Sunday, December 28, 2008

DR News: Up Close With the Legislature's Surplus

A Closer Look at the Legislative Surplus

One of our faithful correspondents concludes his emails with a quote attributed to Thomas Pynchon: "If they can keep you asking the wrong questions, they never have to worry about the right answers."

This insight is bound to arise when talking about the recently released audit of the General Assembly. Without question, lawmakers have amassed a huge, ongoing surplus. Depending on how you calculate it, the surplus on June 30 was either $237.4 million (down $5 million from the previous year's surplus) or $200.5 million (down $11 million).

The reason for the difference is that last year the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission changed its accounting practices. The change subtracts funds committed but not paid at the end of the year from the surplus on hand at the end of the year, thereby reducing the surplus shown on the books.

This does not tell the full story, though, because there are "benefits accounts" that also have growing surpluses. Last year, those House and Senate accounts grew a combined 23% to an additional $6.9 million.

Click here for the "Statement of Financial Affairs."

For lawmakers, too much is never enough.
If the legislature were a school district, its operating surplus would be capped at 8% of its budget, or about $26 million last year. But lawmakers place no limit on themselves, so their surpluses - their excesses - at the end of the year were 62% of their budget. The goal, according to House Republican Leader Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, is to have a full year's budget in reserve.

Some lawmaker accounts have already met the goal of having a full year's funding in reserve, including Smith's "special leadership account." As of June 30, the $21.5 million surplus of our taxes in his account was 118% of his expenditures for the year. That is, after spending $18.2 million last year, Smith still had $21.5 million left over in his largest account. By comparison, the House Democrats' mere 85% surplus looks downright frugal.

Other significant budget items with surpluses greater than expenditures include:
• House Republican Committee on Appropriations: 527%
• House Democratic Committee on Appropriations: 522%
• Legislative Audit Advisory Commission Salaries, Wages & Expenses: 395%
• Senate Legislative Printing & Expenses: 333%
• House Postage for Chief Clerk and Legislative Journal: 263%
• Senate Democratic Floor Leader Committee & Contingent Expenses: 248%
• Senators' Expenses: 221%
• Senate Republican Floor Leader Committee & Contingent Expenses: 200%
• Senate PA and National Flags for Residents: 194%
• Senate Democratic Floor Leader Computer Services: 136%
• Legislative Data Processing Salaries, Wages & Expenses: 129%
• Capitol Preservation Committee Restoration of the Capitol: 126%

Looking at the top of the list, we have to note that Appropriation Committees do a great deal of heavy lifting throughout the year, analyzing both individual bills and the greater economic circumstance of the Commonwealth. Staff are among the hardest-working, most knowledgeable and most dedicated employees on the hill. They are essential to concluding any budget agreement, whether or not there's an impasse. So there's some sense to keeping the committees well-tended.

Questions:
• Why do the House appropriation committees have reserves that are five times as large as their actual expenditures? Is there a plan for that money?
• Why does the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission have nearly four times as much in reserves as it spent last year? Will they finally get the forensic audit that integrity advocates have been requesting for years?
• What contingency could require the Senate Rs and Ds both to have such large excesses?

A rare united front.
In unusual bi-partisan, bi-cameral unanimity, the reason given for hoarding such funds is to protect the legislature from having to shut down (as the legislature forces the rest of the state to do) during a budget impasse. This is a clear statement of priorities that it is more important to keep money flowing to lawmakers than for people with mental illness, children in summer school, job creation programs, law enforcement and such trifles.

Newspapers around the state have trashed this rationale for the surplus, pointing out that having a large surplus makes a budget impasse more likely because the legislature won't feel the pain. Click here for a recent editorial in the Harrisburg Patriot.

Also, if this rationale were true, the audit shows surpluses that are inconsistent with achieving the purpose. Surplus funds for staff salaries are small, ranging as low as 9%.

Questions:
• If the surplus is supposed to pay for operating expenses during a budget impasse, why are the smallest surpluses in the accounts that pay salaries of House employees?
• Are these the right questions?

Support DR's "Local Eyes" network with a tax-deductible end-of-year donation. Click here to donate and here for more about "Local Eyes."

Tim Potts, Co-Founder of Democracy Rising

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GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“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.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Mess Grows Larger, Deeper

So the school board unanimously rejected all the bids. They are to be congratulated for seeing the light.

