Thursday, October 27, 2005

Channel 4 News - Mayor Murphy: Issue Of Slot Licenses May Be Corrupt

This was a great exchange. Classic Murphy.

Furthermore, there was a moment when my jaw hit the floor. This one time I was in complete agreement with Tom Murphy. Oh my gosh. I was in full agreement with Tom Murphy. I started to smile. This heartfelt appreciation came over me like a glow -- and it lasted about 45-seconds.

Tom Murphy said, "You're not doing your jobs." At first I thought he was talking to the citizens and voters. But quickly I came to understand the "YOU" Tom meant was the media. You in the media are not doing your jobs, mentioned Murphy. Okay now. I was grooving. But Murphy would go on and speak some more. And then it was very clear. Tom Murphy wasn't doing his job. Tom Murphy was going to do nothing. Tom Murphy was going to bit his lip and say nothing so as to cover himself. Tom Murphy was going to float through a leadership void and let the city suffer. - Channel 4 Action News - Mayor Murphy: Issue Of Slot Licenses May Be Corrupt: "PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- Mayor Tom Murphy raised eyebrows Thursday at a luncheon for the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania after insinuating that the process of issuing slot machine licenses may be corrupt.

He chastised Pittsburgh journalists for not digging hard enough to find out what backroom deals are being made with the state gaming commission.

He was then challenged by Pittsburgh Tribune Review reporter Andy Conti to disclose what he knows publicly.

'You and I have had conversations about it, Andy,' Murphy said.

Conti asked him to talk on the record.

'Who's going to say on the record that the fix is in, and somebody already won the license?' Conti said. 'What evidence is out there?'

'And get sued?' Murphy said."
For the record, I played a bit of a role in that -- from the sidelines. Murphy was saying that this dealings with the gambling should be "TRANSPARENT." Then he got into this bit about corruption. Meanwhile, Murphy wasn't being transparent himself. He wanted to have others be transparent, but not him. So, I spoke up when there was a silence, "Be transparent."

Then Murphy said, "And get sued?"

Then under my breath -- at my table -- I said yes. Say only what you know to be true and defend it. Be a leader. Be right. Don't just cover your backside and let the city slide into corruption, afraid to talk.

If Mayor Murphy has something to say about corruption in the gambling process, he needs to say it, in public, like the public official he was elected to be. Otherwise, he should resign. I've said that before. But this is different. This is a new month. I have not said it in October 2005. There. It feels good too. Resign Tom.

Here is the rest of the story from WTAE TV 4's site.
Murphy never said what he believes is evidence of backroom deals being made for casino licenses in Pittsburgh. However, he warns the public that the state is attempting to strip the city of local zoning authority of where gambling establishments should go up.

"Who gets the license? Where does the license go?" Murphy said. "If that power is stripped, then there will be no local control at all. It'll be forced on us by a gaming commission that may or may not be connected to the values of this community."

Murphy also cautioned the public about the perceived windfall of revenue. He said the challenge is to determine where revenues will be placed.

"Is it an arena? Is it more money for the arts or community organizations? What does it do to the basic values of Pittsburgh?" Murphy said.

The state has pushed back its deadline for issuing gaming licenses. The time frame now is summer 2006.

News at 11. We'll see what the papers bring in the morning.


Anonymous said...

Front page story

Mayor claims 'fix is in' on slots license
Friday, October 28, 2005

By Mark Belko and Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy said yesterday he's heard "scuttlebutt" that the award of a license for Pittsburgh's slot machine casino is being decided behind the scenes.

"It is no secret ... that supposedly, the fix is in," Mr. Murphy remarked during a panel discussion at the Pittsburgh Press Club.

In a subsequent interview, Mr. Murphy said he feared that politics was influencing the selection process, and indicated that he believes Forest City Enterprises, owner of Station Square and one of five entities competing for the slots license, had a political advantage in the competition.

A spokesman for the state Gaming Control Board, which will award the license, noted that the board has not yet begun accepting applications, and said that all applicants would get full consideration.

