Friday, September 15, 2006

It's Been Done Before: Grading Economic Development Investments in Gambling

Here is a note from Ed Morrison - providing another perspective on how our Northeast Ohio leadership is choosing to invest in economic development. Read and learn.

My experience on gambling in Louisiana fuels my opposition to this option for Cuyahoga County. I worked on three major projects involving casinos. I started out neutral, but came to see that the downside risks are considerable and not balanced by the promised gains.

I am not alone.

The Baton Rouge Advocate editorial from today...


Ed

http://www.2theadvocate.com/opinion/3915741.html

Our Views: Don’t waste time on gambling lure

Opinion page staff
Published: Sep 14, 2006

Louisiana officials frittered away the 1990s by focusing on expansion of various forms of gambling as a cure for Louisiana’s economic woes.

Alas, gambling has not delivered the promised pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and Louisiana continues to lag much of the country in economic development.

Louisiana would be much better off today if we had spent the past decade paying attention to more fundamental reforms to grow business, such as investing in education, reforming our tax laws, streamlining state government and dramatically tightening our ethics code.

Now, in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which produced perhaps the most profound crisis this state has ever faced, we are in danger of repeating the errors of the past by indulging yet another protracted debate over promoting even more gambling in Louisiana.

It is a distraction this beleaguered state cannot afford. Yet the prospect of another push to expand gambling was raised at a recent closed-door meeting among riverboat casino officials, legislators, regulators and bureaucrats.

The meeting, which was not open to the public, was held in a conference room in Attorney General Charles Foti’s office. Foti, who did not stay after making opening remarks, said the meeting was aimed at starting a dialogue.

The presence of the public might have inhibited a free and frank discussion, he said.

Among the issues on the table, as best as we can gather from some of those who attended, was the presumed need for more generous tax policies for Louisiana casinos, as well as the possibility of allowing riverboat casinos to relocate on land.

Gambling promoters have suggested that such changes are necessary to make Louisiana’s gambling industry more competitive with the casinos in Mississippi.

One would think that the members of the public, who would be most affected by changes in Louisiana’s gambling policies, would have a seat at the table when gambling interests and those who regulate them meet to discuss the industry’s future.

We’re puzzled by Foti’s role in fostering the closed-door meeting. While the attorney general has some statutory authority regarding gambling, questions about the location, size and tax arrangements for casinos are policy matters decided by the governor and the Legislature.

This is the second prominent example of the attorney general involving himself in matters that aren’t the natural purview of his office. Foti has also involved himself in investigating the possible euthanasia of New Orleans hospital patients after Hurricane Katrina — a probe more properly handled by local police.

For real leadership on the issue of gambling, citizens should look first and foremost to Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who has repeatedly said that she will not approve any legislation that would expand gambling. Nobody from the governor’s office attended the closed-door meeting at Foti’s office.

Blanco’s deputy press secretary, Marie Centani, said that the meeting “was in Foti’s arena” and that the governor would not answer any other questions about the state of the gambling industry.

The governor’s reticence does not suggest strong leadership. The absence of such leadership creates a vacuum that others will attempt to fill — including, oddly enough, the attorney general.

In the wake of last year’s storms, many have said that Louisiana should honor the tragedy of the hurricanes by rebuilding even better than before.

We do not believe Louisiana can fulfill the promise of that vision by hanging its star yet again on legalized gambling.

1 Comments:

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