Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

August 31, 2012

OUR VIEW: Senecas justified holding back cash

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — We’ve all read the reports in recent weeks about the ongoing feud between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York state over so-called “casino cash.” The spat got so intense that it dragged the driving public into the fray when the state decided to withhold funds for much-needed road work along Route 20 and Interstate 86.

Fortunately cooler heads prevailed on the road work, but the sides are still at loggerheads over the casino cash. We place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Albany, including elected “representatives” from Western New York.

Casinos had been prohibited in New York for decades until a loophole was found in the state constitution, and lawmakers exploited that loophole to allow Indian casinos in New York state. It began with the Oneidas and their Turning Stone casino east of Syracuse and continued to the well-known pact with the Senecas.

The agreement called for the Senecas to turn over part of their profits to local, or host, municipalities. The state agreed not to open its own casinos. However, never meeting a loophole they didn’t like, Albany found a way to take that money away from places such as Niagara falls that could really use the cash.

Making matters worse, our loopy loophole leaders in Albany (and by Albany, we mean the governor, his three-men-in-a-room cronies and all elected members to the state Senate and Assembly) found their means to evade their pact with the Senecas and opened casinos at race tracks. Their out? The contract discusses slot machines, but not video slot machines. They saw a quick cash grab.

To us, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. A slot machine is a slot machine. By stabbing the Senecas in the back, state lawmakers have slit their wrists. And that’s the problem in Albany. Our representatives are too damn lazy to do real work and instead would rather find a loophole. The Senecas retaliated.

Here’s a solution we’d like to see but know will never happen because no one elected to Albany has the intestinal fortitude to do it: Fix the constitution to allow casino gambling and close other existing loopholes. In the mean time, Albany should honor its contract.

Most problems in New York state can be linked to Albany and its insistence of ducking real work in favor of applying a Duck tape mentality to “solve” things.

The Seneca Niagara Casino is referred to by state leaders as an example of economic development. It’s not; it’s a classic example of greed coupled with laziness. And now the state — and specifically the host communities — are paying for Albany’s ineptness.