( The Fix Is In: Part 1 described how House Gaming Oversight Chairman Dante Santoni created a monster amendment that rewrote the table games bill; Part 2 describes how some Representatives tried, and failed, to fight the bill on the floor, and were stifled when a slick parliamentary move forced debate and further amendments to end.)
Part 3: Ever closer.
Last night, the House passed the table games bill â its sundry earmarks, provisions to let the casinos offer credit to slots players, extension for Foxwoods to get up and running, and comically low tax rates and license fees still in place â by a vote of 103-92.
The bill is being debated tonight Senate. where it may face a tougher vote.You can watch the debate live, on the Senate's own live video feed. It's fun. Really.
This means, of course, that citizens still have a chance to tell their representatives what they think of the bill.
Here's what I think about it: the Senate should reject the bill.
It's absurdly lopsided, offering massive concessions to the casinos for a tiny benefit to the state: a measley few hundred million dollars of billion in the total budget.
It's been corrupted: the bill is full of un-examined earmarks that should never see the light of day.
And it's wrong: it's a bill which empowers a predatory industry, one which has built its profits not on the casual one-time visitor but overwhelmingly on people who play in ways that hurt them and their families. This bill gives the casinos the tools â like credit â to exploit all the harder and faster.
If the bill cannot be defeated, it should be amended. Credit should be banned. The extension for Foxwoods should be erased. The taxes should be tripled, and the licensing fee should be determined by public auction.
If the General Assembly and Governor Rendell care, as they claim to, about gambling addiction and problem gambling, they should be fighting for, and not against, such measures as monthly or quarterly statements to gamblers, increased funding for addiction treatment services, limited hours of operation, and smoking bans. These are measures the casinos oppose â and the last time I checked, the casinos never ran for office.
Click here to find your state Senator by zip code. (top right of screen).
It's Our Money features an excellent report today by Kirstin Lindermayer on the prevalence of random library closings around the city:
On any given day this year, one or more branches of the 54-branch Free Library of Philadelphia have been closed unexpectedly due to staff shortages.
The daily closings have increased significantly since September, ranging from four to seven branches on most days. Ten branches closed or reduced their hours unexpectedly Dec. 3, for example.
Are we surprised? We are not. (Are we speaking in the first person plural for some reason? We are!)
Not surprised, because we saw this coming long ago: the moment, in fact, Mayor Nutter announced that all eleven libraries would remain open â but didn't give the Library back the money he had already cut anticipating the closings! (A move I dubbed the Nutter Special in a recent column).
That's not the only thing he didn't give back: even while librarians waited in ever-mounting fear for the pink slips that the mayor assured were on their way, he was already gutting libraries of their security staff.
Library guards, if you recall, were transferred to city prisons.
When the mayor did an about face and declared the system open for business, with no closures, those guards were already gone â a problem which, almost a year later, hasn't been rectified.
In addition to shrinking staff numbers, new regulations instituted in February require a library branch to have four workers, including one security guard, in order to open. But the system hasn't had enough guards to meet this requirement for months, partly because 11 guards were transferred to other city duties last December. The library replaced them with contract guards but money for that has run out.
Likewise, lower-level administrators â the people who check out your books for you, etc. â were transferred to 311: which was, of course, the mayor's pet project.
My colleague Doron Taussig presents the situation astutely:
You have to wonder whether it makes sense to stick to a five-day schedule, given these circumstances. And if you want to be a little cynical, you have to wonder whether the city isn't sticking to the schedule simply so it can say the libraries are open five days a week ... even though they're not, really.
Mayor Nutter ought to either restore the funding he took away, or be responsible enough to close some branches, even one branch, if he intends not to pay enough for the current system to work properly.
Or maybe there's another solution, I don't know: I'm not the mayor.
But Nutter is, and he'd better do something.
Caught this little slice of life on the Atlantic this morning, an interview with a prostitute in South Philly. Princess, as she's called, got laid off from her job as an office manager and has been unable to find work since, so, in her words, "I's opening my pussy for business." Her two kids, the story tells us, know what she does for a living, as does her approving father. For what it's worth, I'm sort of conflicted on the issue of prostitution: On the one hand, I'm of a libertarian bent on most social issues; what consenting adults do, no matter the arrangement between them, is none of our business. On the other, the prostitution industry carries with it an almost inherent exploitation of women.
Princess, meanwhile, adamantly defends her chosen profession:
"I cause pleasure. I provide a service that brings people pleasure. I won't service married men or women, men of the cloth. See even hos got rules of morality," she laughs. "But seriously, I can understand why people who been brought up one way think it's immoral. I don't understand why it's illegal. With our government needing money, I wish I could pay taxes."
Curious to know what you Cloggers think.
|It's meta, dude.
Disclaimer: I am woefully, scandalously under-qualified to write anything about TV. Until discovering I could watch shows on the internet (and what a discovery!), I hadn't watched TV since the late 90s. Having said that . . .
Anybody else feel like TV's been getting uncomfortably, overtly racist?
