through September all added Casino revenue is still from Slots

The numbers are in for September 2018, and the scary “slotsification” process continues:

SlotsGrandmaFor the eight months since the first anniversary of Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor, all of the increased gambling revenue over the same 8 months of operation in 2017 has been produced by Slots/ETG revenues. Slots/ETG gambling is up significantly, while both Table Game and Poker Table revenues are down.

Here are the totals for February through September 2017 and February through September 2018 (compiled using figures from the Rivers Casino Weekly Website Report):

RiversRevenues-8monthCompare

YourAngryGrandma Slots are the most addictive form of casino gambling, and draw many of the most vulnerable members of our community. If the County and City of Schenectady are receiving more gaming tax revenues from the State because of the “improved” revenues during its second year of operation, those added receipts are coming from Slots Players alone. As we like to say around here, Grandma and Aunt Tillie are paying for your (measely) property tax reductions related to Rivers Casino.

A few thoughts on what Rivers is doing for Schenectady:

  1. Non-Gambling Revenues. Rivers Casino is attracting large crowds for many events, with the Mohawk Harbor Marina and other amenities, and the Landing Hotel. But, those customers are earning money for Rivers Casino and Mohawk Harbor’s owners and tenants that is taxed locally — sales, food and drink, room occupancy, etc. — at a far lower level than gambling revenue. All the publicity and boosterism Rivers Casino and Mohawk Harbor garner from our business and development “leaders”, and our Convention and Tourism Bureau, is profiting Rush Street Gaming, Galesi Group, and their associated businesses, far more than local property tax payers.
  2. Substitution/Cannibalization Effect.Non-gambling revenues at Mohawk Harbor are clearly taking dollars from other local businesses in the entertainment and leisure markets, surely leading to job reductions and business closing. [see a Casinos are Good for Business Poster used in Ontario, Canada]
  3. FossGaz-PGStop Problem Gambling Prevention. The County and City are still not acting to help reduce the incidence of Problem Gambling through Education that prevents gambling disorders by helping to make gambling a safe, occasional leisure activity, not an obsession or addiction. If Rivers Casino and soon Sports Betting are here to stay, we must educate our youth, and help adults learn to recognize the signs of problem gambling in themselves, their friends and loved ones, their employees, and co-workers. [More information on Prevention, here.]
  4. More Information Needed. When will our local media companies start demanding numbers from the County and City on things such as the effects on other local businesses; the number of Schenectady residents getting jobs at Rivers Casino, and the kinds of jobs; and extra expenses paid for by City and County and State taxpayers that should be paid for by Rivers Casino and the Galesi Group.

 

 

Photo-Rally for Lady Liberty

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  • The two dozen photos below were taken Friday evening, September 28, 2018, at Liberty Park [a/k/a Gateway Plaza], when a small, protest “photo rally” was held, centered on a Silhouette of the Statue of Liberty. The Silhouette Lady was a poor, two-dimensional stand-in for our missing replica Statue of Lady Liberty. The Statue had been standing in Liberty Park since 1950, and was removed for its protection during construction, in August 2017, due to the re-design of Liberty Park and its expansion into Gateway Plaza.
  • The Final Report of the City of Schenectady Gateway Plaza Implementation Plan called for the return of Lady Liberty after the completion of construction, which was accomplished in Spring of 2018. (Lady Liberty was even shown in the Plan’s cover sketch.) For a full discussion, see https://tinyurl.com/TimelessLiberty .
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kids with views and dry shoes

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Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation and Schenectady County cancelled their event “Groovin’@Gateway” [page removed by DSIC], with no public statement that it was being cancelled. Nevertheless, a dozen lovers of Lady Liberty and Her Park gathered at Liberty Park around 6 P.M. on Friday, September 28, 2018. DSIC’s Executive Director Jim Salengo told me by phone late Wednesday morning they had, despite all of the hard surfaces at the Park/Plaza for vendors and the public, already decided to cancel the event because he feared the grass/lawns/field would be too soggy. (DSIC has been cutting the grass at the new Plaza, according to Mr. Salengo.) It did rain on Thursday and for much of Friday morning, but the forecasted sun did a great job drying out all the grassy areas.  Jim also told me he had not heard I was planning a Rally for Lady Liberty until I mentioned it during that phone conversation.

