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Nutter Snubs Tad Decker, Re-asserts Anti-Casino Position
When Linda Soffer and Jeanne Kohl of the group Mothers Against SugarHouse (MASH) received news that Thomas "Tad" Decker would be co-chairing a fundraiser for Democratic mayoral nominee Michael Nutter, they were confused and outraged. Decker is the former chair of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the governmental body that authorized the construction of two casinos along Philadelphia's Delaware riverfront and within a couple hundred feet of people's homes.
"I couldn't understand why Nutter would be taking money from a man who worked to deny Philadelphians a vote on where to put casinos" said Linda Soffer of MASH.
During the Democratic Primary, Michael Nutter had supported a ballot referendum that would keep casinos from being built 1500-feet from people's homes, schools, playgrounds, and places of worship. Why was the Democratic mayoral nominee now socializing with, and taking money from, the man who had presided over the board when it sued to remove the referendum question from the ballot?
That's when MASH and other casino opponents intervened by firing off a series of letters to Michael Nutter demanding an explanation and calling on the Democratic candidate to turn down Decker's contribution. The Nutter campaign's responded quickly, making the following statement: "Mr. Tad Decker is not a member of any host committee for any Nutter for Mayor fundraisers. When we learned that his name had been added to a host committee by a few supporters, Michael asked that he be removed, and he was."
In a letter, Nutter responded by reasserting his opposition to SugarHouse and Foxwoods casinos, stating that "There is highly controversial evidence about whether the benefits [of gambling] are sustainable over time and whether those benefits exceed the substantial costs of gambling, addiction, traffic, public safety and the impact on future economic development. "
If elected, Nutter pledged to use the city's zoning powers to force the casinos to resite away from neighborhoods, and to lobby the General Assembly and Governor Rendell to "change the state's gaming law to allow for greater local control and an opportunity to rethink the decision awarding the casino licenses."
"Nutter did the right thing." responded Linda Soffer of MASH, "Mayor Street is obviously in the pocket of the casino industry. Our next mayor needs to keep his independence. All candidates should refuse contributions from people with ties to either SugarHouse or Foxwoods until those casinos agree to move to locations that are further from homes, schools, and the streets where our children play."
Michael Nutter faces Republican Al Taubenberger in the general election on November 6, 2007.
Thank you for your e-mail regarding casinos. Mr. Tad Decker is not a member of any host committee for any Nutter for Mayor fundraisers. When we learned that his name had been added to a host committee by a few supporters, Michael asked that he be removed, and he was. In this primary election, Michael completely adhered to the City's campaign finance laws - which he helped to write. Under those laws, donors are not permitted to give large sums of money, as they had in the past. This will ensure that no single donor can use undue influence with elected officials, regardless of the donors' interest or causes.
In terms of casinos, Michael has said consistently throughout the campaign that he does not support gambling as an economic development tool. There is highly controversial evidence about whether the benefits are sustainable over time and whether those benefits exceed the substantial costs of gambling, addition, traffic, public safety and the impact on future economic development.
What has concerned Michael, as he has said, is the process by which casino gambling was proposed for our city. He believes that process was flawed and inappropriate. Of the many problems in that process, the most consequential was the link made between operators and locations in the awarding of licenses, which obscured any thoughtful debate over neighborhood impacts.
Philadelphians are right to protest the decisions made under that flawed process. Michael supported placing the question on the May ballot, as voted unanimously by City Council. In May, he voted "yes" on Question 1 - to create a minimum standard of keeping casinos at least 1500 feet away from schools, places of worship, homes, parks and playgrounds.
If elected Mayor, Michael will do the following:
- Work to use the City's zoning powers to ensure that the neighbors' wishes are addressed. If the neighbors do not want the casinos, then Mayor Nutter will do everything that I can under the law to make sure that the casinos are not built on the currently designated sites.
- Lobby the General Assembly and the Governor to change the state's gaming law to allow for greater local control and an opportunity to rethink the decision awarding the casino licenses.
Tricia Enright, Campaign Manager