(The following is an email to me from Gerald Austin, spokesman for Louis Beck in his effort to open a slot machine casino at Broadway Commons in Over-the-Rhine.)
Louis Beck appeared before the Ed Board of your newspaper. I was there but I do no believe that you attended.
If you had attended, you would have met a businessman who is a poster child for corporate responsibility. You would have met a husband, father and grandfather whose companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last twenty years on programs benefiting Cincinnatians in need.
You would have met a devoted product of Cincinnati’s public schools, university and law school who has stood up to Penn National(Argosy) and their strong armed tactics to deny Greater Cincinnati residents from deciding for themselves whether to have gaming or not.
You would have met a philanthropist who will create a separate foundation from his own profits. This foundation could grow to $10 million dollars per year and will be devoted to revitalizing Over The Rhine and other areas and programs through grants, investments and support.
But you were not present yesterday. You are very clever and creative as evidence by your many awards. I understand you have carte- blanch from your superiors to
publish anything you choose. You could not resist “slots” and “sluts”.
Unfortunately, today’s cartoon was uncalled for; outrageous and more importantly a gross disservice to not just Mr. Beck and his potential partners but to the people of Greater Cincinnati.
You should meet Mr. Beck. Then you could apologize in person.
Gerald J. Austin
Dear Mr. Austin,
I was not present for the meeting with Mr. Beck, nor were the hundreds of thousands of other members of this community who are nonetheless affected by his proposal and entitled to an opinion on the subject of introducing gambling to the heart of our city. I draw frequently about topics whose principals I have not met; I do not see any substantial connection between meeting individuals and commenting on their public actions.
If I ever do meet Mr. Beck I will be more than happy to thank him for his kindness as a grandfather and for the other good deeds he may have done for this city, none of which are germane to the subject at hand.
The word “sluts” in the cartoon (which refers to the “backers” of the casino proposal) are those who I believe are cheapening our city. The sort of gambling he proposes exploits those who cannot afford it and preys upon a vulnerable population while adding nothing of value to the richness and texture of our community. The cheerless, robotic feeding of slot machines is a pathetic sight that can hardly be listed with the zoo, symphony and art museums as civic treasures. Mr. Beck acknowledges that this sort of gambling would exacerbate social problems, but counters that government “programs are already in place” to deal with these ills. What a guy.
The tawdry payoff to the schools to buy off critics of the casino proposal is as cheap as the rest of the deal. The problems gambling and debt create in families more than offset any benefit schools may experience. Localities that already have casinos seldom list their owners among those who substantially give back to their communities. If Mr. Beck manages to break that mold, I will gladly express my appreciation.
Meanwhile, you have fortified me to oppose the casino measure with both barrels.