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. . above: [L] Silhouette Statue of Liberty with sign bearing the theme of the Photo-Rally (click on the image for a larger version); [R] Silhouette standing at the center of the Park’s still-empty Modern Sculpture fixture, which was the approximate location of Schenectady’s replica Statue of Liberty. The Silhouette is only 76″ tall, and has no pedestal. The replica Statue is 100″ high, and had a pedestal 7′ tall.

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GP-Rendering-LibertyDetailabove: Silhouette Lady stand at the location designated by the Final Gateway Plaza Implementation Plan for the return of Lady Liberty, along State Street, near the CDTA bus shelter. To the right is a detail from a Final Plan rendering depicting Lady Liberty returned at that location.

. . share this post with a shorter URL: https://tinyurl.com/LLPhotoRally

. . . For a larger version of an image in the Slideshow below, pause on the photo, right-click, and choose View Image in a New Tab. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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As you can see from the Slideshow, it was a lovely early-autumn evening at Liberty Park, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood, including the friendly patrolman. As happens whenever I speak with strangers in Liberty/Gateway Park, there was enthusiastic support for our position demanding the return of Lady Liberty. More than once I heard, “but there’s so much room here for the statue.” My handout photo of Lady Liberty in her Park in September 2016 was much in demand at the bus stop:

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BTW: Happily, the largest and grandest tree survived the redesign of Liberty Park.

Had the Groovin’@Gateway event been held Friday evening, we would have celebrated the new public space, and done some gentle advocacy on behalf of Lady Liberty. Whether Plaza patrons and revelers were warmed with craft brews or not, I have no doubt “conversions” to our cause would have come readily, AND no one would have come up with a reasonable excuse for not returning Lady Liberty to her Home.

Frankly, because designer Mary Wallinger no longer wants the Statue in “her” Plaza; or because the Mayor and Chairman Gillen want to please Mary; are not good enough reasons. Common sense, public support, historic preservation principles, and the integrity of the public planning process and the City Council review and approval process (Resolution No. 2013-206), all cry out for the return of the replica Statue of Liberty to her home of 67 years.

mayorgarymccarthy2013bw In a Time Union article last March: Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy told reporter Paul Nelson:  “I’m sure whatever decision I make that Mr. Giacalone will be opposed to it.” The article also stated that the Mayor “will soon make his final decision public.” Six and a half months later, Mayor McCarthy is still saying he has no statement on Lady Liberty’s fate, but “has something in the works.” Of course, with no engineering or other safety issue, and no financial crisis to blame, there should be no decision to make: Execute the Plan, don’t kill it.

Mr. Mayor, you can make Mr. Giacalone and many others very happy by simply saying, “Of course, we will fulfill the Implementation Plan and return the Statue to Liberty Park, her home.” What he should “have in the works” is some funding for the Veterans Memorial at Steinmetz Park, and an apology to the good people of Goose Hill for raising their hopes that a City-wide treasure would be moving to their Park.

IMG_8575-001 The cardboard Silhouette Statue was a pale representation of our real Lady Liberty Friday evening, but seeing it at what the Plan called the “Central Sculpture and Seating” area, on or very close to the Statue’s original location, makes it clear to me that the Lady would look and feel fine at that location.  Last March, we noted at this website:

  1. Every public comment about the Liberty statue was positive for keeping her at the Plaza (App. G, at 94, 110 of the Final Report), with notable support to make Her more prominent, keeping Lady Liberty at her original location in the renovated “urban plaza” area.

Mary Wallinger or DSIC staff should have noticed that for much of the day, there are CDTA buses blocking the view of the spot next to the Bus Shelter from State Street. So, putting Lady Liberty on the still empty sculpture fixture, which should feel like Home, should be fully considered, to give Her the prominence she deserve. The replica is 100″ tall (Lawrence the Indian is 66″) and could command that space, even on a pedestal shorter than her original 7-foot pedestal.

  • A portion of the funds saved not buying another “modern sculpture” piece (the three rusted girders apparently cost $20,000) could surely be used for the Steinmetz Park Veterans Memorial.

