Tuesday, September 27, 2005

51: "Gambling With History"

This is an Op-Ed piece from yesterday’s New York Times. It was written by friend Jim Lighthizer of the Civil War Preservation Trust. His piece speaks for itself.

Gambling With History
By JAMES LIGHTHIZER
NY Times Op-Ed
September 27, 2005

Washington — The mere mention of Gettysburg conjures up images of beautiful, rolling Pennsylvania farmland and stone monuments commemorating the soldiers who fought there 142 years ago.

Nearly two million tourists visit Gettysburg each year to pay tribute to the place where, as Abraham Lincoln said, this nation was given "a new birth of freedom."

Sadly, there are investors who simply do not understand what Gettysburg means to the United States. They want to build a casino in the shadow of this great national landmark.

These developers say they will create a tasteful establishment, one that will be in keeping with the area's historic character and appeal to both battlefield visitors and fans of gambling. Like casino proponents elsewhere in the country, the Gettysburg investors tempt local officials with promises of jobs and money. But most of these investors will have left town by the time residents discover how empty those promises are.

According to economists who study the effects of casinos on local communities, for every $1 million a casino brings in, $3 million is needed for basic infrastructure and services. If this casino is built, the only prediction likely to prove true is that it will destroy the Gettysburg that generations of Americans have come to cherish.

Of course, the casino's developers argue that the site they have chosen is not "battlefield" land. What they fail to realize, however, is that historical significance does not stop at the edges of the national park. Roads into and out of town were of huge consequence to the battle. Practically every farmhouse and barn for miles was used as a field hospital for the wounded and dying.

Regardless of how careful and sensitive the developers think their plans are, building a casino at Gettysburg will destroy the town's character. Poorly managed growth and traffic already plague Gettysburg, and the casino will make congestion worse. It's true that historians are already appalled at the encroachments that souvenir shops and big-box stores have made on parts of the battlefield, but the size of the 42-acre complex, and the pawn shops and check-cashing stores that the 2,500 slots will likely generate, are far worse than anything that's currently there.

And rather than bringing jobs, the casino could easily damage the region's economic vitality. My organization recently released a study detailing the economic benefits of battlefield preservation, and the results are clear: Gettysburg National Military Park is the cornerstone of the local economy. Each year out-of-town visitors spend $121 million in Gettysburg stores, hotels and restaurants, for an average of $76.53 per person, per day. That concentration of spending and patronage supports 2,653 full-time jobs in the community, beyond those necessary to keep the park in operation. Furthermore, taxes on that spending generate more than $17.2 million in state and local revenue.

The casino developers maintain that their enterprise will appeal to both heritage tourists and travelers who might not have come for the history alone. But in July, local anti-casino volunteers questioned 300 tourists: 96 percent were opposed to building a casino in the area, 81 percent felt it would be a desecration to do so at Gettysburg and 53 percent would not return if a casino were built nearby.

Even Gov. Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania, who was a driving force behind the state's gambling legislation, said this month that he opposed placing slots in historical places that draw families. Having a casino anywhere near Gettysburg, he said, would debase the experience of children visiting this "great historic shrine." Unfortunately, Mr. Rendell contends that the final decision is up to an independent commission. But the governor and the Legislature appointed the commission members and are ultimately responsible for their decision.

Building a casino at Gettysburg would be more than a gamble; it would be folly. It cheapens the sacrifice of those who gave "the last full measure of devotion" on that field. Casinos are everywhere, but there's only one Gettysburg.

James Lighthizer is the president of the Civil War Preservation Trust.

Note: This blogger had hoped to be able to post an image that accompanied this piece in the New York Times. However, blogger.com was unable to solve a problem that has existed since last weekend. When or if it is solved, the image will be added.
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GettysBLOG

“Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!”

“Legislation without representation is tyranny!”

Please remember to donate your time, talent and funds to NoCasinoGettysburg either at their office or website.

