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After voters in the City of Richmond voted against allowing a casino to be built in the city earlier this month, a state senator and local leaders are pushing for the small city of Petersburg to be the next option for a gaming resort. Petersburg is 30 minutes south of Richmond and is split by Interstate 95.

Petersburg’s Mayor Sam Parham took the owners of Urban One, the company rejected in Richmond, on a tour to consider the city for a location recently. State Sen. Joe Morrissey says he plans to introduce the appropriate legislation to allow Petersburg to have a casino.

Petersburg would first have to be approved by the General Assembly for this type of gaming license. After General Assembly approval, a referendum could be put in front of the residents in Petersburg during the next general election asking for their approval on allowing a casino into the city.

Barb Rudolph, a community activist and founder of ‘Clean Sweep Petersburg,’ a group dedicated to transparency and accountability within Petersburg’s government, provided commentary on Thursday about her fears that local leaders might be in over their heads negotiating this deal. She notes that while the majority of the current city council was in charge in 2016, the city suffered a financial crisis and needed to be bailed out by the state of Virginia and consultant groups.

Read the full piece of commentary from Barb Rudolph below:

Wishin’ and hopin’ – That’s what the thread about “what would you do with revenue from the casino?” is. I love looking at houses online – real estate porn. And I even keep a file of ones I’d buy if I won the lottery. But realistically, I gotta take care of the not-grand house I live in now, and that’s where my money goes.

That’s why we also need to look at another of the many angles of “casino dreams”. My question is, are the people in leadership actually able to make this happen, even with a casino thrown in their laps (One Casino + Resort, Richmond’s reject)?

A few things to consider:

  • Our councilors have not been able to manage the city’s finances. You all remember 2016, and yes, the comeback has been remarkable. But council is taking no more actual interest in minding the store now than then – they’re totally reliant on staff and consultants. But it’s them we’re leaving the deal-making up to.
  • In the last 5 years, we’ve only had a person hired as the economic development director in the job for 6 months, and he’s been gone for over a year now. This department is anything but robust, and is relying heavily on the regional economic development organization – which is hooked up with developers who are not “representative of the city’s population”. One word I’ll come back to: cronyism.
  • Council has a high tolerance for low ethics. It would take a whole series of posts to flesh this out, but if you follow this group or even the news, you know.
  • Finally, look around – we’re supposed to be flush with money, but the city government is limping along with multiple vacancies in key positions, public safety is understaffed and perhaps underappreciated, there is no true partnership with the schools, signs of decay are everywhere but only one section of the city seems to grab all of the attention and resources. That just scratches the surface.

Would YOU invest your money in a deal brokered by these people, and count on the return on the investment helping you and others? That’s what we’ll be asked to accept, that this trust can be given and the results counted on to align with what’s been promised.

(The views in this article are not associated with Virginia Scope.)

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By vascope