Well - the media circus has come to town....
Let me tell the tale.
Kansas was not a para-mutual betting state until recently. We have never had casinos but have had them right up close to our boarders, mainly in the KC MO and Oklahoma area.
Well, the battle to allow gaming has been going on for years. While I was serving a stint on the Sumner County Economic Development Board it finally came to a head. A casino firm came to the county and wanted to spearhead the initiative to get casinos here in Kansas. So the fur started flying.
Personally I do not care for casinos yet we live in a rather poor county that could really use the extra revenue. So I had the chance to work with some of the casino people and their plan. They came up with an excellent proposal and location. It would be in a rural area of the state right off the turnpike and very close to the main competition in Oklahoma.
I then had the chance to go with a small delegation to the State Capital and lobby for the change with the 'powers-that-be'. It worked and it passed.
Now this didn't mean we would get casinos, it just meant that the State was authorized to have them in certain areas. Each county was then allowed to vote whether or not to allow a casino in their area. Our county (Sumner) voted to allow and the county north of us (Sedgwick) voted it down. Now Sedgwick county has the largest city, Wichita, and the most money. The 'powers-that-be' for that county wanted the casinos real bad and were not happy that they didn't get it.
Now is where the problems began. Non of this can be proven, it is all speculation, but you know how politics work.
One of the towns in Sumner County straddles both counties. The largest percentage of that town is in Sedgwick County. Keep this in mind. Also, remember, the original location would be in rural area of the state right off the turnpike and very close to the main competition in Oklahoma AND is only about 5 miles from the KS/OK boarder.
Now that the State has decided to allow casinos Harras (not the original casino company) has decided THEY want to build here as well. Remember the town that straddles the county line? Harras wants to build about three miles from them (about 4 miles from our house as the crow flies) and that town supply services. However, that town voted and said they did not want the Casino yet the town close to the OK boarder does want it.
Not good enough for Harras...the location they have chosen is across the street from Sedgwick county and they are PUSHING BIG TIME to force the state to allow it to go there.
Now, does that make sense? The people of Sedgwick county doesn't want them and neither does the people of the town that straddles the county line. Our county wants a casino (but not Harras) and the town close to the OK boarder wants it bad and have services ready to go. However, for some reason Harras is INSISTING on the location they want. That location is bound by zoning limits, the other location isn't so it could expand a lot.
Now, this is the part that can not be proven and is just a speculation - but it is (IMHO) the more plausible reason Harras is fighting so hard to put a casino where they want to put it.
The 'powers-that-be' in Sedgwick county and the town that straddles the county line WANT the casino (specifically the revenue). The people who live in those areas voted, and overwhelmingly, said "NO".
Now, if Harras has their way and get to build where they want this is what is speculated. Within a year or two of development the 'powers-that-be' in the town that straddles the county line will appeal to the 'powers-that-be' in Sedgwick county to annex the small percentage (about 1/3) of their town out of Sumner county and into Sedgwick county. This will allow 'powers-that-be' in Sedgwick county to gain control of the casino (i.e. the revenue) they wanted but their citizens didn't.
In other words, a back door way for the casino into the county that didn't want them but has the most people and money. If the casino is not built that close to the county line then the plan will not work.
The 'powers-that-be' in the town that straddles the county line will say that they want to be unified under one county (which makes sense) AND they will say that Sedgwick county (the wealthier one) will have better means to meet the needs of the growing casino industry.
So, in other words, even though the people do not want it, and have voted against it, the 'powers-that-be' (those who would glean financial reward) are trying to force the state to allow the project to go forward.
Does all of this make sense?
So...we have a casino trying to force it's way into an area that doesn't want them, but do not want to go where they are being asked.
You tell me...do you smell a rat? Do you see something underhanded going on?
Well...the neutral ground ('No-Man's Land') is right in front of our house at the high school.
Following are pics I took this morning around 7:30.
You should see it now. I might have to go get more pics. There are cops (City, County and State); protesters; and media all over the place. Roads are blocked and it is literally a circus. The cops are even prepped in case of a riot.
I'll keep you informed how it goes.
And to think...it will continue till tomorrow evening!
Till next time...
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