Great Minds Think Alike

Our friend Firefly, as she often does, beat me to the punch on a post about the City Commission's recent decision to deny a zoning change request that would have returned our local Elmer's restaurant back to General Commercial zoning, a classification the owner lost when the new land use code was implemented. My thoughts echo much of what Firefly has to say, but I am hoping that I can add to the discussion.

First, Firefly points out that Ben Forsyth, of Forsyth's Paint, suggested that Mayor Stebbins should recuse herself from the vote on the issue "because she had received campaign contributions from gaming supporters." This ludicrous suggestion demonstrates that Mr. Forsyth is truly a nut.

A politician is not a judge. There is no "conflict of issue" question. Mayor Stebbins is supposed to represent her supporters. Can you imagine what Mr. Forsyth and the rest of the self-annointed would say to the suggestion that the Commissioners they supported should recuse themselves?

And here's another memo to those supposedly more righteous than the rest of us: Mayor Stebbins was wrongly painted as the "pro-casino" candidate by, among others, her predecessor. I say wrongly because she had widespread support in the community.

But you know what, Mr. Forsyth and the rest of your folly? She won. She kicked Randy Gray's ass. So, maybe this community groundswell against gaming in this community ain't the groundswell you paint it (pun intended) to be? Maybe, just maybe, the majority of the people in this town just wish you'd take both of your two goody-two shoes and march 'em right on home and shut your proverbial pie hole? I'd suggest that, at least, the last election's results would suggest just such a thing.

(By the way, one of the knocks on the casinos is that they are ugly. Next time you're out and about, swing by Forsyth Paint. Beautiful business, huh?)

The article goes on to state that Forsyth "mentioned a 16-year-old boy in the Fox Farm area who attempted suicide because of a gambling habit, and a teenage girl who turned to prostitution to support a gambling addiction." This is 'argument' of the worst possible kind, and the Tribune should be ashamed to publish it. Unsubstantiated anecdotal allegations by an ideologue. Why should we believe it to be true? Why (and how) would Forsyth know it to be true?

I am one of those "gaming supporters" that Forsyth refers to in the article. Do I think that the Commission did the right thing here? No, I don't. But I recognize that you win some and lose some. Dona Stebbins did what she thought was right and I respect that. She was not attacking an industry in a crusade of moral indignation; she wanted to respect the Land Use Code. There is no need to impugn her integrity.

Then, today, the Tribune weighed in on the issue. The Editorial Board "applaud[s] the vote, not just because it checks the advance of casinos in one neighborhood." No, but they do applaud it because it checks the advance of casinos. Finally, they stated overtly what we "gaming supporters" have suspected all along: the Tribune is anti-casino. Maybe this explains why they print B.S. like Forsyth's ramblings?

But, like Forsyth and the rest, the Tribune will gladly accept gambling money in their business; they sure don't seem to turn down casino ads (I also happen to know that Forsyth has personally received gambling money in his business.)

And, finally, here's something that no one seems to have mentioned. Elmer's restaurant was in a general commercial zone, a zone that allowed certain uses, including gambling. With the stroke of a pen our City Commission changed and limited the uses allowed on his private property, thereby reducing its value by tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. I wonder if the anti-gaming zealots, or for that matter, the Editorial Board at the Tribune, would be so quick to "applaud the vote" if it was their money that vanished.

Pro-business, my ass.


SallyT said...

...Forsyth "mentioned a 16-year-old boy in the Fox Farm area who attempted suicide because of a gambling habit, and a teenage girl who turned to prostitution to support a gambling addiction."

Um, isn't gambling off-limits to kids under 18? If the allegation is accurate, wouldn't this be a parenting problem, not a casino problem?

My sympathy for the CasiNO crowd evaporated about the time I realized the most outspoken tend to be self-righteous, NIMBY-type meddlers. Who, exactly, are they to dictate private property use?

Forsyth's activism bothers me, mainly because of his habit of characterizing emotional problems as gambling problems. I suspect he got his psych qualifications from the same place as Lawton...

dona stebbins said...

Geeguy, you make some excellent points. And once again, the Tribune failed to report accurately what happened at the meeting. I had a good reason to vote the way I did, and it had nothing to do with gaming and everything to do with promises.
When the situation with Lucky Lil's was happening and was eventually resolved, the City Commission promised "no more gaming" to that neighborhood. I was not a part of the Commission at that time, and it was not MY promise to keep, but a promise is a promise, and I believe in keeping my word, even if it is an "inherited" word. Thus my decision.
The Tribune also did not report the full text of my comment to Mr. Forsyth. Here it is.
"Mr. Forsyth, with all due respect, I refuse to recuse myself at your behest because of your misperceptions. Many business people contributed to my campaign, all legitimate and legal businesses in the state of Montana.
I am not beholden to any paint shop owners, any light shop owners, any tavern owners, or haberdashers. My sole allegiance is to the people of the city of Great Falls."
There comes a time when zealots have damaged their credibility so badly that the causes they espouse suffer from their association. That time has come with Mr. Forsyth, and he should retire from the field.

a-fire-fly said...

Thank you for your comment Dona.

I was wondering if the "no more gaming" in relation to Lucky Lils was going to come up during this.

Anonymous said...

Forsyth ,this time, at least did not mention by name this 16 year old. He spread lies about my brother who did commit suicide. My brother had no gambling problem. When I confronted him, he said he did not know where he heard the story. This story about my dearly departed brother had NO basis in fact. Not even close.
He said after our discussion, "If you have any other concerns please give me a call."
My reply, "I know where you work and if you repeat these lies they will need a paint scraper to collect you remains from the sidewalk."
I need to remain annonymous because my brother's wife and sons do not know if his compleat disreguard of the suffering f suicide survivors. I am sure he is causing pain to the boys family and did not ask their permission before spreading this tale or checking the facts.
I was asked recently if I was sure my brother's widow and sons had not heard the tale Ben spread about my brother being a degenerate gambler. Yes I am sure - because he is still alive.