Jobs! Jobs! Jobs?

 

Bart Blatstein’s “Provence”

The Inquirer’s Jennifer Lin is some kind of a quote magnet.

Here’s what found its way into her reporter’s notebook yesterday, during the announcement of Bart Blatstein’s proposed Provence casino resort on North Broad Street, which would be the city’s second (that license, once granted to Foxwoods for a site on South Delaware Avenue is now up for grabs). Read Lin’s report on the proposed project HERE.

City Council President Darrell Clark: “Jobs, jobs, jobs. This is what it’s all about. [A second casino] is the most significant economic opportunity for the city of Philadelphia.”

Bart Blatstein: “I could build four of these projects with the money that is being offered to me.”

Where to begin, really?

Well, let’s start with Bart, who is certain that his proposal for a journey to France-themed casino resort will win the city’s second license. This may be the usual Blatstein bluster, but the statement strikes me for a different reason, and I’m not sure it’s all bad: the city finds itself attracting stupid money.

Yes, it’s for a stupid thing–I am not arguing on the merits of casinos or this project–but hot cash is a sign of a place in play. And moreover, all cities build stupid things.

That doesn’t mean, of course, those stupid things should be at the center of the city’s economic development strategy. I suspect Darrell Clarke didn’t really mean what he said yesterday–he was probably a little light-headed from the lavender scented air of Provence–but if the second casino is really any more than a small part of the city’s larger economic strategy then we really are being taken for a ride.

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine. Popkin's literary criticism appears in the Wall Street Journal, Public Books, The Kenyon Review, and The Millions. He is writer-in-residence of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.



1 Comment


  1. It’s also about the tax revenue. Don’t forget that the Rendell administration’s long-range fiscal projections relied on tax revenues flowing in from two casinos operating in the city – and that Act 71, the original state casino legislation, began funneling that revenue to the city before even the first casino opened. The Commonwealth needs to recoup its advance somehow, and that 55% state tax on casino revenues (the stiffest in the United States, which is why Pennsylvania ranks second only to Nevada in terms of state revenues from gaming) is the way. City electeds fought to retain that second casino license when the GOP solons in Harrisburg threatened to strip it for that reason as well.

    (Source for some of this analysis: off-the-record conversations with attendees at last night’s bash.)

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