Watson, do better
On Sunday I did a phone interview with a Centretown News reporter who wanted to know my thoughts about Mayor Watson's performance to date, mid-way through his term. I was more openly critical than I expected - apparently my circumspect filter was off. But after reading today's Joanne Chianello's article on the casino proposal I wish I'd gone further.
Holding back key details from a committee is atrocious. If the Citizen hadn't pushed, would these details have even come up before Council votes next week?
There’s also a vague notion that council would be able to negotiate some sort of financial deal with the province, to make sure we get our fair share.
Not so — those details have all been decided. The mayor has received the new agreement between the province and the municipality for sharing slots revenue. He released the information to councillors and the media Wednesday evening only after the Citizen contacted his office to confirm the numbers.
(The mayor of Kingston, who seems to run things a little differently, released the information Tuesday, before councillors actually voted on their own casino deal.)
Rushing decisions through committee is bad enough. It's technically legitimate but goes against any sense of tyring to consult with residents.
Holding key information back from Council is unforgiveable. I was at the meeting and councillors were clearly under the impression they had a stick to carry when conversing with Ontario Lottery and Gaming. Ottawa won't get any share in "table" games - we'll only get money from slot machines, and less of a share as more slot machines are added.
In other words, all the "new" money from a downtown casino that attracts a different blackjack playing clientele will go right to the province and the casino operator.
The city will get nothing except a blighted neighbourhood. The casino will have many blank walls so gamblers don't even consider going outside to enjoy Ottawa's natural beauty. Sadly, this city council will probably just authorize some aesthetically pleasing digital billboards to spuce things up.
In this casino, Mayor Watson is clearly the dealer and "the house", and by stacking the odds, the house is clearly always going to win his agenda.