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City documents point to Horseshoe Casino as party responsible for steam line payments

BREW EXCLUSIVE: A city ordinance indicates that Caesars Entertainment, not impact funds earmarked to the community, should be used to pay for relocated steam line at Horseshoe Casino

steam vent looking north Warner St

Vapor plumes from the underground steam line at Warner and Bayard streets were not bothering anyone last Thursday as Horseshoe Casino prepared for its grand opening tomorrow.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

Last week, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the city had explored “all options” to pay for relocating a steam line at Horseshoe Casino before settling on the use of $3 million in impact funds earmarked for South Baltimore neighborhoods.

Apparently never on the table was the most obvious option – to bill Caesars Entertainment, the casino operator that requested the steam line change in the first place.

During a press conference, the mayor described the steam line as “city-owned public infrastructure,” hence the city’s responsibility. But she failed to mention that the street under which the line runs is owned by Caesars Entertainment.

In a Land Disposition Agreement dated October 31, 2012, the Board of Estimates sold land to Caesars to build a parking garage. As part of the deal, the city threw in several public streets to be closed to accommodate Caesars’ plans, including Warner Street. The specific language (page 5 of the agreement) states that the sale is “deemed to include payment for the Closed Street Areas.” An accompanying map shows Warner as a closed street.

Seven months later, on May 16, 2013, the mayor signed Ordinance 12-0158 that officially closed Warner Street between Worcester and Bayard streets.

Section 3 of the ordinance stipulated that “all subsurface structures and appurtenances now owned by the Mayor and City Council” on Warner Street will remain city property.

But the ordinance went on to say: “If any person wants to remove, alter, or interfere with them [the subsurface structures], that person. . . must agree to pay all costs and expenses, of every kind, arising out of the removal, alteration, or interference.”

Section 4 of the same ordinance also appears to make Caesars Entertainment and its legal entity, CBAC Borrower, financially responsible for subsurface property on Warner Street.

It says that “no building or structure of any kind” can be constructed in or on any part of the street until “all subsurface structures and appurtenances” owned by the city have been removed and relaid “at the expense of the person seeking to erect the building or structure.”

Horseshoe Casino has completely rebuilt the Warner street bed to accommodate casino visitors. This shows the structures in and over the street, looking south from Worcester Street. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

A view looking south from Worcester Street shows the physical alterations that Caesars has made to Warner Street to accommodate casino visitors and valet parking. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Caesars had made extensive changes to Warner Street in order to turn it into a pedestrian mall with valet parking. Planters, brick walkways, advertising signs and a kiosk have been installed for arriving guests.

Last week, The Brew disclosed that the city planned to pay Caesars $3 million in future casino impact funds to the dismay of some community leaders.
_____________________________________
Our coverage of the controversy:

City to use community gambling impact funds to pay for steam pipeline (8/19)
Veolia forced city to divert casino impact funds, Ferguson says (8/20)
City had no choice but to tap into community impact funds, mayor says (8/20)
______________________________________

Last week, the mayor and Board of Estimates (except Comptroller Joan Pratt) voted to amend the Land Disposition Agreement to reimburse Caesars for building the steam line with its own contractor.

There was no discussion by the board before the 4-1 vote, with City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, City Solicitor George Nilson and Public Works Director Rudy Chow voting with the mayor.

No Response from City or Casino

Efforts on Friday and today to get comment by Horseshoe’s general manager, Chad Barnhill, assistant manager Alex Dixon, and city officials were unsuccessful.

The Brew sent detailed questions to the mayor’s chief spokesman Kevin Harris, City Solicitor George Nilson, Barnhill, Dixon, and Caesars’ attorney Stanley S. Fine, asking if Sections 3 and 4 of the ordinance made the city’s reimbursement to Caesars unnecessary.

There has not been a response yet from any of the officials.

Ordinance 12-0158 closing Warner Street for the Horseshoe Casino calls on "persons" who want to relocate the city's property under the street to pay for it. Section 4 adds other conditions.

