our June 7 Opposition Meeting

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An article in the Sunday Times Union article captured the tone of our June 7th Meeting for Casino Opponents at Arthur’s Market:

“Some 30 residents were willing to bypass Saturday’s glorious sunshine to gather on couches and around tables at the corner meeting place to join him. They shared concerns about the proposed casino and urged each other to speak against it at a City Council meeting Monday, when a resolution to support the project is on the agenda.” Stockade residents rally against Schenectady casino plan (by Claire Hughes, June 8, 2014)

   DSCF3061    About three dozen Casino Opponents  created an atmosphere of urgency and caring, in the comfortable surroundings of the redesigned Arthur’s Market.  The subtitle of the TU article is “Stockade-area residents stress ‘people’ as council vote on gaming site nears” .  And, although “people” were/are our first priority, the Meeting stressed the many ways a casino would harm our people, community, businesses and future — using studies, literature, experience elsewhere and common sense. Many also stressed how the sneaky and cliquey process used by the applicant and by City Hall (Mayor and Council leadership) to push this proposal through tars the project and the Administration, insults the public and democratic principles, and creates suspicion and anger.

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– Donna Lagone [L] and Mohamed Hafez –

Organizers Richard Genest, Mohamed Hafez, Tom Hodgkins and myself (David Giacalone), each told why we felt the need to show that a serious opposition existed.  We then asked those present (our opposition partners) to come up and tell us their most important reasons for opposing the casino.  Many did, including Lydia Eis, Jean Zegger, Vince Riggi, Joe Kelleher, Mary McClain, Donna Lagone, and Gloria Kishton.  I apologize for not recalling, or knowing the names of, others who contributed with their thoughts and emotions.  Mr. Riggi was the only elected official at the event.

   DSCF3058 Grade-schoolers Tianning and Hainuo Hodgkins, plus little Concetta, added energy inside Arthur’s, and made their beliefs known with chalk on the sidewalk, proclaiming “no casino.”

The front page of the Regional section of today’s Sunday Gazette, C1, has a lengthy article with a summary of the casino approval situation in Schenectady, as well as good coverage of yesterday’s Meeting of Opponents, and a description of the Statement of Schenectady Clergy calling for a public hearing (discussed here). “Neighbors rally against Schenectady casino plan” (by Ned Campbell, June 8, 2014; available online only by subscription)  On the lack of a public hearing, the Gazette writes:

 While the Schenectady County Legislature hosted a public hearing on the issue Monday, [Councilman Vince] Riggi criticized the City Council for not setting its own public hearing before the vote on what he considers “the most important issue” since he started attending council meetings 28 years ago.

“If I want to make it illegal to spit on the sidewalk, that requires a public hearing. By law, according to our corporation counsel, this doesn’t require a public hearing. Maybe legally, but morally?” he said to applause.

Vince Riggi (in yellow shirt) listens to opponents of the Schenectady Casino - 07Jun2014

 Two tv news reporters also covered the Meeting. Channel 13, WNYT, has a short, informative piece on the Meeting, with Dan Basile reporting after spending quite a bit of time with us at Arthur’s Market.  Take a look: Protestors in Schenectady speak out against casino proposal.  (WNYT News, June 8, 2014). YNN/TWC’s Madeleine Rivera was also at the Meeting with camera. The Time-Warner News website states “They held a rally Saturday, which several opposers attended.”  There may have been three opposers, but there also were another 30 or more opponents.  See Residents Voice Opposition Toward Schenectady Casino.

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WANT TO HELP STOP THE CASINO? You can demonstrate to City Council and (if needed) the Gaming Facility Siting Board the strength and sense of the casino’s opponents, by attending Monday night’s City Hall Rally (June 9, 6 PM on the entry steps), and the Council Meeting thereafter.  And, by signing our Petition. See “petition update” to learn its status and how to find it.

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checkedboxs Many thanks to all who came to show their support of the No Casino campaign, and to those helped organizing and putting on the Meeting: Richard Genest, our host at Arthur’s Market; Donna Lagone and Jessie Malecki, who did most of the work of circulating the petition in the Stockade; Mohamed Hafez, who physically got the petition to churches and businesses on his side of town, and spurred on the No Casino campaign with his energy and writing skills; and Tom Hodgkins, who made signs and decorations, but also crunched numbers to show us the strength of the opposition in Schenectady County, and brought along his best reasons for wanting to preserve and improve Schenectady, his three great kids.

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Thanks also to Vince Riggi, for his advice, and for having the spunk to resist the pressures at City Hall, and the courage to stand his ground and state his reasons for opposing a casino.

p.s.  Preparing for this meeting kept me from my hobby of photographing Stockade events and its beauty.  So, I missed Friday’s Garden Tour, and I was bouncing around too much during the Meeting yesterday to “focus” on photos.  Nonetheless, here’s a brief Slideshow with images from the event.  Sun and shadows created beauty and photographic challenges.  Please forgive the caffeine-busy-shaky fuzziness of the images.

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