No Slots in Worcester

Posted by & filed under Action, City Council, Community, Meetings, negotiations.

We are grateful that the issue of the slots parlor was resolved without our community being torn apart in a lengthy referendum process.

Vote No Slots co-chair Ed Moynihan will withdraw the petition requesting the end of negotiations through the City Clerk.

Vote No Slots asks that citizens interested only in the slots proposal not attend tomorrow’s City Council meeting. Tonight’s developments mean the slots parlor will not be a focus of the City Council meeting.

For supporters with lawn signs, Vote No Slots will begin collecting them on Friday, June 7. For those who would like to keep a sign as a memento, please remove from your lawn by Friday; otherwise, the signs will be collected this weekend.

Come to City Council on Tuesday!

Posted by & filed under Action, City Council, Meetings.

You’ve been reading the updates; you’ve been seeing the lack of progress.

With Rush Street refusing to fund the consultants needed to negotiate, and the upscale hotel that was the sweetener off the table, we have one question:

Why are we still having this conversation?

Come to the City Council Meeting this Tuesday, June 4, at 7pm, at City Hall – 3rd Floor.

There are two items about the proposed slots parlor on the agenda:

  • A memo from the city solicitor letting the Council know that on May 22 Rush Street Gaming said they could not find funding for the hotel, and that Rush Street will not authorize the Gaming Commission to pay for Worcester’s consultants (Item 13 B)
  • A request from Ed Moynihan, co-chair of Vote No Slots, that the city stop negotiations with Rush Street Gaming (Item 7q)

Here’s how you can help:

  • Show up and wear red.  We will have plenty of buttons and signs ready for those who attend!
  • Speak on one of the above items in during the Items of Public Interest section at the beginning of the meeting.

Please join us to keep the momentum going!

Request at tonight’s Council

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Councilor O’Brien asking under suspension tonight for:
1)the MGM agreement with Springfield
2)the labor dispute information of Rush Street in other cities
3)the work agreements that Rush Street has with their unions
4) how Rush Street plans to meet their labor harmony provision per the gaming law.
Councilor Lukes further reminded administration that she would like to see the agreements that Rush Street has with other communities.

…and further, Councilor O’Brien asks if it is legal for the community to put a cap on spending for any proposed referendum.

Tonight’s City Council Meeting

Posted by & filed under City Council, Meetings.

Councilor Lukes asked (in item 9d) for a proposed timeline for negotiating the Host Community Agreement and when the election would be held for the referendum.  Councilor Rushton moved to file the item; that means the item would not be discussed further.  Most of the Council, except Lukes, Rivera, and Russell, voted to file — that is, to not have the City Manager give a timeline for when the important dates in negotiation and voting would happen.

This item wasn’t different from what the Council has been asked in the past — but it seems that much of the Council did not want to see any further discussion of slots — no matter whether such a discussion would be valuable or informative to the public.

8:20 -Councilor Lukes: is $2.4 million estimated from Chief Gemme to deal with harmful effects of slots parlor only?

City Manager: Because of increase in number of visitors, there would be certain crimes of opportunity.  The chief specifically indicates that the slots parlor would create crime, and others might look at this as “easy pickings”: theft, burglary, and aggravated assault.

Lukes: But for the slots parlor, we would not need $2.4 million in police activity.  Is that correct?

City Manager: That is correct.

Mayor asks who gave the figure of 2 million visitors a year.  City Manager says it was Rush Gaming.

Palmieri – There won’t be a slots parlor unless there’s a hotel.  Green Island would be a wonderful place [for a hotel], but it doesn’t fit the reality of what is being proposed.

[He is leaving aside, of course, that as of right now there is no proposal for a hotel.  We don't know where it would be, what kind of hotel, how many rooms, what it would look like, or anything else.]

Rushton – I’ve been chairman of Economic Development subcommittee going on my fourth year.  They [Hanover's Opus Investments and Leggett McCall] have actively been looking for a hotel in CitySquare for four years.

City Manager cannot comment on their specific plans or negotiations.  But a hotel was likely desired.

Lukes: What kind of message are we sending to the public and the developer?  We’re questioning our police chief’s report, we don’t want a timeline.  She recommends that the developer try to get a refund on their $400,000.

Join us at City Council Tuesday night!

Posted by & filed under Action, City Council, Community, Meetings.

There are a number of items on the Worcester City Council agenda for Tuesday evening regarding the proposed slots parlor. We’d urge you to join us at the meeting and speak to these items!

Two items were tabled at the last meeting by Councilor O’Brien so Councilor Rivera could address them:

  • 11a: Communication of the City Manager transmitting informational communication relative to a report of the potential crime impact that a Slots Parlor could generate and suggest efforts to consider in advance to mitigate those impacts, per the Request of the City Council.
  • 11b: Communication of the City Manager transmitting informational communication relative to an update of the Slots Parlor Proposal.

On a related note, Councilor Rivera has filed the following:

  • 9b: Request the City Manager arrange with appropriate departments to conduct a targeted enforcement in the Green Island neighborhood as soon as possible.

