Operation Transparency

Heiko Announces Operation Transparency

On Monday, October 30th, members of the coalition organization Casino Free Philadelphia launched Operation Transparency at City Hall. The campaign spotlights the secrecy surrounding the casino licensing procedure from the time of its creation, without a public debate, by an act of legislation in 2004, and that continues today, with only a fraction of the information submitted by casino applicants made available to the public so far. Casino Free Philadelphia members including Reverend Jesse Brown, Daniel Hunter and Jethro Heiko faxed a letter from Mayor Street’s communications room to Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) Chairman Tad Decker demanding the PGCB release crucial information including site plans, designs, traffic studies and projected revenue reports by December 1st. A copy of the letter was faxed to Governor Rendell.

Since the close of the public comment period, many changes have been made to the applications by the casino companies. Hallwatch reported “Foxwoods Casino has revised and extended its application a total of 46 times since initially filing it with the Gaming Board on December 27, 2005.” The Trump design has been revised a number of times since 12 acres was added to its site plan. The proposed site abuts a high school. Traffic impact reports have not been made available to the public. Jethro Heiko, a founding member of Neighbors Allied for the Best Riverfront (NABR) said, “What we need is accurate final proposals released to the public and an opportunity for the public to review those proposals and provide public comment before licensing.” The group advocates an open, public process that includes communities in the development of their neighborhoods.

Casino Free Philadelphia plans to undertake a citizen search to find the documents on December 11th, if the PGCB has not made them publicly available by then. Activists delivered a copy of the letter and a treat bag filled with gold chocolate coins and a magnifying glass to members of Council. More information about Operation Transparency is available at the Casino Free Philadelphia website. You can also sign their petition asking for the release of this information to the public.

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