Thursday, October 12, 2006

Casino Crisis?

In the story I posted about the non meeting of the Mayor and Board of Alderman, I said there was a rumor they were considering a casino development. This rumor is getting stronger.

An anonymous comment on the last story:

"Hunch: There is a bigtime casino operator knocking on the door and wanting to invest cash in Natchez. Hunch: Other proposals are lurcking and may pay the right individuals better. Likely minority group, maybe from Atlanta."
In an editorial in today's Democrat:

"None of the board members will confirm the details but sources say the issue involves a potential second casino development."
In that same editorial, the important issue is made very clear.

"Regardless of the specifics of the development potential, the city needs to come clean on its plans and let the public have input. Secret deals never seem to pass the smell test with us, or the taxpayers."
If the Mayor and Aldermen ever want to survive another election, they'd better pay attention to that advice. If the citizens of Natchez are involved in the process and the majority want a casino, fine. But if the Mayor and Board decide on a casino behind closed doors, all hell will break loose.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

In case you do not recall, the citizens have already decided they do want casinos in Natchez. That was voted on.

You also elected your local officials and upon doing so you granted them certain duties and repsonsibilities including the right to negotiate deals on behalf of you and your city. To think or expect that any land or development deal should be negotiated in public is absolutely absurd.

Anonymous said...

I remember back in the spring when the city had a Town Hall meeting at the convention center with an out of town expert on hand to be the speaker. We broke into groups and discussed how best to have input on changes, development etc. All the elected officials were there. The groups voted overwhelmingly to let the Community Alliance be the organization for citizens and various groups to have input to present to the elected officials. This was an excellent idea. It looks like the mayor and aldermen have forgotten all about it.

Anonymous said...

Man,o man! I don't think electing these officials just automatically gave them the right to "negotiate deals" - at least not the underhanded kinds of "deals" they've been negotiating this year. Giving away our public lands - not following the laws they've promised to uphold. Whoa! Too bad we have to put up with two more years of this!

Anonymous said...

Man"o"Man. Okay. So who do you suggest put together these projects and make these deals and decisions if not the Mayor and Board of Alderman that you elected to do that work? Do you truly believe that the Mayor and Board are not authorized to negotiate and enter into contracts on behalf of the City?

I doubt the City of Natchez has "given away" any public lands under this administration. But I do know that for economic development purposes they certainly COULD give away public lands for projects if the board sees fit. Nothing "illegal" about that and it happens quite frequently in other places.

Natchez certainly needs stronger leadership. This administration has proven to be pro growth and pro development which is great. Natchez needs that badly. They've been unified along those lines until the recent non meeting episode. The non meeting was caused by an unfortunate issue, the biggest one Natchez has, which is the racial factor. The only real and valid issues that have plagued this administration have been voted on right along racial lines; Willie Jones, Andrew Smith, convention center bonds refinanced, non meeting.

But who is to blame? Oh yes, you the voters in the City. You got the exact same mayor and board that you voted for.

Anonymous said...

Reading with interest the blogs to this post. It's good to have a place to express opinions without worry about retaliation of any kind. For that we can all thank Ms Hughes. The rest of us are just cowards.

It's true that these officials (and the town's problems that came along with them) were elected.

It's also true (and good) that, with a little bit of luck, the problems will be over with in two years when they're all voted out of office!

Anonymous said...

Ah, remember the days of Tony Byrne, when life was simpler. We were in an oil boom, movies were being filmed here and go cups were legal.

Find A Way said...

Anonymous responded that public lands are given away "for economic development purposes" frequently, and legally...Done all the time in other places... Well, Natchez is not like "other places". For one thing, our bluffs offer the public a view of the Mississippi River which cannot be found anywhere else along its banks. That is one reason why Archives should be involved before allowing just anything to be built there. This natural resource is a national treasure, and is in great danger of being lost to the public forever with the building of condos, casinos, strip malls and the like. The city fathers could protect the bluffs if they so chose, because they own them. Thank goodness for the National Park Service owning the southern end of the bluffs. At least that part will be safe.

Open your eyes said...

You know the old saying, "You don't know what you've got until it's gone...." ????

Sadly, that is the case with the Natchez Bluffs.

The greatest view of the world's greatest river.

And Natchez' leaders - for generations - can't think of way to make that work for the community, other than to sell it off - or give it away - to private developers to build casinos and condos?

The developers will be richer from their opportunity in the short run, but Natchez and its people will be poorer in many ways in the long run.

Destroy the bluffs. Destroy the view. Destroy the reason that the city of Natchez exists in the first place. There's a reason the Natchez Indians, then the French, the Spanish, worshipped this place.

From the bluffs, you can almost see the sun set over California. Plus, in earlier times, you could see the enemy rounding the curve in the river!

The view alone is a good enough reason to keep Natchez on the international map.

Think about it!

Anonymous said...

Natchez will never maximize its true potential because it is still, "Where the Old South still lives." This commmunity is stuck on Tom Sawyer and Hucklberry Finn. There is so much more to life than this. Racism is extremely prevalent in this community. There is black -vs- white; black -vs- black; and, white -vs- white. This community is not together and it never will. So much goes on behind the door, under the table, after hours, and in the dark until it is absolutely sickening.

This administration has made several mistakes and it is costing them dearly. There have been several lawsuits filed: condo deal, city planner discrimination, fire department discrimination, and not to mention, THE CITY FILING A SUIT AGAINST ITS RESIDENTS. Who has ever heard of such fould BullXXXX.

Whether this community believes it or not, the negative press articles is going to have an huge impact on the city's development and growth. The Natchez Democrat and the Natchez Sun should indeed tell the news, but where are the positive stories. I guess the only thing they can find is "pilgrimage stuff." What a joke!!!

This community is on its way to HELL and most people know it. Unless God's people humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways, He is not going to heal Natchez' land. Natchezians have yet to repent for all the wrong that has been done on this soil. Many are perpetuating the wrongness in a boastful manner. Whoa unto you.

I have learned to just sit back and watch those who put themselves up on a pedestal fall. Such will be the case in Natchez.

Mayor West: A lifetime politician who has no real record for accomplishing anything in the area where he served.

Alderman West: Severe financial problems until he cannot be his own man and make his own decisions. It's called "Sold Out."

Alderman Massey: A poor white boy who has played the political game to his benefit. Now that he has a house on the lake in Louisiana he is ready to leave the board. I guess he will make his living off of his job with Lamar Sign Company, the companay that filed a lawsuit against the city for the City Sign Ordinance. Hmmm.

Alderman Middleton: Is it not illegal to have business contracts with organizations that require approval from the City? If so, then why does he have contracts with most of them. Sounds like a kick back to me.

Alderman Gray: What can I say? He is workinghard for "his" area but cannot get anything done because everyone of the city department heads hate him because he wants them to do their jobs.

Alderman Pollard: A newcomer to the board who is a diehard RACIST. His wife called her black students "little monkeys".

Alderwoman Mathis: If others on the board would look past her loudness, they would see leadership. Regardless, she stands her ground and because she has been on the board for a few terms, she knows what has happened and what is going on. Others are threatened by her. She is the intelligence on the board.

Again, Natchez is in trouble. Remember: I told you so.

The River Runs GRAY... said...

The MIssissippi River isn't BLACK. It isn't WHITE. In fact, if you must put a color to it, I'd say that GOD MADE THE RIVER GRAY.

Love for this magnificent River is one thing that EVERYONE WHO LIVES IN NATCHEZ HAS IN COMMON.

Some of us take God's great gift for granted. Oh, if those who do could only travel around and see how other communities have destroyed their river banks and views. Cluttered them with warehouse-style casinos (the size of WalMart super stores) that float out over the water and form a barricade between the town and water.

WANT TO HEAL THE RACIAL DIVIDE IN NATCHEZ? Let's start by focusing in on something that we all share and we all love. The natural beauty of the place itself. Surely we can come together on this?


We all need to come together TO SAVE THIS PLACE from being "sold off" to private developers.

IMAGINE: You drive down to the bluff to see the sunset -- but you can't. There are fences and locked gates. And behind those gates are mulit-story condo buildings; casino hotels; a swimming pool for "members and guests only." The bandstand is gone.



AND BE PREPARED TO BE CHASED AWAY --those private residents aren't going to want people like us "loitering" around outside their homes. Or "cruising" by in our cars. Soon signs will say "no loitering" and "No Cruise Zone."

FELLOW NATCHEZIANS! Wake Up! We're about to lose the heart and soul of our community.

Anonymous said...

I think the post that suggested a study on casinos in this area is a good one. How many jobs does the present casino offer residents? How much revenue do we receive? Are the people who come to the casino from out of town spending their money in Natchez: at hotels, restaurants, & retail shops? I know the city had a terribly flawed deal with the first casino that came here, Lady Luck, because they were so anxious for it to locate here. Has that deal been changed? I do not know the details but someone out there must.
Our city leaders function with no creativity or foresight. Natchez could become a great artist community; this is how the French Quarter developed with artist living in what once was an affordable area of the city. New Orleans revenu comes from the tourism industry. They do have a casino, but it is located a distance from the French Quarter and you would never know it was there.

Anonymous said...

2-3 or more casinos would create competition in the gaming industry in Natchez and force the casino companies to really promote Natchez and bring more tourists in. As it stands with one casino, the local market within a 30 to 50 mile radius provides a nice source of revenue, so there is no need for The Isle to get aggressive.

2 or 3 more casinos? said...

More casinos? 2 or 3 more? You've got to be kidding. Can't we think of anything else?

Natchez as College Campus said...

Here's an idea: Downtown Natchez as College Campus. This is what saved Savannah, GA.

Check out the Savannah College of Art and Design, founded in 1978.

"The Savannah campus offers a full university experience in one of the largest and most renowned National Historic Landmark districts in the United States. Since its opening in 1979, the college has grown to occupy approximately 2 million square feet in nearly 60 facilities throughout Savannah’s historic and Victorian districts.

This unique urban campus includes classrooms, studios, computer labs, darkrooms, galleries, libraries, theaters, residence halls, dining facilities and fitness centers. Adaptive reuse of many remarkable structures has helped preserve an important part of Savannah while providing the college with facilities that serve as a living laboratory for the study of the arts, architecture and design.

