By DON GYNN
Niagara Gazette — When the tourist industry here first touted casino gambling as a savior for the struggling Cataract City economy, public reaction was mixed.
Proponents, of course, envisioned it as the sure way to fill downtown hotels, boost the attendance at attractions, and create countless jobs for a community still battered by the recession and a steady decline in the manufacturing sector. The opponents, as you might expect, ran the gamut from Bible-thumping preachers to the staunch anti-gambling citizen groups like ‘Casinos —No Dice!’ and “Casinos Mean Mobs”)
Many of us have vivid memories of those days: the sharp cutbacks in local industries, hundreds of families impacted by the seemingly endless layoffs, and the tarnished image of Niagara Falls in the wake of the Love Canal disaster.
Even if casino gambling was a cure, local residents never had a chance to voice their opinion. Instead, the Albany lawmakers were bogged down in their turf battles — upstate v. downstate — and the matter was not approved by both houses at the Capitol. As a result, the long-anticipated question never appeared on the November ballot.
Now more than 30 years later, it will be one of the proposed amendments in the general election (Nov. 5). In fact, it will be the first of six amendments that voters will find across the top of the ballot, above all the candidates’ lines. At present, Gov. Cuomo, who supports the casino proposal, hasn’t done much to spread the word. Local residents can’t be blamed for their devil-may-care attitude toward the question. Don’t be surprised if it goes down the tubes.
Unfortunately, an incredible number of voters usually fail to vote on any of the amendments, whether by accident or design. Surveys have consistently shown that those voters beg off with the excuse they simply didn’t understand the wording.That won’t be the case this fall, at least with the casino question. As critics have noted, the wording is definitely slanted toward the pro-casino stand. After all, who’s going to vote against “promoting job growth, increasing aid to education, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated” by the casinos? Certainly not the Brooklyn lawyer who is suing the state Board of Elections for overstepping its authority in approving the referendum language.
It should be understood the statewide ballot proposal will not affect the Buffalo-Niagara area over which the Seneca Nation of Indians has exclusive rights under its compact with the state. Cuomo’s plan would allow casinos in three regions across the state: the Hudson Valley-Catskill area; Capital District-Saratoga; and Central-Southern Tier. As for the latter, New York Post columnist Bob McManus is right on the money when he ridicules Cuomo for suggesting that cash-flush tourists would flock to a place like Binghamton to try their hand at the slots or table games.
HELP NEEDED: A reminder to all past and present veterans in the Village of Youngstown and the Town of Porter.
The committee for Veterans Park (on Nancy Price Drive) is accepting applications until Nov. 1, 2013, to update the names on the veterans monument there. Donna Jeffs, deputy clerk, said application are available at the village office and the Town of Porter Historical Society Museum, both in the Red Brick School, and at the Town of Porter Office, 3265 Creek Road.
The memorial was dedicated May 31, 2004, in tribute to local veterans who have served our country. Additional information is available by calling 745-7721.
TRIVIA: Answer to Sunday’s question: Army (the U.S, Military Academy at West Point) won the national college football championship in 1945. Two of the legendary players on that team were Felix (Doc) Blanchard and Glenn Davis.Contact Reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.