NO Casino Gettysburg
Box 3173,
Gettysburg, PA 17325

or contact them via the phone at 717-334-6333.

http://www.nocasinogettysburg.com/

Thank you for donating!

Copyright © 2005, GettysBLOG and GettysBLOG2. All Rights Reserved.

50: "News of Note, #2"

First the good stuff:

Jim Gindlesperger has published his third book about the Civil War. We have been Internet friends for almost 10 years. This blogger admires his work -- good research and good writing. Here is his announcement:

"Many of you, while patiently waiting, have been asking when my latest book, Fire on the Water is going to be released. As you may know, publication has been held up by poor economic conditions in the publishing industry. I am pleased to announce that the book is finally ready for release! Even more exciting is the news that it as already been selected by the Lincoln and Soldiers Institute at Gettysburg College or consideration for the prestigious Lincoln Prize. The Lincoln Prize is awarded annually to the year's best work on Abraham Lincoln or the Civil War.

To commemorate the publication of Fire on the Water I have received permission to offer the book at a "pre-publication" 15% discount. The discount will also extend to either of my other two books as well (Escape From Libby Prison and Seed Corn of the Confederacy) if they are purchased at the same time as Fire on the Water. If all three books are purchased together, each one is 20% off the regular price.

This puts the pre-publication prices at:

Fire on the Water alone (regular price will be $27.95) - $23.75
Fire on the Water plus one other book (other books are regularly $24.95) - $44.95
Fire on the Water plus two other books -$66.15

Fire on the Water follows the voyages of the CSS Alabama, the most famous and most successful raider in the Confederate navy, and the USS Kearsarge, one of many federal ships sent to track the Alabama down and sink her. The two foes met off the coast of Cherbourg, France where the Kearsarge defeated the Alabama in an epic battle. The book details the hazards of shipboard life, including storms, fires, mutinies, and sharks in an amazing story of the fight for survival.

Escape From Libby Prison tells the exciting story of the famous tunnel escape out of the Confederacy's infamous Libby Prison in 1864, the largest mass POW escape in American military history. Escape From Libby Prison won the George Washington Honor Medal for Excellence, was optioned by Warner Brothers to be made into a feature movie, and was featured in a Discovery Channel documentary.

Seed Corn of the Confederacy documents the famous participation of the cadets from Virginia Military Institute at the Battle of New Market. Some of the cadets were as young as 15. Referring to Seed Corn of the Confederacy, an official at VMI says that the story "has never been better told."

To order any of these books, please forward payment to (Pennsylvania residents please add 6% sales tax; I will pay all shipping charges):

Jim Gindlesperger
P.O. Box 47
Tire Hill, PA 15959

I will be happy to sign any of these books, and, since I have heard from some of you that you would like to use these books as Christmas presents I would be happy to include a personalized message. Just let me know who you would like me to make the message out to, and if you have something specific you'd like me to say in the message, include that as well.

Thanks again to all of you for the patience you showed as you waited for Fire on the Water to come out. I appreciate all the messages of support so many of you sent during the long wait, and I hope this discount makes up for the delay in some small way."

Jim’s work is quite good, and is highly recommended here. A link to his website is on the sidebar to the right.

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In other news, estimates of 1,500 to 2,000 people demonstrated at the State Capitol Building yesterday in Harrisburg. The demonstration, led by a coalition of advocacy groups including Pennsylvania Common Cause, Pennsylvania Clean Sweep, and a radio announcer from Harrisburg, WHP radio was there to protest the heinous acts of the Pennsylvania legislature in their midnight raid this past July 7, when they passed themselves an enormous 16 to 34% pay raise and the unconstitutional right to accept the raise in advance as an unvouchered expense. Also complicit in this conspiracy-burglary was Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Ralph Cappy, who provided the legislature with both encouragement and legal advice in the run up to enactment. Of course, Cappy benefited from the raise as well. So will the Governor.

Retired State employees have not received a cost of living adjustment in years. Current state employees have been doing without many of their customary pay raises ever since the Rendell Administration entered office.

