By MICHAEL FITZGERALD | Posted: Friday, September 4, 2015 5:00 pm<
Town of Tyre officials, the Seneca County Board of Supervisors and others supporting the Lago Resort and Casino proposal must be unfamiliar with the expression “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
The expression can be traced back to sometime in the 4th century B.C.
If the casino boosters were familiar with it, they might not be so outraged that opponents of the proposal to construct the mega-resort and casino in the small town have accepted monetary help from other gaming interests in the battle.
Why wouldn’t opponents join forces? This should not be a surprise.
Of course, what really has the Town of Tyre and the others so rattled is that when casino opponents received help (and could receive more), the funds leveled the legal playing field enough to make the contest less David-and-Goliath and more Erin Brockovich.
Feisty citizens protecting themselves and their property can be potent adversaries.
If you doubt that, ask Crestwood Midstream of Houston why it has yet to implement its proposal to store 88 million gallons of liquid propane gas in unlined salt caverns on a slope leading to Seneca Lake. For five years its application with the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation has been held in check. Finger Lakes residents and governments are almost unanimous — and very vocal — in a strident opposition that continues to grow.
The Tyre flap over acceptance of fiscal assistance is a classic diversionary tactic. It’s aimed at shifting attention away from the potentially negative impacts of the casino and the state court ruling that seemed to catch the town and casino developer by surprise.
The appellate ruling says Tyre officials need to go back and completely redo their environmental review. The town board is doing just that, if somewhat grudgingly.
But lost in all the uproar is the simple fact that the town rushed the project approval through. The opponents were proven correct — at least if you accept the wisdom of the state appellate court.
The wailing about who funded what and when will not reverse the court’s decision. And who helped fund the successful court challenge is moot — whether it was Native American tribes with gambling ties, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
The stakes — if you will pardon the pun — are high.
It is a casino, after all, with huge potential gambling profits for its owner and the corporation.
The town and some citizens dream of future property tax holidays.
And then there are the people who believe this casino and resort will be some kind of area economic savior, providing perhaps as many as 1,800 jobs when in full operation.
Opponents see a lengthy string of negative impacts on the rural town, most of which should be considered in this second round of environmental reviews.
Environmental review doesn’t mean just counting how many toads will be displaced by asphalt and concrete.
In this case, the review should thoroughly consider the obvious impacts such as funding for increased public services (like police and fire), disruption of the rural community’s lifestyle and fiscal guarantees for the town and Seneca County, in case the casino turns out to be a big loser, not a profit center.
But all the fiery talk about how miffed proponents are about Casino Free Tyre getting “outside” support made me wonder if these same Lago advocates are similarly opposed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United decision.
That decision opened the floodgates for anonymous donations to political campaigns. By most measures the ruling turned electoral politics into a game only played by the wealthy.
At least in this casino controversy, everyone knows who the players are, even if they don’t like it.
Fitzgerald worked for six newspapers as a writer and editor as well as a correspondent for several news services. He recently published his second novel, “Fracking Justice” and lives in Valois and Watkins Glen with his wife. His “Write On” column appears Fridays. He can be contacted at Michael.Fitzgeraldfltcolumnist@ gmail.com.