Saratoga Springs shooting itself in foot over casino
No sense in crying over spilled milk, but I question the reasoning of Saratoga city officials in spearheading anti-casino sentiment and grandstanding on an issue without appropriately weighing the negative consequences.
Failure to support a casino in Saratoga at the site of the current racino will have immediate and long-term negative impacts on the region for decades.
If a new casino opens in East Greenbush or at Exit 23 of the Thruway, I fully expect that Saratoga racino revenues will diminish substantially. Currently, much of the racino's business comes from tri-city residents and those out of the immediate area. Do you think that traffic will continue to come north if "real" casino gambling opens south of us?
The resultant negative economic impacts will be considerable, beginning with the potential that Saratoga Gaming's planned expansion at the current site will be delayed or canceled. How likely is that expansion to occur with the potential for a strong competing facility 30 miles down the road?
With a major loss of gaming revenue, how long will Saratoga receive the $2 million to $3 million per year from the state, when that money is based on racino revenues?
Further, the racino revenues have been key to a revitalization of the harness track and the standardbred industry. The harness track not only provides a large number of jobs locally, but is an important element of a larger equine industry that is a critical economic engine in New York state and particularly in Saratoga. I would expect harness racing and the larger industry to suffer with any losses in racino revenue.
Finally, Saratoga Gaming is an element of what draws people to Saratoga -- to eat at its restaurants, shop in its stores, stay in its hotels. Gambling, whether at the thoroughbred track or the racino, is a part of Saratoga's unique appeal. I would also note that the Saratoga Gaming facility has been an excellent neighbor and member of the community, providing good jobs and contributing generously to local charities.
Saratoga County voted for casino gambling. The city of Saratoga's "no" vote should not be seen as a mandate or a consensus. Inevitably, we will be asked to pay higher taxes because of declining sales tax receipts or a shortfall in other revenue, etc., etc. Just remember to consider all of this on Election Day.
Economic health of area critical to farms
The April 17 editorial, "Save Farming by Treating it as an Industry," urges Saratoga County to provide funding to the Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation (HVADC). So do we.
The American Farmland Trust helped found HVADC in 2007 to expand business opportunities for farmers in the Hudson Valley. But this editorial makes a critical mistake by suggesting that Saratoga County should choose between helping farmers make money and protecting working farms from becoming subdivisions or strip malls.
Farms require both a profitable business environment and productive land to thrive. Saratoga County should invest in both by providing funds for HVADC and permanently protecting farmland.
The writer is the New York state director of American Farmland Trust.
Initiative would help people raise incomes
Why are there no stories, articles or letters bemoaning work-ethic inequality, ambition inequality, skill inequality, drive-and-determination inequality?
Why is the assumption always that income inequality is the fault of those earning more? Does anyone ever look at those earning less and ask them what they are doing to better themselves? Are they taking on extra work, showing up early, staying late, taking courses, etc? Or are they barely on time, calling in sick as often as possible, just doing enough to get by?
A survey that I read some years ago listed a significant number of Fortune 500 CEO's who started out working for minimum wage at McDonald's. Did they stay there? No, they went the extra mile, learned, worked hard and bettered themselves.
In case you are wondering about me, I am an outside commission sales representative. In other words, I get up each day with only opportunity -- no guarantee of income, no paid sick time, no paid vacation time -- just the opportunity to go out and work hard, study and practice to get better, and earn every penny that comes in my check.
By the way, I'm doing OK. How about you?
Douglas E. Cohen
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