One protestor, a retired teacher, was quoted as saying she was “hoping the legislators were in there, peeking out of their windows, seeing what a large crowd we are, and hopefully, they will then rescind their pay raise.”

A petition with 169,000 voters signatures against the pay raise was presented to the Speaker of the House, John Perzel, or rather to his Public Relations representative, as Perzel was in hiding from the crowds. The demonstrators entered the Capitol and went through the legislative office areas shouting “OINK!”.

Rendell was hiding in Philadelphia, and all of the other political leaders were nowhere to be found. Not one had the guts to come to the protestors and try to defend their actions.

“Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!” comes into play with two Supreme Court justices running for reelection. As the election approaches we will keep you apprised of who they are. Learn to keep your hands off the party levers, take the time to see who the candidates are, and vote out the incumbents. The true test will be next November, when the legislators, especially the leadership, run for re-election.
“Legislation without representation is tyranny!”

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Two months ago a friend asked Bill Greenlee, the head of the prestigious Harrisburg Lobbying/Law firm Greenlee Partners LLC, to mention the No Casino Gettysburg Bike Ride that took place in August., in his daily online newsletter, Harrisburg Online. There was no response. There was no mention. This blogger did some checking only to find that Greenlee Partners LLC represents a slot machine company, Harrah’s, and our old nemesis, Chance Enterprises.

Their lead story today was on yesterday’s rally. As you can see, they were underwhelmed:

“Estimating the Crowd...neither an art nor a science. Estimates of the crowd size for yesterday's protest at the State Capitol varied wildly. Before reporters managed to get their estimates together, the Allentown Morning Call initially reported a mere 600 in attendance. Later, the Associated Press said "more than a thousand" and the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review and Pittsburgh Post Gazette upped it to more than 1,500 but the Harrisburg Patriot News topped them all with an estimate of 2,000. With all the media and organizational support, it was a rally dwarfed in size if not spirit by dozens of predecessor rallies.”

We’d put a link in to them, but, then, they didn’t respond at all, not even with a polite, “no”.

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GettysBLOG

“Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!”

“Legislation without representation is tyranny!”

Please remember to donate your time, talent and funds to NoCasinoGettysburg either at their office or website.

NO Casino Gettysburg
Box 3173,
Gettysburg, PA 17325

or contact them via the phone at 717-334-6333.

http://www.nocasinogettysburg.com/

Thank you for donating!

Copyright © 2005, GettysBLOG and GettysBLOG2. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 26, 2005

49: "The Predators"

Barbara Ernico continues to try to sell her casino project for Chance Enterprises. Give her credit for having the courage to go into the lions den that is the NO Casino Gettysburg discussion board. Dock her nine points for not having the right message.

Lets us examine some issues:

The casino operates like this: people drive in, or arrive by buses (complete with tokens worth $10-25 in slot machine play), and enter onto the floor where the machines are located. The first thing that hits you is the atmosphere. Flashing lights, neon, multi-colored, and of varying intensities, the lights are integral. They pulse in time with the noise, and are designed to create a tempo. They are not edgy, but they are intense enough to stay in the back of your mind. Music…rock music, country music, and some jazz plays at an audible level just loud enough that it does not intrude on your focus. It helps create the tempo by which you will slide your money, tokens, or credit cards into the machines and gamble it away. 98% of the visitors will not go home with more money than they had when they arrived. The other 2% will leave with a few dollars more, perhaps a hundred, or a thousand. One person out of perhaps 10,000 will become a winner of more than several thousand dollars. More noise…the ringing of bells as a machine pays out. Once in a while someone will hit a big payout of $100 or more, and lights will flash near there, the machine will declare in its metallic voice “Winner! Winner! Winner!”, and people will take notice, and be encouraged when they should not.

