Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

EDITORIAL >> Casino czar we deserve

Let us acknowledge that the proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize casino gambling and a state lottery and put state Rep. Charles Ormond of Monticello in charge of both is the perfect gambling amendment and the perfect denouement for Ormondís dazzling lawmaking career.

Attorney General Mike Beebe approved the wording of the ballot title Monday, meaning that Ormond is free now to circulate petitions and see if he can get 81,000 signatures of voters, which would put the amendment before the voters in the 2006 general election.

Yes, Ormond is the author of the amendment and also its principal beneficiary, although he insists that the people are the real legatees because they will know that gambling will be run right with him in charge by law through the year 2017, when he apparently would step down at the age of 84. The proposal names Ormond as the undisputed and unrestrained czar of all gambling activities in Arkansas. The state would be required to pay him a good salary and stay clear while he makes the decisions about where casinos will go, who gets the franchises, how a lottery would be run and just about everything else. The legislature could never interfere. Neither could anyone else because all the decision-making would be kept secret by law. He and a little commission that would help him could condemn private property for the use of casinos. Debt collectors could not get to them. No one could sue them.

People will give Charles Ormond that power if they get a chance, Ormond says, because they know that he is the one incorruptible person in Arkansas who can be trusted to control gambling wisely and honestly.
In its own way, Ormondís proposition is the first refreshingly honest gambling proposal to be put forward in 42 years of efforts by one gambling interest or another to legalize gambling and give itself the inside track on the potential gambling fortunes in Arkansas. The others have done it adroitly and subtly. Ormond is unabashed. So his is the perfect proposition. We will know exactly who we do not want to get rich when we vote against it.

Ormond also is term-limited and, at long last, a breathing testament to the worth of that badly sullied doctrine.