Wednesday, September 07, 2005

No Need

Wheeling Council has tightened regulations for video lottery parlors in town. Councilman Seals says it will cut down on "nuisance activites" such as "late hours", "fighting and drinking in public".

Of course, the new regulation will do no such thing.

Those nuisance actitvities happen in bars and taverns, licensed by the state ABCC. The so-called "lottery lounges" that have been proliferating are in coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries and the like. The new ordinance grandfathers all existing video parlours into compliance, exempts the downtown area, all industrial zones, and "redevelopment" zones. Current zoning already prohibits them in residential areas.

What MIGHT happen, however, is that the one area of Wheeling that is relatively video-slot-free could see new ones coming. "Out the Pike", through parts of Woodsdale, Edgington Lane, there are only a handful of such places (compared to other parts of the City). If someone wants a piece of the very lucrative lottery pie, they might find it hard to open up in Warwood, Elm Grove, or elsehwere where there are already a lot of lounges. But there are some good sites within the "Out The Pike" area that are NOT within a thousand feet of another such lounge. That's where I would go if I wanted in the business.

Council is well meaning in this effort. They are responding to the perceived unhappiness of the public with the video parlor proliferation. But I have said for months, that the problems are PERCEIVED and not real in Wheeling. I have yet to see a single piece of evidence that there is more crime, more drunkeness, more loitering around the lottery lounges. There ARE such problems around taverns that have the machines....but it is the TAVERN not the machines that create the difficulty.

It's feel good legislation that probably does no harm, but does no real good either.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


President Bush has repeatedly told us that he will keep us safe. We have been told over and over that since 9/11 his administration has worked mightily to be prepared for disaster. We undertook the largest reorganization of government in decades and allocated money as much as was needed.

And the administration failed.

There isn't any "nicer" way to say it. They failed. Utter and abject failure.

With several days (at least) warning that a gigantic storm was heading New Orleans' way, there was ample time for disaster preparation. With decades of knowledge that NO's levees were not prepared to deal with a storm of this size, there was ample time to prepare for the "worst case scenario".

Yet, when Katrina hit and the levee's broke....and a disaster that had been long known to be possible happened....the federal disaster experts seemed to be caught unaware. The President's hand picked administrators for disasters claimed they "didn't know" how bad the problems were and "weren't aware" of many of the horrible after-disater problems. As Ted Koppel asked FEMA director Mike Brown this week, if you didn't know in your "official" capacity as a disaster official "DON'T YOU WATCH TELEVISION??" And yet, the President blithely praises Brown's efforts and says he's "satisfied" with the federal efforts.

State and local officials, to be sure, are also partly to blame. But when a disaster of this proportion occurrs, it is the federal government that we look to to lead the way.

And they failed.

From within his own party even Newt Gingrich wonders out loud " if we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?"

The President can't blame the Democrats, or the liberals, or the Muslims, or the press, or Bill Clinton. This is HIS Homeland Security Department and FEMA. These are HIS hand picked administrators. And this is HIS issue. The one he has spent his administration telling us to trust him with: our safety and security.

And he has failed.