The Casino And All The Promises

May 26, 2014

Will the owners of the proposed South End casino keep their promises to hire City residents, and will they promise to not sue the City to have their taxes lowered? No and no.

*UPDATE* David Flaum withdraws the Exit 23 casino proposal, an analysis of the withdrawal and what it means to Albany

I’m still horrified and disgusted by this casino proposal for the South End. But since I last wrote about it, the discussion around this casino, like the recent discussion around the Global tar sands oil heaters being imposed upon the Port of Albany, has been conducted in public among the citizens of Albany with the local politicians cast in the uncomfortable role of arbiters. That’s a lot different than the way it used to be, when all the development deals happened in a back room and the only way the public could participate was by filing lawsuits against the City.

It is precisely because the casino discussion has become public that we are hearing passionate support for the proposal from a significant number of the people of the South End and from some of the people of other downtown neighborhoods. These folks want this casino to be built in their backyard because they want jobs, the supposedly good jobs and opportunities that the developers are promising. I have yet to hear one single person say that they want this casino because they want to gamble.

Jobs and opportunity. That is very hard to argue against. Past City governments have so thoroughly destroyed the South End that many of the people who live here- the economic survivors- are ready and willing to jump at any substantial sounding promise of opportunity and advancement. But there is a growing suspicion that the people who are pushing this casino down our throats, Rochester speculator and Cuomo campaign donor David Flaum along with the boys from Off Track Betting (OTB) are making a big load of fabulous promises that they have no intention of keeping.

Developer David Flaum Pitches His Casino To The Public At Giffen School Developer David Flaum Pitches His Casino To The Public At
Giffen School

I wasn’t going to write any more about the stupid casino proposal, I’d said what I’d said. What got me on about the casino again was an article written by a fellow named Peter Van Buren, a 24 year veteran of the US State Department who managed development in Iraq after the US attack and became disgusted with what he saw there. His essay is about how the poverty caused by corporate exploitation in America is getting worse, and as part of his eyewitness descriptions is his take on the once thriving casinos of Atlantic City:

Trump Plaza, a monument to excess and hubris created by a man once admired as a business magician and talked about as a possible presidential candidate, is now a catalog of decay. The pillows in the rooms smell of sweat, the corners of doors are chipped, many areas need a new coat of paint, and most of the bars and restaurants resemble the former Greyhound bus terminal a few blocks away. People covered with the street gravy that marks the homeless wander the casino, itself tawdry and too dimly lit to inspire fun. There were just too many people who were clearly carrying everything they owned around in a backpack.