2013-08-30 / Letters

Council ignored voters votes on casino

To the editor:

Just so everyone is clear about what just happened at (the Aug. 21) Scarborough Town Council meeting, the Scarborough Town Council voted to allow casino gambling on the Scarborough Downs property—a stone’s throw from our children’s schools.

By adding casino gambling as an “approved use,” the council just ignored our community’s five democratic votes on gambling referenda and our 2006 Comprehensive Plan. Each time Scarborough voters were asked whether they wanted a casino, Scarborough voters said no with their votes to expanding gambling in Maine (twice on local referenda, thrice on state referenda).

Of course, the council will tell you that a casino is only allowed if we the people of Scarborough vote the “OK” for casino gambling in a new referendum. After all, we’ve already voted five times against it. Who knows, we may vote for it some day. For now, that fact may be true. But it sure does put the cart before the horse, don’t you think?

What the Town Council didn’t tell you— and in fairness, maybe they don’t even know—is that Scarborough Downs and their gambling interests initiated two pieces of legislation (maybe more) at the state level last year through different legislators (not ours, I don’t think). One of the proposed laws bypasses a local referendum. The proposed state legislation didn’t get voted on last year, but it could go through this year.

What this means is that if next year’s state legislature votes to eliminate the requirement for the local town to approve the casino, it will be the state voters, not the taxpayers of Scarborough, that will determine whether the Downs can put a casino on their property. Because of the vote by our council last night, a casino is an allowed use in our town. Our council felt it necessary to add the words: racino, casino, and gambling to our ordinance at the request of Scarborough Downs even though the residents voted no five times.

Think it can’t happen at the state? Our current governor has set the standards for behavior. Think again. These types of votes always happen in the middle of the night, or in the middle of August when no one is paying much attention. Neither the Scarborough Planning Board nor the Long Range Planning Committee had any input into the zoning amendment, even after spending an entire year looking at this new zone. Disrespectful? I believe it is.

I meant to tell the Town Council again about the efforts at the state level to bypass Scarborough voter approval, but I forgot. We had already posted this on our Facebook site. I had hoped they would have looked at our web site and at the proposed state legislation after we presented this information at an earlier meeting this summer. That’s what doing your homework means.

Before it’s too late I urge anyone who is concerned about having a casino in Scarborough to get in touch with our No Again group on Facebook or email noagain@maine.rr.com. The Council can reconsider their amendment at their next meeting, but that’s our last shot. Then it could become a state issue. That’s the game that casino operators present. That’s the game that the Downs has set up. You ready to play? Susan A. Foley Ferguson Scarborough

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