Ordinance 12-0158 closing Warner Street for the Horseshoe Casino calls on “persons” who want to relocate the city’s property under the street to pay for it. Section 4 adds other conditions.

Sound Asleep

At present, a surface steam pipe starts at Warner and Haines streets and runs north around the casino garage.

As of last Thursday, the old steam line was still in use. It is maintained by Veolia Energy, which supplies heat to downtown businesses and institutions under a long-term lease with the city.

Veolia’s public affairs staff headed by Karole Colangelo has not returned several emails and phone calls seeking comment. The Paris-based conglomerate inherited the steam line contract after it purchased Trigen Energy in 2007.

When a reporter visited the casino last Thursday, steam vapor was venting from a Veolia-maintained stack at Bayard and Warner streets.

Casino employees, city police, pedestrians and drivers paid the trailing white plume no mind as they went about their business.

Nearby, the pipe for the temporary line could be seen along the ground. A workman appeared to be sound asleep in the cab of an excavating machine. Otherwise, there was no human activity around the pipeline.

Safety and Revenues Cited by Mayor

Last week, Rawlings-Blake argued that keeping the old underground line posed a safety hazard to casino visitors – and could cause revenue loss to the city.

“Potentially 10,000 visitors per day would be exposed to hot manhole covers as well as steam exiting those manholes,” she told reporters.

She added that the city could potentially lose “$90,000 per day [in casino revenues] every time the street was closed” for repairs on the old line.

The temporary steam line connects to the city's system at Haines Street one block south of the casino. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

The temporary steam line goes around the casino’s concrete garage on the right. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

An inspection by The Brew suggested that the possibility that repairs could shut down the casino, to be open 24/7, was remote.

By the city’s own reckoning, there are only three manholes along the closed section of Warner Street. There appears to be plenty of space around the manholes for Veolia to service them without closing the pedestrian mall.

What’s more, even if the whole street were closed, visitors could still access the casino from overhead enclosed walkways from the parking garage.

The mayor was asked last week why the city decided to upgrade this particular section of the 14-mile steam pipeline that routinely emits vapors and acrid smells on the streets of South Baltimore and downtown.

Venting steam stacks is a way of life in South Baltimore and downtown. Here steam rises from a removed manhole at Ostend and Leadenhall streets. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Hot steam is a way of life in South Baltimore. A few blocks from the casino, a car goes around an open vent stack on Leadenhall Street. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

“I think you would be hard pressed to find another place where that many people would be walking over the steam line on a daily basis,” she said, referring to the expected 10,000 visitors using Warner Street to enter the casino.

She added that “but for the casino, we wouldn’t move the steam line,” which she said made it logical to use community impact funds coming from future casino revenues to build the new line. She never mentioned billing the work to Caesars or Veolia.

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  • Tom Gregory

    Great reporting Mark. The Sun should be coming out with an article reporting the same findings within a day or two. Let’s see how long the sound of crickets fill the dead air.

  • Dave Troy

    The Wesport community folks didn’t make multiple maximum-allowed campaign contributions the way Veolia and Caesar’s Entertainment did. The administration’s logic is simple: they protect their own.

    • April Danielle Lewis

      The mayor could give two shits about any neighborhood that doesn’t touch 83 or the harbor. I don’t see how Dixon’s gift card scandal was any worse than this.

  • Carrie Evans

    It is so frustrating what concessions the City (and for that matter most jurisdictions) will make for casinos. In the meantime, a parking lot expansion at the West Baltimore MARC station has taken more than three years and is still not completed and continues to make the commute for the West Side a nightmare. If a casino was being built on the parking lot, it would have been done 2.5 years ago.

    • Matt R

      I wish there was more coverage on the dismal state and ass backwards construction projects along the major commuter routes. The worst part of the Westside projected is that a lot of that it is going to have to be reconfigured in a few years from now to accommodate the redline…so much for planning.