Unfortunately, some still do not see the light as they should.

We must pick up where we left off in yesterday's entry by discussing the now infamous and apparently quite mysterious front page "quasi-editorial" in the Gettysburg Times.

When you write a letter to the editor the newspaper staff calls to confirm that you wrote it. Since this was something of a similar item, though way over editor BJ Small's 400-word limit, and unsigned, some now claim it was a press release.

But that is where the competence or the honesty, or both, ends.

No one seems to know who wrote the piece. Everyone is denying they wrote it. Tom Ford claims he did not write it, nor did any of his staff from the newspaper. Well, then, that means it wasn't an editorial. Dr. Hall, the Superintendant and one of his staff, the Communications Director [from whom such things should emanate] did not write it according to the good Doctor.

We are absolutely shocked that the Gettysburg Times would print an unattributed article, with no authorship or sources, at all, let alone as a front page news article.

At best, this was disasterously poor decision-making on the part of the edtors and operators of the Times. At worst, it was blatant pandering by the Times to push the agenda of Mr. Ford. Sadly, while the piece claims to deal with misconceptions about the stadium project, it put a few out itself, as we detailed in yesterday's entry. So it is obvious that no one at the Times vetted the piece for accuracy, and Small [perhaps at the orders of Mr. Ford] likley approved not only running the piece, but placing it on the front page as a news story. This is not the first time he has done this.

These are very dark and shameful days for the Gettysburg Times.

We raise this issue also: there appears to be much blurring of lines between the GASD Administration and the Gettysburg Education Foundation. Click around on either's website and you can see that they are all on the same server. Why are the taxpayers funding webspace on the school district's computer system for the Gettysburg Area Educational Foundation, which is a non-profit Corporation formed to raise money ostensibly to further the education of the children of the school district?

Is this not a conflict of interest and an unnecessary expense to taxpayers?

Further, we see a blurring of the lines in terms of who is calling the shots on the stadium project: is it Superintendant Hall, Foundation President Tom Ford, or the President of the School Board, Patricia Symmes [who has been mostly missing from all this]?

Frankly it seems Tom Ford has been doing most of the front work on this project. As president of the Foundation, he has absolutely no say over District activities. The Foundation may raise money for the school district but it certain may NOT tell the school district how to spend it, nor should the Foundation have any role in determining what their money is raised for! For example, they apparently have separate funds for different projects, one for the Stadium that raised $269,000 and one for the Academic Programs that anyone may donate to, which spreads several hundred dollars a year to worthy students and teachers, presented by check at, of course, a Warrior Football game! Get the picture here?

How many school boards do we need? Obviously, Mr. Ford, and the two docors and the lawyer on the board of the Foundation have overstepped their bounds and authority.

Now, about that stadium...there is an area no one is addressing: wetlands. The design as promulgated by the School District runs right up to and in some cases over wetlands on the school property. Obviously, this is unacceptable.

Wetlands are protected by Federal and State laws and should be protected by Straban Township Ordinances. The site of the proposed stadium would damage the wetlands. For example, the construction of the facilities would have two adverse effects on the water table of the wetland: the construction would lower the existing water table and would introduce chemicals [via herbicides or chemicals used to treat the fields, and run off from parking and driveways that encroach into and over the wetlands] into the water table that are toxic, and could destroy the ecosystem in the wetlands. These are both Federal and state no-nos.

Straban is not the only township to completely ignore state and federal environmental regulations. Cumberland does it as well. No surprise there, like Straban, Cumberland is hell bent on paving itself over. Environmental impact studies are not in their agenda, yet every single decision they make in those townships, and other townships, directly affects the environment in a negative way. Increased burdens are put on the local water supply every time they approve a new dwelling or building for construction, and it extends farther than that. Everything done in Adams Count affects the Chespeake Bay watershed, so all the toxins we inject into our water supply here eventually go downstream, via Antietam Creek for the most part, and into the Potomac River, an enormous contributor of water to the Chesapeake Bay. And those toxins kill shellfish --- clams, oysters, and crabs for the most part. That is another Federal no-no.

Here is a section of school property that the Biology teachers should be using as a natural laboratory, using it for study of the flora and fauna that exist there, and how they are affected by the environment, and the role each denizen of the wetlands plays in the natural cycle of life. Where were the Biology teachers when this plan was drawn up? Where have they been since?