Councilor Lukes has filed:

  • 9d: Request the City Manager submit a report outlining a proposed time table for a Host Agreement for the proposed slot parlor to meet the Gaming Commission’s deadline of October 4, 2013, assuming that the ballot question for the slots parlor will be held on September 17, 2013 which the date of the preliminary election. 

Any member of the public may speak to any of the above for two minutes under the section of the agenda entitled “Items of Public Interest.”

Come and make your voice heard!

 

City Council – 5/7 Meeting Liveblog

Posted by & filed under City Council, Meetings.

We’ll be covering the slots-related items at the City Council meeting tonight.

Items of Public Interest

7:47: Colin Novick: speaking to item 10c – since the last time the Council came to order, much information has come before you.  Report of Chief of Police, Chamber of Commerce, Commissioner of Public Health – all reports confirm what research clearly shows.  Will undermine city’s hard work.  Read the reports — they are clear.  Dedicate yourselves for what is best for this city.  Have the courage to act.  Worcester is waiting for you to act.

Chris Robarge – item 8q – Nicole Apostola’s Open Meeting Law complaint.  He found all the doors were locked at 8:50 and was only able to enter when someone else left the building.  Would like to ask that procedures be reviewed.  Does not believe it was malicious, but people need to be able to access the building while meetings are going on.

Deb Eckstrom, Community HealthLink - 9.17A – Risks associated with electronic gaming.  Now that we would have this public health risk, there is no place in Worcester to treat gambling addiction.  Can lead to substance abuse.  They have 3700 admissions to detox every year.  Over 60% are City of Worcester residents, 30% Worcester County.  They can only see that need going up if a slots parlor comes to Worcester.  Asks that “menace” not be visited on city.

 Steve Quist – item 10c – quite an in-depth report from police chief.  Sign of opportunity.  Class of firemen and policemen — this shows that this could be a positive effect.  Mitigation could give relief to area under siege.  Chief needs tools to move forward.  Unless the opponents are going to come up with other forms of revenue for the city…  This will lift whole entire area up.

Kathleen Pagano – item 10a – the research is clear on urban slots parlors.  1) This is not economic development.  Shifting citizen spending from one sector to another.  2) Likely a net loss of jobs.  3) Slots are 3-4 times more addictive than any other form of gambling.  4) Robberies increase by 100%, the list goes on and on.  City Council – take a hard look at the data from within and beyond the city.  If slots go to referendum, asks that vote not happen during summer months.

Ed Moynihan – item 9.17a and supplement 1 – 1-2% will become pathological gamblers, 3-4% problem gamblers.  Adds up to $9.7 million in annual criminal costs.  Colllege students – 4% pathological and more problem gamblers.  Substantially more crime on college campuses near gambling venues.

Jo Hart – would like city manager to lay out how the hotel situation (vis-a-vis the slots parlor) happened.  How did they get the idea we wanted it, because they say they do not want it.

[someone whose name I didn't catch] – A lot of people who need jobs in this community.  Hoping they will continue dialog. Need to figure out a way to help reduce crime, slots parlor can pay $2-4 million for this.  He is in support of slots as well as electronic gambling.

8:38 – Rushton – we are about 25% the size of Springfield’s project, 20% of Everett’s.  Seeing upfront payments of $30 million in Everett, $25 million in Springfield.  You’re looking at a $1-4 million range.  Whole host of things dealing with addiction, job training.  From fiscal point of view, benchmark is there.  Has to be significant payments on a yearly basis to make community host agreement work.  Compare it fractionally to Everett and Springfield.  Pittsburgh and Philadelphia cannot give any reports on whether crime has gone up or down.

 Rushton asks whether or not manager has been able to retain an outside consultant.

The manager says they are interviewing prospective firms.  Conflicts in this industry that run deep; need someone who works solely for the city’s best interest.  There are differences in nature of revenues between full casinos and slots parlors.

Rushton wants to see what can be done for local procurement.

City manager says they are ready to go forward to negotiate a development deal.  They have done many of these deals, and they have in-house talent. 

(He mentions land that has been purchased for the hotel.  Unclear which hotel he is talking about.)

Rushton – will we be re-engaging with Mr. Friedman?

City Manager – has no confirmation that there will be a hotel in downtown or particular site.  Work in process between two private parties. 

Rushton – wants CM to ask Messrs Bluhm, Friedman, and Eppinger where they are in negotiations.  For next week’s meeting.

Councilor O’Brien: wants to table items so that Councilor Rivera can ask questions about tthem.

Lukes: Transparency is becoming an issue in this process.  Question about Springfield and Everett host agreements.

CM: all host agreements are on Mass Gaming Commission website.

 8:51 – Councilor Lukes said that when she met with the developers individually, heard that the hotel was the priority and the slots were there to subsidize it.  Surprised at Joint Commission that city wanted it.  Should she believe anything from the developers going forward?  This was a significant part of the project.  All she heard at Joint Committee meeting was casinos, not slots parlors.  Didn’t hear much about hotel except that the city wanted it.  If it’s part of a mitigation, where it’s an afterthought, or part of original package — should get it straightened out before host agreement.

