EDITORIAL: Kanawha County Officials Seem Whipped by Nitro Casino

HNN Staff
EDITORIAL:  Kanawha County Officials Seem Whipped by Nitro Casino

Jobs are the last thing anyone wants to lose in West Virginia in this economy.  So ordinarily, we would understand why members of the Kanawha County Commission and other public officials there jumped all over State GOP Chairman Mike Stuart for finding fault with the lacking investment by the Mardi Gras Casino and Racetrack in Nitro.

However, what a sad day when county leaders are so subservient to the casino interests that they can't even agree with the simple point that Mardi Gras hasn't come close to fulfilling their financial promises to the county.  In fact, out of the $250 million promised, Mardi Gras has only invested a few million at the site after five years. 

Stuart's case is simple and hard to deny:  if the casino received permission to have table games through a public vote on the matter, then they have to abide by the terms of that vote.  One of the most significant terms of that vote was the $250 million promised by Mardi Gras.

Now if the casino were only short a few million, Stuart might be legitimately accused of nitpicking.  However, the situation is actually quite the reverse.  Rather than being a short a few million, the casino has only ponied up a few million--far short of the $250 million figure they promised voters back in 2007.

Typically, Democrats like Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper and Nitro city officials pounced on Stuart.  Though they should be outraged that the casino has taken them all for a royal ride over the past five years, they excoriated Stuart for potential job losses if voters rescind their vote in light of the broken promise from Mardi Gras.

Kanawha County would not be so desperate to keep the bartender and blackjack dealer jobs--you know, the "good paying jobs" provided by the casino--if their county leaders ever had an economic development idea other than gambling pop into their minds.

Never to miss an opportunity for free press, nominal Republican Mayor Danny Jones also threw a fit, lighting into Stuart for not talking to the Kanawha County GOP Executive Committee beforehand.

We grant that taking the political temperature of others in one's party is a good idea for any State Chairman.  However, as one member of the Kanawha County GOP Executive Committee noted to us, "Mike doesn't have to check in with us on matters that are already settled party doctrine."

This committee member was referring to the WV GOP's settled vote on the State Executive Committee on expanded gambling in West Virginia.  The GOP is on record as opposing more gambling, and that is one plank in the party's platform that has broad acceptance among rank-and-file Republicans statewide.

Stuart is in that most interesting position of being right, yet feeling the heat for it.  He has acknowledged that he should have talked with more people ahead of time.  So now we are left with the same question he faced himself:

Should businesses that get a special arrangement through a county referendum have to abide by their promises to the electorate? This was no informal promise--it was part of the legally held election on the matter.

Kanawha Countians have every right to expect those that they go into business with to abide by their commitments.  Their self-respect is at stake.

 

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