Casinos are predatory businesses. Their mainstay is not the family on vacation, nor is it the man or woman who comes in compulsively and gambles away the mortgage payment. It is the busloads of senior citizens who pile in by the hundreds and sit in front of the machines all day long pumping money into them. These are people from retirement homes and retirement village complexes from 200-300 miles away. More importantly, they are people on fixed incomes who often sacrifice their prescription co-pay money to play the slots, because “they have so much fun!” The image of them, smiling, while pumping large portions of their social security money into a slot machine is reminiscent of the movie “Soylent Green”, where seniors were treated to beautiful images and sounds to while away their final minutes as they were euthanized prior to being processed as food – soylent green. They did this because it was their duty on an over-crowded, dying planet Earth.

Casinos are predatory businesses. They rely on the addictive nature of many of their visitors. There is no good addiction. Addictions to caffeine, nicotine, or illegal drugs, are harmful. So, too is alcohol. So, too, is gambling, a non-chemical addiction. The casino will supply free (complimentary, or “comp”) rooms to people who spend a lot of money there, and drinks will be free, or a very low cost. They do not need to push alcohol on their customers, the customers will grab for booze by themselves. They will be aided by a dry, air conditioned environment, so that when an (attractive) waitress strolls by with a tray full of drinks that look attractive, it will be as natural as taking your next breath to ask her to bring you one. Or maybe you just want a cup of coffee…and they will bring you that for nothing…coffee will keep you awake so you can keep pumping money into that slot machine.

So the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, headed by the great governor Edward Rendell, and the great political leaders such as Vincent Fumo, John Perzel, Robert C. Jubelirer, and Bill DeWeese, has provided the populace of the Commonwealth with a piece of legislation that authorizes an industry to operate within its borders by preying on the addictions of people, providing a venue for people to have those addictions exploited, and that said industry is fully controlled by the Commonwealth.

No ethical lapses there, eh? No…not many.

What kind of person would unleash this on the populace?

“But look at all the money!” they say. Indeed, lets’ look at all the money.

Q. Where do the revenues from gambling in Pennsylvania come from?

A. The money comes primarily from the pockets of Pennsylvania Citizens.

Q. Whom does it benefit?

A. First, and foremost, it benefits the investors. That august group includes the very legislators who wrote and passed the law enabling the industry. (There’s great ethics for you!). Then, some of it was supposed to go to property tax relief across the state, something that 80% of the state rejected when given that option. Now, the governor and Messers Fumo, Perzel, Jubelirer, and DeWeese are trying to figure out a way to make it mandatory for those same school districts that opted to reject the money (primarily because it would force them to rely on referendums for tax increases…something the legislature does not force itself to do) to be forced to accept it!

In essence, they want to make a profit from you, while you are paying your taxes out of a different pocket.

So, what kind of person would unleash this on the populace?

Obviously, Rendell, Fumo, Jubelirer, DeWeese, and Perzel would do it. So would the hundreds of investors planning to install the slot machine casinos wherever they want, in spite of local opposition.

The sheer hypocrisy, and ethical bankruptcy of those leaders has made Pennsylvania the laughing stock of the nation.

Yet, Senator Santorum, local political leaders, just about every historical preservation group in the country, religious leaders, and the general populace have raised their voices against a casino in Gettysburg.

Even Governor Rendell has publicly denounced the idea of a casino in the Gettysburg area.

Yet the investors persist.

Barbara Ernico insists the investors would never do anything to harm the Gettysburg area community -- except allow her investment to prey on addictions to make her money.

GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny!”

Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Please remember to donate to NoCasinoGettysburg either at their office or website.

NO Casino Gettysburg
Box 3173,
Gettysburg, PA 17325

or contact them via the phone at 717-334-6333.

http://www.nocasinogettysburg.com/

Thank you for donating!

Copyright © 2005, GettysBLOG and GettysBLOG2. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 12, 2005

48: "A Matter of Courage and Integrity"

One of the most daring, and brazen actions taken in our national history was the formation of a series of congresses, starting with the Stamp Act Congress in 1765, and moving to the First Continental Congress in 1774, and the Second Continental Congress in 1775. The Continental Congresses were formed in response to a series of “intolerable acts” pressed upon the colonies by the Crown government in Great Britain. The thirteen colonies decided in the spring of 1775, that all efforts to reach a peaceful settlement of their grievances against the Crown had failed, and that in retaliation for their defiance of the laws so harshly treating their economic and political well being, the Crown had essentially declared war on the united colonies. By June of 1775, the Second Continental Congress had formed an army, and selected one former colonial militia officer to lead it. He was, of course, George Washington.

