Sunday, October 28, 2007

We need to send a resounding "NO" to the tribal leaders.

Letter to the Editor in The Mississippi Press.

As Nov. 6 quickly approaches and the vote in the non-binding referendum on the Choctaw casino in Jackson County, it has become abundantly clear just how low the Choctaws will stoop in their media campaign to con the citizens into voting for the casino.

I have noticed that in the latest commercials that have aired that they show areas of "hurricane" devastation in the county that their casino would help rebuild. Apparently, whoever shot the commercial for the tribe did not do any research on some of the locations that were used. The one location that really stuck out was the images of Belair shopping center in Pascagoula. The commercial showed boarded up and heavily damaged buildings, implying that Katrina did the damage and that the economic impact of the Choctaw casino would rebuild it.

I believe the record needs to be set straight on this misrepresentation. Belair shopping center has been an eyesore for Pascagoula for close to 20 years. The owner has defied the city on every attempt to clean up or tear down the buildings.

Another point I would like to bring up is that the Choctaws' claim that their casino would put $7 million a year in the county coffers from now on. They have yet to explain just exactly how that is true. They are exempt from paying taxes and they cannot pay impact fees because those have already been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as being unconstitutional. Plus there is nothing that says the Choctaws have to continue paying anything to Jackson County if they choose not to.

The Choctaws also claim that the casino would bring 3,000 new jobs to the county. While there may be that many jobs brought in, just exactly how many of those jobs will be in mid and upper level management? If they are like most of the Indian casinos in the country, those positions will go to only members of the tribe.

I suggest that if the Choctaws really want to make their case for a casino in Jackson County that they be totally truthful. If the residents of Jackson County really want casino gambling here, then let us vote on allowing any casino to operate and therefore have a real benefit from them being in the community. Otherwise we need to send a resounding "NO" to the tribal leaders.

Bill Waggoner

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