Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stupid Casino Tricks

This would fall under the category of "you have got to be kidding me". The City of Pittsburgh has released a report that rates Harrahs / Forest City as the best plan for the city. Read the article from the Post-Gazette here.

So, you might think to yourself, why would the City of Pittsburgh release a report when Mayor O'Connor has said several times that he isn't endorsing any casino proposal, and that the report "is in no way to be a recommendation" to the gaming board. So why did they write it? The author, City Planning Director Pat Ford, said it was because the law required it. Okay - it's a legal requirement - I can go for that. Except that it's not a legal requirement. The spokesman for the Gaming Control Board, Nick Hays, said that it's not a requirement at all. Here's a passage from the article

Mr. Ford said he produced the report because state law required it.

The section of the slots law on municipalities' powers and duties, though, stopped short of requiring any such report, saying only that they "may make recommendations" to the board. That section of the law was struck down by the courts, Mr. Hays said.

Mayoral spokesman Dick Skrinjar said that even if the report wasn't required, it "provides a clinical, professional analysis on behalf of the citizens of Pittsburgh on ... issues that have tremendous impact on the quality of life of the city. ... If we don't do that, who would do it?"

So, it's not a requirement, and the local municipalities can "make recommendations". But this report "is in no way to be a recommendation". So, either the report was a total waste of taxpayer dollars, or it's meant to influence the decision of the Gaming Control Board. I think it's pretty clear that both of those are true.

To go further with this (and things will now get REALLY inflamatory, in case you haven't had your intelligence insulted enough yet), here's another quote from the article
Supporters of the Isle of Capri plan hissed when Mr. Ford told council that he did not consider that applicant's pledge to pay $290 million toward a new arena to be "guaranteed."
So, they don't believe Isle of Capri when they say they'll give $290 million upon receipt of the slots license. That's bad enough, but it gets better when combined with the following:

He also criticized the report's reliance on claims by the applicants, and its lack of "objective analysis" of the data. Isle of Capri has said that Harrah's has overstated the revenue from its proposed casino and understated traffic.

Mr. Ford said he did not second-guess the traffic projections, financial data, employment projections and building plans the three bidders provided.

So, Mr. Ford isn't second-guessing financial data, but he's SECOND GUESSING THE VERACITY of $290 million?!?!?!?!?! How do these guys say this with a straight face?

On top of that, why the heck would you take the numbers provided by the casinos at face value? If you're going to do that, then don't base findings in your report on the numbers provided. The incentive to inflate numbers becomes quite large when everyone just believes them and keeps reiterating them, especially when Harrahs has a history of inflating numbers (like in New Orleans).

The last part, more for humor after the exasperation of the previous few paragraphs, is this:

The most hotly contested estimate was the contention by Harrah's and Forest City that their casino would not cause a dramatic worsening of traffic on Carson Street. Councilman William Peduto said the companies must be assuming that slots players will come in kayaks.

Mr. Naparstek said Forest City plans to add new entrances to Station Square, build a pedestrian bridge from the Mon Incline, and better coordinate traffic lights.

So, for anyone who has been to Station Square when it's fairly crowded, or been to a concert at the Chevy Amphitheatre, what would a new entrance and pedestrian bridge do? I can tell you that from experience - ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I'm not even going to acknowledge the "better coordinate traffic lights" because it's laughable.

In short, my opinion on this report from what I've read about it is that it's laughable. It's insulting to our intelligence, and a blatant attempt by Mr. O'Connor to make sure the fix is still in for Harrahs.

Any opinions?


Pronovost said...

My opinion is that Pat Ford is a liar. I haven't been on the conspiracy bandwagon throughout this process, but this particular article really makes it seem as if the fix is in. The quote from the IOC guy was, dare I say, right on the money.


ees said...

when I saw this article in the newspaper, I couldn't even bring myself to read it. UnBelievable.

Will said...

Wow... and they wonder why people dont trust politicians.