      • ushanellore

        I thought the Red Line was kaput, down some sooty chimney shute and now you scare us by telling us it is alive and well.

        • thatguysonheroin

          Yup. Definitely kaput. Just ignore the $1 billion in federal funding that the state would be passing up which the city took years to clear. Ignore the state transportation tax passed last year explicitly to fund the financing of the red line and purple lines.

          Oh yeah, ignore this article too… http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/towson/bs-md-red-line-contributions-20140826,0,7176313.story

          I just hope they hurry up and get the construction started. I’m getting thirsty for Gerry’s tears!

          • ushanellore

            I decided I love you heroin. Without you there would be no fun on these threads. Keep it up buddy.

          • ushanellore

            My mama gave me a thousand bucks,
            my papa gave me 500,
            my grammy forked over 200,
            my cousins collected 100,
            with so many smackaroos
            I knew what I had to do,
            I bought myself a house on the lake,
            at 400,000 it was a piece of cake,
            in it I sat and ate and ate,
            until by bloat,
            I was swallowed whole,
            and when by the bank I was foreclosed,
            my mama asked her 1000 bucks back,
            my papa came for his 500 too,
            my cousins mean brought a fork life to grab
            my furniture, my clothes and even my shoes,
            my only luck was that my grammy died,
            she always preached live within your means,
            but when I’ve got the money I can’t let it go,
            what I spent it on– it isn’t greed–
            isn’t a roof over your head a basic need?

            Usha Nellore.

            As I said heroin I love you. Without your growls these threads wouldn’t be the same. Ditto for Rusty. I hope you get your RED LINE. Public transportation is marvelous and essential but when it runs way over budget, a city’s goose will be cooked.

    • April Danielle Lewis

      I have been taking Franklintown Rd. to North Ave head east for at least 6 months. Today being the first day of school, I dropped my kid of at BSA in Mt. Vernon and as a force of habit got on MLK to head to 40 on my way home. I was surprised to find that the bypass is open again and that we have one block of smooth pavement at the end next to the marc station. I got so excited for one block of roadway. I can only imagine what it would be like if it’s repaved all the way up to the city line. However, more than the horrible roads repaired, I want places to spend my money on the west side of town. I do not want to spend my money in balitmore county and howard county or drive clear across town to find a coffee shop or shopping center that doesn’t contain rental appliance store, fried chicken restaurant, or free cellphone/beauty supply shop. I didn’t chose to move into the city to shop in the suburbs.

  • Scott

    Of course if the City requested to move the line the analysis of Ordinance 12-0158 kind of falls apart…

    • baltimorebrew

      But the City didn’t, according to the timeline provided by the mayor’s office last week:

      “In late May 2014, the City approved the relocation of the steam line [made by Caesars] in order to maintain the Casino opening schedule, which otherwise would have been delayed. The project was competitively bid by Whiting-Turner [Caesars' general contractor] and the design, cost estimate and bid documents were reviewed by City engineers through a third-party consultant.” -mr

      • Scott

        If the [bracketed language] is added by you, that would seem to be a material addition (by you) to what the quote otherwise says.
        If the bracketed language comes from the press release, then the press release certainly supports your argument.

        • baltimorebrew

          OK, Scott, I’ll quote the mayor. At last Wednesday’s press conference, she said, “But for the casino, we wouldn’t move the steam line.” Caesars picked the contractor, which wouldn’t happen if the city instigated the project because the work would have to be publicly advertised and bid.

          • Scott

            Okay, I’ll bite in this game of wack-a-mole. That quote still doesn’t say who requested the change. Without having read a single relevant document, I don’t think it’s outrageous to assume that the Casino requested the change, I simply pointed out that you were making a rather important assumption…

          • ushanellore

            No business entity has the right to endanger the public safety of the citizens of any city. The city has a right to protect its citizens from potential danger. If Caesars does not care about this aspect, lets postulate, and the city did request the change, that does not mean Caesars should be off the hook for the project. Public safety trumps all. Ceasars owns the subsurface structures emperor that it is. The city has a right to say,”Hey, owner, go underground and fix what you own so people won’t die or ask your engineers to show us this underground pipe you now own, poses no public threat.” Plain and simple Caesars owes the city, not the other way round and Ferguson is bullshitting, albeit most cleverly.

