The unprecedented downgrade of the U.S. credit rating ignited the market into one of the greatest sell-offs in its history. Persistent market anxiety has rocketed U.S. financial institutions into a fully-fledged, albeit temporary, nervous breakdown. The “Financial Stability Oversight Council” went into emergency session to discuss, what else, but financial instability. Meanwhile, like those drowning in flooded lowlands, there was a headlong rush of investors to higher ground to find sanctuary in gold, U.S. Treasury Bonds and supposedly the safer currencies of countries like Switzerland. Bank stocks plunged a precipitous 11 percent, which is particularly alarming since banks serve as an umbilical cord between borrowers and savers. An even greater slowdown in bank lending could easily trigger another U.S. recession if, in fact, we ever fully climbed out of the last one.
Continuing our analysis of an Indian Casino at Belmont Park using our Statement of Principles from 2007, we focus on the third principle; infrastructure. Nothing has been the same since Belmont Park-NYRA altered the natural contours and drainage piping subsequent to its renovation in 1964-67. Flooding in Floral Park and Elmont is not a natural occurrence; it is the consequence of unexamined development.
Fric or Frac — that is the question. I’m going with frac as in fracking. Never heard of it? If you’re sick of sky-high gas and oil prices it pays to familiarize yourself with the technology. Fracking is the hydraulic process that involves pumping water, sand and traces of chemicals under high pressure into a completed wellbore to penetrate geological formations such as shale. The resulting fissures allow oil or natural gas to flow into the well. By drilling at depths often two miles below the earth’s surface, this ingenious method has unlocked vast stores of natural gas. With natural gas deposits in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia alone containing more BTUs of energy than the oil reserves in all of Saudi Arabia, and the Rocky Mountains containing another 70 percent of recoverable oil shale that lies beneath federal land, it would seem we hit the energy jackpot as well as an avenue to create thousands of high paying jobs.
Last week, I presented the first of our Belmont Task Force 2007 Statement of Principles relating them to an Indian Nation Casino at Belmont Park rather than a state sponsored VLT Racino. Again, my hope is you will see the fundamental issues of fairness contained in each principle. Kindly allow me to present our second principle:
PRESERVE AND PROTECT RACING AND OUR COMMUNITIES ALIKE II. The neighboring communities support the preservation and fostering of the world class premier thoroughbred racing facilities within their neighborhood. The communities encourage the protection and incorporation of all buildings and landscaped features of historic, architectural or cultural significance into the local communities visioning, economic or historic planning.
As if the earth itself had shook, tremors of fear rippled through the rocky-edged terrain of our nervous system. My wife, Sonia, had gone for her annual mammography with expectations of the usual “we’ll see you next year” routine. Not this time. They wanted to take a second look not only with a mammogram (X rays that photograph the breasts to detect malignancies), but also a sonogram, whose sound waves can detect abnormalities.
Presently, our concerns regarding an Indian Nation casino at Belmont Park are based solely upon conjecture and innuendo. In 2007, the Village established the Belmont Task Force to examine the proposal for a VLT Racino at Belmont Park. The product of their comprehensive study was summarized and memorialized into a ten point document officially titled, “Inc. Village of Floral Park Task Force for Belmont’s Preservation and Improvement: Statement of Principles.” The Statement of Principles was not a declaration of opposition to the proposed state-sponsored VLT plan but rather a proclamation of fairness. These principles enunciated reciprocal and equitable recommendations outlining how neighboring residential communities could coexist with the then proposed VLT operations at Belmont Park. The proposal today is not a state-operated VLT Racino but rather a sovereign Indian Nation casino. Yet, the virtues contained within our Statement of Principles still hold true. Therefore, in an effort to provide reasoned discussion to the debate, over the next several weeks, I will address the casino issue using the 2007 Statement of Principles as my guide. My hope is you will see the fundamental issues of fairness contained in each principle. Consideration must be addressed by any proposed use at Belmont Park.
It’s a warm and humid day; not one that lends itself to writing about economics, which I had no intention of doing until, well, maybe a minute ago. When the muse beckons, one must obediently answer its summons. The elevated mercury of our thermometers does not make the task any breezier. Hot climates and productivity rarely result in wedded bliss, although complaints about the heat are deservingly dismissed with, “Well, what did you expect — it’s summer.” An irrefutable argument if there ever was one. Similarly, complaints about our nation’s reckless spending habits are subject to the same pointed joust: Well, what did you expect —it’s the government. Like the scorpion in the old Aesop fable that must sting even though it means its own demise, our government must spend even when it’s broke and impotent.
It seemed like a normal afternoon at work when suddenly the peace was shattered by shrieks coming from the secretary pool outside my office: “I can’t believe it,” “How could this happen?” and “They’re idiots!” were some of the comments that violently ricocheted about the room like a ball ratcheting up a high score in a pinball machine. The commotion, I soon discovered, resulted from hearing that after an improbably brief 10 hours of deliberation the Casey Anthony jury had reached a verdict of not guilty of capital murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child. In the end, Anthony was convicted of just four misdemeanors of misleading law enforcement.
We have all received fliers at our homes and have all seen full page ads in our local newspapers advocating the development of a casino at Belmont Park. The Shinnecock Nation is identified on each advertisement. We have read reports in Newsday from our county executive, our state senators and other elected representatives, our neighbors in Elmont and the Nassau County Chambers of Commerce; all in seemingly generous support of the many perceived benefits from the casino proposal. What is missing? With all this reporting there has not been discussions of any magnitude with the residents of Floral Park.
It is now 235 years since the United States declared its independence from Great Britain. Judging by the impact of that event, the year 1776, along with the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Columbus’ discovery of America in 1492 and the beginning of the Reformation in 1523, is a year that remains enshrined as one of the most momentous dates in history. It is so because the principles it has inspired have shaped not only a nation but also a world. Oceans of ink have been spilled celebrating July 4th so I don’t intend, even if I could, to expand upon its meaning. What I would like to do is remember those in our armed forces who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the theatre in Libya.
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