I've got two shows in mind: Curb Your Enthusiasm, and 30 Rock â both of which I watch religiously (although - 30 Rock's hurting these days, don't you think?).
And I like those shows! Man cannot live on blogging about casinos alone, you know?
But this racism thing is on my mind largely because it's actually started to upset the flow of those those delicious, smooth TV brainwaves through the old cranium.
You know what I'm talking about: Larry's household being taken over by a black family, and the storyline revolving partially around his trying to get rid of them; the minstrel-like Leon; the cunnilingus-loving Krazee Eyez Killa. Tracey Jordan's stupidity, Dot Com and Grizz's servility, Angie's bitchiness.
It's not like it's hidden, or something: the shows put it right in our faces â I mean, that's supposed to be the whole joke, right? They're not racist, they're meta. It's meta-racism - the opposite of racism.
But I don't really buy it. And yeah, I'm the asshole who's ruining the joke by talking about it: but of the many things that make Curb and 30 Rock hilarious, I gotta say: black people playing crazy black people doesn't top my list.
On a side note, The Office has managed to be witty, meta -- and yet doesn't, I think, do the same thing to its black characters: Stanley and Darryl are as real and fully-developed characters as the others, it seems to me.
Anyway, that's it. What do people think?
Huffington Post is reporting that General Electric has reached an agreement to buy out Vivendi's stake in NBC Universal. This sets the stage for Comcast to buy a 51% stake in the entertainment behemoth.
Leaving aside arguments against mass media giants leading to propagandized futures filled with uni-minded zombies, I find the news interesting on a Philadelphia front. I would imagine it would create jobs in general as well as make the new Comcast Tower a major hub in the entertainment industry.
What do you think? Would Comcast ownership of NBC Universal be beneficial to Philadelphia?
WHYY's Susan Phillips reports today that State Senator Larry Farnese and State Representative Mike O'Brien are both calling on the state to tell Foxwoods its time is up.
Said Sen. Farnese:
They should shut the door on this and we should move forward. And the city of Philadelphia should move forward on this. I think its a bad idea to try and give them additional time. Because they've never convinced anybody and they've never done anything to prove they can do what they say they're gonna do.
Yesterday, the Inquirer's Jennifer Lin broke the news on a buried clause in a proposed amendment to the amazingly pernicious table games bill that would give Foxwoods yet another extension to get up and running.
The casino actually just got an extension in August, giving it another two years to open. This amendment would have allowed it to take yet another year.
But Foxwoods appears to be in serious financial difficulty. They've been unable to find sufficient funding for their South Philly waterfront location; and, the AP reports today that Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut just announced that they'd be defaulting on a debt payment, prompting Standard and Poor's to lower their credit rating to a 'D.'
Why, then, do there seem to be efforts afoot in Harrisburg to help the faltering casino afloat?
It's Our Money â now edited by former CP news editor Doron Taussig â has been blogging the strike like crazy.
A few hilights:
* Ben Waxman proposes that the transportation workers' give up their right to stirke in exchange for "binding arbitration," â in other words, if an agreement can't be reached, a decision is simply made by an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators.
* Anthony Campisi compares the last SEPTA strike to this one.
* Doron Taussig picks a few of the best how-I-got-to-work stories submitted to the blog.
And much more â so check 'em out.
My friend just sent me this link and I am baffled yet mesmerized. It's one of the most surreal things I have ever seen. Does anyone have any idea what this is about?
It's somewhat NSFW so be careful with the speakers.
|photo by Mark Stehle|
CP Choice Winner Shannon McDonald you know, the Temple student reporter who exposed racist coptalk in a ridealong story has some unexpected and ambitious plans for her NEast Philly newsblog: She wants to give the operation a real-world presence the form of a storefront. Which is why McDonald and co. are applying for a $40,000 Knight Foundation grant (which, Google tells me, does not come with a talking car). Quoth the application:
We intend to rent a small, centrally located office that will serve as an open newsroom for residents and our small staff. We'll choose a resident from each neighborhood to receive basic journalism training, professional support, access to multimedia equipment and a small payment of roughly $15 per post, if they share an update from their neighborhood at least once a week. They will include coverage of monthly civic meetings, but also updates on community events and interviews with other residents. Their coverage will then be curated by our professionally trained editor, whose time will be freer to track trends and write larger, more in-depth pieces when necessary.
So, the much anticipated Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit begins on Monday, October 5 with an 8:00 am lecture by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. The two-day conference, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, is one of the few opportunities you'll have to immerse yourself among forward thinkers on topics ranging from video game design, to social media, to entrepreneurism, to sustainability. You'll hear from creative professionals, technology experts, and business and cultural leaders. You should really register for this conference because a) it's cheap (your can grab a no-frills registration for $75), b) it's right here, so airfare and accommodations are not required, and c) how often do you get to set your mind on fire over a two-day period. You may even walk away with some new perspectives that you can put in play. Invest in yourself. After all, chances are, if you're reading this, you're part of the creative economy. Go forth and mingle.
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