Mayor Henry calls for referendum vote on gaming issue

Mayor Tom Henry held a press conference this morning announcing his decision to call on Indiana General Assembly to pass legislation enabling a citywide referendum on the gaming issue.  Attending the press conference were: Allen County Councilman Paul Moss, Fort Wayne City Council President Tom Smith and City Councilman Tim Pape and Marty Bender. Â

In the audience was former City Councilman Dr. John Crawford with his son, Grant.  During the question and answer session, Dr. Crawford asked if the studies had indicated what private investment dollars might result from this project and if any public money would be needed.  Mayor Henry responded:

[…] I would anticipate and encourage that no public money be involved in the structure itself or any type of activity.

Watch the second clip for the full response from the Mayor as I don’t think the first part of Dr. Crawford’s question was answerd.

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Full text of the Mayor’s statement:

The challenge of our time is to do more with less. As your Mayor, I am always mindful that my first responsibility is to the people of this community and to Fort Wayne’s economic health.

Through innovation and sound management, the City of Fort Wayne delivers cost-effective, high-quality services to all our citizens, day in and day out. But in these difficult times, I am equally mindful that to meet expectations and to keep our community attractive and competitive, we must constantly seek new ideas and new ways of doing things.

Several months ago, I shared the news with you that we had begun studying the issue of gaming. We did so, because private business interests came to us as they investigated the possibilities here.

Since then, we have talked with various groups, and continue to do so. Additionally, we initiated a thorough examination of the gaming issue. We know that it has broad implications that we need to understand fully.

We engaged professionals to research the economic and fiscal impacts of gaming and its market potential here. We also sought insights into its social and community effects. Those efforts remain underway and the full reports will be released shortly, but some of the preliminary information is already in hand.

As I had hoped, all of this activity has spurred a community dialogue about gaming. Not only should we be talking about gaming, but we should be talking about some of the other real challenges confronting us. As well, we need to determine what our priorities are, and how we might achieve our goals in these uncertain times.

What these many conversations and the early data have made clear to me is that the issue of gaming is a complicated matter. It is important to you. And it is something that we as a community have only started to explore.

I believe that we should have the courage to pursue a full consideration of gaming and when we have, we should be able to make a choice that benefits us and is right for us. With each day, I am more convinced that the decision about gaming is not mine alone to make, but ours to make as a community.

To that end, I am calling for a citywide referendum on the issue of gaming, and I will ask the Indiana General Assembly to support us in our quest with legislation enabling it.

Two of the principles on which I have shaped my administration are openness and community participation. It is why I walk neighborhoods, hold Mayor’s Nights, issue surveys and attend community events. We are partners in building this city together. Your ideas are valuable to me. They guide me and help me to lead.

To address the critical needs of our community, to help the public gain a better understanding of the gaming issue and to prepare us for our collective decision, I will hold a series of community forums. This subject certainly merits our thoughtful, objective deliberation.

I will champion the right for our voices to be heard. But you can be confident; I will be persistent in keeping the door open for opportunity to enter.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Stephen – Think you are correct – 1st part not answered. But, that may be because the HB1677 bill that was introduced by Representative Terri Austin (representing one area in Anderson, IN) to allow the moving of slot machines from Hoosier Park in Anderson to the Fort Wayne Off-Track Betting parlor was sponsered because the operators at Anderson were losing money and needed more “traffic”. So, they can’t make it in Anderson (probably due to the competition from the new casino down the interstate toward Shelbyville), so they asked Ms. Austin to help them out. Many of us in Fort Wayne corresponded with the members of the house rules committee asking them to kill that bill – and they did.
    Anyone who thinks that now is the time to introduce more gaming into the Fort Wayne area is having nightmares – not dreams- It just will not work WITHOUT FINANCIAL HELP FROM TAXPAYERS!! With the two new Native Indian casinos being built just over the Michigan/Indiana line, the competition for gambling dollars in our area is going to get ferocious.
    The other item going in the Indiana Legislature is a bill to grant special tax relief to casino operators! If this passes, Indiana taxpayers will be fighting themselves – our state run gambling verses private operators receiving tax credits! Where will this nonsense ever stop?

  2. John,

    The Anderson casino wouldn’t need new tax breaks if they weren’t being charged excessive licensing fees by the government in the first place. It’s like wanting to reduce smoking yet still subsidizing tobacco farmers.

    I will say this, anyone that thinks a casino is going to bring an economic boom to the city while we’re heading towards the 2nd Great Depression needs to have their head examined…

    • Good comments, John and Jeff.

      The more I think about this, I tend to agree. We missed the boat on the casino craze and I’m afraid if we insist on going forth with it now, it will be too much effort expended for very little results. Effort, time and money we should be putting into other areas.

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