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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Breakdowns

- According to the local Opelausas Daily World, there were a total of 11 equine injuries at Evangeline Downs in the week prior to its closing – 6 on Saturday and 5 on Thursday, when jockeys voted to halt the card following the 6th race. Three horses had to be euthanized. The president of the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Association walked the track and commented that "The surface is hard, unforgiving….It’s like the difference between running on concrete and running on grass. It needs more give….What I really think, it's a surface issue that needs to be slowed up." He denied that there were actually holes in the track, but one jockey disagreed.

"The new track has holes in it and needs more sand," [Frederick] Carmouche said.. "I was in the race, and I was riding the 12 horse dead last. I saw everything."

"Angelic Reason fell in the upper stretch and broke her leg. The hole is right at the top of the turn and Steve Bourque fell out."
Another rider said that “you can tell the track doesn't have enough sand and too much clay.”

Now, in an article from the AP (via Albany Law School), one owner says "I've heard today that it could take up to 30 days in order to fix the track.”
Racetrack General Manager Mike Howard refused Monday to confirm or deny rumors that racing operations could be shut down, even temporarily.

"There are so many rumors and everyone has their own opinions about what's going on that I'm not going to even comment on it," Howard said. [AP]
During the quarter horse meet that preceded this one, six horses suffered broken legs in the first ten days of racing.

- Pennsylvania’s slot law is supposed to provide direct benefits to homeowners by providing for a property tax credit for every homeowner to reflect gambling revenue directed to school districts. Act 72, the companion bill to the VLT law, requires individual school boards to opt-in to the program. One would think this would be a no-brainer, but think again.
One by one, school boards have begun rejecting the gambling money - a trickle of opposition that is expected to become a flood by the end of the month. Only a few of the 64 districts in Philadelphia's suburbs are likely to say yes before the May 30 deadline; statewide, fewer than half of the 500 eligible districts are expected to join.
……
Statewide, 22 have said yes and 26 no, according to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

Boards have objected on financial, academic, and even moral grounds. [Philly Inquirer]
The main objection seems to be the fact that any school board that opts-in makes itself subject to referendums on any proposed property tax increases that exceed the rate of inflation, raising the possibility of voter rejection and resulting austerity school budgets. There’s also the matter of all residents of any districts that opt-in being subject to a .1 percent increase in their earned-income tax.
One district, Morrisville, opted out because "about 45 percent of our residents are renters," school board President Sandy Gibson said. "They wouldn't see any property tax relief and they would get another tax increase" from the earned-income tax increase.”
In addition, high-income earners fear that the income tax increase would cancel out any savings on the property-tax for them. Then there’s the morality question:
Citing moral objections to gambling, [Gettysburg] board member Doyle Waybright said he won't accept "tainted" money.

"Supposedly the senior citizens with property have the most to gain by Act 72," he said. "I ask the senior citizens, 'Do you want your community to become a gambling one? Do you want this kind of culture passed along to your grandchildren?' " [York Daily Record]

The firm May 30 deadline is also a problem, as school boards wonder exactly why they have to decide now without knowing if slots revenues will be sufficient to grant the property tax credits that have been promised (around $333 per homeowner). In an editorial, the Philly Inquirer says: The deadline should be extended.
But it won't, because both the governor and lawmakers fear running for reelection next year without being able to tell voters they got them property tax relief.
Governor Rendell has raised the threat of the legislature passing a bill to make Act 72 mandatory on all school districts, and one House Democrat says he will introduce a bill to do just that.
"This was never intended to be about school boards," [Rep. Mike Veon] said. "The most important idea behind Act 72 was to deliver real property tax cuts for homeowners, funded by the new state revenue from gaming." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
The Inquirer asks:
If lawmakers didn't intend to honor school boards' freedom of choice, why didn't they make Act 72 compulsory in the first place?

Embarrassed by the mediocre scorecard with 23 days to go - 15 opt-ins and nine opt-outs out of 500 eligible districts - politicians are just lashing out.

That's not using the bully pulpit. That's just plain bullying.

1 Comment:

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