Once again we call for the resignation of the Superintendant, the President of the School Board [for not controlling things that are very much within her purview], and the resignation of the board of directors of the Foundation completely from that Foundation. The "Gang of Five" who brought this all on should also resign from the School Board immediately. They have done a grave disservice to the taxpayers, the citizens, the teachers and students they represent. They have, along with the Foundation, possibly committed criminal acts in exerting undue influence in the misuse of funds from the Foundation. We hope the Distirct Attorney will take a long hard look at the actions of these people. What they have done, as a group, is to conspire in the misues of funds, allowed a private non-profit corporation to usurp the power and authority of the School Board, and they need to pay the price.

There are a lot of guilty parties to this shameful episode in the misuse of power by a local governmental plutocracy.

If charges do not arise from this, then we have no justice in Adams County.

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“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.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2009: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Malarky and Doubletalk!!

Today's "editorial disguised as a news story" on the front page of the Gettysburg Times is about as one sided as you can get, and is full of disinformation and half-truths. In other words, malarky and doubletalk.

Question 1: Why is the source for the information unnamed?
Answer 1: Because the piece was written by Tom Ford, Director of Operations and part owner of the Times, and president of the Gettysburg Area School District.

Question 2: Why is there no byline?
Answer 2: Because it is not a news story, and as such is either an advertisement, or an editorial. Likely it should be classified as the latter as what it attempts to sell is a bag of hogwash.

Question 3: Is this a miserably inept attempt to sway public opinion by surreptitious means?
Answer 3: Absolutely! It should be identified as an editorial and the author and source should be identified.

Now to the facts. The main point is that the cost of renovating current Warrior Stadium is only 5% less than building a new facility at the High School.

Malarky and doubletalk. What the unnamed source is referring to is the construction of a facility similar to what is envisioned at the high school. Of course the cost would be similar as it is for the same or nearly the same design!

Starting a renovation project at the current stadium does not mean building a completely new facility. Starting with infrastructure might be a nice thing. Spend a year or two running new water and sewer and underground electric lines. Add additional sections to the stadium seating on both sides. Lighting does not need to be replaced, it can be augmented. And finally reserve the west parking area by the front of the middle school for handicapped parking, and make an accessible path to the stadium area. In fact, offer a ramp to end zone seating for handicapped and their parties.

There are plenty of enhancements that can be done for far less than $8-10 million, and the school board knows it!

Shame on the Gettysburg Times for such a shabby attempt to ram a very expensive and unnecessary project down the throats of the school district tax-payers. Not everybody in the school district drives an Audi, Mr. Ford.

Finally two letters in todays edition deserve some mention. One, a rather lengthy [what happened to the 400 word limit, Mr. Small?] piece making a vague case for the stadium. It ends with the suggestion that the project might even create jobs for the newly laid off Dal Tile workers? Sorry, we doubt there will be much tile work at a new stadium. Not without added expense, anyway.

The second letter makes the case against the stadium project quite well, and raises the question about how much support there really is for the project when the Foundation, which PROMISED to fund the whole project, can only raise $269,000!

After the claim that the study conducted by the Saida outfit that showed support for the project in the community, we again demand that they give back the money, since that is simply an outright lie, and that the Gang of Five and President Ford, resign from the School board tonight for simply misrepresenting themselves and their support as a mandate to force this project on the taxpayers, and that the Superintendant be fired for spending money that was not properly allocated for the project. Nothing, absolutely nothing should have been spent on anything before the taxpayers of the district had approved the project.

There is so much of a shady nature to this project that we cannot believe it was anything more than a conspiracy of arrogant fools. They need to pay the piper tonight. The foundation money that was raised, and that is the Gettysburg EDUCATION Foundation, should put whatever funds they raise into EDUCATION, and they can start by donating their money to purchase textbooks the school district needs!

Where was that issue in today's newspaper? Students cannot even take textbooks home to study as there are not enough to go around. Pitiful. But $8-10 million for an unnecessary stadium warrants all this effort.

The school board and its leadership have completely lost sight of what their responsibilities are. They need to resign, and tonight!

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“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.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Phony Support for Stadium?