The college has been a leader in restoring and adaptively reusing many of the city’s architectural treasures, and has earned recognition from the Historic Savannah Foundation, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Art Deco Societies of America, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the International Downtown Association, the Victorian Society in America, the American Institute of Architects, among others."

Imagine something similar in Natchez MIssissippi. SCAD has brought scholars, students and BUSINESS to Savannah. Everything from Kinkos, to The Gap to Starbucks, to off-the-charts Real Estate development.

Anonymous said...

I checked out the Savannah College of Art and Design link. That's pretty interesting. Why can't Natchez have something like this? Why does everyone think "only Casinos" can save Natchez?

Anonymous said...

Back to anonymous #2 above -- who is in charge of the community alliance? who do you contact? How do you get involved?

Is this just another city joke? Or is it a real group?

I can't afford to waste my time.

Loves Trails said...

In response to the person inquiring about the Community Alliance - it is indeed a real organization. Winnie Kaiser has recently been elected head of it, but you might contact City Engineer David Gardner who kind of started it with the Trails project. The Community Alliance meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at 3:00 p.m at the Natchez Convention Center. And yes, it was voted on at the Town Hall meeting to be the "voice of the people". That's the only "joke" about it. The people have no voice!

Observer said...

This blog is really filling up! Response is to anonymous who said Natchez is "Where the Old South Still Lives." That motto hasn't been used in promotions for years. The "Old South" still lives in the architectural heritage which people travel from all over the world to see. The Heritage Tourisim program now gives the true story of who actually built these beautiful homes and buildings, and the story of slavery and its legacy is told to the great interest of visitors.
The past is the past. It is important to hear all of it, but it is also important to move on. Ms Mathis is intelligent, as you say, but Mr. Gray is just her puppet. If you don't believe it, go to a meeting. They make an interesting team. I wish they would team up for the good of the entire town.

nottabelle said...

So much to respond to...
First "The Old South" comment.
There is real progress being made in the heritage tourism industry, but so far yet to go. Boxley has risen awareness. So has David Dreyer. And the NPS, Historic natchez foundation, and partnerships that got the Forks of the Road exhibit up. Archives and History also. It's even filtering into some "unnamed" groups lately, in my opinion b/c of the pressure and example of the groups mentioned above, and the maturing of the current generation.
Even the staunchest throwbacks can't ignore the savvy tourist anymore who says, "Yeah, that's a pretty armoire, but how many slaves worked his cotton fields to give him the money to buy it?"
What I mean is, ever so slowly, times are changing, in Natchez, the South as a whole, all over the world. But ignoring the past does not make it go away. Confronting it allows understanding, healing, movement. Otherwise it's all baggage.
Which brings me to college disscusions. I know plenty of intelligent folks who don't have college degrees, but it sure couln't hurt if there were more people with them. Having a 4 year college here would do wonders for the economy. When you think that students have to commute 45 minutes to 2 hours to get a bachelor's degree, the price of tuition and gas to get there, it's shameful. It's so many obstacles to a better life. This would be a perfect place for a college town, as long as they don't build it on the bluff!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of colleges in Natchez. Were you all aware that the State College Board pulled a million dollars from the Alcorn State University project for a Performing Arts Center in Natchez. The reason: The college board had set aside $1.6 million for the project and the city and county were supposed to secure the match. The match never materialized. The College Board voted on Wednesday to put $1 million into a center on the Lorman campus.

Anonymous said...

I am responding to the post right before this one, about the performing arts center that could have been located in Natchez on the Alcorn campus here, but since the city and county did not meet the funds it is now going to Lorman. This is outrageous! Now this is the kind of thing people need to be yelling about and asking about in the meetings!! Is this true? It needs to be publicized in the newspaper if so. If this is correct then our city leaders are a bunch of duffus! Where did the money go? Did we have the money? I want answers!!! The arts and artist will save this town. You bring the artist and they want good places to eat, interesting shops, music, and creative homes, etc. Natchez is not a city it's a cut off little community and artist and tourist searching out uniqueness will flock here because of that!!

Anonymous said...

Alderman Gray: What can I say? He is workinghard for "his" area but cannot get anything done because everyone of the city department heads hate him because he wants them to do their jobs.

It is not that the department heads dislike him for wanting things done but more to do with what can be done legally. Ricky has no real conception of what is allowed by state law and what is not. If you follow up on his rants, you will find most is either on private property or really has nothing to do with the City at all.
He believes every problem in his ward is the City's fault. Even Andrew Smith had enough sense to tell him, "you cannot help people who do not want to help themselves."
It is true that it is the most blighted ward, but when people throw trash in the street, they expect the city to immediately pick it up, but they (not all, some residents are really working to clean up their ward) won't pick it up. They call Ricky and complain that the City is neglecting them instead.
There is enough legitamate work in Ward 2 to keep City departments busy for years, so I ask, is everyone ready to commit the money and resources to this and forego the work needed in other wards to accomplish this?
Ricky is not bad, but he ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer either.
Apparently he has fooled a few of you though.