Posts Tagged ‘Town of Tuxedo’

Worship of Money Trumps Morality

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

By Michael Kaufman

An essay written and published more than 90 years ago explains a lot about the current competition for casino sites in the Hudson Valley. Titled “The Mysticism of Money,” the essay was written by Harold Loeb, whose uncles (the Guggenheim brothers) may well be described as the Koch brothers of their day. 

In 1914 one of the worst mining disasters in U.S. history occurred at a West Virginia coal mine owned by the Guggenheim family. Between 183 and 186 workers were killed. The explosion and deaths led to widespread unionization in the mines and prompted legislative safety and labor reforms. The Guggenheims held major interests in mining all over the world. Their three-fold strategy, according to the Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders, “was first, always go in for the big development when the business barometer is low; second, always use the cheap labor and raw materials of undeveloped countries to depress your own country’s industries, to force its wages and prices down until they are so cheap you can afford to buy them up and integrate them into your own monopoly; and third, to own everything from mine mouth to finished product.”

In his essay Loeb argues that the “mysticism of money” has assumed the role of religion in the United States. Among his observations:

                “Money has become the measuring staff of all values and the goal and reward of all efforts conventionally accepted as proper.” Thus it is entirely proper for casino developers and Orange County elected officials to stick a knife into the backs of people in neighboring counties—especially Sullivan—who had pinned their hopes for much-needed economic revival on having one or more casinos built there. 

Numerous resort hotels once thrived in Sullivan and some of the old properties seem like perfect locations for a Las Vegas or Atlantic City style casino resort hotel. But when there is money to be had, concepts such as loving thy neighbor or doing unto others as you would have them do unto you are tossed aside.

“The validity of the money standard and the intrinsic merit of money making are accepted on faith, extra-intellectually. One does not question them; the rash interlocutor who seeks to know why the banker continues to augment his unspendable wealth is catalogued as slightly touched…” The rash interlocutor today is one who dares raise doubts in the face of promises of financial rewards dangled before proposed host communities. Front-page headlines herald “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” “More money for cops, schools.” Ignored is the experience of other communities previously enticed by similar promises. Former U.S. Congressman Robert H. Steele of Connecticut visited Tuxedo June 26 to explain how his community was transformed for the worse by the casinos.  By then, however, Town of Tuxedo officials had already hastily voted their approval of the Sterling Forest Resort Casino.

Genting (the Malaysian-based company with major interests in casinos all over the world) had donated hundreds of thousands of dollars—“no strings attached”—to the Tuxedo public schools. But if they really wanted to make a no-strings-attached gift they would have given the money to a hard-up school district in Sullivan County as a goodwill gesture. One would probably be deemed “slightly touched” for making a suggestion to that effect, as would one who suggests that some of the money expected soon to be flowing into Orange County be used to help our neighbors in Sullivan. 

“The casinos were never intended for our county, one of the fastest growing in NY State,” notes attorney Michael Sussman of Goshen, who will host a public meeting on Thursday, July 10, at Town of Wallkill Town Hall, Tower Drive, Middletown. (Tower Road is off route 211 across from the entrance to Galleria Mall.) The meeting is co-sponsored by Democratic Alliance and casiNO-Orange. “We strongly believe casinos should be opened in Sullivan and Western Ulster County,” says Sussman, “economically depressed areas with excellent sites [Concord and Nevele hotels].” Residents of all three counties are invited to attend and participate.

Michael can be reached at


Tuxedo Casino Bad Bet for Nature

Friday, June 27th, 2014

By Michael Kaufman

As local government officials throughout our region slobber, beg, and otherwise outdo themselves groveling in hope of landing a casino in their midst, area residents have few objective sources for information. Competition among the various bidders has been an advertising bonanza for local media outlets, which have tended to extol the benefits (even the “indirect benefits” to neighboring communities such as, say, Greenwood Lake and Warwick) and pay little, if any, attention to the potential negative effects. Too bad the developers are not required to include in their advertisements the same sort of warnings required of pharmaceutical companies when advertising their wares. At least a fellow with “low-T” or a flaccid penis, for example, can weigh the pros and cons of seeking a prescription if he listens closely to the staccato recitation of potential side effects at the end of the commercial or reads the fine print below the newspaper ad.

Negative publicity about any of the casino proposals thus far seems mainly to have been generated by the competitors themselves. Witness Orange County’s current legal counsel Langdon Chapman’s hatchet job on his former employer, Ulster County. (Chapman was at his sleazy best again this week as he joined Orange County Executive Steve “Pinocchio” Neuhaus in an ill-advised attempt to smear Judge Elaine Slobod because of her ruling about Valley View. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.)  

Earlier this week Town of Tuxedo officials gave their approval to one of the most odious of the casino proposals—Genting’s plan to erect a Las Vegas style luxury resort casino hotel in Sterling Forest. Genting has outspent the competition in advertising as well as in goodwill gestures designed to generate local popular support. It’s “no strings attached” donation of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Tuxedo public schools was a public relations coup.  

Brushed aside were objections such as those made by James Hall, Executive Director of the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission (PIPC), whose letter to Tuxedo Town Supervisor Mike Rost was posted online by the Tuxedo Park FYI website June 16. Hall said he has “significant concerns regarding this proposal and potential impacts on our park land and critical natural resources we are charged to protect.

“Of most critical concern are the potential impacts on the water resources which were among the primary purposes that Sterling Forest was preserved under the unique partnership of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, the National Park Service, the State of New York, the State of New Jersey and many not for profit organizations. I am specifically concerned about how such a development will obtain its water supply and depose of wastewater and how such actions may impact park property, its water and other significant ecological resources.”

Although the plans include a promise to develop a new exit (15b) off the New York State Thruway, Hall noted that “such a plan would require the acquisition of park property. No one has approached the Commission regarding this issue and the Commission does not support such an acquisition and such a conveyance is not authorized under our Federal Congressional Compact.” (Genting has since responded, saying it is willing to work with all interested parties and will pay for everything so there is no need to worry.)           

“Given the extremely limited information and preliminary nature of the proposal,” Hall continued, “I do not support the proposed plan and likewise feel it is inappropriate and premature for the Town to endorse such a massive project without a better understanding of the associated impacts and whether critical components such as exit 15b are even legally practical considerations underpinning the proposal, not to mention completely unknown impacts of the critical water resources of the area….

“The Commission’s properties are a significant asset of the Town,” concluded Hall, “providing significant tax payment in exchange for few services. I hope that the Town will take these concerns seriously as you make this critical decision regarding community support of the project.”

But last week, consultants hired by the town (with money generously donated by Genting) presented a rosy report citing the many positive impacts they predict will be forthcoming. The “significant tax payment” by the PIPC seems a mere pittance compared to all the goodies promised by Genting, along with some fine print that has yet to be revealed.

For more on the subject, including the full text of Hall’s letter, visit the Tuxedo Park FYI website.

Michael can be reached at