October 21, 2008

Casino Revenues

Buffalo News writer Tom Prohaska wrote what I'm sure he thinks is a comprehensive story this weekend about the Niagara county's share of casino revenue. In the story, Prohaska details the county's plan to create a formal policy on how to spend the $873,000 it received earlier this month from slot revenues at the Seneca Niagara Casino.

Prohaska takes a very sarcastic tone on the county's previous allocation of $103,000. He goes on to talk about pork, literally and figuratively, while showcasing some of the previous contributions. Those included money that was sent to Lewiston, Ransomville, Barker and other locations for small local improvement projects. A motorcycle rally was funded, as were Old Fort Niagara, the Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial Commission, the Niagara Community Center, the Aquarium of Niagara and Twin Cities Community Outreach in North Tonawanda. There also was a $2,500 appropriation for Niagara University to conduct a feasibility study of a proposed tourist trolley between Niagara Falls and Lewiston.

The casino compact specifically states that the casino revenues are to be used for economic development. Do the above allocations fall into that category? Some I'm sure will say yes, while others may disagree, but that's not the point.

Prohaska does this story on how the county will spend its share of the casino revenues, but has never spent one second doing an analysis of how the city of Niagara Falls is spending their casino revenues. Revenues that have approached $50,000,000 over the past three years. I guess the county spending $873,000 in casino revenue is worthy of a story, but Niagara Falls getting $50 mil isn't.

We'll sum it up for you. Niagara Falls is spending an overwhelming portion of their revenues on projects that have nothing to do with economic development. Instead of investing in shovel-ready properties, which are extremely attractive to potential employers, the city is spending its casino dollars on avoiding insolvency. They're spending it on public sector contracts that it cannot afford without the casino dollars. They're spending it on a paid fire department with a tremendously bloated budget. Abolish the department and make it volunteer.

There has been no accountability of Niagara Falls share of the casino revenue. Fifty million versus $800,000 and the $800k gets a large story, while the $50 mil gets not a mention. Is there anyone out there who can write an objective piece? More importantly, is there a reporter out there who has the cajones to actually do some research before writing a story?


Paladin said...

Prohaska's articles should be preceded by "The following has been paid for by the Niagara County Democrat Party, Dan Rivera, Chairman." That would be truth in advertising.

rob clark said...

How does a fire dept. outlive its purpose?