These were men in a group of colonies that had, for nearly 170 years endured the hardships of carving out an existence in a hostile environment, the start of which failed at least once. The object had been to quickly establish colonies, and discover what products could be produced there and sent back to England. Once survival had been accomplished, and assured, the colonists set about expanding their territories, measuring the depth of the continent to the west, and reporting on the wealth of its resources. By the middle of the 18th century, the major port cities of Boston, Providence, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, and Savannah were bustling, thriving urban centers of trade. What’s more, there were smaller cities westward from the ports, that were supporting the westward expansion, and serving as shipping points for goods traveling in both directions – west to the settlers and explorers, and east to the ports for shipment overseas. The problem was, these colonists were not thriving economically, or personally, under the occupation of British colonial rule. Not only were they not thriving, they were being stifled – not allowed to make a profit, unless it be a slim one permitted by whim of the “Company”, the Crown’s agent for trade. Something was obviously wrong with this picture.

Stifle a man’s pocketbook, and you stifle his liberty. Stifle his liberty, and you create a dangerous enemy. So the brave men formed their committees, and their congresses, and set out to force the greatest nation on earth at that time, masters of the largest empire the world had ever seen, to back off, and grant them the freedom to make better use of their labors economically. Silly idea, what? So the Crown sent more troops, the “Lobsterbacks”, so named for their scarlet coats. Oddly, one of the complaints to the crown was the lack of military protection on the frontier by British troops. Now they were present in abundance, but rarely out of the port cities except in transit, or on patrol. The British Crown, under the Hanoverian, King George the III, tried to tighten the screws.

These defiant colonists, led by, perhaps, the greatest collection of socio-political thinkers ever gathered in one place at one time, were on the hook. Their open defiance was a matter of record…there was no turning back. But they had to take on the world’s greatest army to win. So these thinkers armed themselves first with a set of ideals, fueled by the European philosophers such as John Locke, Charles Montesquieu, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (who opened his 1762 publication, The Social Contract, with the line, "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.") Then they turned those ideals into ideas, and began to spread the word: “Something new is coming!” They armed themselves with an army, and a leader who inspired near fanatical loyalty, in spite of his spotty military record. The old Virginia Militia officer now was a general in command of an army, about to fight the best and biggest army in the world.

What in the world could these men have been thinking? Outnumbered, outgunned, and certainly scared to death of the route upon which they were embarking. Broke, unable to afford even paying the volunteers who filled the ranks of the army, they had absolutely not a whit of a chance of pulling it off. Unless…unless…they could live on the ideas, and simply keep from losing, to grasp the stratagem that they did not have to win the military fight, only to keep from losing it, and thus achieve a political victory. In the end, the old Virginia militia officer kept the ranks together long enough for France to take an interest and promise help. And so, in those early summer days of 1776 in Philadelphia, they concocted a document which declared as much to themselves, as to the entire world, the righteousness of their acts. “The rest,” as the immortal Bard wrote, “is history.”

There were petty squabbles, and philosophical differences among them. But one abiding element kept them constant in their devotion to the goal of self determination, freedom, liberty, and equality: courage. Without the courage to carry out their grand scheme, to pay almost any sacrifice to achieve their desired end, it would have all unraveled quickly. Benjamin Franklin, the wise old Renaissance man who hammered coalitions and compromises into what we now call a nation, told this collection of thinkers, “We must hang together, gentlemen...else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.” The courage to face one’s fate bound them all together.

We are fortunate to have had them on our side some 230 odd years ago. If only we had such leaders now.