Whatever we get to read in the Gettysburg Times, the letters being printed certainly do reflect the "will of the people", despite what Mr. Ford says. The stadium is an exorbitant expense that even in better economic times would qualify as a pipe dream. Further, the so called research company hired by the school district to gauge public support for the project needs to refund the money they sucked out of the school district [and the taxpayers!] with a report that claimed the public support was there in the community! Hello??!! Just how out of touch with reality do these yuppies need to be to make claims like that? The research firm gave them the report they obviously wanted to hear. We know of no one who was polled by anyone, not the school district, not the research firm.

Every one of the letters printed in the newspapers that were against the stadium project made extremely cogent and logical arguments against the project. We have yet to see any kind of argument in favor of it. Why not? Because no fool in their right mind wants to be seen favoring this white elephant.

These folks sold a bill of goods to the taxpayers to build the new school of that size in the first place, and now they want to sell a second snow job to the taxpayers? We will withhold comment on the physical location of their heads.

The time of the meeting is 7:30 PM tomorrow night -- tonight if you are reading this on Monday, December 15th. The location is the District Offices at 900 Biglerville Road.

We suggest you take signs if you wish, and let them know in no uncertain terms exactly how you feel about their profligate spending of your taxes.

We just read a letter that said there were certain courses where there were insufficient books to allow the students to take them home for study.

And your school board, well at least the "Gang of Five" and apparently Tom Ford, wants to spend probably in excess of $10 million [when all is said and done] on a football stadium. That means significant tax increases, that means a continued shortage of books.

We believe extra-curricular activities are extremely important to the education of our youth. But the term itself means "outside of the academic curriculum". The academic curriculum must come first, and if that means the football team continues to play in old Warrior Stadium for the next ten years, then so be it.

A foundation was formed as part of the original push for this project. They tried to raise $3 million and raised about 8% of that amount, and the school district has already spent more than was raised. So, if the vote fails tomorrow night and the project is turned down, no one will get their money back and the taxpayers will be stuck with the bill for the balance of the engineering and "public support study", and the Straban fees to get their approval for a project that HAS NEVER BEEN APPROVED BY THE TAXPAYERS!!

Frankly, this kind of incompetence calls for the resignations of the Gang of Five [Pat Symmes, Andi Hoffman, Sally Michael, Todd Orner, and Dale Biesecker], the board President, Tom Ford, and the Superintendant who has authorized the spending of money that was not appropriately allocated funding.

Finally, as of the time of posting of this, the results of the poll are as follows:

6 [20%] want the Stadium Project to proceed.
3 [10%] want a smaller project along the lines of current Warrior Stadium] built.
7 [24%] want Warrior Stadium expanded and modernized.
13 [44%] want nothing done right now. [status quo].

The top two choices are rounded up.

What that says is that 80% are against the $8 [10+???] million Stadium Project.

We suggest that the six who voted for the project are the Gang of Five, and School Board President Ford. We doubt they would admit that, though.

Say no to the Stadium!

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“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.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gettysburg Offers Special Winter Lecture Series

National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

Gettysburg National Military Park
1195 Baltimore Pike
Suite 100

Gettysburg, PA 17325
717/334-1124 phone
717/ 334-1891 fax

Gettysburg National Military Park News Release

For Release: December 9, 2008

Gettysburg Offers Special Winter Lecture Series – Key Moments and Commanders of the Gettysburg Campaign

The 1st Minnesota Infantry, colorful and controversial Union General Dan Sickles, Abraham Lincoln, Confederate General Richard Ewell, and the July 1 battle for Herbst Woods are among the topics of a new National Park Service series of free winter lectures, Key Moments and Commanders of the Gettysburg Campaign at Gettysburg National Military Park.

National Park Rangers will offer the programs on weekends beginning Saturday, January 10 and running through Sunday, March 15. They are free of charge and will be held at the new Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, in the Ford Motor Company Fund Education Center.

Programs begin at 1:30 p.m. and last approximately one hour. For more information go to Gettysburg National Military Park’s website at www.nps.gov/gett or call 717/ 334-1124 x 8023.

-NPS-

Key Moments and Commanders of the Gettysburg Campaign
Gettysburg National Military Park Winter Series 2009
Saturdays and Sundays, 1:30 p.m.

