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December 10, 2016
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A voice against proposition one

Most high-profile community leaders are supporting the gambling proposition, but Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Ramsay Adams is not.
Contributed photo

Susan Lerner, executive director of the organization, said, “New York’s lax campaign finance laws make it possible for high rollers, like the gambling industry, to dictate public policy. The problem is that the rules of the game are stacked against average voters and the house always wins.”

Senator John Bonacic was the fifth-largest recipient of the money, gaining $87,000 in contributions; he has been championing casinos for at least a decade.

Nearly all of the county legislators and most town officials are also now supporting Proposition One. Because of the nearly unanimous support among community leaders, Adams feels that others may hold back on speaking out against them.

He said he has spoken to members of the farming community who are opposed to the referendum. Further, he said, members of the community who are in favor of gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing are not necessarily in favor of gambling. There’s no correlation between the two. Further, he said, the religious community is opposed to the referendum

In the end, however, the opinions of the residents of Sullivan County would not count for much, because it’s the voters across the entire state who will decide the issue. Catskill Mountainkeeper has joined the growing chorus of organizations that say that the language of the proposition is biased because of its rosy nature, and will lure “yes” votes from others who would otherwise vote against the proposition.

A recent poll in Sienna College suggested the language might sway as much as 6% of voters, and the poll suggested that because of the language, the proposition may be passed by the voters. A lawsuit over the matter has been dismissed and the proposition will go before the public with the language that was approved in Albany.

As for bringing more visitors to the Catskills, Adams said casinos don’t share. Casino patrons “don’t go to the local restaurants, they don’t go on nature walks, they don’t canoe down the Delaware. We’re not bringing visitors to the Catskills, the casinos are bringing gamblers to the roulette tables.”