I have just received the latest mailing from the VOTE NO ON PROP #1 BUSINESS-COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP and must correct some information which the Partnership knows is incorrect, or at least they should, and they should not, in my opinion, perpetuate same.
#1–One quote refers to the other choices the YES folks should have offered and cites “a moratorium on new casinos.” The City lived with a moratorium for several years even though the State Gaming Commission said it was invalid. In fact it was the City Council action to not renew the moratorium that precipitated the current prop #1. Further the quote states that the Prop #1 proponents could have “sought to phase them out over a reasonable period of time.” The mini casinos have been with us for a number of years with no action by the City Council to phase them out.
#2–A second quote states “Lakewood chose card rooms for their economic benefits.” Lakewood DID NOT chose card rooms–they were foisted on The City by the State Legislature with NO input by Lakewood or any other city. In fact a then member of the legislature from the 28th District stated in a public forum that the legislature “didn’t know what they were voting on” when the law creating mini casinos was passed.
This same quote correctly states that the Lakewood city budgets were created to include revenues generated by these businesses. However, the initial plan regarding these funds was to keep them at about $1m a year realizing that at some time the City might decide to enact a ban. In fact a very unique taxing plan was enacted which would lower the tax on the casinos as their profits increased FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE of keeping gambling income at about the $1m level SO THAT THE CITY WOULD NOT BECOME DEPENDENT ON THESE GAMBLING TAXES TO SURVIVE.
The Business-Community Partnership knows all this and should not have used these quotes or should have clarified them in their mailing.
A final comment. At the risk of seeming to resort to sarcasm, if any member of the Lakewood City Council “cannot think of a good reason to vote yes on closing Lakewood casinos” (another quote from the flyer), then I would suggest that they immediately remove all banners and logos proclaiming Lakewood “one of the 100 Best Cities for Youth” in the USA!! It seems to me to be totally incongruent to claim to be best for youth and at the same time carry the title of the gambling capitol of the South Sound!!, the only city in the region which condones mini casinos and in fact has subjected itself to more such establishments albeit in zoned areas of the city. If we are going to “talk the talk” about our commitment to youth then we should also be willing to “walk the walk.” Seems to me we cannot have it both ways.
Some will say I did not address the issues of Public Safety (with a budget reflecting 75% plus of the budget dedicated to public safety, there is no way to take any cut without impacting the police which I regret but it is fact of life facing many communities) or the loss of casino jobs. My only comment on the latter issue is, when the City enacted ordinances which resulted in the eventual closing of several of the sexually oriented businesses then in Lakewood, the same “job loss” argument was made by the owners and the employees. At that time a survey revealed that very few of the employees of these establishments (also legal businesses recognized by the State of Washington) were actual residents of Lakewood. I cannot help but wonder what such a survey of the casino employees would reveal. Also, during the action regarding the sexually oriented businesses I heard no paeans regarding the government taking their property away, about job losses nor about lost revenue to the city of Lakewood.
William H Harrison
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