2006-09-28 / Front Page

Town Council to vote on casino question Oct. 10

By Dotti Farrington

The Town Council Monday decided to vote on an anti-casino resolution at its next meeting, Tuesday, Oct 10. Several towns have already registered their opposition to the casino question that will be on the statewide ballot in November.

In a discussion this week on the casino, Jamestown councilors could not agree on some of the reasons for opposing the proposal, or whether or not they wanted to register their position.

The ballot question provides for an amendment to the state Constitution to provide exclusive rights to the Narragansett Indian tribe to build a privately owned resort casino in West Warwick. Debates have questioned the legality of proposed change to the state Constitution, basic issues about gambling, and arguments over economic impacts of such a facility.

Council President David Long said he was against gambling in general and that the Town Council went on record two or three years ago to protest any expansion of gambling in the state. He also emphasized that the question now is before every citizen via the upcoming ballot vote "It is not for the Town Council to weigh in on the way people should vote." He questioned whether the council needed to take a position on every ballot item.

Councilman Michael Schnack said the council's taking a position would be to send a message to the state General Assembly that the ballot proposal for a constitutional change to enable a casino "is a stupid idea." He said, "I can care less whether there is a casino or not. The issue for me is that this ballot is a reprehensible use of the (state) Constitution. It is ludicrous." Councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski said she agreed with Schnack.

Council Vice President Julio DiGiando said he is "uncomfortable with the assumptions others have made about where or why there should be a casino and those assumptions may not be true." He said he needs more time to review the constitutionality aspect of the ballot issue. He wanted to proceed with caution about supporting or opposing the issue.

Councilman William Kelly said he opposes the casino under the terms being formed, and that he was concerned about the impact of the casino on such other facilities, such as the Providence Arts Center. He said that facility expects a loss of about half a million dollars a year if the casino is allowed, and it could not continue after only 18 months.

In addition to suggestions from leaders of other towns that have taken positions against the casino, the Jamestown council was asked by Gloria Dahl and Craig Amerigian to take a position. They proposed a resolution that would cite all the reasons being cited by opponents around the state.

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