At the panel event, Mr. Murphy prefaced his remark about a "fix" by chiding the news media for not being aggressive in its coverage of the slots issue. But he refused to elaborate when pressed by another panelist to identify who the license had been "fixed" for.

"And get sued ... right," Mr. Murphy said.

Mr. Murphy privately has said similar things about the licensing process to reporters in the past, but has offered no concrete evidence.

In an interview after the Press Club remarks, Mr. Murphy said he was "very concerned" about the possibility that politics was influencing the selection process.

"I can't tell you how important I think it is to have transparency on this issue," he said.

Asked whether one location had a political advantage over others, Mr. Murphy replied, "That's the scuttlebutt. ... Whether that's the case or not remains to be seen."

Asked whether Station Square was the location with the advantage, Mr. Murphy responded, "Right." He did not elaborate.

The Pittsburgh license and 13 others throughout the state will be awarded by the Gaming Control Board, a seven-member panel appointed by state legislative leaders and Gov. Ed Rendell. Each of the leaders had one appointment and the governor had three.

As the system is set up, all appointees of legislative leaders and at least one of the governor's must agree on a license for it to be awarded. The board will begin accepting applications for stand-alone casinos in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and other parts of the state Tuesday.

In response to Mr. Murphy's comments, gaming board spokesman Nick Hays said, "The Gaming Control Board has not begun to accept applications for the Category 2 licenses, but when it does it will give full consideration to all of the applications and make its decision based on the best interests of the commonwealth."

Kate Philips, spokeswoman for Mr. Rendell, said the governor "has neither a role nor any influence over where slot licenses go."

"Any implication that he is involved in some sort of fix is incredible and absolutely untrue," she said. "We know of no fix."

Al Ratner, board co-chairman of Forest City Enterprises, said he had no comment.

Forest City is expected to compete against the Penguins, Alco Parking Corp. President Merrill Stabile, MTR Gaming which owns Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort in Chester, W.Va., and Beaver County developer Charles Betters for the license.

All have contributed to the campaigns of key state and local politicians to various degrees over the past four years, though the Penguins' donations have been minimal. Members of the Ratner family have contributed the most, donating $264,942 to campaigns and committees, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette analysis.

Mr. Rendell has received $147,688 from the Ratners, but all but $4,500 of it came in 2002 during his campaign for governor. This year, they also gave $10,000 to state House Speaker John Perzel and $29,000 to city mayoral candidate Bob O'Connor, who has no role in the licensing process.

Spokespersons for the recipients have said the contributions would not have any influence in the decision-making over slots. Ms. Philips said it is no surprise Mr. Rendell received election support from those interested in gambling because he was a pro-gambling candidate.

She added the donations, a small percentage of the $40 million he raised during his campaign, would have no effect since Mr. Rendell has no role in awarding the license.

(Mark Belko can be reached at or 412-263-1262. Rich Lord can be reached at or 412-263-1542.)

Anonymous said...

If Rendell has nothing to do with the decision then why was he so insistent that his appointee have veto power on the location selection? Why has he continuously praised one proposal while trashing the others and why did his former aid get 30 thousand form the station square owners? Murphy's right. The media has been asleep on this scandal.

Mark Rauterkus said...

You are right -- and I agree -- Murphy is right about the media being a sleep. I always go out of my way to bash the media, locally, for lots of reasons. This is where we agreed (Murphy & you and me).

Plus, I agree, Rendell has some sway. And, same too does Bob O'Connor. And, same too with the existing Mayor (for a short time yet). And, to some degree, same too for city council as a body and as individual memebers. This is why I am striving to be on council and have an elected position so my rants turn into powerful leadership that won't be beholden to other interests, other than the good of the city and region.

But, Murphy is wrong to not be transparent himself. If he was with courage, he'd name names and out the mere underhanded thought of ill will that is to occur or has been happening.

The backroom dealings, done-deal attitudes stink -- and Murphy let loose a stinker of his own yesterday.