Steven Siegel, a teacher at Niagara University and long-time Buffalo casino critic, attempts today to discredit the consultant the Senecas have hired to further their case. And he does it in a particularly ugly manner.
Having suffered a series of legal setbacks followed by the unexplained resignation of three of its top executives, the Seneca Gaming Corp., in its continuing efforts to justify the economically unjustifiable, has now unveiled its newest “hired gun” — Jonathan Taylor.
Recently in this column, Taylor attacked a respected local citizen. The citizen’s crime was that she had dared to join a chorus of experts who, in a recent article in The Buffalo News, had all criticized Taylor’s flawed research into the supposed economic advantages of building a casino in downtown Buffalo.
Taylor, the "hired gun," didn't attack Dianne Bennett (aforementioned respected local citizen) at all; he simply refuted a statement of hers.
In response to our study for the Seneca Nation, Dianne Bennett, a leader of the opposition to the Buffalo Creek Casino, said in Friday's News, "To my knowledge, there is not one economic study that hasn't been commissioned by the gambling industry or supported by gambling interests that says gambling is good for an economy."
A quick trip to the Web would expand her knowledge. She would find that a bipartisan commission, appointed by Congress and the president, assembled gambling proponents and opponents to look into the question. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission contracted two academic studies of casino impacts, and though they applied different methods, both studies linked casinos with economic vitality
That's it. That's the "attack." Pretty rough stuff, huh? I blogged on it here but unfortunately the original link to Taylor's piece doesn't come up any more. Taylor cited some easily accessible studies that were conducted by non-gambling interests that did indicate economic benefits to cities that allow gambling casinos. There was no attack.
Is this the best the anti-casino gang can do to justify their position? Is it so desperate that just as those who aren't convinced that man has caused global warming are branded "deniers," is anyone who now dares to speak in favor of a Buffalo casino now on the "attack?"
Nowhere in his op-ed, by the way, does Siegel bother to refute the studies cited by Taylor. It's as if they didn't exist. His entire theme is simply that Taylor is being paid for his advocacy and therefore not to be trusted while Mr. Siegel, an academic you'll know, is without bias.
Taylor is not an academician and, by his own admission, provides paid services intended to justify economic projects proposed by Native American groups. Therefore, Taylor is hardly an unbiased voice whose opinions we can rely on in the casino debate.
Mr. Siegel, the academic, you may recall, was the one who argued in the Buffalo News that we should oppose a casino because its 1,000 tantalizing new jobs might tempt downtown waiters and waitresses. Those treacherous employees, having been lured away from their low-paying gigs, would thus create hiring and training hardships for their former employes that pay less and somehow that would hurt Buffalo.
I have to admit it was an economic principle I'd not heard of prior.
Jonathan Taylor presented data he believed supported his clients' contention that a casino would be positive for Buffalo. Steven Siegel misrepresented Taylor's column, ignored his arguments, impugned his integrity, and then dismissed him for being a non-academic. There's room for sensible debate on casino gambling, this wasn't an example. Who's attacking whom here?