Casino Opponent Files Complaint With AG’s Public Integrity Bureau (FL Times)

TYRE — Lago Resort & Casino opponent Desiree Dawley has filed a complaint with the Public Integrity Bureau of the state Attorney General’s Office.

Dawley, who founded Casino Free Tyre in 2013 with her husband, James, filed the complaint March 3.

In a March 24 letter to Dawley, the Bureau said it receives “thousands’’ of complaints annually.

“Due to the high volume of complaints, the limits of our resources and the constraints of our jurisdiction, the Bureau cannot act on or otherwise investigate every complaint,’’ it states.

However, the Bureau told Dawley that it will review her correspondence closer to evaluate whether sufficient basis exists for action by the attorney general.

In her complaint, Dawley lists two issues she feels merit investigation, including:

LOBBYING: Dawley claims that the Wilmorite Corp. — sponsor of the proposed $425 million resort and casino on 84 acres of land on Route 414 — lobbied town officials, aided by state lobbying laws that allowed Wilmorite to be exempt from legal disclosure of money spent to influence town and county leaders.

She said Tyre only has about 900 residents, well under the 50,000 threshold for disclosure. She said that was more than likely the reason for “the steamrolled casino push.’’

“This discrimination was against the people who live here, including Amish, Mennonites, Methodists, Tyre Reformed Church members, the majority farmers and rural-minded people,’’ she charged.

She said state laws exempting Wilmorite from legal disclosure of money spent to influence town and county leaders has led to town residents “being taken advantage of and taken on the ride of our lives by the powers who are supposed to protect and work for us, the people.’’

“At every juncture, despite the majority opposed, our town, county, the Gaming Commission board, Commission chairman Mark Gearan and state legislators Brian Kolb and Michael Nozzolio have heard these questions from us,” Dawley said. “Would you want a casino out your front door of your home? I guarantee you they wouldn’t, yet we have no say in the matter. With casinos, the saying ‘the house always wins’ rings true as we speak in Tyre, so how are we ever winners?”

ENVIRONMENT: Dawley said Wilmorite has already constructed two “gigantic’’ retention ponds since Dec. 19, without a license. She told the AG’s office that there is an Article 78 petition against the town and Wilmorite for violations of the State Environmental Quality Review Act process.

The proposed casino is near Amish and Mennonite communities and adjacent to area houses and farms, she noted.

“The casino proposal has caused significant distress to all of the community here,’’ she said. “Many who cannot live near such facilities because of their religious lifestyles are being harmed, let alone homeowners adjacent to this facility, built with the assurance that they resided in the agricultural zone of the town.

“Yet the state Gaming Commission Facility Location Board, having received scores of documents with the proof of cannibalization, religious and community opposition, two lawsuits, attendance of opponents at town and county board meetings and public comments of opposition at a meeting in Ithaca, seem to be ignoring these impacts while favoring the developer.”

“How can this be a legal and fair process?’’ she asked, noting the SEQRA issues, siting requirements and host requirements all exclude the people with only government bodies having a say.

“Undoubtedly, an environmental review will be impossible if the land is completely destroyed, yet our hope is that you uncover the crime and corruption here in Seneca County,’’ she wrote.

Dawley said the removal of thousands of mature trees, removal of truckloads of dirt and destruction of the glacial drumlin on the property already have taken place.

Dawley said that on Feb. 23, after there was an announcement that there may be an investigation by the attorney general’s office, the work stopped.

It could start again any day, she said.

“This is not a fair process. The balance was obviously tipped here,’’ she said.

The Bureau told Dawley they will contact her if they need additional information and asked her to send in any additional relevant information.

Dawley was told the office does not provide legal opinions or represent individuals, suggesting she contact a private attorney if she feels she has an individual claim.

“By filing a complaint with the office, you have not initiated a lawsuit or a proceeding, nor has this office initiated a lawsuit or proceeding on your behalf,’’ the response letter stated.

Wilmorite officials could not be reached for comment.

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