Gettysburg National Military Park
Museum and Visitor Center,
In the Ford Motor Company Fund Education Center

Week #1
Saturday, January 10
Key Moments: Longstreet Tries to Flank the Round Tops on July 3 – Troy Harman

Sunday, January 11
Commanders: General Alexander Hays and the Repulse of Longstreet's Assault - Karlton Smith

Week #2
Saturday, January 17
Commanders: Alexander Webb, Norman Hall, & Alonzo Cushing: Profiles of Successful Leaders – D. Scott Hartwig

Week #3
Saturday, January 24
Commanders: Daniel Sickles: The Colorful and Controversial Commander of Gettysburg -- Matt Atkinson

Sunday, January 25
Key Moments: "A Final Resting Place:” The Establishment of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery -- Eric A. Campbell

Week #4
Saturday, January 31
Commanders: Strong Vincent and the Battle for Little Round Top – Tom Holbrook

Week #5
Saturday, February 7
Key Moments: Crisis at the Union Center – The Second Corps Front on July 2 - John Heiser

Sunday, February 8
Key Moments: "We drop a comrade’s tears" The 2nd New Hampshire at the Peach Orchard – Karlton Smith

Week #6
Saturday, February 14
Commanders: Opportunity, Possibility, and Liability: Lee, E. P. Alexander, William Pendleton and the Great Cannonade of July 3 – Bert Barnett

Sunday, February 15
Commanders: “Day was now breaking and it was too late for any change of place;” Richard Ewell, Cemetery Hill & Memory - Angie Atkinson

Week #7
Saturday, February 21
Key Moments: “Take that hill if practicable” – Cemetery Hill and the End of the First Day’s Battle -- Tom Holbrook

Sunday, February 22
Commanders: July 1, 1863 – Surprise or Surmise – Bill Hewitt

Week #8
Saturday, February 28
Key Moments: The 1st Minnesota Infantry on July 2 – Matt Atkinson

Sunday, March 1
Commanders: From “Forever Free” to “A New Birth of Freedom:” Abraham Lincoln in 1863" – Eric A. Campbell

Week #9
Saturday, March 7
Key Moments: “I Have Never Seen the Like Before” - The July 1 Battle for Herbst Woods - D. Scott Hartwig

Sunday, March 8
Commanders: "Much oppressed with a sense of responsibility:" George G. Meade Takes Command of the Army of the Potomac – Charles Teague

Week #10
Saturday, March 14
Commanders: Did Meade Begin a Counteroffensive after Pickett's Charge? - Troy Harman

Sunday, March 15
Key Moments: Hancock Takes Command – July 1 – Angie Atkinson

-End-

Katie Lawhon
Public Affairs Specialist
Gettysburg National Military Park
1195 Baltimore Pike, Suite 100
Gettysburg, PA 17325

Experience your America

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that they all may experience our heritage.

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“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.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Another Casino Attempt for LeVan????

There has been some talk recently about another effort by David LeVan to build his casino in Adams County, this time near the Maryland Border at a racetrack to be built by the owner of Hanover Farms. The track would conduct Sulky [Harness] Racing meets. LeVan hopes to snag a license from a current licensee in Lawrence County who has run into financial difficulty.

Why is this even coming up?

22 months ago we put up a post that essentially detailed why the proposed Crossroads Casino failed to become licensed.

Here is the bulk of that post. You will not only see that the conditions today are even more adverse than they were then: with the economy going bad, and especially with the passage of the gaming referendum in Maryland in last month's election:


The Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board [PGCB] released their reasoning on how they arrived at their selections for granting licenses to applicants last December, and relevant to the Gettysburg area is why that application failed. The selections for winning bids awarded licenses for two free standing [Class 2] casinos to be built. Gettysburg celebrated over the rejection of the Crossroads investment groups' licensing bid to construct a 3,000 machine slot parlor at the intersection of US Routes 30 and 15, about a mile east of Gettysburg.

Today, the PGCB released their reasoning on how they selected the two Class 2 licensees out of the five that had submitted bid.

We have extracted from the PGCB's report [read the report: go to the PGCB link , and click on the Class 2 Orders and Adjudication Information button.]

...The Crossroads location is primarily rural without nearby population centers. As discussed below in Section C, Crossroads touts its location as desirable because of the populations to the South in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. markets. As addressed in that Section, the Board finds that Crossroads has not demonstrated to the Board’s satisfaction through credible evidence that the Crossroad’s location presents the advantages and benefits asserted by Crossroads...

