Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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July 15th, 2011

Cellini brings leadership to casino antics

All incumbents and those seeking elective office should learn from Town of Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini on what it takes to be a public servant.

While other elected officials sit back and do nothing, Cellini continually steps forward and takes the lead.

Frustrated with our everlasting battle to bring casino gaming to Sullivan County, Cellini brought together developers and tribal leaders in a closed door meeting. His message was strong, loud, and clear – work together and get something done already.

Representatives from The Stockbridge Munsees, St Regis Mohawks, Cappelli Associates, Mohegan Sun, and The Oneida Indian Nation were all in attendance.

Empire Resorts and their partner Entertainment Property Trust (EPT) did not attend. Empire said they could not discuss their plans in the open because they were a public company.

Empire along with EPT has been at war with Cappelli Associates, even though Cappelli is a large shareholder of Empire’s and a former business partner of both companies.

Cellini told me he was fearful Empire Resorts will destroy our hopes for Casino gaming in Sullivan County. “It was the feelings expressed by several in the room that the Genting group (a controlling Empire Resorts investor) will prevent anything from happening because of their large investment in Aqueduct.”

Empire Resorts, which has seen its stock price double since the Bureau of Indian Affairs indicated rules approving off reservation Indian casino gaming will be eased, has been blamed with halting approval of the Stockbridge Munsee project earlier this year.

In January, I was critical that Empire Resorts, who for years tried to open its own Indian casino, was doing everything feasible to stop the Stockbridge Munsee project. Empire’s response was that I had bad breath.

It appears my halitosis is spreading. According to Cellini, developer Robert Berman who initially brought the Mohawks to Sullivan County when he was running Empire Resorts, and Mohegan Sun honcho Mitchell Grossinger Etess both agree with my sentiments.

Cellini told me Berman said “if the first casino in Las Vegas prevented any other casino from building there would be no Las Vegas.” Cellini added that Etess claimed by Empire and EPT not being present at the meeting “was noteworthy because they do not want competition.”

Fortunately, all those in attendance pledged they will work together in a positive manner and not hinder another tribe or developer.

Cellini said, “It was necessary to call the meeting, because I feel it is my responsibility as an elected official to bring economic growth and jobs, jobs, and more jobs. We have suffered far too long.”

One has to wonder why it is always Cellini who continually courts industry and development. Where are our other elected officials when it comes to leadership? Is it any wonder why Cellini is viewed upon as our spokesman and unofficial County Executive?

It is vital during this election cycle, especially with all legislators and town supervisors up for grabs, that voters take a deep and hard look at those seeking political office. Ultimately we are to blame if we elect people who are lazy, self serving and not as pro active and caring as Cellini.

Once again, thank you Tony Cellini for keeping our casino initiative alive and in focus.

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