casino Gettysburg has gathered numerous studies putting the lie to the misinformation put out by the casino industry, and their investors. They also have numerous studies, and first person accounts detailing factually how much of an adverse affect casinos have on their communities.

My guess? This "economist" is probably the only one in the country who would take on the job. Nobody else would touch this project with a ten foot pole. This is the same economist who did the impact study promoting the "Disnification" (Disney wanted to build a theme park!) of Manassas Battlefield in Virginia about ten years ago (and it failed due to public pressure, although there is really little left of the Battle sites, where two important and significant Civil War Battles were fought.)

That leads to one conclusion: someone is holding this group of investors together, and its either LeVan, who has a reputation for stubbornness, or Commerce Bank. I'm betting there are some of the more prominent investors from the Carlisle area that would like nothing better than to get clear of this ugly mess called Crossroads whatever (a rose by any other name would stink as bad! Sorry Will!).

Commerce will probably float the construction loans, as their board members already have shares in the casino. No conflict of interest there. This is the same Commerce Bank that has officers from several areas of the state doing time in Federal prisons for buying influence from local government officials. Several others are under investigation. Isn't it a shame we have to rely on the Feds to clean up our corruption here in Pennsylvania?

LeVan was offered the job as front man by the original group of investors (some have dropped out, others have joined, resulting in a bit cozier, more nepotic look), not based on his experience as CEO of Conrail, but based on his experience as the man who broke Conrail up in a giveaway. The investors, once they have inflicted this “crime” of a project on the citizens of Adams County, will head elsewhere with their half-billion dollar buy-outs!

While we oppose gambling in Pennsylvania, it seems that the appropriate place for a casino in this region would have been in the York area. The casinos are targeted for high tourist areas so they don’t have to spend as much money advertising to generate traffic. How much easier it is to place a few billboards, and some brochures in local hotels, and restaurants, and enlist the aid of the local convention and visitor’s bureau to suck traffic away from the legitimate tourist attractions who do advertise!

York would be more appropriate as it sits smack in between two of the highest tourist areas of the state: Gettysburg and Lancaster.

Who should you thank for all of this? Why, thanks Governor Rendell, who has been taking campaign contributions (Lobbying money) from the casino industry for over a decade, and thank the legislators of our General Assembly, who passed this unethical Act 71 in the same, underhanded way they passed the pay raise last summer. And thank your local Adams County Economic Development Corporation which uses tax dollars in private to lure businesses to the area. They were defeated twice on WalMart, so this is their revenge. Don’t forget to thank "The Addams Family", and "The Strabaddies", who have laid down and rolled over like good little puppy dogs, and let the moneyed interests rub their bellies. By the time they are done, Route 15 will be flanked by a two mile wide (on both sides), strip of asphalt, concrete, houses, and commercial/industrial buildings, malls, and campuses, stretching from the Maryland line to Dillsburg.

So most of all, thank Dave Sites, and especially, Bob “somebody’s got to build it” Monahan, who has finally exacted his revenge for the snub he received by losing out on the National Park Service’s new Visitor’s Center plan. Sites, by the way, is in the process of doing to Freedom, Liberty, Hamiltonban, and Cumberland Townships, what Monahan is doing to Straban, and will be doing to Mt. Joy Township – paving them over.

Say good-bye to all your lovely farm land and forests, Adams County, it’s been sold by your friends, neighbors, and elected officials. And they do not give a damn what you think about it. Don’t believe me, then tell me, who asked you if it was all okay? Kiss the fruit industry good-bye, because the amount of development planned by your elected officials from the township level on up, is enough to create a local climate change.

No more Apple Blossom Festival in the spring…no more Apple Harvest Festival in the fall. No more Golden Delicious Apples, Red Haven Peaches, or Bosc Pears. Instead, you can always go to the casino for entertainment, and even maybe win a little cash. That's it, they'll have Apple Days! Get three Apples on your slot and win $1,000!

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