          • Mojomo

            No, you need to go back and read it again. The City owns the subsurface structures. And regardless of what people’s rights are in the abstract, the practical problem was that Ceasars refused to pay and, if the City didn’t pony up, the casino wouldn’t open on time. I don’t like living in a place where the only viable economic-development option is a casino, but if that’s all you have, you have to make it work. You won’t read it on the Brew, but the idea (flawed as it may be) is that the casino will throw off cash that will allow the City to reduce property taxes and thus make it less onerous for people to live and buy property here.

          • ushanellore

            You are right–the city owns the infrastructure but Caesars, as per the agreement, is responsible for the repairs of this steam pipe. If it is not it should make it public why its legal representatives disagree with the agreement as it has been interpreted by some news outlets. Its silence exemplifies it stark disregard for bad publicity .

            Your argument is that Caesars has refused to pay and the city should suck it up to allow Caesars to open on time. As per the bigger picture, this will benefit the city economically 10 fold or 20 fold or whatever, down the road and property taxes will come down you say. Caesars, obviously, is playing thug with the city because it knows that this attitude is all to prevalent.

            Every time a city capitulates to a corporate entity this way, the corporate entity learns what it can get away with in such a city. That sets a precedent for other corporate entities to take advantage of cities of the ilk of Baltimore. Strict enforcement of agreements should be the goal and if that is not possible negotiated compromises with the corporate entity ponying up at least half the monies a city is entitled to, would make the city a more stalwart player than a “roll over and play dead because you need this corporate entity’s good favor” attitude.

            You seem to suffer from severe contempt for the city and its social landscape. You are telling the city, “You are poor, broken and illiterate. Go be a prostitute. That way you can get richer and may be your kids will prosper too. You don’t have a choice because beggars cannot be choosers. Legal agreements are for rich folks to break and for the downtrodden ones, with whom the agreements have been made, to ignore.”

            Perhaps the city should not make any legal agreements at all with these corporate thugs. Perhaps it should just sell itself carte blanche?

          • Angry_Mike

            According to Bill Ferguson (on FB) the city requested the steam pipe move and thus are responsible for the cost… it sounds like it’s everyone’s fault EXCEPT Horseshoe

  • halstevens

    The Mayor and Jack Young need to explain their votes. The other two are stooges, so their votes were pre-ordained. Their heads always bobble in the same motion as the Mayor’s. They voted to shift $3 million from neighborhoods and gave it to the casino operator. Great way to attract 10,000 families to the City.

    • Mojomo

      Not much to explain. Ceasars refused to pay. If the City didn’t pony up, the casino wouldn’t open on time.

      • ushanellore

        And Caesars has just as much to lose as the city if that happens. It’s a business not a monarchy with ransom payers at its beck and call although left to citizens such as the politicians of Baltimore, it gets its ransom and some more.

        • Mojomo

          Ceasars is a little better capitalized than the City of Baltimore. I strongly suspect that if you look into the City’s current budget and its projections for the people who buy tens of millions of dollars in City bonds every year, you’d see that we are counting $x in revenue from the casino starting on 8/26/14.

          • ushanellore

            Caesars is greedy. It will see red if it cannot open on time and feel poor if a penny is lost due to delays. Call Caesar on Caesar’s greed–bet on it. You’ll win if you are Baltimore City.

          • Mojomo

            We can agree that Ceasars is greedy.

          • ushanellore

            On a side note, Mojomo, Australian rap artist, Izzy Azalea appeared at Caesars on opening night. I recommend you see this god awful act on You Tube–singing sensation? Man, I cringe. Her big hit is Fancy. I swear, nothing worse will come around in a long time. Befits Caesars like OJ’s glove.

