Casinos Trump Neighborhood Concerns for City Council. Who’s Important In Binghamton? (Not the Residents)

By Dave Duncan    

Many hundreds of residents and groups contact the Mayor or City Council representatives annually to obtain assistance with problems that arise in their neighborhoods. These problems range from a leaky water main, broken sewer lines, code enforcement, to a cat trapped up a tree. The reply received very often involves the need to study the situation and then obtain reports from the City Engineer or some other office in the City’s bureaucracy. Nothing can happen without going through some lengthy procedure. These reports will state what is needed, what the cost to the city will be and when, in the next few years, the neighborhood issue will be addressed.

But That Procedure is Only for City Residents

Let some nebulous group appear from out of the blue wanting the Council and Mayor to sign on with an approval for the city to back some vague plan to build a gambling casino, and all of the need for study, planning, and determination of cost goes out the window.

Hastily Called Meeting of City Council

On June 30th, City Council members met with short notice. They were asked to approve a “pie in the sky” plan to build a casino. City residents had no notice of the meeting. Council members knew a whole lot less than they do about most issues. The Mayor was signaling that there would be millions in the scheme for the City, but nothing specific. There was no information available on the cost to the City of this project, the number of jobs guaranteed, benefits the workers would receive, whether the jobs would be full time or part time and if the pay levels would be sufficient to raise a worker out of poverty. Would there be a need to provide more policing or additional firefighting equipment? Other major factors, also not available, include what tax deal the city would give to the “now you see us, now you don’t” developers. Would the City need to run new sewer and water lines to the project? Would new roads be necessary?

Council Members Voted Yes to Support the Casino

Council members, with their tongues the same color as the developer’s boots, voted 6-0 to approve a project about which they knew next to nothing. While this may seem normal to many Council followers, this casino scheme was bigger than most of the “BS” that floats through City Hall.

Residents Catch a Break

The rush to approve this “no information available” project came to a happy end for the people of Binghamton, but not because of the actions by the Mayor or members of the Council. The developers peddling their three card Monte routine pulled out before the approval from Council could get typed up. The developers discovered that a big chunk of money from the taxpayers of NYS was not available for them to put in their pockets. So they moved on leaving the Mayor and Council members blushing with an empty sack in their hands.

Advice to City Residents

The next time you see a neighborhood cat up a tree, give your council representative a reason to help out. Tell them you are going to set up a string of cat houses in the city and market it as part of the “hospitality trade” business. They will be certain to call a special meeting to approve the assistance you need.

 

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