Issue 3 is Not For Me

A friend wrote this open letter in regards to Issue 3. Her words hold true to what I believe regarding Issue 3. We have looked at the issue long and hard and I just can't support it (and frankly I am surprised at those who do). Local restaurants have been negatively impacted when casinos are built. Pollution rises. Crime rises. So why would I ever hop on board? my name is genna petrolla. i am a 28 year old woman who lives and works in the city of cleveland, ohio. i have lived in ohio all of my life. i was raised outside of youngstown, where my family still resides. i attended the ohio state university main campus in columbus and moved to cleveland five years ago. i am writing this note, not to give you some overly dramatic list of reasons why i think you should vote against issue three on november 3, but to tell you what i believe in as a young person who has made cleveland my city of choice and ohio my home.

issue 3 is not about jobs. it is difficult to accept people with deep pockets saying that they are going to save our state and create jobs by building casinos in ohio. our state and region, with a skyrocketing unemployment rate, is a vulnerable target. the jobs that these casinos will bring are not the kind of jobs we need in the region to create long-term positive economic impact. the numbers of the UNDER employed in ohio and in our region far outnumber those of the unemployed. i can tell you that many of the people who have lost good jobs here will not be scrambling to work at a casino. these low wage, no benefit, service jobs will not add to wealth creation in our community. jobs for the sake of jobs is not what ohio or my region needs. a good model of positive economic development and a system for real wealth building is the evergreen cooperatives initiative that is taking place in the glenville neighborhood in greater university circle. i am not endorsing this initiative simply because i work in this neighborhood, i am endorsing it because it is not viewed as a quick fix. it is a time tested model for wealth building and cooperative ownership. putting someone to work in a casino downtown does not make them invested in the city, nor does it offer them a promise of rising out of the depths of poverty.

issue 3 is not about morals. the churches and the people saying that casinos ruin families, increase prostitution, destroy homes- they are not properly arguing against this issue. everyone has their studies to back them up. i hate gambling because of personal experience. i spent three weeks in las vegas in 2000 and awas appalled by the sight of slot machines in grocery stores, gas stations, everywhere. people were blindly putting money in them, hoping for a miracle. as a high school student, i worked in a locally owned grocery store in youngstown ohio. i watched as families who could not afford food spent all of their money on lottery tickets, but in the same breath complained about the price of toilet paper. it was then that i formed my personal opinion on gambling. i am not using my personal opinion on gambling and its possible effects on an already downtrodden and desperate society. i believe in the power of the individual to make their own personal choices about what is best for themselves and their families. however, i feel that a city that has been labeled one of the poorest cities in the nation and one of the foreclosure capitals during the economic downturn, would be a very poor place to put a gambling establishment in the name of 'making things better' here.

ohioans, issue 3 proposes a CHANGE TO YOUR STATE CONSTITUTION. this isn't a law that can be changed easily. this is a permanent change to the body of laws that govern your state. it will be difficult to fix if we decide that this 'ok-but-not-the-best gambling as an economic development tool' is not really what we need to move ohio forward. this change in your constitution will give ONE GROUP MONOPOLY POWER to build casinos and dictate gambling policies in your state. i know everyone is on the cavs bandwagon, but dan gilbert and his friends at penn national have money to spend on making you think this is good for you and the future generations of ohio. yes, the owners of mountaineer casino are pumping money into the 'NO ON 3' campaign, but it is not strictly because they want people to keep spending their money in west virginia. it's because the owner of mountaineer casino wanted to be included in the bidding process to propose building their own casino HERE, but they were shut out of the process.

call me crazy, but i cannot believe that a proposal that embeds gambling into the constitution for my state and also does not allow competitive bidding for building casinos in ohio seems a little off. it is also hard for me to accept the fact that so many smart people that i know are backing issue 3 while knowing about this. in addition, gilbert & co. are offering paltry licensing fees and jumping through huge loopholes to pay the LEAST amount of taxes possible on wagers and revenues gained by these proposed city casinos.

'it's not the best proposal, but it's good enough.' i hear this all the time for my friends who back this constitutional amendment change that will give one group sole power to build and operate casinos wherever they want in ohio in the name of 'job creation!' 'increased revenue for the state!' well, my parents raised me differently than that, i suppose. it may be why i am 28 and single, but i choose not to settle for 'good enough.' to me, the state is getting the raw end of the deal with regard to issue 3. and the people are supporting it because they are so weak that they will do whatever some guy who owns the local basketball team tells them is right for them. they are hoping for a miracle- a fix all for everything that ails the state. issue 3 is not that.

issue 3 is not good enough. the licensing fees that the casino operators will pay under issue 3 are insulting. the tax revenue the state will receive from casinos is not where it needs to be. more importantly, ONE group with deep pockets is ensuring that there is NO competitive bidding from other parties who are interested and might provide a better proposal. and all of this, ladies and gentleman, will be written into YOUR state constitution if you vote yes on issue 3.

some of you know me. some of you don't. but i want to tell you something about myself. i pour my heart into my work so that i can live in a city and state that will be a great place to raise my children someday. i don't always agree with what the people in power have to say, and i'm not shy about speaking up about it. i am the kind of person you want in your city and state. i give my time and energy, day in and day out, to make cleveland a REAL city of choice. i do not fit into your neat little categories. i am young, and i am a professional, but i refused to be labelled. i also refuse to sit idly by while people are mesmorized by bright lights and overpowering propoganda at cavs games, telling them that issue 3 is the best thing for this state since sliced bread. issue 3 is not good for our state, and the people who know this need to stand up and tell their stories.

cleveland to me is more than sports and the efforts of everyone downtown to make it big and fancy and appealing to other people. if we think long and hard and work together towards long term strategies to improve our school system, create policies to include people of all races and income levels in our plans to move the city forward, and focus on wealth building instead of numbers, i think we can turn this place around. we need more people who aren't afraid of speaking up, more people who want what is best for cleveland's people and ohio as a state. don't worry about what your boss thinks or what your friends think. remember that this proposal will change the constitution of your state in a permanent way that is not easily changed.

my name is genna petrolla and i will be voting AGAINST issue 3, because 'good enough' is not something that i will settle for. i know i am just a girl with a lot of ideas. but if issue 3 passes on november 3, i can honestly tell you that i will sacrifice everything i have worked so hard to build here in this city and state, and i will take my ideas elsewhere. it will make me sad to leave the state where my family is, and one that i have lived in and loved all my life, but i want to live in a place that is honest with itself and that, like me, refuses to settle for something, just because it's there in bright and shiny lights claiming to cure all of ohio's ills. there was a saying i used to like when i was younger: 'hope for a miracle, don't rely on one.' issue 3 is not going to help us. please don't gamble away my future in the city and state that i actually WANT to live in.

gp 10.29.2009

Please vote no on issue 2 & 3 tomorrow. xoxo