2014-10-09 / Opinion

Too Many Unanswered Questions

To the Editor:

Let’s call a spade a spade. "Monte Carlo style entertainment center" means "casino." Despite the huge new banner on the building, this is not a backdrop for a movie or merely a recreational civic center. It’s a casino project with too many unanswered questions.

Why is the sale-purchase price not public information? How do we know this project as proposed stands a chance of being successful without knowing the total investment amount? All we hear about is the renovation costs, never a word about the purchase price. Why do the developers and current owners of Newport Grand want to keep us in the dark about the purchase price? Are they afraid that if people knew the amount we would begin to question if this project is destined to morph into a much larger casino in order to recoup costs and turn a profit? Who are the other investors that Paolino has in the wings on this project? Are they big gambling firms from Las Vegas? Atlantic City? or overseas investors from Malaysia? We have no idea, but we have a right to know. How quickly will the current developers flip this project to some other outside group? In an interview with the Newport Mercury, Mr. Paolino basically says they plan to bring in other investors and the original group of developers won’t be here forever. That’s a clear indication other wealthy investors are waiting in the wings to jump in. Why the secrets?

Why should Newporters give over our local power to the General Assembly? The upstate legislature has a proven track record of usurping local control by enabling off track betting, approving slot machines, granting an expansion of slot machines and allowing Newport Grand to ignore all local zoning ordinances, increase business hours and permit smoking. Not only was this done without Newport approval, it was done in direct opposition to what Newport wanted.

When all other businesses have to play by the rules, the General Assembly makes special exceptions for Newport Grand. The General Assembly made a middle of the night deal to bypass the state Constitution and tried to take away our right to a local referendum by bundling the casino question into the statewide ballot referendum. What other backroom deals will the General Assembly make in the future? You can be sure whatever happens, they will continue to treat Newport like the state piggy bank.

Since when are wealthy developers from Providence, Boston and Britain considered local? My great-grandparents and grandparents immigrated to Newport in the early 1900s. They lived, worked and raised families here. I am a local Newporter who loves this town. Please join me in voting NO on Question 1.

Katherine Carbone

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