Tuesday, April 04, 2006

121: “Gettysburg Sold to LeVan for $1 Million”

A festering wound was opened last night, and it was not done cleanly. In the end, the infection may very well kill the patient. Gettysburg Borough Council, led by Ted Streeter, made a strong statement at their meeting Monday night, and the statement was clear: money can buy just about any government these days. Especially a quick and easy bribe as was offered by David LeVan and his group of out of town investors trying to build a casino a mile or so out of town. In exchange for favorable testimony before the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Commission during their hearings this week, LeVan promised $1 million per year to the borough, no other strings attached.

For the investors, it was cheap at that price. While they have invested slightly over $50 million to obtain a license, they will ultimately sell it for about $250 million, thereby making almost a 400% profit on their original investment. So, what’s $1 million out of $200 million? .5% is what it is. Chump change. Nevertheless, the important thing is that pure and simple, this was a bribe.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines bribe thusly:

bribe (brīb) n.
Something, such as money or a favor, offered or given to a person in a position of trust to influence that person's views or conduct. Something serving to influence or persuade.
Even David LeVan admitted it was a bribe. Here’s what he had to say in an article in today’s Hanover Sun:

But Chance CEO David LeVan said outright the grants were offered for favorable testimony.

"If they're worthy of the benefits, then they should help," he said after the meeting. "It is only fair they'd support it."

The Gettysburg Borough Council last night voted 6-3 to accept the bribe. But further details emerged today that would essentially allow LeVan to back out of the deal if he can help the Borough get up to $2 million annually from the state, rather than from his profits. In the end, LeVan gets something for nothing.

It will be very interesting to see who get’s political campaign money from the investors, individually and from Chance Enterprises.

Watch out! Don’t step in that slime! I wish David would clean up after himself!

Ethically and morally the right thing for LeVan to do would have been to not spread his money around currying favoritism, as is his usual modus operandi. But apparently LeVan and ethics and morals are strangers to each other.

Ethically and morally, the right thing to do would have been for the Borough to repudiate the offer. If the casino gets built they would benefit from the state’s cut anyway. Perhaps not $1-2 million, but it would have gotten something.

Instead, they sold America’s Town. They allowed the same gold fever that infects Harrisburg to infect them. They not only sold America’s Town, but they sold its soul as well.

Well, the cold light of day has Council on the run already. By their own admission Council had not had time to review the agreement, nor had the Borough Solicitor. Yet they pushed ahead giving trust to a snake on a Harley.

What they will find is that few of those ten thousand cars per day (if that ever happens) will grace the streets of Gettysburg Borough, as they will get all the souvenirs and trinkets they want at their precious new casino. And besides, those ten thousand cars per day are not coming here for the history,. They are coming for the slots.

Gettysburg Borough Council has committed a series of colossal blunders by accepting this bribe.

First, their testimony before the Gambling Control Commission will be ridiculed and reviled as the best testimony money can buy. If there is a price on your testimony then you’ve been far overpaid for worthless words.

Second, the Borough Council in one move destroyed years of symbiotic relationship with the Gettysburg National Military Park, and the millions of dollars that industry pumps into the local economy annually. In recent years the Park has become more inclusive of the Borough in its interpretive plan, as the Park historians are in the process of expanding their history to include the advance, the retreat, and the actions that took place off the current Park Battlefield. That will be seriously and detrimentally affected by the presence of the casino. And the Borough will suffer far more than the $1-2 million dollars it may get for their testimony.

Third, with clogged streets, the local merchants will soon starve for customers, and will either go out of business, or relocate to Straban Township where the traffic has a better chance of reaching them. York Street, an important part of the Battle itself, will no longer offer access to the Battlefield through the town.

Fourth, and most importantly, the lives of the people of Gettysburg will be detrimentally affected to the point of adding an enormous cost to the social services network. Gambling, alcoholism, drug use, and crime, all of which currently exist in and around the Borough, will soar to new levels and overwhelm the system. There will be no money for street paving in this deal.

Mayor Troxell complained in today’s
Hanover Sun, "The taxpayers in Gettysburg can no longer afford to pay for the increasing needs of visitor support, and at the same time, provide for the required needs of the town."