Finally, as has been said before at this site:

The excuse that Lady Liberty is not contemporary enough for that Plaza is simply silly. Designer Wallinger embraced keeping the Statue in the new Park/Plaza throughout the design process. There is no symbol that better fulfills the Implementation Plan’s goal of “celebrating our past, present, and future.” Lady Liberty is Timeless.

p.s. Does anybody think the youngest and eldest members of the Schenectady community want Lady Liberty exiled for her failure to ooze the contemporary spirit? “Contemporary” often means “temporary,” but — as we like to say — in America Liberty is timeless.

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. . above and below “contemporary enough Plaza fixtures” . . 

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Rivers Casino Brawl (2018 version)

. . let’s hope grandma left early . . YourAngryGrandmaBW

. . It’s Springtime at Mohawk Harbor and Rivers Casino, and once again, a young gang’s fancy turns to fisticuffs:

Yesterday afternoon online (May 1, 2018), but NOT in print today or the past three days, the Gazette reported “Five arrested after Schenectady casino brawl” (by Andrew Beam).

Five people were arrested after a fight involving approximately 30 people at Rivers Casino & Resort on Sunday.

The fight began at around 3 a.m. and stemmed from an argument between two people, according to Sgt. Jeffrey McCutcheon. However, McCutcheon said it was unclear why the fight began because most of the the people charged did not cooperate with police.

crimescene-casino . . Mutual aid was requested by police officers assigned to the casino, with members of the Rotterdam Police Department, Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office, Scotia Police Department and the Glenville Police Department responding for backup. McCutcheon said officers from those agencies were not needed to make the arrests.

Today, the online edition has more details.

Malcolm Mathias faces a felony second-degree assault charge, accused of placing city officer Charles Stevens in a head lock. Stevens suffered a cut to the left side of his head, according to court documents. . .

“The defendant’s actions resulted in officers getting surrounded by 20 or more persons, getting attacked by other individuals and creating public alarm,” state the charges against both men.

As we learn more about the incident and about media coverage, this posting will be updated.

update (Wed. night, May 2, 2018): The brief article “5 charged at Rivers casino fight” (by Steve Hughes, Albany Times Union) was posted online this afternoon. TU article states that:

Video reportedly shot at the casino and posted on social media during the incident shows a large group of people pushing and shoving as casino security attempts to separate several people. A second video show police officers surrounded by people arguing and appearing to arrest at least two people.

There is no link to the video, but maybe Paul Nelson will locate it when he gets back to work on his Schenectady crime beat.

update (July 25, 2018): See “Police: Table game dispute at Rivers Casino leads to assault: The victim required treatment for swelling, bleeding and needed sutures to his eye, allegations read” (Schenectady Gazette, by Steven Cook, July 24, 2018).

. . Michael Kearsing, 27, of Fisler Avenue, Colonie, intentionally punched a 65-year-old man “several times in the face following a dispute at a table game,” the allegations signed by the victim read.

 

a new pylon design due soon

CasinoPylon-Jan2016-001 According to an article in the Albany Times Union by Paul Nelson, “Casino sign plan to be submitted to city in ’16” (Dec. 13, 2015), a new design for the pylon sign will soon be unveiled:

As it stands now, the pylon sign is generally framed on two sides by a contiguous white vertical and horizontal band and does not feature any glass, as was previously discussed. It’s unclear if that white band will be lit.

 

The rendition to the right was included with the TU article, and was apparently provided by Rush Street Gaming design consultant Mike Levin.

The article also noted:

Levin said the Planning Commission already approved the height of the sign, which complies with city code, and that will not change.

Stockade resident David Giacalone, who has spoken out against the casino project, said a relatively inexpensive computer-generated visual impact analysis by an independent organization would help allay anxieties some people have about the brightness of the pylon sign on nearby residential neighborhoods.

For much more on the pylon, see our Pylon Sign Directory

 

a tunnel cover-up at ALCO

controversial "utility tunnel" discovered at ALCO site in Schenectady

photo taken Aug. 8, 2014 at the ALCO plant by DEC remediation engineer John Strang, PE

 On Monday, October 20, 2014, I received a message through this website, asking me to investigate a rumor that the Applicant/Developer of the proposed Schenectady casino at the Old ALCO Plant site had discovered tunnels under the foundation of a building at the proposed casino location, and had asked the local media not to report on the discovery of the tunnels.  My subsequent investigation verified those two allegations, along with the fact that the Applicant never disclosed the existence of the tunnels to Metroplex, the Lead Agency in its SEQRA environmental review process, although they were discovered prior to the approval in August of the Draft Enviromenntal Impact Statement, and prior to the public comment period.

