King’s Mountain Awareness Group Seeks to Inform
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
April 4, 2014
It was April Fool’s Day when Adam Forcade most recently addressed the Cleveland County Commissioners to tell them, once again, that they’re the ones being fooled if they pin their economic hopes on a planned Catawba Indian casino.
Organizer of the Kings Mountain Awareness Group, which has repeatedly asked local officials to consider the negative impact a casino would bring to the community, Forcade told the commission Tuesday night the story of Ledyard, Conn., a town similar to Kings Mountain, that became home to the Pequot Indians’ Foxwoods casino and received its yearly share of slot machine revenues — $689,000 — only to wind up spending $2.25 million that same year dealing with crime, traffic and other societal problems that accompanied the gambling facility. Further, the Pequot tribe then tried to annex some areas of Ledyard into its tribal reservation designation, costing the town another $370,000 in legal fees and a loss of sales and property tax revenue for the land that the tribe obtained.
“It does not take a financial expert to quickly see that in this case the town that thought they were receiving an economic boon for the year, in actuality paid out $1.5 million for the privilege of destroying their quality of life, as well as creating immeasurable harm to the community at large,” Forcade told commissioners.
“Does a casino still sound like such a good deal that you as an elected body are unwilling to look at the rest of the story?” he prodded.
Not quite two months after its organizational meeting, the Kings Mountain Awareness Group is gaining momentum, with more residents donning KMAG stickers at government meetings and at least one county commissioner asking for a copy of the information Forcade shared. Though neither the City Council nor the County Commission has agreed to hear a presentation on the effects of casinos from the North Carolina Family Policy Council, which is KMAG’s immediate goal, both boards have had to admit that they signed letters of support for the casino without ever having investigated its potential impact beyond the sales pitch of casino promoters.
Headquartered in South Carolina where video gambling devices are banned statewide and bound by a 1993 settlement with the Palmetto State in which the tribe waived its right to be governed by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Catawbas are pushing the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to take into trust 16 acres in North Carolina, off Dixon School Road near I-85. Planned for the site is a $600 million casino complex that they say will generate as many as 3,000 to 5,000 jobs.
While those promises have local officials rolling out the red carpet, more than 100 state leaders, including the Governor of North Carolina, have signed letters in opposition to the project.
Locally, the Kings Mountain Awareness Group has held informational meetings to try to show what negative impacts gambling brings to communities and has persistently asked officials to hear the presentations. Friday morning, 54 local business owners gathered to learn about what they could anticipate if local consumers left their cash at a casino instead of purchasing merchandise and services from legitimate establishments. John Rustin, with the North Carolina Family Policy Council, was the speaker for the event that Forcade said had participants “thoroughly engaged and involved.”
KMAG has also scheduled another community meeting, set for the evening of April 24 at East Gold Street Church, where speakers will include Rustin and the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
“We’re not quite two months into this and have developed a lot of momentum,” Forcade said Thursday. In addition to newspaper coverage, the group is being featured by some television outlets and is seeing increasing traffic on its Facebook page and Web site.
He said he is also hearing that there may be some willingness on the part of one or more Kings Mountain City Council members to listen to the NCFPC presentation, although he has not been contacted directly, nor has discussion of the idea made it on to the Council agenda. County Commissioners and City Council members have been invited to the April 24 meeting.
Meanwhile, Forcade is encouraged and wants opponents of the casino to know that they are making a difference with their presence at meetings and their willingness to continue to lobby local officials.
In related news, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Catawba Nation does not have a right to operate video poker casinos on its reservation simply because the state has enacted the Gambling Cruise Act to regulate ships offering gambling outside the territorial waters of the state.
To read the ruling, click here