Pols stage post-decision debate on Foxwoods casino

Posted: April 04, 2008

The Vince Fumo and John Dougherty political camps squared off in a blame game in City Council yesterday, one day after the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of a controversial proposed riverfront casino.

Councilman Frank DiCicco said he was angry that the ruling ordered the city to give Foxwoods the zoning it needs to start construction in South Philly. DiCicco then pivoted, saying the blame for casino concerns rests with state legislators who approved the state's casino law in 2004.

"We're in this pickle today because our local legislators, in particular the legislators who were in office who represent the river wards, were not thoughtful enough, were not looking at the big picture going forward, when they enacted this legislation," said DiCicco, adding that many of those legislators are up for re-election in the April 22 primary.

One of them, state Rep. Bill Keller, faces a challenge from DiCicco's son, Christian, in South Philly's 184th District.

Councilman Bill Green, a Keller supporter and political ally of electricians union head John Dougherty, countered that the responsibility lay elsewhere.

"I think it was clear the die was cast when the original legislation, crafted by one of our representatives from the river wards, took away the city's powers," Green said. "A change of heart without changing the legislation in Harrisburg has proven meaningless, as many people in Council predicted it would."

Green was alluding to state Sen. Fumo - a longtime political ally of the DiCiccos - who with his staff authored the legislation but later complained about the casino locations chosen here.

Dougherty is running in this month's primary to replace Fumo, who is retiring at the end of this year and is due to go on trial for federal corruption charges.

Although Wednesday's ruling ended Council's role in approving the Foxwoods development, DiCicco said he would press on with a public hearing today to gather information about the project's zoning. *

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