          • Mojomo

            Neither Izzy nor the casino are to my taste.

  • Lizzie 58

    The Brew just demolished State Senator Bill Ferguson, who on his blog accused City residents opposed to $3 Million giveaway of grandstanding or refusing to compromise like those politicians in Washington. OMG. Ferguson is comparing City residents who disagree with him to “Republicans”. Well, Senator, legally Caesars had the responsibility to pay for the steam line relocation. They just refused to abide by their original agreement with the City.

    However city residents feel about the casino, we deserve not to be lied to. So Senator, from one Democrat to another, you sold out your own constituents. Here’s hoping that you and the rest of the City elected officials have a lousy time at tomorrow’s opening of the Casino. You can only lose your fortune or your shirt. You never had any integrity to lose.

    • http://housingpolicywatch.com/ Carol Ott

      Dear Senator Ferguson,

      Please leave Republicans out of this mess. We haven’t had any leadership in this city since the mid-1940s. In fact, it’s been YOUR party that’s been in charge.

      xoxox

      • Tom Gregory

        Actually, Theodore McKeldin came back 20 years later to serve a second term as mayor from 1963-1967, but you point is well taken.

        For the record and full disclosure I am an independent voter, use my real name and do not post on behalf of any present elected official.

  • Mike Talbott
    • Gerald Neily

      Agree or disagree, I commend Senator Ferguson for laying it out here and not insulting our intelligence. Thanks for the link, Mike, so we know what Lizzie is referring to.

      My spin: I thank The Brew for setting forth the underlying legal documents, which ought to govern this. But we know the city never plays hardball with any big money developer, so I can’t imagine we would start with Caesar. Usha’s poem said it about as well as I could imagine.

      • Mojomo

        Ferguson’s analysis is the best and most detailed that I’ve seen – certainly more detailed than the Brew’s. For better or for worse, the casino is the administration’s top economic-development priority. Without credulously accepting the projections, we have to recognize that the casino is expected to shower the City with tens of millions of dollars, directly or indirectly (e.g., by employing City residents, by inducing people to stay in hotels in the City and thus to pay the hotel tax) for years. The line had to be moved by 8/26, or else the casino wouldn’t open on time, which would be a huge embarrassment. The casino and Veolia refused to chip in. The Mayor did what the executive of a multi-billion dollar corporation would do, which is to shell out the funds to get the job done. Again, the real question is why the funds are coming from the community rather than some other City pot.

        • Scott

          Well stated.

        • ushanellore

          Ferguson’s analysis is well written but not credible. The city lawyers should have met with the other side lawyers and told Caesars that the city would get the work done for the safety of its citizens, allowing the casino to open on time but it would send a bill to the casino and hold its feet to the fire for reimbursement or else it will sue the casino for proper compensation as per the legal agreement. We’ll do the repairs buster, you pay the bill.

          • baltimorebrew

            In fact, the opposite has take place: Caesars has bid out the repairs; the city has legally obligated itself to pay the bill.

          • Mojomo

            Next time we’ll put you in charge of the legal negotiations as well as the subsurface engineering. Oh and where did you get your law degree? You probably don’t realize that Ceasars and Veolia undoubtedly have a legal position too, albeit one that the Brew reporters haven’t informed us of. The City could pick a lengthy and destructive $3 million fight with the people behind its only credible economic-development initiative, but some might say that that’s an unwise choice. It’s not like we have lots of people standing in line to shower tens of millions of dollars a year on a crime-ridden City with scores of thousands of residents who either have never held a job or have no relevant job skills.

          • ushanellore

            I do realize Caesars and Veolia have legal positions too but what you are saying is untenable–that Baltimore by virtue of being a drug capital and crime capital of America has no recourse but to prostitute itself to entities like Caesars and Veolia. No matter how dismal its economic or social realities Baltimore must stand up for its legal rights. Baltimore, surely, has many educated and erudite citizens like you who would advocate for that kind of pride in Baltimore’s present and future in order to command the respect of corporate entities like Caesars.