CM — This developer came forward (Carpenter and Rush Street Gaming) proposed slots parlor and hotel.  There is history of conversations in full-service hotel in downtown.  Developers are aware of this.  There is no bait and switch by this administration.  (“The truth, the whole truth, so help me God”)  They proposed slots parlor and hotel.  They have at this juncture very little information about the hotel.

Lukes — I was not accusing the administration of bait-and-switch, but developer.  Friedman wanted to build hotel, went to his friend Bluhm for help.  That is what Friedman told her.

Lukes — we lost 250 rooms with Crowne Plaza, this full-service will only give us 150 rooms.

Palmieri – We need something similar to what the Gaming Commission will approve.  “I don’t think this moves forward with just a slots parlor.”  (That is, no hotel)

9:14 – Councilor Lukes asks what has been done to date, and what needs to be done, on the Wyman-Gordon site, and which use is appropriate based on the current level of site cleanup.

Councilor Lukes will also ask at the next City Council meeting (May 14) whether the vote on the slots parlor can happen at the same time as the preliminary election.

So — the police chief’s report (supplemental 1) is held for Councilor Rivera to comment next week.  Everything else (items 10a-h) goes to the administration for report.

Slots-related items on tomorrow’s City Council agenda

Posted by & filed under City Council, Meetings.

Tomorrow night’s City Council meeting agenda is heavy on slots-related items.

There are three reports being requested of the City Manager, more than twenty reports (or other pieces of information) from Rush Street Gaming, and the City Manager will report on how the negotiations with Rush Street Gaming may go.

As a member of the public, you have the right to speak for up to two minutes about any item(s) appearing on the agenda.

You can approach the podium when “Items of Public Interest” are announced by the meeting chair (usually near the beginning of the meeting).  While you do not need to let anyone know that you will speak beforehand, you can let the Mayor’s or City Clerk’s Office know before the meeting if you prefer.  It helps to know the number(s) of the item(s) you will be speaking about as well.

We encourage you to come out and speak about these items!

The agenda items related to slots are as follows:

The City Manager’s memo about the projected negotiations with Rush Street Gaming, which we already posted.  (Item 9.32B)
The Joint Committee (in Item 10A) requests the CM request the following reports from Rush Street Gaming:
a) a breakdown of the proposed Kelley Square traffic improvements
b) a formal report concerning the developer’s report of increased property values in the three communities in which their other gaming facilities are located
c) details of the commitment of the developer to partner with local businesses to incorporate them into the slots facility rewards program
d) a copy of all environmental studies performed at the site on behalf of the proposed developer
e) an explanation of the alleged reports of fines imposed on this slots developer at their other three gaming facilities
f) a proposal of potential partnerships with local business and a definition of that level of participation
g) a formal report concerning the labor issues that have arisen at the developer’s Pittsburgh gaming facility
h) a detailed report of the developer’s claims of spin-off development associated with their other three gaming facilities
i) a list of contacts that the City Manager may speak with in the communities in which the slots developer has facilities to confirm the relationship the developer has in those communities
j) any and all studies associated with the mediation of gambling addiction made in connection with the proposed developer’s other gaming facilities
k) a detailed report of the pay and benefits packages provided by the slot developer at their other three gaming facilities including and not limited to health insurance and 401K programs, all broken down by earnings as follows: under $20, 000 per year, $20,000 through $30,000, $30,000 through $40,000, $40,000 through $50,000 and greater than $50,000
l) a copy of the Philadelphia labor agreement that speaks to local hiring guarantees/preferences
m) a copy of the local host agreements entered into by this developer with the three other communities in which their gaming facilities are located
n) a statement by the proposed developer committing to the request for locating a branch of a local bank into their proposed Madison Street development
o) additional details concerning any jobs fair the developer might conduct when the time comes to hire at their proposed Worcester slots facility
p) a report comparing the public safety in the immediate environs of the three other gaming facilities operated by the proposed developer before their facility opened and then subsequent to the opening
q) a chart reporting the length of service for employees at all three gaming facilities operated by the proposed developer
r) a report of the ancillary benefits to the city of Worcester for the five years subsequent to the opening of the Madison Street facility
s) a breakdown of the minority recruitment efforts made and realized at the other three gaming facilities operated by the proposed developer
t) a report on any mitigation work that the developer might consider with reference to longstanding Green Island flooding
u) a statement from the proposed developer whether or not they would consider entering into a long-term bonding plan for the proposed Worcester facility that guards against financial difficulties to the community in the event the gaming facility does not succeed
v) a statement from the proposed developer around the issues of responsible gambling.
The Joint Committee asks the City Manager report to City Council how the proposed gaming development fits with the city’s present economic development plans. (Item 10B)
The Joint Committee asks the City Manager report to City Council how slot parlors have impacted other communities in urban areas and this report can serve as a benchmark to make sure when developing the community agreement as to whether or not the mitigations will get the work done. (Item 10C)
Councilor Lukes requests the City Manager report on whether the slots parlor host agreement is to include a full service hotel as part of the mitigation proposal or whether the hotel is a stand alone project that will be subsidized by the slots parlor. (Item 11e)