Monday, November 05, 2007

PA Gaming Control Board sued by four Neighborhood Civics

From: Hilary Regan []





November 5, 2007

Contact: Rosanne Loesch (267) 467-7898
PHILADELPHIA:  Late Friday afternoon a group of neighborhood civic associations filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to prevent the development of two giant slots parlors in densely populated residential neighborhoods bordering the Delaware River.
The Society Hill Civic Association, the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, the Pennsport Civic Association and the Old City Civic Association, along with several individual residents, cite the certain traffic congestion, pollution, gambling related crime, social decay and misuse of their waterfront as the basis for wanting to prevent the casinos from opening at their proposed locations.  Alleging multiple violations of the “Due Process” clause of the U.S. Constitution, the suit contends that the Gaming Board engaged in an unfair and biased process to grant the licenses.
The neighborhood groups allege, among other things, that the approval process was tainted by a conflict of interest by the Gaming Board, whose chairman, Tad Decker, has returned to the leadership of his law firm, Cozen O'Connor, which represented one of the casino companies during the licensing process.  The complaint alleges that Mr. Decker's gesture in excluding himself at the tail end of the licensing process was insufficient to cure his overriding conflict of interest and that Mr. Decker’s unilateral investigation of the qualifications of one of the casinos resulted in biased conclusions.
George Kelly, a retired attorney in Society Hill, explains that “This federal suit is the latest attempt in our series of efforts to demonstrate that the Gaming Control Board’s decisions were wrong and must be remedied.  We attempted to have a public referendum during the May, 2007 primary vote and we attempted to have our grievances considered by our State Supreme Court, all to no avail.  Resort to the federal courts is the next and most logical step.”  
The lawsuit seeks to enjoin or invalidate the licenses approved for the Foxwoods casino that would be constructed in the Pennsport neighborhood in South Philadelphia; and the SugarHouse casino that would straddle the line between the Northern Liberties and Fishtown neighborhoods.  The vast majority of the residents are outraged at the Board’s selection of the two proposed sites.
The neighborhood groups are represented by Larry Silver, Esquire of the Philadelphia law firm of Langsam, Stevens & Silver LLP.

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