            We are done for and cooked if we listen to folks who insist that Baltimore has to ingratiate itself to those who brazenly break the letter of a legal agreement with the city, to get their own way. Certainly Veolia and Caesars have spokespeople who can present their corporate side to the press. It speaks not only to their arrogance that they have not seen fit to do so but it also speaks to their scorn for the city. In accommodating and pandering to such scorn the city leaders show their own disdain for the citizenry.

          • SpecK

            Usha and Mojo, your exchange moved me to tears.
            I believe Usha has it on the nose here.

            More fundamentally, we need to ask whether, in the end, this casino deal will wind up being worth it, and if so, to whom?

            Not looking like a win for Westport.

          • Mojomo

            That’s a dispute about whether it was wise to bring in a casino. Unfortunately, that argument was lost years ago. The City has opted for a casino (if only because there are no other viable development options that will create anything similar in the way of jobs and tax revenues). Now you have to make it work. Because Ceasars and its savvy co-investors are not in the business of losing money, I would bet that it will be successful at least for a decade or two.

          • SpecK

            Here’s how I see it. The city leaders made that decision, on the judgment
            that it would generate more good consequences tham bad for city
            residents – that benefits would exceed costs. For those of us interested in holding the leaders accountable, the results are just starting to come in. I thank the Brew for helping to keep the tally. As time goes on, if it seems that the decicion was a bad one, then let us please vote them out.

            For a city leadership that is allergic to this type of accountability (e.g. they have thwarted any real cost benefit analysis of the grand prix), all the snipers inthese comments are here to fill the void.

            If you want to compare it to a fortune 500 company. then so be it (although personally i think people fetishize the workings of such institutions) . The analogy wpuld be, if the ceo’s decisions increased the company’s stock price. Not always easy to tell. But simply working hard to make the best of one’s own disatrous decisions is not enough. In any case, cost-benefit analysis is the working horse of most well-run public entities.

          • SpecK

            In this case there are two key components of the analysis to consider: the overall costs and benefits and the distribution across space. For a project like this, whose prospective benefits (labor market effects, associated economic multipliers ) were always spatially disperse, but whose costs (traffic, crime) were always going to be concentrated around the area of the casino, those community impact monies were always going to be key to a passing grade on the project. And they were also a key to selling the project. Even now, look how Sen Ferguson tlks about the 30MM in community money that hasn’t yet been squandered.

            What we are seeing, I think we agree, is that the city has put itself in a position where it is at th mercy of people that arent particularly nice. Now it sees the costs mounting, with the benefits still mostly imaginary.

        • ushanellore

          The mayor is doing what Mojo thinks the executive of a multi-billion dollar corporation would do, not what an executive of such a corporation would actually do. And by the way, Veolia and Caesars are multi-billion dollar corporations too and they don’t seem to be falling over themselves to “get the job done”. I guess it behooves the multi-billion dollar corporation, you figured to be the sucker in this deal, to suck it up, as per your omniscience.

          • Mojomo

            What I get from Ferguson is that Ceasars and Veolia refused to pay. We’re not sure what their rationale (if any) is, since the Brew hasn’t done any reporting on it. A reasonable hypothesis would be that they are bad people who knew that they had the City over a barrel. Regardless, the City’s choice was between not opening on time or spending $3 million (or less than 1/10 of one percent of the combined capital and operating budgets) to get it to open on time. If you were the executive who had to make the call about what to do, it would be managerial malpractice not to do what the City did. My only question is, and remains, why the money came from the community funds.

      • Lizzie 58

        Gerald: Ferguson at first tried to blame all of this on Veolia. He only starting talking about Caesar’s refusing to pay, per the legal agreements, when he realized that the Brew was onto the genuine story. This was not about Veolia. This was about Caesar’s demanding a modification to the original agreement and the Mayor gave in, at the expense of neighborhoods surrounding the casino where promises were made by the City regarding the impacted funds. The residents got shafted here to help Caesar’s save $3 Million.

