Casino on the Johnston Landfill?

Arthur Kimball-Stanley reports in today’s Projo that a casino developer is interested in building a casino on or near the site of the Johnston Landfill (will the hook be “The Stinkiest Casino in the East”? How about “Johnston: A Place for Solid Waste and Clean Fun”)…

The casino project pitched for [Johnston] Thursday night includes a 27-hole golf course and an upscale hotel, town officials who heard the presentation said yesterday….
Town Councilman Ernest F. Pitochelli said developer David H. Nunes, representing a company called Ajax Ventures, presented the possibility of building a casino resort on or near the industrial park built by the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, which operates the state Central Landfill “His reason for being there,” Pitochelli said, “was that he wanted the council to work with the company to help get the people to vote in favor of a casino in town.”
Mr. Nunes refused to disclose the name of the company he and Ajax Ventures represent. However, unless there’s some uber-Machievellian machinations going on, it’s pretty clear that this effort is not associated with the efforts of Harrah’s or the Narragansett Indian Tribe…
Harrah’s shouldn’t have a monopoly on developing a casino in Rhode Island, Nunes said, and that is why he is talking to Johnston officials. “There is potential for competition in building a casino in Rhode Island,” Nunes said yesterday, “and we’re looking for a receptive community.”
Nunes would not discuss anything about the company he represents, refusing even to name it. “We’re going to see if this jells, if it gets legs, and then we’ll pursue it,” he said.
There is no mention of whether any Indian tribe is involved, or what an Ajax-associated Constitutional amendment would look like, and whether it would simply legalize gambling in Rhode Island, or try to carve out a state-run monopoly for one company.
Finally, the article mentions a recent poll taken showing strong public support for a casino in Johnston…
Nunes told the council that the company he represents is interested in Johnston because of its location, Russo said. Also, a pollconducted by an unnamed Oregon company indicated that town residents were more supportive of such a proposal than were the residents in any of the other area communities polled, Nunes said.
Gerard Scotti, a town resident who answered the poll, said the questions were skewed to reflect positively on the casino. He said most of the questions referred to the financial problems that the town faces, and asked whether residents would mind having a casino contribute to the town’s coffers.
In the spirit of public responsiveness that casino developers always seem to be touting, let’s ask them to add one more question to any poll about establishing a casino…
If a destination casino were built in RI, would it be better if it contributed 25% of its profits or 60% of its profits went to the state for the purposes of improving education and providing tax-relief?

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john b
john b
15 years ago

David Nunes was working with the Wampanoag Indians to site a casino in SE Mass as late as 2005, however as you may know, that proposal has run into more than a few road blocks, not least of which were losing its industry backer and a gentleman by the name Abramoff…
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aNUApSBjw70c
After the Abramoff scandal tainted his clients’ efforts in the New Bedford area, it appears Nunes has decided to look south. Ajax Ventures is his latest front company, and money is coming into politicians from parties closely affiated with the New Bedford project.
Maybe they see RI has their new hope, as anyone at this point would be considered the lesser of the evils when compared with Harrahs.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the Wampanoag project from here. In the meantime, keep an eye on your campaign finance reports. I suspect there’s more traction here than people are willing to acknowledge.

john b
john b
15 years ago

It doesn’t take much to connect the dots. Kennedy’s report is FULL of interesting contributions.
So are certain other upwardly-looking elected officials’ reports…

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