...McCormick Taylor representative Federico also reviewed the traffic study submitted by Crossroads and testified at the final licensing hearing on December 13,2006 as to the review of site improvements by the applicant and PennDOT. The biggest concern expressed by the McCormick Taylor representative was the impact of the project on the reconstructed interchange of Routes 15 and 30. Federico testified that PennDOT is proposing a “rather innovative design for Pennsylvania for this interchange” and that issues related to the design have not yet been resolved. See Crossroads final licensing hearing transcript at p. 11. Federico’s November 15, 2006 report indicated several remaining traffic issues and stated that other than those issues, it appears that the proposed improvements adequately mitigate the projects impacts...

...With respect to the Crossroads project, Crossroads presented substantial testimony that it will rely in large part on the Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C. areas for its patronage and that 60% to 65% of its revenues would originate from outside the Commonwealth. The Gettysburg area itself is primarily a rural area without large population centers nearby to sustain the casino, thus the emphasis on the market to the South. In theory, this strategy is appealing. However, during the licensing hearings, Gettysburg presented testimony that it was “virtually the same drive time away” from the Baltimore/Washington D.C. market as Charlestown slots in West Virginia and that Charlestown had a casino win of $437 million in the fiscal year ending January 30, 2006. While that number is significant, the Board was not presented with any credible evidence to demonstrate how much of that Charlestown business could be expected to leave thatfacility and travel north to Gettysburg.

Further, the Board received testimony concerning the possibility of slot machines being introduced in Maryland and the impact that would have on the Gettysburg property. Gettysburg proponents testified that that they do not believe gaming legislation will be passed in Maryland in the “near future” but that even if it did, “we estimate that the revenue impact on Crossroads will be between 15 and 20 percent leaving Crossroads a substantial cushion above its break-even revenue level.” See Hearing transcript at p. 62. While the Board certainly is comforted by the testimony that Crossroads would have a cushion above its break-even revenue level, since the Board has a strong interest in “protecting its product” by assuring that the chosen casinos stay in business, a twenty percent decline in revenues would place the revenue generation estimates in the $216 million to $231 million range depending on whether the Task Force or Crossroads revenue estimates are utilized. This scenario would place Crossroads at the bottom of the revenue generation models, a position any applicant should desire to avoid in a competitive licensing situation as is present here...

...However, in the comparative setting to which these licenses are subject, the Board finds that the economic benefit of Crossroads and Tropicana, given the smaller economic commitments, likely will not be as significant as the benefits which will occur by virtue of the larger commitments and the spin-off business associated therewith of the Mount Airy, Sands Bethworks and Pocono Manor projects. This again is a factor which the Board weighs in favor of those applicants...

...Opposition was strongest in relation to the proximity of the casino to the historic Gettysburg battlefield areas and the effect the casino would have on the traditionally rural nature of the community. Section 1102(10) of the Act instructs that “the public interest of the citizens of this Commonwealth and the social effect of gaming shall be taken into consideration in any decision or order made.” While the Board duly noted and considered the degree and proportion of public opposition, the Board’s decision was not based solely on this factor.
So, it seems the Crossroads people, who had difficulty maintaining investors [they lost their principle investor, Morgan Stanly, just weeks before the license application closed, and had to scramble to replace them with another outfit with much less financial wallop; even as the PGCB was releasing the names of the licensees who were getting the casinos, individual investors were withdrawing], over estimated their economic market share, and under estimated the impact on the roads around the Casino. And in spite of what the PGCB states in the final paragraph above, public sentiment against the casino far outweighed those who supported the casino locally, and it did have a major impact on the decision.


Seriously, the facts have remained in force, and there is far more reason today to deny an Adams County License than there was 22 months ago.

A bad idea remains a bad idea, and when it is brought up a second time, one begins to wonder about the judgment of those who would do so.

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“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.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Take a ride into the future!

[Updated and reposted with new commentary]

A recent headline in the Hanover Evening Sun alerted the public to the vision of Adams County Planners and what that vision will be like in a few years. The headline was something to the effect that Routes 30 & 116 would become parking lots, unable to cope with the burden of traffic after the development scheduled for the county over the coming years.

