By David Anderson, Tillicum
“America is in decline.” That’s the “sobering and pessimistic account of the country’s status in the world today” – the assessment of Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book “Strategic Vision” as reviewed by Harold Evans.
It’s less a matter of products not being made in America so much as America mattering less in the world.
“America now exhibits the same symptoms of decay as the Soviet Union did just before its fall” (which happened in December, 1991) observes Brzezinski, “pervasive corruption and socioeconomic stagnation” topping the former USSR’s list.
Like circling wolves waiting for the dwindling wood supply to kill the already dying embers, casino-representatives licked their chops at the prospect of the feast to come under Mikhail Gorbachev’s “economic liberalization” program.
By the end of 2002 in Moscow alone, there were 58 casinos, 2,000 gaming rooms and approximately 70,000 slot machines.
Five years later, Russia closed down its casinos – 2,230 of them – overnight as gambling was banned nationwide.
The “let me in, let me in” cry of the wolves before they entered the pig’s house had only served to exacerbate the pre-existing and staggering social and economic costs.
“The ban was to protect the health of society.”
According to John W. Kindt, editor of the three-part United States International Gambling Report Series and University of Illinois professor, “Russia cited the national security and military consequences of an economy weakened by gambling when it virtually abolished legal gambling in the former Soviet republic.”
The big bad wolf
The sharp teeth and red beady eyes of that’s-not-the-grandma-I-
Tucked away in an article in last month’s Tacoma News Tribune about the closure of Freddie’s Casino in Fife was the ‘we’ll-be-back promise’ of Washington’s Recreational Gaming Association Executive Director Dolores Chiechi.
Chiechi has been huffing and puffing before the State Legislature for years to allow slot machines in non-tribal casinos which would include of course those in Lakewood.
The reason? The same roulette refrain that closed them down in Russia. Said Chiechi, “‘we believe it will create jobs. We will continue to ask the Legislature to look at our proposal,’ she said.”
To-date the house – and for that matter the senate – hasn’t fallen down but that doesn’t mean there aren’t those of our elected representatives who don’t agree with the wolf.
Not a fairy tale
Even the youth of Lakewood’s Promise seem to understand that if the wolf gets its way we’re not looking at a happy ending epitomized in the standard folkloric fantasy. One of the less-than-a-minute video submissions for the “Drop Out No Win Video Contest” being conducted by the Lakewood Computer Clubhouse is a card game that, per the rules, shows how “dropping out of school is like playing a game you cannot win.” Check out the last video on this page highlighted here.
Certainly gambling is a game that takes many to lose in order for one to win.
Behind closed doors
Recently Chiechi sat down next to – or at least in the same room as – our Lakewood Chief of Police. The two, along with problem gambling experts, were discussing a proposal to spend $55K of grant money to treat problem gamblers here in Lakewood – problem gamblers we were told that heretofore did not exist but now evidently do.
How is it that Lakewood leadership can discuss problem gambling with those who’ve quite clearly, repeatedly, and publicly stated that they intend to expand the possibilities for which gambling problems are created?
And what reasons can the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) give for being “very supportive”, according to City Manager Andrew Neiditz, of this problem gambling treatment program when no minutes of their discussion indicating that support were recorded when it was alleged to have taken place this past April 4?
Malcolm Russell, a member of the PSAC and a candidate for legislative representation for the 28th which includes Lakewood, has indicated a response will be forthcoming on this and related gambling questions when he brings them before the PSAC at its August 1st meeting to take place at the Lakewood Police Station, start time 5:15 PM.
Among the questions to which Russell promises a response is the status of Brian Wurts, former president of the Lakewood Police Department Independent Guild, who was placed on administrative leave while being investigated by the FBI for possible involvement in the Skeeter Manos affair.
Wurts has long maintained there are no problems with gambling in Lakewood and yet a sizable amount of the money Manos embezzled was used for gambling junkets here in Lakewood and Las Vegas.
When the Tacoma News Tribune reported this past February 14 that “a significant amount” of money was missing from the guild, Eric Bell – Wurt’s replacement – said both Manos and Wurts “thwarted” repeated requests of the guild’s accounts.
The people’s right to know certainly would seem to be in keeping with the Lakewood Police Departments (LPD) promise – and that of vision and mission statements of the department’s public relations committee, the PSAC – to uphold “the utmost integrity” of the LPD.