Saturday, March 04, 2006

103: “This is Very Important”


Friend Diane Berlin from Casino Free Pennsylvania (
CasinoFreePA) is conducting a hearing on the repeal of the Gaming Control Bill, Act 71. Anyone who has followed this blogger for the past months knows all too well that since last May, we have insisted that Act 71 was one of the most ethically challenged pieces of legislation ever written. We have gone so far as to make a plea here, not once, but twice, that in addition to their local fights, the various groups around the state that are fighting the imposition of casinos in their communities, coalesce in a central group to cooperate with each other in raising grassroots support statewide to put pressure on the legislators in the General Assembly, to back the repeal legislation sponsored by Representative Paul Clymer (R-145, Bucks County). They are apparently on the move. Here is a grassroots organization, CasinoFreePA, organized to do just that.

CasinoFreePA TO HOLD CITIZENS' HEARING ON BILL TO REPEAL ACT 71, PA'S SLOTS LAW

After being turned down for a hearing in the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee on HB 2298, the bill to repeal Pennsylvania’s slots law, CasinoFreePA decided to hold its own. Experts will be spotlighting reasons to repeal Act 71.

The hearing will take place on Monday, March 6, 2006, at 10:00 a.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, 216 State St., Harrisburg which served as the temporary Capitol for Pennsylvania when our current Capitol was being built. (Estimated time is 2 hours.)

The hearing was scheduled to coincide with the deadline for registering to speak at Gaming Control Board hearings on the state’s 22 casino proposals, and with the statewide Gaming Congress which will begin on the evening of March 6.

Among those scheduled to testify at the CasinoFreePA hearing are: Prof. John Kindt, an internationally respected expert on the gambling issue, Rep. Paul Clymer, Chair of the House State Government Committee and staunch gambling opponent, Tim Potts, plaintiff in PAGE Fund lawsuit, Bonita Hoke, from the PA League of Women Voters, physician, Dr. John Kreider, former gambler, Bill Kearney as well as several community members.

CasinoFreePA is a statewide coalition of groups and individuals opposing casino gambling in Pennsylvania.

This same group helped file the lawsuit effort to declare Act 71 unconstitutional last year, only to have the State Supreme Court simply ignore the most salient points, and rule against it. I strongly recommend you take the time to read the PAGE Fund Brief on their website. I guarantee you will have your eyes opened to what’s been going on in the State Assembly for the past few years. It will disturb you deeply. If it does not, you are jaded. It should disturb you greatly. When you read the words Vince Fumo, Mike Veon and David Brightbill spoke on the floor of the General Assembly it will boggle your mind.

Then keep reading about what the representatives who were asking for more time were saying. This should indeed, clarify for all that leadership, particularly that of Senator Vincent Fumo, has been dictating to the members of both houses for years, what goes on in their own legislation. Dictating. Vince Fumo is a Democrat who is the minority leader of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Both houses of the General Assembly are, and have been for more than a few years, majority controlled by the Republicans.

$o, tell me, how does a minority $enator, granted a very powerfully placed minority $enator, dictate not only to the $enate, which is controlled by his political opposition, but also to the Hou$e, which is also controlled by his political opposition?

If that doesn’t have the bile rising in your throat, consider this. The people who wrote that bill, Act 71, had to include some of the Judges of the Supreme Court, and/or members of their staff, under direction or guidance of the judges. It was well researched in advance. Has anyone compared the words, as cited in the brief, of Veon, Fumo, and Brightbill, all members of leadership in the General Assembly, to the words in the decision on the
PAGE Fund Brief?

Note: In the decision to reject the call for declaring Act 71 unconstitutional, the State Supreme Court, (led by our 'good friend' Ralph Cappy, of Midnight pay raise fame – he openly consulted with and advised leadership of the General Assembly on the raise!) did reject the proviso in the law allowing the Gaming Control Board to ignore and override, if necessary, local zoning ordinances in granting licenses for casinos. It should also be noted, that in most areas targeted by government or developers for development, development-friendly supervisors have been elected to township boards of supervisors across the state, making moot that declaration by Cappy, et al.

I hope you get very angry. Only anger can sustain long enough to win this fight. These people, in particular the State Supreme Court, the Governor who brought you gambling on a stick, and the leadership (and the membership, for the most part) of the legislature are in this purely, completely, and utterly for themselves.

A close examination of Act 71 itself will reveal into just how many slices the gambling pie has been divided. Even a good read of the first 30 pages of the
PAGE Fund Brief will give one an idea how this “mega fund” has been carved up.

You are being swindled by your state government.

Ever hear the term “Ponzi Scheme”?
Wikipedia defines it thusly:

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that involves paying abnormally high returns ("profits") to investors out of the money paid in by subsequent investors, rather than from net revenues generated by any real business. In fact, a Ponzi scheme must have abnormally high short-term returns in order to entice new investors. The high returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises (and pays) require an ever-increasing flow of money from investors in order to keep the scheme going.

The system is doomed to collapse because there are little or no underlying earnings from the money received by the promoter. However, the scheme is often interrupted by legal authorities before it collapses, because a Ponzi scheme is suspected and/or because the promoter is selling unregistered securities. (As more and more investors become involved, the likelihood of the scheme coming to the attention of authorities will continue to increase.)

The scheme is named after Charles Ponzi, who became notorious for using the technique after immigrating to the United States from Italy in 1903. Today's schemes are often considerably more sophisticated than Ponzi's (though the underlying formula is quite similar), but the principle behind every Ponzi scheme is to exploit a lack of judgment based on greed.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Act 71 is a Ponzi scheme that has the legitimacy of passage by the state legislature, approval by the governor, and all done with the blessing (and complicity) of the state supreme court. The 'ponzis' are the governor, the legislature and the state supreme court. They are funded by the one entity that will consistently make money out of this whole thing: the national gaming industry, few of whom reside now, or ever will reside in Pennsylvania. The early investors are the local investors who are funding the construction of the casinos – they will make their money in the first two years of the casino operation and sell, and likely move to another state. The later investors are you, the citizens, and you will make your investments by visiting the casinos, which will have table games within two years of opening, and by the significant rise in your taxes to support an industry that promised to spread millions of dollars all over the state, and has failed to produce anywhere near that figure. That fact will be the key rationale in expanding gaming to include those table games. And that rationale will be presented as the only viable alternative to the failure of gaming in Pennsylvania to live up to its promises as expressed by the 'ponzis'.

Recent news articles cite $1.1 million paid over the past two years by gaming interests in and out of Pennsylvania, to Pennsylvania politicians, the most notable of which are, Ed Rendell, Vince Fumo, William DeWeese, John Perzel, Robert Jubelirer (all 'ponzis' already) and Lynn Swann (a potential future 'ponzi' who has received over $100,000 from gaming interests for his campaign). Some of Rendell's former aides, and a good many lobbyists are now owners, or investors in the legislation required Pennsylvania-owned slot machine distributors! An eclectic mix of Democrats and Republicans representing leadership in the State Assembly and in the Governor’s Office. We have made the estimate before that the true amount invested by all gaming interests in the politicians of the state to be about $1 billion. What you see in the news, the $1.1 million, is money required to be reported by Federal Election laws. There are no other laws in Pennsylvania that require a politician to declare receipt of such funding, nor that require reporting by lobbying and industry interests of the amounts contributed to persons of political inflence (politicians, political operatives, etc.). There is no lobbying law in Pennsylvania.

The 'ponzi’s' have seen to that.

Get angry. Get very angry.

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