    Our attempt to delay the final approval of the environmental review by Metroplex at its October 22 board meeting was unsuccessful, with no public mention of tunnels, and with Metroplex chairman Ray Gillen insisting to me that there were no tunnels. Click here for our Memorandum to Metroplex about the ALCO tunnels, Oct. 22, 2014.

Last Monday (Oct. 27, 2014), on behalf of the Stop the Schenectady Casino group, Mohamed Hafez and I sent a Comment to the Gaming Facility Location Board setting out the results of my investigation, and stating the belief that the Undisclosed Tunnels Issue draws the integrity of the SEQRA review process into question, along with the credibility of the Applicant, and its appropriate regard for the importance of historic and archeological artifacts and their documentation.  These are further reasons, we argued, for the Location Board to reject the Schenectady casino Application.

The Comment to the Location Board contains full details.  Here are a few important points:

  • ALCOtunnel2 On October 20, I received an email reply from a Gazette reporter saying, “Yes there are tunnels and they are working to get rid of them. I was asked not to report on that fact.” [emphasis added] In a subsequent reply, she also wrote, “I did discuss it with my editors but we’re kind of limited if the developer won’t let us report on it or take photos.” Her attempt two days later to “clarify” away these statements were wholly unpersuasive.

Continue reading

a few things the Gazette forgot to mention

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very nice press, if you can get it

    Rush Street Gaming [RSG] got a lot of free public relations puffery on the front page of yesterday’s Sunday Gazette. See “Schenectady Casino Group Praised“, August 3, 2014, by Haley Viccaro; subscription required to view online) Haley’s article is filled with quotes from local development and business officials and Rush Street Gaming’s CEO Greg Carlin, without a word from their detractors, such as Casino-Free Philadelphia, or the Worchester MA citizens group  that was successful in keeping RSG out of their city, nor even from the Stop the Schenectady Casino group.  Perhaps the article is the Gazette‘s penance and mea culpa to Casino proponents for an earlier article titled “Officials in other cities warn of pitfalls, failed promises by Rush Street“? (June 8, 2014, by Bethany Bump).

Rather than let all the lily-gilding go unanswered, I left a lengthy, red-eye Comment at the Gazette website around 1 A.M. Sunday, which I am reproducing here, minus typos, plus minor supplementation and citations.

comments

dagiacalone says (August 3, 2014, 150 a.m.) …

It sounds as if the Gazette has only talked to casino boosters — Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development staffers, and the like — who sound like Schenectady’s development professionals, with not a bad word to be said about any development. What do casino opponents and advocates for the poor say?
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Here are a few things your readers should know about SugarHouse in Philadelphia.

(1) Rush Street Gaming [RSG] had scaled down its casino in Philadelphia in response to community concerns about its size, but only four years after opening, it has broken ground on an “addition” that is much larger (at 152,000 sq ft.) than the original casino’s 108,000 sq. ft., with its CEO saying “we’ve waited a long time to do this.” (see philly.com article)
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(2) RSG’s CEO Carlin brags that the folks at SugarHouse encourage their customers to stay at surrounding hotels. Of course it does: SugarHouse has no hotel of its own and must help customers find suitable lodging nearby.
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(3)  As to crime near SugarHouse, Alan Greenberger, Philadephia’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, is quoted saying “The immediate area actually got safer now that the casino is here.” and the article states that “Rush has disputed claims the casino would negatively impact the city with an increase in crime.” RSG forgets to mention (as does the Gazette) that Philadelphia PD has created a 14-man unit that solely patrols a one-half mile radius from the casino (which does not include the rear of the casino, because it is on a river). A patrol that size would cost over $1 million annually in total compensation in Schenectady. The special casino unit in Philadelphia surely accounts for all or most of any drop in crime.  Unfortunately, however, there has been “displacement” and the area just past that half-mile radius (analogous to our Stockade neighborhood and Union College’s College Park area) has seen very large increases in vehicle theft and vehicle break-ins.

