Moscow on the Hudson: New York’s Corrupt Politics and Casino Referendum

I am proud to be an American. But not to be a New Yorker.

UnknownI’ve written about the slime of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (still in office, despite further smudges). That’s just the beginning of New York political corruption. It’s gotten so malodorous that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has appointed a blue-ribbon “Moreland Commission” to tackle it. That looks like basically a useless farce.

New York is also – perhaps not unrelated – the least democratic state in the union (in terms of closed political processes, restrictive ballot access, etc).

The latest travesty is a referendum this November to authorize seven new casinos. Cuomo wants this, for the potential tax revenues.

images-2I hate casinos. Once, when my daughter was little, I showed her one, saying, “See all these glitzy lights, the fancy decoration, all this complicated equipment? Imagine the cost – building it, heating it, the electric bill. And paying all the people working. Plus the owner makes a profit too. Where do you suppose all that money comes from?” She got the point.

images-3Casinos prey upon suckers, and especially the less affluent. This is not the kind of “economic development” we need. But, on the other hand, my libertarian instincts would allow casinos, if people enjoy them. Also, casinos in New York currently can be operated only by Indian tribes. (Footnote: because they’re notionally “sovereign.” I’ve never understood this. Yes, we ripped them off, long ago. But they’re not independent nations, not outside American law; why are they exempt from some laws?) And the State itself, with its off-track betting operation and lottery, shares with Indians the monopolization of gambling. I believe in free markets, not monopolies, another reason to open up the gambling business to more competition.

But then the State pulled a fast one. As noted, Gov. Cuomo wants this referendum passed. It looked iffy. So he got the State Elections Board to change the ballot wording. Unknown-1Now, instead of simply authorizing casinos, it says it’s for “promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes” (with of course no mention of downsides). A blatant pitch for a “yes” vote right on the ballot itself. This biased wording makes the outcome almost certain.

Moreover, the smarmy language change was put through in a secretive and clearly illegal manner. Some guy brought a lawsuit, but it was thrown out on a technicality – he filed it late – never mind that the Elections Board itself had been late in making the change public!

imagesRule of law and democracy go hand-in-hand. Government must conduct elections in a lawful, open, and unbiased manner. Government breaking the law and manipulating elections to get the desired outcome is absolutely intolerable in a democratic society. This is not America, it’s Putin’s Russia.

New Yorkers must vote “NO.”Unknown


9 Responses to “Moscow on the Hudson: New York’s Corrupt Politics and Casino Referendum”

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