ministers request a public hearing

 Saying they are “appalled as religious and community leaders by what is clearly a ‘rush to judgment’ with minimal community input,” a group of clergy and other community leaders called on the Schenectady City Council yesterday to table the Gaming resolution scheduled for this Monday’s City Council Meeting (June 9), and take no formal action until  Council members “have taken the time for a public forum to receive public input at the city level.” (click for the Statement and list of signatories)

The “Statement on Casino Gambling in Schenectady: Why no Public Hearing?”, which was released on Friday, June 5, 2014, concludes:

“We ask that the Council give careful consideration of the economic, social and human impacts to the community as a whole and provide such a report to the community prior to action on any resolution.”

Many thanks to those who worked on the Ministers’ Statement!

It is, indeed, appalling to have an important issue like bringing a casino to Schenectady decided without a public hearing. It is an insult to democratic principles. Nonetheless, no observer of the Schenectady City Council can realistically expect that a public hearing would in any way change the minds of Council members (much less write a report after considering the public’s input).  In a way, it is refreshingly honest of the Mayor and Council to show how little regard they give to public hearings and opinion.

In addition, a June 5 editorial in the Gazette makes the valid point that the show of local support is diminished by the lack of a public hearing.  The strong-arm tactics of the Mayor and Council President King might just backfire and help convince the Siting Board that support in other locales is more robust than in Schenectady.  Having no public hearing is, as the preachers said, appalling.  However, given the futility of public hearings under the current City Hall Administration, and the possibility that failing to hold a public hearing might hurt the chances of the Schenectady application in the license competition, I’m not going to make too much of a fuss about the process.  It’s the substance of City Hall’s decision on casinos that deserves most of our ire.

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