Mayor Troxell is blowing smoke. The Borough’s financial situation is no where near as dire as Troxell would have you believe. If it were, they would have been unable to meet their budget. And a cool half million from their share of the casino take that goes to the state would easily cover any shortfall that might arise. It’s funny, that you never hear this talk during tourist season. And just what are those “increasing needs of visitor support”, and where have they been for the past few years?

What you see with Streeter, and Troxell, and the other five Council members who supported accepting the bribe is rationalization. It is
moral relativism, where they attempt to justify their unethical action by inventing reasons it was the right thing to do.

This is a major defeat for ethical government in Pennsylvania. It also stands as a crystal clear example of exactly what has been going on in Harrisburg for years. Monied interests hold sway over legislators, governors, and judges. Money talks. Money wins.

Joe and Loretta Sixpack don’t count any more. This is true now because Joe and Loretta gave up their franchise rights decades ago when they stopped voting, or stopped being careful when they voted. Think about it, do Joe and Loretta go to all those political campaign fundraising dinners? Does Joe even own a tux? What do you think goes on at those dinners. If you think Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Bigbux don’t buttonhole the candidate and tell him they have a project they favor, and the candidate is to keep it in mind, then you haven’t got a clue what’s going on.

This situation exists because years ago they added a party lever to the voting machines, thus assuring that either the Democrats or the Republicans would get enough votes to win in every election. Who has time to sort through all those candidates?

Well, Joe and Loretta, you do, because you have to. Pennsylvania is probably the most corrupt state in the Union. And both major parties made it that way.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned:
"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group."
That fascism, as defined by FDR, is what took root in Gettysburg last night. It is at the local level what has happened long ago at the state level. Pennsylvania is a fascist state.

The Columbia University Encyclopedia says:
Fascism, especially in its early stages, is obliged to be antitheoretical and frankly opportunistic in order to appeal to many diverse groups. Nevertheless, a few key concepts are basic to it. First and most important is the glorification of the state and the total subordination of the individual to it. The state is defined as an organic whole into which individuals must be absorbed for their own and the state's benefit. This “total state” is absolute in its methods and unlimited by law in its control and direction of its citizens.

A second ruling concept of fascism is embodied in the theory of social Darwinism. The doctrine of survival of the fittest and the necessity of struggle for life is applied by fascists to the life of a nation-state. Peaceful, complacent nations are seen as doomed to fall before more dynamic ones, making struggle and aggressive militarism a leading characteristic of the fascist state. Imperialism is the logical outcome of this dogma.

Another element of fascism is its elitism. Salvation from rule by the mob and the destruction of the existing social order can be effected only by an authoritarian leader who embodies the highest ideals of the nation. This concept of the leader as hero or superman, borrowed in part from the romanticism of Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Carlyle, and Richard Wagner, is closely linked with fascism's rejection of reason and intelligence and its emphasis on vision, creativeness, and “the will.”
While this deals with nation states, it is also applicable to the current state of affairs in Pennsylvania. The individual has been assimilated. The elites (monied interests) are in full control of state and local government, whether you choose to accept that fact of not.

Truism: Your political parties have abandoned you, but not your money. You are not getting fair value from them.

Truism: The only hope to defeat the gambling interests is to repeal Act 71 of 2004.

Truism: The only hope to clean up state and local government is to rely on efforts like
Operation Clean Sweep and refuse to use the party lever, and/or to vote for an incumbent.

Truism: You must realize now, and remember when you are in the voting booth that you are in grave danger of losing your liberty. State government has become tyrannical, as is evidenced by the Gambling Control Board’s ability to override any local sentiment, and any local zoning ordinances and place a casino wherever they deem fit. There are other laws now on the books, and coming soon, that will override local laws, and sentiment in the same fashion.

Remember in May! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” -- THE CENTRIST

“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

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.”

Remember in May! Before you vote,

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NJReBelle said...

Marty, your comments in "Gettysburg Sold to Le Van" are brilliant. However, there is another worrisome aspect to consider. What happens when Le Van or another wealthy person offers the council money for supporting an enterprise harmful to Gettysburg? Where will it end?

GettysBLOG said...

Well, I'm not Marty, but what you describe is exactly what happened. LeVan offered the council money for supporting an enterprise harmful to Gettysburg.

So, the Borough Council has set its going rate. This time it is a bribe, but next time, perhaps corporate sponsorship.

Can you not envision sometime in the not-to-distant future seeing "Pickett's Charge, brought to you by U.S. Steel?"