For discussion of the recent study of crime near SugarHouse since its opening in 2010, which describes the dedicated police patrol and crime displacement to close neighborhoods, see our posting “did crime go up around the SugarHouse casino?”.
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That study also says that ““Violent street felonies increased in the target area compared with the control area.” The authors of the report say the increase was not significant, but it clearly undermines any claim that the area “got safer”. [Id.]
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(4) At SugarHouse, RSG has specifically targeted young gamblers by creating a less-complicated form of craps, called “Props & Hops.” [see Sugarhouse Develops a New, Simplified Craps Game For Younger Players“, CBS6, May 2, 1014; SugarHouse Props & Hops Brochure] It has also recently added a large number of poker tables. They plan to have 12 poker tables in Schenectady, at a casino only a block from a major undergraduate Union College dorm, and a few blocks from Union’s campus of poker fanatics. We can surely expect a lot of promotions aimed at Union students who are 21 years old or about to be.
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Finally (for now), RSG claims in its Application that there will be no increase in the prevalence of problem gambling in Schenectady, because our residents can already go to Racino in Saratoga, or to Foxwoods in Connecticut, or Atlantic City. Apparently, no one on the Applicant’s team has read the many reports showing that gamblers go to casinos a lot more often when there is one conveniently nearby. In fact, studies show that the number of problem gamblers doubles in the area within ten miles of a new casino.  [See, e.g.,  The Impacts of Gambling on Local Citizens ; 2)”Why Casinos Matter: Thirty-One Evidence-Based Propositions from the Health and Social Sciences” (A Report from the Council on Casinos, Institute for American Values, 2013), especially at 18.]
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What other claims has Rush Street Gaming been making that have no basis in fact?
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Find more about Schenectady’s casino at stoptheschenectadycasino.com [now known as Snowmen at the Gates.

I know Haley Vicarro is a good investigative reporter.  Let’s hope her bosses let her do a sequel to Sunday’s puff-piece on Rush Street Gaming that doesn’t sound like it was penned by RSG’s public relations department.

follow-up (Aug. 14, 2014): How do customers of one of RSG’s urban casinos feel about their experiences? Take a look at Google Customer Reviews of SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia (see Google’s column on the right side of the page).

tree reprieve: repaving delayed until 2011

There have been rumors the past couple of weeks that the re-paving of Washington Avenue would be delayed until next year —  for reasons not specified, but causing much speculation.   Gloria Kishton (the Chair of the Schenectady Heritage Foundation and a member of the Stockade Association Board) has been acting as a liaison with the City of Schenectady concerning the repaving.   Today, Gloria sent an email to Washington Avenue owners and residents, which stated in part:

“We have confirmation that the City is not paving Washington Ave. this season, but does intend to do the project next year (2011). This information is from Carl Olsen, Commissioner of General Services, who oversees paving projects for the City.

“Although disappointing, postponement affords more time for planning which should result in a better project. . . .

” . . .  What’s next: We will be setting up a meeting with the City for the purpose of starting a dialogue about the project. We are optimistic that this will lead to an exchange of ideas and solutions that will address the issues you all raised at the April 18 neighbor meeting, while also taking into account the needs of the City.”

Gloria also informed us that an arborist who took an informal look at the Washington Avenue trees concluded that many of them would not withstand the root loss that would result if the City were to dig up the road bed, curbs, & existing sidewalks and medians.  Gloria suggests Googling sidewalk and trees to find out more about the problem of tree roots impacting sidewalks.  For example, see this  L.A. case study.

The editor of this weblog recommends that you also take a look at the web materials and brochure from the City of New York ‘s Trees & Sidewalks Program, which was established to help “homeowners repair sidewalks damaged by curbside trees while minimizing the impact of the sidewalk repair to the tree.”

update (June 18, 2010):  See our post, “No. Ferry St. lessons said to cause repaving delays,” about today’s Schenectady Gazette article  “Sidewalk talks delay paving of Washington Avenue in Schenectady” [must subscribe, register for access to article], by Kathleen Moore.