        Ferguson is not the shining knight here. He is just another City politician, who will be partying at the casino tonight with the powers that be while he helped to shaft his constituents.

        • Gerald Neily

          Lizzie, you say Senator Ferguson learned from The Brew, as we all do, even deniers like The Sun and whack-a-mole players like Scott. Mojomo, you say big money rules We all know that too.

          • Mojomo

            No, I say that if you were actually running the $3 billion a year enterprise that is Baltimore City, you’d have to figure out how to pay for services and expenses. You’d look to ways to spur economic development. In a place with one of the highest murder rates in North America, and with tens of thousands of people who are addicted to drugs and have no relevant work experiences or skills, your options are quite limited. You opt for a casino – distasteful, but not unreasonable – and now you have to make it work (i.e., make it open on time). If you weren’t just sniping on the sidelines but actually had to balance a $3 billion budget, this would not be a hard call for you.

    • SpecK

      So $3millon bill comes due and we have to figure out how to pay for it. Sen Ferguson says we need to embrace the spirit of compromise unlike that rabble in DC. The “compromise” he endorsed? ALL of the bill to be paid by local communities. That’s not a compromise, brother.

      Mike,if this is levity, then you are one dark dude.

  • ushanellore

    From the mouth of a mayor

    “Why should I read the laws I sign?”
    asked the mayor, talking to herself,
    as she took off her stiletto heels
    and plunged into her hot tub,
    “Why bother to break my head
    over what has been written,
    by some dumb lawyer,
    to defy the best comprehension,

    Not even Barack,
    not even Nancy (Pelosi)
    bother to read the heaps
    laid on their tables–

    Before they are signed into law,
    if citizens expect us
    to burn our candles out
    on tomes–think again citizens–
    even if the laws have been inscribed in cuneiform
    or in hieroglyphics they have been “pictorialized”
    that wouldn’t make a whit of difference
    because some laws have been written
    to be unwritten by simple realities–

    I cannot gamble away
    a gambling joint’s goodwill
    toward me that has been hard bought–
    I cannot squander,
    on the collective fickleness of citizens,
    the love of Caesar pumped to me
    through many conduits–

    Lean and mean like Cassius
    the citizens plot my undoing
    and read into the laws I signed
    meanings never assigned to those laws–
    they bring their eyes hungry for my follies
    and make controversies over a mere steam pipe
    they linger and gossip to their hearts’ content
    that my intent is to please the mighty and the rich
    whose intent isn’t so?

    My intent is to please the mighty and the rich,
    they hold the key to the prosperity this city
    needs and craves,
    a mere steam pipe,
    a paltry 3 million,
    communities carping over nothing–
    this is not my game,
    I think big,
    I think future,
    I say fix what needs to be fixed,
    especially if the person asking for the “FIX”
    is mighty and rich,
    I say FIX,
    I think big,
    I want no barren future
    without Caesar–
    I walk in Cleopatra’s shoes–

    I heard the Ides of March
    in my dreams foretell
    the bursting of a steam pipe at Caesar’s regal feet
    and the incendiary death of gamblers following which
    all fingers pointed at me for not knowing what Caesar knew
    for not giving to Caesar his due.

    I think big,
    I think future,
    I shout–Heil steam pipes!
    Heil steam pipes!
    and Hail Caesar!
    Hail Caesar!
    I do!

    Usha Nellore

  • ham_snadwich

    “An inspection by The Brew suggested that the possibility that repairs could shut down the casino, to be open 24/7, was remote.”
    Based on your vast utility construction experience?

    • ushanellore

      Gamblers would find a way around the work. Front or back door they will go to have their fill of fun. Traffic will be redirected and Caesar’s will not have to close. That is the point of this story. The mayor’s dire scenario does not take into account, alternative routes in and out of the casino even if repairs were ongoing. These casinos have high powered lawyers who obviously did not budge and the city caved. I believe our legislators don’t read the laws they sign and promulgate.

