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May 25, 2010

Cordish could yet prevail on slots referendum

Opponents of a big slots operation at Arundel Mills collected 40,408 signatures to put a referendum on the project on the November ballot. The Board of Elections tossed 17,441 signatures. But the 22,967 that remained are still enough to put the measure on the ballot. However, that's only about 4,000 more than the 19,000 required, reports Nicole Fuller in today's Sun -- a relatively thin margin.

Slots developer David Cordish is challenging 9,406 of the signatures, claiming 4,316 were forged and 1,203 don't match the name with which they're paired. Presumably Cordish's people will also be looking for signers who aren't registered voters or who don't live in the county.

It's hard to tell how rigorous the election board's analysis was, but it's probably fair to say that the board didn't analyze the signatures the way Cordish's lawyers are. State law requires the board to "Review all names and accompanying information on each signature page" and "Determine which signers are registered voters who meet the petition criteria and which are not registered voters or do not meet the petition criteria."

That doesn't exactly sound like Sherlock Holmes looks at the sheets. There's also an option for "random sampling" in which as few as 5 percent of the signatures could be examined. The biggest variable in Cordish's challenge may be the extent to which Ronald A. Silkworth agrees to hear a detailed analysis of the signatures in court.

Posted by Jay Hancock at 8:37 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Slots
        

Comments

Jay, I'm rooting for Cordish on this one. Seems to me he played by the rules, paid the $28M to the State for the right to bid on the slots license and has since been railroaded by the MD Jockey Club, the DeFrancis family and their new friends at Penn National, who I might add were nowhere to be seen when it was time to 'pony up' the fee for the slots license. This judge can help the state back up its claim to being business friendly by rejecting the cronyism of the MD Jockey Club and the DeFrancis family and their 'petition' drive. The real petition was the ballot initiative that already passed.

Amen Jason
what ever happened to rewarding those for doing the right thing, instead of it's not what you know but who you know (or pay off)

Why do they set standards and rules for the County Board to follow on petitions if someone is going to just as well challenge them in court and have it settled there? Are they implying that the Board is inept or corrupt? Why is Cordish challenging the petition if he is so sure that the petition doesn't have a sufficient number of valid signatures and ergo the referendum would not pass in the oppositions\'s favor this Nov? Because he knows it will pass. If people knew in Nov 08 what they know now, the referendum for slots wouldn't have ever passed. The slots belong at Laurel Race Course, not at a shopping mall.

You are, and have always been, in the tank for Cordish.

Why is Cordish going to such extraordinary lengths to prevent the citizens of Maryland from voicing their will in a fair and legal election?

People voted for slots on the assumption that they would be located at Laurel Park. Had voters known that they could end up at Arundel Mills, the measure would have certainly been defeated.

Cordish is obviously very afraid that the referendum will succeed in killing their plan for slots at Arundel Mills. They should be afraid because the voters will certainly vote against them.

Penn National "ponied up" when they bid on the Cecil County site.

Should Laurel pass, and Penn is asked to participate, they could only manage it. The owners would have to provide the fee for the license.

That's not an argument against Cordish, though. Cordish did follow the rules as presented to them. They should be given the opportunity.

Jim posted:
"If people knew in Nov 08 what they know now, the referendum for slots wouldn't have ever passed."

That's why a lot of us were against the referendum - too many ways that things could go wrong without the citizens having a leg to stand on. The law was practically written in a way that made the DeFrancis Family and their cohorts billionaires, yet they screwed up.

I'm afraid I'm with Jason on this one, too. Those voting yes in November made their bed, so they should honor the petition of the one person who played by their rules.

Jim posted:
"If people knew in Nov 08 what they know now, the referendum for slots wouldn't have ever passed."

That's why a lot of us were against the referendum - too many ways that things could go wrong without the citizens having a leg to stand on. The law was practically written in a way that made the DeFrancis Family and their cohorts billionaires, yet they screwed up.

I'm afraid I'm with Jason on this one, too. Those voting yes in November made their bed, so they should honor the petition of the one person who played by their rules.

The Cordish entertainment complex, which would include slots, will be first class, appeal to a larger audience, and will bring in more money for all parties. The slots emporium at Laurel will be a third class, sleazy operation run by a bankrupt corporation along with the corrupt Md. Jockey Club. I hope Cordish wins in court and, if not, I will vote in their favor in November.

"If people knew in Nov 08 what they know now, the referendum for slots wouldn't have ever passed."

More proof that no one actually bothered to read the law they were voting on.

If you did read the law, you would remember that no where did it mention Laurel Park. Instead, it said slots could go anywhere in AACo within a few miles of the BW Parkway.

Even if Cordish prevails in this legal battle, the issue will be far from resolved. A very substantial number of voters in both Howard and Anne Arundel counties will continue to try to stop or limit Cordish in every possible way. County Executive Leopold will lose re-election because he supported Cordish - I guarantee it. There is a "silent majority" that really hates the idea of a casino at Arundel Mills...

Exactly. If Laurel Racing Track had simply paid their $30 million, we wouldn't be going through this. The location NEAR the mall is simply brilliant in its simplicity and use of existing resources (infrastructure, etc.)

MEDIA FAIL said:

"The location NEAR the mall is simply brilliant in its simplicity and use of existing resources (infrastructure, etc.)"

You obviously don't live anywhere near Arundel Mills. The infrastructure is horrible, the intersection of Arundel Mills Blvd and Ridge Road is one of the worst I've ever had to deal with. Try coming off 100 and turning left on Ridge during rush hour one day.. it'll take a minimum 3 light changes.

Every time there is an article about slots, the same tired arguments appear from those opposing slots at the Mall. For the record: Many people have come forth and said that they were duped into signing the petition, thinking it was a petition in favor of slots; the area around the Mall is now perhaps the worst crime area outside of Baltimore city(read theSun's weekly listing and you'll be astounded at the robberies and assaults there); history in Vegas and elsewhere has shown that crime around a well-run casino is very low(the operators simply won't tolerate it); there is no "silent majority"- only loud minority- everyone I talk to is tired of the MJC and Magna obstructing the progress of the slots. Finally, perhaps the AA county employees that have to take a 12 day unpaid vacation next year because of budget problems would like to meet with the "silent majority".

Cordish played by the rules. They are supposed to start building this fall. Why does he have to wait till November for another vote. he has already spent so much money. opponents of the slots should have done it the right way from the beginning instead of falsifying signatures.I think the slots will be great for businesses around Arundel Mills area and will be great for the economy of the State.

how come laurel race track has to bring in people outside of the State to back them - like penn national and the group from canada? regardless of who, don't we want everything( $$$ )to stay in the State of Maryland?

Cordish did not play by the rules. He was awarded a 'license' without zoning desipite a clear requirement in the state constitution. Those who argue that people should have read the 2008 referendum language must also go back and re-read it since they seem to have missed the zoning requirement

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About Jay Hancock
Jay Hancock has been a financial columnist for The Baltimore Sun since 2001. He has also been The Baltimore Sun's diplomatic correspondent in Washington and its chief economics writer. Before moving to Baltimore in 1994 he worked for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk and The Daily Press of Newport News.

His columns appear Tuesdays and Sundays.
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