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Government and Politics


Traficant pushes for fifth Ohio casino
In his campaign to reclaim his seat in the U.S. House, Jim Traficant is pushing for a casino near Youngstown
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA


Reporter
Kabir Bhatia
 

Last fall, voters approved casinos in four of Ohio’s biggest cities. And during his very low-profile independent campaign to return to the U.S. House, the ex-congressman -- and ex con -- Jim Traficant is pushing to add North Jackson, just outside of Youngstown, to that list. WKSU's Kabir Bhatia has more.

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Fiery James Traficant is back.
From prison.
After 8 years.
And not just in what’s largely regarded as a long-shot campaign for the 17th Congressional District.
Since being released from prison last year on racketeering charges, Traficant wasted little time in filing as an independent to run for his old seat. The Democratic incumbent, Tim Ryan, is expected to win in a landslide.

Traficant's other big push is for an Indian casino -- in a county where
gaming has not been legalized. A constitutional amendment voters approved last year allow casinos only in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo. Traficant wants the
Mahoning Valley to get a piece of that action, and thinks Native American tribes are the vehicle to do it.


“(TRAFICANT)…Why are they promising 34,000 jobs? I think they're lying about the numbers. But they have the legal right to build them, don't they? And they're gonna get the jobs, and they're gonna get the money. And our people are gonna spend their money over there. Quite frankly, the only good thing politically about this is, it should have happened 8 months ago.
KB: Why didn't it?
JT: We weren't able to get our site…”

That site is more than 20 acres at the corner of Bailey Road and Mahoning Avenue. Traficant says he acted as an “agent” for the Munsee Delaware Indian Nation in Cambridge, and the Itana Indian Nation, which stands for the Indigenous Tribal Affiliates of Native America. They recently bought the land for $1 under an 1813 treaty that he maintains gives the nations standing in Ohio. But Mahoning County Commissioner John McNally says there are no federally recognized tribes in Ohio that can apply for a federal gaming license.

Traficant disagrees.

“(TRAFICANT)…We’re not asking for money. We're asking just to endorse a viable economic project for this area…”

The former Congressman insists the casino in North Jackson would bring 1,000 jobs to the area. After he addressed North Jackson trustees last week, retired carpenter Paul Thompson thinks it could bring something else.
"(THOMPSON)... May bring some crime element in the area, but that's what you have a police force for and I'm sure the Indians will contribute to our police force and fire forces and safety forces to help us control those things..."

Hans Anderson owns Anderson Appliance Center and thinks the casino could have further reaching effects.
"(ANDERSON)...They’re there for one reason, to take the money. Is there gonna be money left over for myself to sell them something? They might be broke by that time. And that's what I worry about. You know if people got so much money they can spread around and gamble with it, we should be flourishing. Right now, we're in a recession..."

Both men tempered their comments with mild optimism that the project could reinvigorate the area. Traficant says the next step is to obtain a gaming license which he argues is just a formality due to the treaty. If all goes according to his plan, he says the casino could be up and running in less than 3 years.

 

Listener Comments:

Tim Ryan will lose by a landslide, if the voting's not rigged


Posted by: Algore (USA) on October 28, 2010 10:10AM
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