Now, leadership, such as that displayed by a local preservation association president, comes in the form of doublespeak, and is totally lacking in the courage required of leadership. She calls the proposed Gettysburg casino “the lesser of two evils when it’s the choice between looking at one rooftop or 20,000.” Somewhere in there is a spark of logic, I think. But it is not readily apparent. She goes on to complain of the rampant development taking shape in Adams County, but apparently limits the definition of development to housing. Hello? Adams County is wholly threatened by development, and yes, 20,000 new homes in the coming few years are on the way, but to claim the casino project, or, for that matter, even the Gateway Gettysburg projects are not development is to defy credulity.

Here is a clue for the president of that oldest preservation society: the casino is every bit as much of a threat to the farm she is restoring as the hundreds of houses she knows are coming to surround that farm. Development is development, whether it is a motorcycle store, a biker bar, a casino, or 20,000 houses. You have to stop the momentum and so you pick the target most likely to gain the attention of those who are responsible for the development. That target would be the casino. Courage? No courage needed here, just some self honesty.

Here’s another clue for the president: if the president of Chance Enterprises, the group of investors funding the casino project is such a great person, universally admired by all for his largesse, and his ethos, then it would not matter a whit that the preservation society came out against the casino. He would continue to grant the organization that largesse, continue to donate money to the property, and continue sponsoring the bike rides that raise money for the society.

People who are against the casino but do not say so out of fear of retribution by David LeVan are insulting his integrity. They also devalue themselves, and their own integrity.

When faced with someone to whom they owed allegiance, yet had done them acts of wrong, the men of the Continental Congresses rose with the courage to declare the King wrong, and to take measures to remove themselves from under his influence.

The leaders of the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association should do no less.

GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny!”

Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Please remember to donate to NoCasinoGettysburg either at their office or website.

NO Casino Gettysburg
Box 3173,
Gettysburg, PA 17325

or contact them via the phone at 717-334-6333.

http://www.nocasinogettysburg.com/

Thank you for donating!

Copyright © 2005, GettysBLOG and GettysBLOG2. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, September 09, 2005

47: "Operation Clean Sweep"

This just in from our friend Russ Diamond at Operation Clean Sweep (see sidebar):
It's been over two months since the General Assembly unconstitutionally boosted its own pay. They've been blasted in print, trumped on talk radio and the subject of derision around water coolers and on the Internet.

Incumbent reaction to the public outrage has ranged from apologetic backtracking to condescending defiance to incomprehensible silence. But that's just the beginning - they've been on vacation the whole time. When they return to Harrisburg in a few weeks, Pennsylvanians should be prepared for what's next.

Caught a bit off guard by the negative spotlight, they'll be eager to wipe this issue from your mind. But beware of lawmakers bearing gifts.

A few are already delivering slick campaign materials disguised as "legislative updates" and televised "public service announcements" trumpeting their duplication of state agency functions. Others are planning to set up "trust funds" and "foundations" with their unconstitutional booty.

Some have introduced repeal bills to prove their mettle. Others will be dipping their toes in the proverbial waters through co-sponsorship. They may repeal the unconstitutional income of unvouchered expenses. They might repeal Act 44 entirely, although this is doubtful. But it is no big secret that leadership stands stubbornly in the way of these initiatives.

They may then attempt to tackle a few select hot button issues such as the minimum wage, property taxes or fuel prices. They'll start to show up at community functions. They'll bring oversized novelty checks bearing the name of your favorite cause when the cameras are available.

In short, they'll try to impress upon Pennsylvanians that we have a good legislature, out there fighting the good fight. But it's all a ruse. Don't be fooled for a minute. Beware of lawmakers bearing gifts.

A quick review of the last few years serves as a reminder of the true nature of our General Assembly.

The shameless court-approved scheme of Act 71, the slots bill. The absolute debacle known as Act 72. Notoriously late budgets, including the six-month fiasco of 2003. The dubious Growing Greener II initiative. No progress whatsoever on our astronomical health care crisis, crumbling infrastructure or broken public education system.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania flounders in personal income, job and population growth as compared to other states. Over 130,000 manufacturing jobs lost since 2000. We outpace every other state when counting young people who leave for gainful employment elsewhere. But general fund spending has increased by a whopping 18 percent since FY 2002-03. And then came Act 44 - the pay raise - the last straw.

