Deerfield: Seminoles Owe For Traffic Woes

This morning both the Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald have the same story out of Tallahassee: That the pari-mutuel industry, in its bid to stop Charlie Crist from giving the Seminole Tribe a monopoly on table games, has given $800,000 to state Republicans.

Well, the pari-mutuels have never been stupid. They know the way to a legislator's heart is through his wallet. But it doesn't change the fact that the right thing to do is to reject any compact with the Seminoles that gives it a monopoly on blackjack and other table games.

Look, the Seminoles want to believe they operate on an island and don't owe the state a damn thing for anything. It's not true. Who pays for the traffic they generate with their casinos? Who builds the roads and pays for the traffic lights? Who supplies them with water, etc?

They should pay their fair share of taxes without demanding a monopoly that's going to put the pari-mutuels -- which pay a huge tax rate and are regulated by the state -- in a horrible position.

Want an example? Traffic in Deerfield Beach has increased drastically since the Seminoles built its casino in nearby Coconut Creek, which the Seminoles are planning to expand by 200 acres and build the largest casino in the United States (did you know this?). It's so bad that new Deerfield manager Mike Mahaney wants the cost of upgrading streets and traffic interchanges factored into the Seminole compact with Crist.

What follows is an email from Mahaney to the city's lobbyist, Heather Turnbell: --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Michael Mahaney Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2007 9:25 AM To: 'Heather Turnbull' Subject: RE: Indian Compact

The city is contiguous with the City of Coconut Creek. Anyone coming from the north on I-95 or the turnpike going to the casino generally gets off at tenth street /Sawgrass Expressway. Traffic is always a mess particularly at rush hour as citizens from the area want to travel north or south on I-95 or the turnpike. The county has just recently opened bids to connect Wiles Road in Coconut Creek to Green Road/48th Street in Deerfield by constructing an elevated section/bridge. Please note that this road is adjacent to the regional incinerator/landfill which has tremendous truck traffic. Now throw in building the largest gambling facility in the country and purchasing an additional 200 or more acres.

In my opinion, 10th street improvements including I-95 and turnpike interchange improvements and a new interchange at I-95 and Green Road/48th street are a must This would provide more direct and alternative routes to the casino and also would relieve pressure on Sample Road (our southern boundary). Please note that a number of these improvements are shown on the Broward County 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan but are currently unfunded. Please call about scheduling the meeting with Senator Steve Geller. -----------------------------------------------------------------------

Turnbell explained to Mahaney that the Seminoles refuse to negotiate with anyone but the City of Coconut Creek regarding the casino expansion and refuse to include any of this in the compact.

Increasingly, the Tribe has become an unaccountable and at times downright arrogant empire that benefits hugely from taxpayers but doesn't want to give much, if anything, back. Now Crist wants to give them a monopoly?

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman