The Cuomo administration, in its all-out drive to build new casinos, keeps loading the dice in its favor.
Rather than a simple, factual description of the proposed amendment, the Nov. 5 referendum ballot will use rosy wording: The proposed amendment to Section 9 of Article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved? The claimed benefits are controversial and not in the language of the amendment passed by the Legislature.
An early version stated simply: The purpose of the proposed amendment to Section 9 of Article 1 of the constitution is to allow the Legislature to authorize and regulate up to seven casinos. If approved, the amendment would permit commercial casino gambling in New York State. None of the other four referenda items used loaded language.
Add it to the list of deceptions and evasions Cuomo uses in support of his goal.
■ Saving second passage of the casino amendment and enabling legislation until the last day of the legislative session;
■ Not holding public hearings;
■ Saving substantive changes to the last minute so that they will be hidden not only from your fellow lawmakers and the public;
■ Issuing a message of necessity, which suspends the required three days of public review;
■ Promising Indian casinos exclusive zones only if they refrain from fighting the amendment;
■ Dropping a vital anti-corruption provision of the law, which prohibits campaign contributions from casino interests;
■ Including a poison pill (Section 32a-3), which allows for a huge expansion of lottery VLTs if the amendment loses. Then Cuomo wins whatever the voters say;
■ Keeping potential locations open thereby paving the way for corruption in the process of selecting sites;
■ Not guaranteeing local referendums on possible sites;
■ Promising not to put casinos in New York Cith for five years to lull NYC voters; and
■ Putting the amendment at the top of the ballot, not in the usual chronological order.
Voters should reject the Cuomo casino steamroller. Vote no on Nov. 5.
Arnie Lieber, M.D.