Here is something we wrote a few years back, with some minor edits to make it more timely. Just keep in mind: "If you build it they will come!"

http://gettysblog.blogspot.com/2006/02/97-take-ride-into-future.html

Fast forward if you will, to the July 4th weekend, 2013. Independence Day is on Thursday making an extra long holiday weekend.

It is the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The reenactment, which is 50% larger than the 135th anniversary reenactment, has created gridlock on the roads surrounding Gettysburg, and on the Battlefield itself, has attracted almost 130,000 visitors to the area. There are no rooms to be had in Adams County.

The interchange at routes 30 and 15 is now fully developed. On the south side of US 30, on one side of 15 is the Adams Commerce Center, complete with Convention Center, hotels, movie theaters, and restaurants, and of course, a car dealership, a bank headquarters, a motorcycle dealership, and a window manufacturing plant. At the very corner will be a gas station with a bank of ATM machines.

On the west side of 15, a new housing development stretching from the Hanover Street exit north to US 30, with its own bridge over US 15 to connect it to an access road running between Pella Windows, and the Adams County Bank Building, and emerging onto Cavalry Field Road. It is the required second access to the development.

On the north side of US 30, another commercial complex, stretching perhaps two miles north along US 15. It contains Gettysburg’s new mall, complete with a Borders, a Boscovs, a Sears and a Penneys. There will also be a Lowes located at one end.

Across 15 on the northeast side of the interchange, will be the brand new Crossroads Shopping Mall, glittering with enough neon to dim the stars overhead for miles around.

North on 15, at the next exit up, 250 acres have been paved over, and a new complex has been constructed there, a hotel, a restaurant (a Lone Star?), and a campground, all to revolve around a new equestrian center (read: rodeo arena), comprised of two indoor and one outdoor arena/exhibition area, and 1,500 horse stalls. They are having a championship rodeo event this weekend complete with fireworks and over one hundered barbecue grills around the venue.

South of 30, along Route 15, at the Hanover Street exit, green still exists – in the form of an expanded Drummer Boy Campground. It is filled to overflow capacity with 60cabins and over 700 campsites filled up by about 4000 persons, using almost 900 cars, busses and RVs.

Traffic on US 30 east of Gettysburg has been backed up all the way to New Oxford since mid-evening Thursday. People pull their cars off to the side of the road to sleep. In town, nothing is moving east on York Street from its intersection with equally clogged Hanover Street all the way to the new malls. The line to exit from US 15 north onto US 30 stretches all the way back to the Maryland Line, while the southbound side coming from Harrisburg is backed up past the Heidlersburg exit. PA 116 west of town, the Fairfield Road, is bumper to bumper all the way through Fairfield, to the intersection with PA 16 near the Maryland line.
Nothing is moving on the side roads north of town because of the reenactment. Nothing is moving on the roads south of town because of the memorabilia shows at the Eisenhower Convention Center on Emmitsburg Road, and the Casino and Harness Racing Track down near Littlestown.

The Battlefield, and the town, are gridlocked. Emergency services personnel are sent to scenes by bicycle and when possible by motorcycle. Babies are born at home, in cars, and in stores and churches, and some of them do not survive. Heart attack victims, already stressed by the heat, are unable to reach a treatment facility in time, and their death toll climbs throughout the weekend. Accidents and heat take their toll at the reenactment, too, where some 1,500 Re-enactors, and about 650 spectators are treated for injuries and heat related problems. Fortunately, pre-arranged medical teams and facilities were present, but even they were overwhelmed. A water main break somewhere near has cut off running water to the most of the borough and its immediate surrounding areas. None of the facilities along 15 have running water. Police look the other way as stranded motorists relieve themselves along the road. The police are also unable to stop the violent outbursts of frustrated motorists unable to get to their destinations, many of which have been paid for. These outbursts include beatings and assaults, rape, and four murders.

By the end of the weekend, some 28 people are dead, over 300 are either hospitalized, or in temporary holding areas awaiting transport to a hospital.

The malls, the hotels, the movie theaters and restaurants within walking distance of US 30 and/or 15, the Equestrian Complex, the re-enactment, the campgrounds, and roadside convenience stores and fast food places and the new mall, all report very high profits for the weekend, in some cases, record profits.

Happy 150th Anniversary, Gettysburg!


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