Despite all the real problems the legislature should have seriously addressed in recent years, the only subject the ruling class seems willing to take action on is increasing your tax burden through more spending and indulging themselves with more riches and perks.

So what are we to do in the interest of correcting this situation? You could sign a petition, but petitions have no legal standing. You could file a lawsuit, but in light of Chief Justice Ralph Cappy's public support of Act 44, chances for success are in serious doubt.

There is only one legal solution no legislator can escape for any reason other than retirement or resignation - facing re-election. In 2006, 228 of the 253 lawmakers across the Commonwealth must face the challenge of the ballot box.

Only one group is working to provide qualified opponents for all 228 incumbents statewide - PACleanSweep. The major political parties may also provide a few opponents, but the parties are part and parcel of how we got into this predicament in the first place. PACleanSweep is not a political party. Ours is a non-partisan effort, recruiting and uniting candidates from all political affiliations.

We have a plan to challenge these incumbents - every last one of them, regardless of how "nice" they may seem. They aren't elect to be nice, they're elected to serve your district and Pennsylvania as a whole while upholding and defending the PA Constitution. According to the realities enumerated above, they have failed on all counts.

I urge you to visit our website at
www.pacleansweep.com to find out more about this once-in-a-lifetime plan. And please - beware of lawmakers bearing gifts.

At PACleanSweep, we're looking for founding fathers for a NEW Pennsylvania. Founding mothers, too.

Russ Diamond, Founder, PACleanSweep
info@pacleansweep.com

PACleanSweep.com has attracted over 59,000 unique visitors and 3300 subscribers since July 18. 21 candidates have signed the PACleanSweep Declaration and have pledged to challenge incumbents in 2006.

Pass it on!

We support friend Russ and his efforts at Operation Clean Sweep. The current crop of legislatiors have dishonored themselves, their constituents, and this Commonwealth by their actions. Please visit the Operation Clean Sweep website and join their efforts. Even better, consider running for office!

“Legislation without representation is tyranny!”

GettysBLOG

Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Please remember to donate to NoCasinoGettysburg either at their office or website.

NO Casino Gettysburg
Box 3173,
Gettysburg, PA 17325


or contact them via the phone at 717-334-6333.

http://www.nocasinogettysburg.com/

Thank you for donating!

Copyright © 2005, GettysBLOG and GettysBLOG2. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

46: “The Atchafalaya Syndrome”

We return once again to the words of a former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, who served for over 35 years. Mister Justice William O. Douglas wrote:

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."
Adams County is in the process of being oppressed. Oppressed by its own State and Local governments, and oppressed by land developers. One of the local defenders of the Adams County way of life recently had the letter reproduced below in the Gettysburg Times. It was cut up a bit, so here is the original and full version of this letter:


I am currently reading a book that has a very similar theme, as relates to the problems that we face today, here in Adams County, concerning not only the proposed gambling casino, but our steady loss of open spaces, trees, farmlands etc. The book tells the sad story of the cutting down of all of the giant bald cypress trees in the Atchafalaya Basin in southwest Louisiana, strictly for profit. Upon reading the above, many people will say "who cares about trees in Louisiana"? This is exactly what the citizens of that state said, over 75 years ago. Now, the big trees are gone forever, never to be seen and appreciated by future generations. This catastrophe is one of the reasons why we now preserve and protect various species of all living things. I will quote from one paragraph in this book - it is a lesson to be learned:

"When my grandfather was a boy, the destruction of the big trees had just begun in the Atchafalaya Basin. When he died in 1956, the process was virtually complete. All of the big trees had been removed. The great cypress forest had been transformed into swampland. Why didn’t he try to stop it? He was wise and good. Did he become wise too late in life? What is it, that leads us all, to allow the destruction of things rare and beautiful, rather than stand up and defend them? He was an influential and respected man. Did he lack the vision to foresee what it would mean to lose the big trees? If he had petitioned the State of Louisiana to facilitate the protection of the Atchafalaya Basin, he might have succeeded in allowing us all to inherit a thing of such beauty and majesty, as is almost unimaginable here today. A piece of the past, thriving into the future, an inheritance of incalculable, indescribable value to our souls and spirit. But, he didn`t do it.

