Providing Lancaster City & County with an Alternative Source for Local News and Commentary  _________________________________________________________
 May 12, 2007      Publisher: LLC       Combined Circulation 80,000 monthly         Volume 1, Number 32

Convention Center / CASINO Complex?

Now that the few but powerful proponents of the convention center project have apparently achieved their ends, murmurs are once again being heard about the possibility of introducing gaming to downtown Lancaster.

Reportedly a private comment was made a year ago by an establishment journalist that a slots casino was part of the hidden plan, the reason why the High Group, the monopoly Lancaster Newspapers, Senator Gib Armstrong and,
within a couple of days of his election, Mayor Rick Gray have been ardent supporters. When just six months ago the sponsors announced they were jettisoning the project due to a shortfall in funds, the receipt of an iron clad assurance of a casino license may have been behind their dramatic reversal and baseless claim that the "funding gap had been closed." (Since then, the cost has climbed by well over ten million dollars…some gap closing!)

And this may have been behind the vociferous opposition by then mayor Charlie Smithgall and state authorities to a group seeking a gaming license for the Bulova Building. It would have torpedoed any deal between Armstrong and Governor Ed Rendell.

So, if you begin to hear worrisome projections from those who previously had supported the project, consider it may be the ground work for the playing of the casino card as the salvation for downtown Lancaster.

Can We Afford Good Ole 'Charlie' As Commissioner?

Former Lancaster City mayor Charlie Smithgall was one of the prime supporters of the convention center / hotel project, an undertaking that may prove ruinous.

In three or four years as the combined center / hotel begins to hemorrhage the $2.4 million to $4.8 million as predicted by the 2006 PKF Feasibility Study, the Convention Center

Authority will likely run to the commissioners with a plea to increase the hotel room sales tax to defray the debt service. And the City will likely come begging for relief to help bail out its $36 million guarantee of all or most of the hotel debt.

So voting for Smithgall is comparable to putting the fox in charge of the hen house! We all like Charlie. But can we afford him?

Rearranging the Chairs on the Titanic
(From a letter to NewsLanc)

Contributor: "If Rick Gray were serious about Art Morris bringing accountability to the project, he would have appointed him in September, when Art Morris might have been able to fight for a better deal for local taxpayers. Now that the LCCCA board is practically powerless, 'accountability' no longer has the meaning it would have BEFORE the taxpayers were raped and pillaged.

"Now that the bonds are sold, these changes to the LCCCA board are nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

[Editor's Response: Had Morris been appointed six months earlier and had time to get his bearings, the project might well have been scuttled by now. Morris is no fool. They weren't going to run that risk!]

Break free from the monopoly press! Visit daily.

Gib, You can�t be serious!

According to the May 9 New Era, Senator Gib Armstrong "said the need for boosting the penalties for breaking the [Sunshine] law was spotlighted by secrecy surrounding the September 2005 sale of Conestoga View, the nursing home formerly owned by the county."

In fact, the report concluded that the Sunshine Law is hopelessly vague and needs to be rewritten if it is to be enforced. And although the grand
jury offered juicy tidbits of gossip of backstage discussions, there was scant evidence of actual violation of any law.

The three commissioners plea bargained to a minor violation after District Attorney Donald Totaro, in order to cover up the failure of his witch hunt, terrorized them into thinking that they might be indicted for some unspecified crime.

If Armstrong were indeed serious about effectively restricting discussions outside of the public eye, he would seek to make the Sunshine Act effective. But he, of all persons, certainly recognizes that would grind the wheel of legislation to a virtual halt and hardly be in the public interest. It is decision making, not just discussions, that need be public.

125 days left until county
appointees become majority on
Convention Center Board.