Monday, August 26, 2013


 Nothing like a weekend at Wolf Lake to lower the blood pressure and refresh the soul. The occasion was my 71st birthday. The weather cooperated and the party was well attended by friends and family. Surprise visits from Ct. brother Smokey and old friend PAPER publishing magnate DH and fam. rounded out the usual suspects and supermodels. Shewho was the consummate hostess, Mupp and Ginger (always invite the owners) the gracious landlords, and even Teehoo showed up (as herself) for the Q and beer. The gift theme was books and booze. I'm a lucky man to have the time to read, as well as the constitution to drink. Sometimes I can do both simultaneously. Theology and bourbon go very well together. But none of this is what I want to talk about. I want to discuss the upcoming referendum on Casino gaming in NYS. Couldn't you see that coming?

   I touched on this last week in the $ column. As the voice in the wilderness on this issue, I feel i should continue the debate. Actually there doesn't seem to be much of a debate at all anymore. All I see is VOTE: YES signs at the end of driveways and along the road. As recently as 5 years ago there was a much more vocal opposition to the idea of Sullivan County Casinos. Five years of recession and plummeting real estate values has silenced the minority. These days to be against casinos around here is to be the neighborhood pariah.You might as well open an assault weapons store in Newtown.
   So, once again, let me lay out my argument with an example. My first wife was from Ledyard, Ct. It was a sleepy little New England town, not rich, not poor, with red brick buildings and a great art high school. Outside of town was a collection of run down shacks, dirt roads and sometimes chained up dogs. Unknown to me, (and almost everyone else) this was all that was left of the once proud Pequoit Indian Tribe. The grandson of a feisty old woman, who refused to license her dogs, citing that she had no obligation to obey the whiteman's dog laws, made a promise to her on her death bed- full tribal recognition and with that a casino. That was the start of what would rival any Vegas organization: FOXWOODS CASINO.
   Of course I love the underdog. And who doesn't want the Indian to screw the whiteman? But the reality of this ultra-successful casino plopping down in small town New England is, that the town, as we once knew it, is now gone. The amount of traffic that these operations bring CANNOT BE OVER EMPHASIZED. You cannot buy quality of life. If you can't get to paradise there's not much sense in residing there. Once again, this won't be much more than a minor inconvenience to me. I don't go anywhere. But, a big reason this place has become a paradise for me is that I have visitors. If they have to sit in traffic for 3 or 5 hours from Manhattan (another lost Indian tribe), they'll stop coming. More box stores, more fast food joints, more gas stations and quickie-marts, more low end wages will follow the casinos. Taxes will not lower. The people will not prosper. Again, the shiny new Plymouth today looks pretty sad in 20 years. I may be wrong......and I don't say that often. But I still say vote no on this issue. Slower, more thoughtful resort and recreational development, that showcases what we already have, would be my approach. But nobody's asking me.


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