September 21-27, 2006
Slant : Loose CanonA Traitor and His King
But the historical histrionics failed to quell the catcalls. For despite DiCicco's call to arms, the councilman continues to say that the struggle to stop the casinos is pointless. And that the only consolations he can offer are concessions from the victors, the casino owners.
The best this city can hope for, he says, is employment and open-space goodies through Community Benefit Agreements — which DiCicco will try his darndest to arrange.
Thanks, but no thanks, Frank. Community groups, under the umbrella of NABR (nabrhood.org), aren't ready to accept the Band-Aid you're offering for a cancer you did almost nothing to stop.
Seems to me that DiCicco is less a Paul Revere than a cut-rate Benedict Arnold: a traitor and a hypocrite who hasn't the decency to acknowledge that his real fealty is not to his constituency, but to the King of Casinos, state Sen. Vince Fumo.
Fumo is the master architect of the gaming act. As state coffers swell with gambling proceeds, Fumo's star will surely rise. And hitching a ride will be DiCicco, who could enjoy the thanks of a grateful king for keeping the lid on local opposition.
The state senator and the councilman are legendary political allies, though it's a relationship DiCicco is burying now. When queried at the Convention Center, "Aren't you a friend of Vince Fumo's?" DiCicco ignored the question, as if he just couldn't recognize that name.
The councilman instead deflected blame for the casinos onto the city's state representatives for having signed the Gaming Act, singling out Bill Keller, John Taylor and Marie Lederer. Anyone, it seems, but King Vinnie, who actually helped author the bill.
For months, DiCicco has tamped down opposition, as if any struggle was futile. "Learn to accept that which you cannot change," DiCicco counseled his constituents, as quoted by Hallwatch.org.
What DiCicco wants us to accept is quite literally taxation without representation. Actually it's a double indemnification. It's a tax on property, and on income.
Property values of communities along the river will decline, as the sleaze from the river creeps into our streets. And the income of nearby residents will be most at risk, by way of the temptation to play games that are designed to lighten their wallets.
At no time were citizens of this city consulted about the actual choice of potential locations. We had no say in where, and we'll have no say in how, if King Vinnie has his way — because the Senator wants to strip the city of its right to control our own zoning.
Grasping at credibility, DiCicco has made a recent show of concern by promising to push for a lawsuit to protect the city's right to control casino zoning. But even that, I suspect, is a cynical ruse. The zoning board of adjustment is City Council's lapdog, twisting zoning laws to please councilmen.
The councilman's call for a nonprofit to oversee riverfront development is also being met with contempt, despite DiCicco's assurances that it'll be independent. Yeah, sure, Frank. Independent. Just like you.
This project came alive after it was discovered that the Park Service buried the story of Washington's slaves. More of this story is now emerging. Since these five models went on display in August, historian Ed Lawler has determined that Washington kept his slaves illegally.
As more of our past unfolds, it changes the present and our vision of our future. Which is why I'm particularly enamored of the two designs by Philadelphia firms. Both acknowledge that history is an evolving enterprise, whose discoveries can help us become a more just nation.
In response to popular demand, the five models are being moved to the African American Museum until the end of the month. Don't miss them.