Thursday, August 11, 2011

Letter to ANC Commissioners from Commissioner Andy Litsky

Dear Fellow Commissioners, 

If you think that the last two weeks of August and Labor Day week is the best opportunity to hold a discussion about how gambling will be introduced in the District of Columbia then please don't bother to read any further. 
The information below is from the DC Lottery Commission web site.  You can log on to see precisely what the Lottery Commission -- and our DC Council -- consider appropriate "community outreach" regarding the introduction of internet gambling in each and every neighborhood in the District of Columbia.  
I'll make it easy for you.  Here's what they consider proper public outreach: 
1. The ANC Chairs from across the city were purportedly mailed notice on August 4 requesting their attendance at a meeting with the DC Lottery on August 16 to discuss the introduction of internet gambling in our communities as soon as this October. 
2. There will be eight ward meetings, each scheduled for just two hours apiece and held in small meeting rooms at local DC Public Libraries -- which may, or may not, be eventual sites for internet gambling.  The DC Lottery hasn't ruled that out.
Yep.  That's it.  That's the extent of public outreach -- in the dead of August.
There will be no visits by Lottery Officials to seek additional concerns from the general public, or at local ANC meetings or from our community and civic associations.
But it's August and the Lottery Commission hopes to do this when most of the city is on vacation, when the Council is on recess and virtually every ANC and civic association is out of session. 
Unless ANC Commissioners, civic and community association leadership, the general public and the media speak up, we risk that this may become the new standard for adopting DC legislation going forward -- quick, down, dirty and out of public view.  We must demand greater accountability from our elected officials and from those whom they appoint to manage our District affairs.
Regardless of whether you believe that internet gambling is bad public policy, we must insist upon proper and thorough community input.  It is particularly galling that this faux community outreach schedule appears to be acceptable to our city council, the Lottery Commission and the Mayor. 
There must be proper notification to ANCs, civic associations and local churches.  (See the attached Resolution that I urge you to introduce).  Hundreds of small businesses currently contracted to sell lottery tickets must be notified that they may lose significant revenue if lottery tickets are to be sold online.  And the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission must hold a noticed and open meeting to decide whether gambling on premises should be considered "a substantial change" under the law for hundreds of their license holders. So why the rush?
If this is how our government is handling a simple matter of public outreach, how accountable do you imagine that they are going to be once gambling is on the table?  Who is watching the store?  Well, we all need to be.
Remember, it's August. But see if you can get through to your Councilmember anyway, each of your at-large Councilmembers, and Chairman Kwame Brown (724-8000).  Call the Mayor (727-6300).  And call Buddy Roogow, Director of the DC Lottery Commission (202-645-8000). Tell Buddy to put his cards on the table -- He’s running the show.  
Demand that they slow this thing down.  These meetings must take place when everyone is back in town, properly noticed and focusing on this issue -- not during the last two weeks of August and the week of Labor Day.    What a sham.   What a shame.
Please post this information your community listserves and blogs.
Andy Litsky
Commissioner, ANC 6D-04
Southwest Waterfront

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