Wednesday, March 01, 2006

101: “The David LeVan Show”


By now it is all over the news. My friend in Gettysburg has already written letters to the editors of the Hanover Sun and the Gettysburg Times. Tomorrow, there will be explanations, and even, perhaps, an apology. And it will be far, far too late.

The man simply does not understand…he can be wrong, very wrong. And he has stubbornly stuck to his course for almost a year, and has been wrong the entire time.

First, it was about bringing needed jobs to the area, and that was proven to be a false rationale, as the area does not need jobs. It needs the Governor to raise the minimum wage, which at the current level is an absolute disgrace. But then, the entire state needs that to happen.

Then it was about economic development and adding $10 Million to the local economy. That promise, based on flimsy promises and questionable suppositions, lacks any validity. It is unacceptable. It is also an insult. “Let me build this, and I will give you $10 million dollars.” It is a theme recurrent in the way he operates.

Then it was back to jobs. Now we find that he has made an agreement with a union to ensure that all the construction jobs will go to union members. But there are few, if any, local construction workers who are union members. In other words, the construction crews will have to be imported from another area. Good for the other area, bad for Adams County.

Now there is talk that the house staff will be unionized as well. What we are hearing is that the entire operation will be a closed shop, meaning if you want a job there, you must join a union and pay the dues, deducted from your paycheck. Adams County is NOT union territory. So, what he is attempting to do is to buy the influence of the unions by making promises to them that he will only hire union members, and in so doing, change the face of labor in Adams County.

The Republicans in the area are too greedy to recognize that they will soon be but a small majority in a Blue County as a result of the demographic shift, which will be quick and colossal, that comes from this project.

So here we are, more than half a page into this essay and we have yet to find a silver lining for Adams County.

Indeed, the man’s story has changed so many times he waffles more than John Kerry did during the last election!

But now, he has stepped in an enormous cow pie. And it has been very revealing.

The Civil War Preservation Trust is the largest Civil War preservation non-profit in the country. They have been at it for years. And for years, much of the nation ignored them, including, evidently, David LeVan. So, without his largesse, the CWPT has managed to rescue and protect acre after acre of Civil War sites around the nation. As part of that effort, they have for years compiled a list of Civil War sites they deem threatened, by nature, by vandalism, by neglect, but most notably by encroaching development. They issue the list annually, and have just done so for this year.

Gettysburg Battlefield is on the list. Here is what they say about Gettysburg:

Gettysburg will always be synonymous with the Civil War. It was not only the site of the largest and most costly battle ever fought in the Americas, but also the inspiration for one of most famous speeches in this nation's history. Today the battlefield is dotted with thousands of markers, monuments and historic tablets and is visited by nearly 2 million people each year.

On the morning of July 1, 1863, approximately 170,000 soldiers in blue and gray converged on Gettysburg. Three bloody days later, more than 50,000 of those men were casualties. The Confederacy's high tide, General Robert E. Lee's second invasion of the North, had been thwarted at a dreadful cost.

Threat: Although the park is the most visited Civil War battlefield in the U.S., the Gettysburg that millions of Americans have come to know and love is threatened by a plan to build a 3,000-slot gaming facility east of town at the intersection of Route 30 and Route 15.

Positioned merely one mile from East Cavalry Field, the effects of such a slots parlor would be immense and far reaching. The heritage tourism industry, which flourishes in the region, would suffer immensely as countless small businesses were undercut by the casino.

Although investors claim that their project would be a tasteful resort destination, the casino would degrade the sacrifice made by so many on that field. Opposition to the proposal is fierce; a public opinion poll commissioned by CWPT found that 65 percent of Pennsylvania voters oppose a casino at Gettysburg. With tactics ranging from a massive petition campaign to a bill in the state legislature, preservationists are taking a stand to protect Gettysburg.

CWSAC (Civil War Sites Advisory Commission) classified Gettysburg as a Priority I, Class A battlefield, its highest designation.
Pretty straight forward. Back in the last century, there was a movement afoot to build a Disney Theme Park at Manassas, Virginia. Never mind that Manassas was the scene of the first battle of the American Civil War. Never mind that thirteen months after that historic battle, an even larger battle was fought over the same ground. Disney wanted to build a theme park there. The Civil War Trust (as it was known then), and other preservation groups, large and small, fought tooth and nail to prevent the “Disnification” of one of the United States more notable historic sites. While Disney was driven off, developers were not. There is very little left of the battlefield that has not been paved over.

Out of that fight, and others, the Civil War Preservation Trust was formed in 1999 when the Civil War Trust, and the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites merged. To date, they claim responsibility for 21,000 acres preserved. Most recently, right here in Gettysburg.

The Daniel Lady Farm is located on the east side of Benner’s Hill, along the Hanover Road, just east of town. It was the bivouac site of the left flank of the Army of Northern Virginia during the Battle of Gettysburg. A full division under General Edward Johnson – four large brigades of highly experienced veteran infantry were camped in the rear of the property along a feeder stream that leads to a tributary of Rock Creek. The farmhouse was a Headquarters for Johnson and his staff. General Richard Ewell, the Second Corps Commander, Johnson’s immediate superior, and like his boss, Robert E. Lee visited the farm on July 2nd to observe and consult with Johnson. After Johnson’s division went forward that evening, and indeed during the artillery preparation for that movement, the barn and the farmhouse were turned into hospitals. By July 3rd, the house and barn were filled with wounded.

The Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association purchased the Lady Farm in 1999. They have been struggling ever since to make needed repairs, make preservation repairs, and period modifications, and meet the mortgage. Recently, the CWPT was a major player when the GBPA paid off its mortgage.

Mr. LeVan has helped the GBPA in the past, assisting them in raising money by sponsoring motorcycle rides from Harrisburg to Gettysburg. Mr. LeVan has been very generous and accommodating to the Battlefield Park, in assisting the execution of the current management plan that is under way to accomplish the return to 1863 conditions on the Battlefield.

So it should come as no surprise to Mr. LeVan that the CWPT, which has been allied with the local anti-casino group for more than 9 months, has come out with its annual list of endangered sites and that it includes Gettysburg. Mr. LeVan apparently fails to realize just how much of an affront the casino is to the Civil War community.

When asked by the Associated Press for comment on the CWPT’s list, this is how LeVan replied:

"It is amazing how the Gettysburg Battlefield has gone from not even being on the trust's list of 25 most endangered battlefields to the top of the list overnight, even though our resort has been a subject of debate and discussion for nearly a year," said David LeVan, the investment group's chief executive officer, in a statement.

"Clearly, the trust is lining its coffers," LeVan said.
That’s one big cow pie you just stepped in Mr. LeVan! Obliviously, Mr. LeVan fails to realize that the last list was released this time last year and it was after that time the casino project was announced. He continues to tragically underestimate the wrath he has incurred from the Civil War community for his stubborn insistence on forcing the community to accept this project that has absolutely no valid reason for existence other than to make money for a very few people.

Mr. Levan, and his project have very powerful friends in Harrisburg, and apparently even farther away. He has the tacit support of the Governor, even though that governor went public saying the casino in Gettysburg is a bad idea. No matter to David! Crossroads agreed it was a bad idea, and pointed out they are not IN Gettysburg. These are the absolutely stupid lengths the investors are going to in order to ram their project through. Word games! They understand words, like dollar, and profit, but they are ignorant of principles.

The investors have money. One investor advises a charitable trust foundation as to which non-profits in Adams County should get funding. LeVan himself has spread his money around. Within the past week he offered money for the repair of recently vandalized monuments on the Battlefield, and added money to the reward for information leading to the arrest of the criminals who seriously damaged several monuments (see GettysBLOG from February 16
: A Call for Help to Right An Affront To Honored Men). So there is, at least, an appearance of a conflict of interest in where the money goes from the Trust, and from LeVan’s own “largesse”, or perhaps worse. People in the area have whispered for nearly a year about intimidation and financial coercion.

One then wonders where Mr. LeVan draws the line regarding the Battlefield. What is the dollar amount. He’s a millionaire, a successful “townie”, Gettysburg College graduate (and the College is solidly against his project!), and railroad tycoon. He has a successful business that trades on the historic nature of the area, called Battlefield Harley Davidson. It is located on Cavalry Field Road, down which James Ewell Brown Stuart (JEB to his friends), led the Army of Northern Virginia’s Cavalry Corps to a date with destiny, defeat, and three generals with the names of Gregg, McIntosh, and Custer.

Mr. LeVan is thus no stranger to the history of the area, and is not above using that historical heritage to his advantage. Originally, the project was called Gettysburg Gaming Resort and Spa, and only an outcry from the whole world forced the investors to change the name of the project to Crossroads.

Mr. LeVan’s comments regarding the CWPT’s list, and his stupid accusation about them lining their pockets, are beneath him, and are contemptible. As my friend the letter writer put it in his letter to the newspapers:

Such public commentary casts into darkness and doubt the motivations behind his recent largesse to the Battlefield. If he honestly felt that strongly about the Battlefield he would have withdrawn his casino project long ago. Instead, he spreads his money around in an effort to gain credibility. He cannot have it both ways.

Unfortunately, Mr. LeVan is convinced he CAN have it both ways…that money will solve all the problems he faces, clear the opposition out of the way. What he still fails to realize is that no one is getting rich from opposing him. No one will get rich from opposing him. For LeVan, it’s all about money. For the opposition, it is principle. Apparently, Mr. LeVan doesn’t recognize principle unless it's a part of a balance sheet.

It is time to draw this farce to a close. Mr. LeVan has thoroughly embarrassed himself, and done irreparable harm to his reputation, and what was once considered his good name. His comments about CWPT have lowered him below any point of reconciliation, or redemption over this issue. He has rent the area asunder over his greedy project, a project that is indefensible and unjustifiable.