      • ham_snadwich

        Sure, mind that hot steam, a newspaper reporter said it wasn’t a big deal.

        • TazMan

          In the lead photo caption for this article, The Brew said the “vapor plumes from the underground steam ” were “not bothering anyone last Thursday”.

          If I saw that happening in the main entry plaza of my soon to be opened $442 million casino, it’d sure as hell bother me!

        • ushanellore

          And what if another reporter said it was a big deal, would that assessment be valid too?

          • ham_snadwich

            Does that other reporter consult with an expert or someone experienced in construction, or do they just rely on their super-reporter powers?

  • Mojomo

    The ordinance certainly requires Ceasars to pay if, for example, it wants to build something under the street (an underground garage, a wine cellar) that requires the disruption or relocation of the City-owned steam lines. It is not, however, entirely clear that it requires Ceasars to pay in the current circumstance, where the casino and the City both agree that the City-owned vents are a potential hazard, or at least something that might discourage people from throwing away their money at the casino. The more pertinent question is why is the money coming from the fund that is allocated to the community as opposed to some other City pot.

    • ushanellore

      This repair should have been done before Caesars made the extensive changes, it did, to Warner Street. Caesars worked around the subsurface steam pipe oblivious to the dangers it posed and oblivious to its initial agreement. It cared not that people could be blown away. It cared to jazz up the place so people would come but if they did get blown up that would be the city’s fault. There are always more gamblers to replace the dead ones.

      • Mojomo

        Next time, we’ll put you in charge of the subsurface engineering. Remind me where you got your degree.

        • ushanellore

          Sarcasm is not the answer Mojomo. You haven’t still answered, Mr.Know it all, why Caesars didn’t care to address the issue when it made upgrades.

          • Mojomo

            I’d be delighted if we’d never heard of Ceasars. Unfortunately, it’s the only viable economic-development opportunity in this wretched place. People aren’t lining up to bring jobs and tax-generating infrastructure to the City. Q.e.d., the government has to find a way to make it work. It’s all well and good to sit on the sidelines and snipe at SRB, but I find it very disappointing that we see little more than sniping in what ought to be a forum for thoughtful discussion of the City’s problems.

  • halstevens

    The Mayor is proudly announcing in a press release that 51% of the Horseshoe hires were City residents. Can we assume that this information was not compiled by the same person that provided the Pandora jobs information? It is tough enough just trying to determine where the City Council members live.

  • Keith

    The steam line isn’t even owned by the City of Baltimore. It is owned by Viola Energy, a private French conglomerate, and the Casino is also privately owned. Why should the City of Baltimore pay anything at all?

    • Mojomo

      Wrong. The City owns the lines. Veolia provides the service. Maybe the City shouldn’t pay. But Veolia and Ceasars refused to pay. The City was forced to choose between shelling out $3 million, which is a pittance of what the casino is reasonably expected to generate, or seeing the casino not open on time. Not a hard call if you’re in the mayor’s position. Of course, you could sue Veolia and Ceasars, but you wouldn’t get a result until 2016.

  • KnowNothingParty

    Like Ordinance 12-0158 means anything to Mayor Failings Blake

  • Tom Gregory

    Not germane to the steam pipe issue that should have been engineered and solved two years ago and not two weeks before the casino opening,
    but an interesting read nonetheless by Annys Shin of the Washington Post.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/with-the-horseshoe-casino-baltimore-adds-to-the-urban-gambling-jackpot/2014/08/25/3b0ae492-28a3-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html

    The comment section is entertaining, but no rival to The Brew’s for intelligence, wit and poetry.

More of the Daily Drip »

Below the Fold

  • December 15, 2014

    •   “Ha ha, so not a surprise.” “Shocking…not!!” We get applause but also the occasional eye-roll these days for our accountability reporting – like last week’s piece about how tax cuts promised by the mayor as a selling point for Horseshoe Baltimore probably won’t happen, thanks to the casino’s lower-than-expected revenues. We get where the [...]

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