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'What a sham,' reader says of gaming hearing

Letter to the editor

To the editor:

Regarding the St. Louis Economic Council's hearing on gambling at Mehlville Senior High School on Feb. 4, and the related front-page article in your Feb. 12 publication, with all due respect, the inaccuracy of your headline is only surpassed by the disingenuousness of the Economic Council's meeting itself.

On Jan. 26, the St. Louis County Port Authority Gaming Selection Committee made public a statement that included: "The committee will hold a public meeting to gather input from south county citizens regarding gaming development ...'' Your Feb. 12 headline read: "Hearing on gaming proposals draws about 1,000 south county residents.''

I arrived at the school 45 minutes before the meeting was to begin and was thankful to have gotten one of the last parking places still available anywhere near where the meeting was to take place.

At the main entry was a throng of men, many of them proudly wearing union jackets, some indicating that they were from as far away as St. Charles.

Upon entering the meeting area, it was immediately clear that the vast majority of those present were organized union trade workers and their families, not south county residents. By the time most south county residents began arriving, reasonable parking was almost an impossibility.

The Economic Council's presentation extolled all of the "benefits'' of a casino, but did not present one documented fact regarding the downside of gambling expansion. Your article quoted Mr. (Denny) Coleman (chief executive officer of the Economic Council and chairman of the casino selection committee) as saying: 'Even with the folks that were antigaming ... they thought it was a very fair hearing.''

What a sham. The meeting was publicized as a meeting to "... gather input from south county citizens ...'' Instead, a large part of it ended up being a platform for union representatives to beg for jobs.

The St. Louis County Economic Council has rammed this through. Not one time did they schedule a meeting where the citizens of south county could meet to hear qualified people present documented facts covering all sides of the issue.

As a result of the committee's actions, very few people in the area have been given the information needed to make an informed, intelligent decision on something that will affect them, their children and their grandchildren for many years to come.

The next step is the St. Louis County Council. One can only hope that they respect the concerns of the people of the south county area and act differently.

Donald L. Cannon


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