Some people can look themselves in the mirror and take comfort in their bank account. Lord how I feel sorry for them, for they are the poorest people on the face of the earth.

Woodrow Wilson once said, “If a dog will not come to you after he has looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”

Perhaps, if its not too late, Mr. LeVan should do just that, and stop blaming others when he makes a mistake. Bite the bullet, Mr. LeVan, and end this monstrous insult to your native area.

GettysBLOG

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

5 comments:

Randy said...

It's unfathomable to me that this abomination is still being considered. I highly recommend that everyone write to Governor Rendell, their state and federal representatives, and anyone else who may have influence in stopping what would be a public, historic tragedy. Even if you have done so previously, write again. They must know that this issue matters to us all and will not be forgotten as we go to the polls.

Randy

Brooks said...

Got a quick question for you. The ground that is slated for casino development - is it privately owned? Yes it is. Who are you to say what a man can do with his property?

A quote from your site:
...let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!”

It seems as if liberty is only represented here when it is convenient for you.

Edd said...

The following is comments by Ms. Ernico after I asked the Gettysburg Chamber of Commerce about the proposed Casino:

Dear Mr. Hart,
Your inquiry about Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa was referred to our offices for response. I represent the business Chance Enterprises, Inc. which is developing the Crossroads resort.

I am going to first address your passion against this project. Our project has been seriously misrepresented by the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT)and we have found that when many Civil War enthusiasts understand the facts about our project, they are not alarmed.

About 15 years ago, Adams County identified a corridor along Route 30, near Route 15 that was designated for commercial development. The area is not on hallowed ground, is well outside the limits of the borough of Gettysburg and 3 miles from the main National Military Park at Gettysburg. Many businesses are developed there. Next to our property is a Helicopter business and an abandoned used car lot. Across from our property is a development called Gateway Gettysburg which will have a cinema complex, a convention center and 3-4 hotels. It is this project which CWPT has indicated is our project, it is NOT. It will also never be our project because the area could not support two such developments. Also, along this corridor is a Wall-Mart, several other hotels, a shopping mall, and a variety of fast food eateries. This is a long-standing commercially zoned area.

When we announced our intention to build a resort, we also announced that we would not capitalize on the historic memories of Gettysburg. We would not use a Civil War theme nor make references to the historic issues. In deference to local historians we changed our name from Gettsyburg to Crossroads Gaming out of deference for the concern of these historians. There will never be neon signs flashing, "Battlefield Slots," as the CWPT falsely claims.

Furthermore, our CEO is one of the single largest philanthropists in Adams County and has supported numerous historic preservation projects in Adams County. His home is next to the battlefield so he grew up with great reverence for the battle that took place there and has no intention of contributing in any way to the desecration or harm of that historic site.

For facts about our project, please go to our website, www.crossroadsgaming.com.

Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa has applied along with many other applicants for a gaming license in the state of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has oversight for this process. No time line has been announced for when these licenses will be approved.

I hope this information has been helpful to you. Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Barbara Ernico

GettysBLOG said...

To Brooks--

Anyone has a responsibility to the community in which they wish to live and/or do business. And the community has a responsibility to them, in retiurn. That's why we have such things as zoning laws. Those laws are there to protect communities from such things as putting a grabage dump next to your house.

In this case, while thge local government was favorable, the local citizenry is not. Nor are they statewide, nor are they nationally, as a current CNN.com poll is showing 72% against.

In fact, this whole thing is in the hands of a board in Harrisbirg that will decide to grant the license or not. It is up to them to consider things like community input, though they have, according to the law, the right to impose their decision on any community regardless of zoning laws, or public outcry.

It is arrogant, tryannical legislation like this that prompted me to write:
"Let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!”

Suppose you are married and have two teenage daughter. A Convicted sexual predator buys the house next door. Are you going to say the community, especially you, do not have a right to say if he can live there?

GettysBLOG

GettysBLOG said...

edd,

Where to begin. Both Mrs. Ernico and Mr. LeVan have a way of playing with the facts. They have totally misrepresented what the CWPT has said, and accused them of lining their pockets.

The facts are it took a public outcry to get Chance Enterprises to pry the name Gettysburg" from their project. They claim they made this as a sacrifice to appease their critics.

However,it will still have a Gettysburg Address, and what do you think it will say on the Billboards on the Turnpike, up Route 15, and Down it into Maryland, and east and West on 30? Come to the Casino at Straban Township?

Mrs. Ernico seems to have an enormous unfamiliarity with the facts. What she and LeVan do is spread their largesse around in order to curry favor. They put their money where it will do them the most good.

As my friend said (read the letters to the editors tomorrow) if the heritage of history of the area actually meant something to them, they would have pulled this project months ago.

People who have been the recipients of the funds spread out by both LeVan and Ernico have expressed privately that they feel they cannot oppose the casino because of that money, and any future chances of receiving that money.