Casino Ballot Proposal Offers Promises and Red Flags

Red Flag wavingThere are a lot of red flags surrounding the casino ballot proposal called Citizens For More Michigan Jobs.  The proposal would add eight new casinos and increase the tax rate on all private casinos.  I immediately had concerns about the proposal when I read about it in my local newspaper.  The Cadillac News’ article quoted local businessman Bob Meyer in its piece about a casino near Cadillac.  According to the article, Meyer said that “the whole purpose of the new casinos is to increase the tax base for the municipalities that house the casinos.” Meyer went on to say that “every child in the county will be educated in the best facilities, every teacher would be well-paid and every police officer and fire fighter would be, too.”  Whe someone makes such sweeping statements, and suggests that a businesses’ primary purpose is to increase the tax base, I see red flags.  While the story mentioned that the casino would be located near Meyer’s Eldorado golf course, it didn’t specifically state that Meyer is one of the developers of the casino.  All indicators appear that he is one of the main investors in the Cadillac casino, though very little information is available on each individual casino.

A second red flag came a few months later when I was approached to sign the petition for Citizens For More Michigan Jobs in downtown Cadillac. A nice lady explained to me that this proposal would help better fund our schools.  After signing the petition I asked the lady where she was from because I didn’t recognize her from the community.  She said she was from California.  It is clearly a red flag when you have to pay for signatures, reportedly 1.9 million dollars, to get a proposal on the ballot.  How can you say you are tyring to create jobs in Michigan when you import signature gatherers from California?

A third red flag occurred when I was perusing the campaign finance database.  I checked to see who is paying for the expenses incurred to get the proposal on the ballot as well as to promote the proposal.  Suprisingly, most of the money so far, 2.52 million dollars, has been donated by one business located in Lansing.  The seven month old business is called Jobs First LLC.  Since donors are giving to this business, and the business is giving that money to the political action committee, we don’t know who is giving or how much each person is giving.  We do know that Jobs First LLC isn’t paying  taxes on the money thanks to the Republican’s 1.8 billion dollar tax give-a-way.  Thankfully, Jobs First LLC decided to release a list of its donors, though the donation amounts were not disclosed.   There are a lot of names on the list, but the first one on it is probably the only one I know, the aforementioned Bob Meyer.

If we are going to have privately owned casino gaming in Michigan it should be a business that anyone can start up if they have the expertise and resources to do so.  Only allowing a select group of wealthy and connected invidiuals open a business doesn’t sound like the “free market” to me.  We shouldn’t hedge our bets on a proposal with so many red flags.  Michiganders should vote no!

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