Casinos' bad news
"Rolling the dice on slots," last Sunday, was compelling for what it didn't include:
It did not mention the increase in crime (drunken driving; home and car break-ins; prostitution; assault) that Fishtown, the proposed site of the SugarHouse Casino, and Pennsport (Foxwoods Casino) will experience. Who will pay for the increased need for policing their streets?
It did not mention PennDot's Girard Avenue Interchange project. Construction is to begin in 2009 and, optimistically, is projected to last five years, ending in 2014, though PennDot officials previously said construction would last six to eight years - which would put the project into 2017.
Since the state did not plan ahead with the highway infrastructure, the Center City traffic grid will have to accommodate an additional 50,000 casino visitors per day (for Foxwoods and SugarHouse) while PennDot reconstructs the interchange.
Anyone who commutes via Routes 76, 676 or 95 knows that the current traffic situation - without two casinos and a major highway construction project - already is a nightmare.
The article did not mention that next summer, Philadelphia properties will be reassessed on market value. This will result in significantly higher taxes for residents of gentrifying neighborhoods.
In other words, residents of Fishtown and Pennsport, who will "host" the casinos, will pay much more in property taxes while simultaneously absorbing the negative effects of living next to a casino.
Last, no matter if casinos are built or the city opts to create a world-class waterfront with mixed-use development (green space, condos, restaurants, shopping) there will still be new construction work, permanent jobs and economic development along the waterfront. The article assumed that without casinos, the waterfront would not be developed.
Saving their hides
Those 11 Republicans, including Reps. Jim Gerlach and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, gave President Bush a blunt assessment of the rising unrest in their districts over Iraq, but continue to support this war and Bush's surge.
While Republicans continue to attack Democrats for not supporting our troops, they dance around the issue of this war and the overwhelming public concern to end it and bring our troops home.
These 11 Republicans were motivated primarily by their fear of not being reelected next year. They told Bush that if they did not see improvements by September, they could no longer support the surge.
I hope that the taxpayers in their respective districts remember that these GOP congressmen were not as concerned about our dying, maimed and mutilated troops as they were with saving their political careers.
Wilma G. Casella
Isn't Bush the 'czar'?
It's odd that the Bush administration has nominated Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute to be the "war czar" for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war czar is supposed to provide leadership. But isn't this the responsibility of the president, who likes to refer to himself as the commander in chief?
The president may be implicitly acknowledging his own inability to lead effectively, but a more serious question is why does Bush need a war czar after deciding on his surge strategy? Is this administration incapable of implementing its own plans effectively?
Good day to vote
I happened to serve as a judge of elections for one of the polling places in Philadelphia. All day, people came and voted. There was an air of excitement. People did not mind waiting patiently to cast their vote. Since the ballot was quite lengthy, it took more time to vote.
We even had citizens voting who had not voted in years. It was a gorgeous spring day and I for one felt very hopeful. Citizens in Philadelphia want change, and the only way to get it is to exercise the right to vote. It looked as if a lot of Philadelphians thought as I did.
Patricia N. Peterson
Is it just me, or is there something vaguely creepy about leasing our toll roads to private companies? I understand why Gov. Rendell wants to do it (though God forbid any of that money should go to SEPTA), but it's still like something out of the movie
, which portrayed a not-too-distant future where everything is privatized. What's next? The ocean? Parks? Air? The police?
Charles L. Birkhead