Democrat Photo by Thelma Englese
HAVING A BITE: NY Senator Charles Schumer, right, enjoyed a meal at the new Michelles Corner Cafe at the Sullivan County International Airport in White Lake Friday, shortly after meeting with local leaders about casino gambling in Sullivan County. Joining him were, from the left, owners Rudy Battista and Michelle Ferzoti (both standing), Schumers Hudson Valley region intern James Wilson, and Hudson Valley region representative Jean Bordewich.
Schumer Weighs In On Local Casinos
By John Emerson
MONTICELLO June 27, 2000 -- Things may be getting back on track for an Indian casino in Sullivan County if Senator Charles Schumer can work magic and bring the competing groups together, as he proposed to do last week.
New Yorks soon-to-be senior senator called for a meeting of local business and political leaders Friday afternoon to hold a brainstorming session on how to move the project forward. About 45 people attended the session at the Thompson Town Hall to discuss the issue.
Schumer, who was slow to give his support to the proposed casino, has become an active participant in the process. His strong support for the development of an Indian gaming casino and his many trips to Sullivan County to keep abreast of the situation have earned him the trust of local business and political leaders.
The fact that hes been here to really see for himself whats going on and that hes taken a special interest in Sullivan County is great, said Thompson Councilman John Washington. I dont think that [Sen. Daniel Patrick] Moynihan has ever been here, and the only way [former Sen. Alfonse] DAmato ever came was by helicopter to a convention at the Concord. Schumer has shown he really cares about whats going on up here.
At Fridays meeting, Schumer called for a show of hands to determine if the assembled local leaders wanted to see Park Place Entertainment and its CEO Arthur Goldberg involved. Every hand in the room shot upward, except that of Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce President Jacquie Leventoff.
I think everybody now believes that Arthur Goldberg and Park Place are for real, said Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini, who has developed a relationship with the casino magnate. After what he did to defeat that bill in Albany, I think everybody has faith in him.
The legislation Cellini referred to concerned a bill in the state legislature that would have required legislative approval before a new casino could be built. The proposed law was approved in the state Senate and supported by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver but never made it to the Assembly floor for a vote.
Both Goldberg and Assemblyman Jacob Gunther lobbied hard against the bill, which many believe would have been the death of any Indian casino in Sullivan County.
The way I see it, Gunther beat Silver, and Goldberg beat Trump, said Cellini, who did not learn the bills fate until late Thursday night. I think its about time we had somebody with clout on our side, and Goldbergs got clout.
Schumer has already contacted both Goldberg and Catskill Development officials regarding a joint meeting to attempt to reach an agreement that would permit the casino to move forward as soon as possible. Catskill Developments site at Monticello Raceway has already received federal approval; but Park Place Entertainment has an agreement with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe to build and operate any casino outside of the reservation propoerty, including the proposed Mohawk casino at Monticello Raceway.
Any change in the location of the casino would require that a completely new application be filed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a process that would take at least three or four years.