Do I myself lack the awareness that would compel me to do something beneficial with respect to the Earth, that I`m not doing now? Something that might be of vital importance to those who will live here many years from today Maybe, by the time my grandfather was a man of sufficient influence to attempt any such thing, it was already too late. By the end of the 1920`s, the destruction was all but complete. Nobody cared enough, or had the wisdom, or the vision, or the power to stop it. A one million acre cathedral had been converted into a one million acre graveyard. The land of dead giants, and hardly anyone noticed."

I am asking the citizens of Gettysburg and Adams County to join me in an effort not to allow this to happen here in our small, beautiful piece of Pennsylvania. Reject more malls, more shopping centers, more theater complexes, more commerce parks, more development, and especially a gambling casino near Gettysburg! Vote those responsible for this misuse of our land, out of office. We must care enough, we must have the wisdom, we must have the vision, and we do have the power to stop it. The Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana, is a sad, silent witness to the inevitable result of doing nothing.

Sincerely,
Dan G. Siderio
Gettysburg,
PA
Well said, friend Dan, well said, and especially appropriate in light of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina recently. Had many of those trees still been there when Katrina came ashore, much of the damage to the areas and parishes outside of New Orleans could have been mitigated. Such forests absorb much of the force of the storms, and generally tend to take the energy out of storm surges, and lessen their severity.

Development is totally out of control in Adams County. Straban Township wishes to pave over every single blade of grass in the township, and if trees get in the way, they’ll pave them over, too. This is an extension of the Adams County Commissioners and their cash-cow-for-developers, the Adams County Economic Development Corporation.

Thousands of houses are being built in Adams County. There is no need for the housing that is coming here. There may be a small need for affordable housing, but that is NOT what is being built here. Enormous hotels and business centers are being constructed here. There are not, and will not be occupants for the offices that are being built. Drive along through and outside of any small city in the state, such as Allentown, and Bethlehem, for example, and see all the magnificent new office complexes sitting on overgrown lots, with “Space Available” signs on them. That is what the developers are trying to bring here, in particular, Bob Monahan.

It is not too late. There is no such thing as a “done deal” that cannot be rolled back. It will call for community activism to maintain the rural flavor of Adams County. It will call for voter awareness, to remember at election days, that the legislators who voted themselves their colossal pay raise, are the same legislators who voted in the gambling bill, and its ridiculous companion, Act 72. They are the same legislators who approved the most unethical piece of legislation ever written, Act 71 of 2004, the gaming bill.

They were wholly cooperative bi-partisan efforts. Greed has struck in Harrisburg, and in Gettysburg. It takes the form of “gold fever”, every bit as much as that struck the 49ers a century-and-a-half ago. Indeed, the fertile and productive crop lands of Adams County are the new “gold fields” of the 21st century.

Straban Township, indeed, Adams County, has thrown environmental impact out the window. No one in Adams County is looking at the big picture. When Straban Township grabbed 11,000 acres of farmland and rezoned it for development, no one looked at what paving over 11,000 acres would do to the local environment.

As friend Dan states above:

Reject more malls, more shopping centers, more theater complexes, more commerce parks, more development, and especially a gambling casino near Gettysburg! Vote those responsible for this misuse of our land, out of office. We must care enough, we must have the wisdom, we must have the vision, and we do have the power to stop it. The Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana, is a sad, silent witness to the inevitable result of doing nothing.
Indeed we do have the power to stop it! End the oppression by stopping the development!


"Legislation without representation is tyranny!"

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