Bruce Jackson, The Wendt Foundation, and Harrah's Casino (Updated)

24 Jul

It’s one thing for Bruce Jackson to say that I’m a schmuck for writing something nasty about the Wendt Foundation. It’s another thing altogether for him to insinuate that I was part of a conspiratorial effort to embarrass it.

Luckily, two can play at this guessing game.

Perhaps the reason why Mr. Jackson took the “conspiracy” tack has to do with the fact that he and his kids have benefited from the Wendt Foundation’s largess.

1. If you take a look at Jackson’s CV, posted here, he lists himself as being a 2007 recipient of a “fellowship” or “grant” from the Margaret Wendt Foundation. That’s strange, since the Wendt Foundation’s disclosure shows that it is limited geographically to WNY and “no grants to individuals” (p. 10 of 2007 – links to 2007 and 2006 Wendt disclosures are at the bottom of the post).

Given the tone and content of his current Artvoice article, I find that to be a patent and clear conflict of interest.

To quote the philosopher Ron Popeil, “but wait, there’s more.”

Jackson’s CV also lists him as a Vice-President of Citizens for a Better Buffalo, the organization that brought the lawsuit which is being funded by the Wendt Foundation. (Citizens for a Better Buffalo has no website, and there is no way to determine its membership, or its income or expenditures).  In Artvoice, Jackson discloses his “former” vice presidency of CBB, but does not disclose the next item:

jackson.JPG

2.  That is an image taken from the signature blocks at the end of the casino opponents’ recent motion asking Judge Skretny to enforce his July 8th decision and force the NIGC to shut down gaming operations in Buffalo.  Jackson & Jackson are among the lead attorneys in that lawsuit.

Why is this a big deal?

The lawyers at Jackson and Jackson are related to Bruce.

They’re his kids.

How much Wendt Foundation money did they earn for their work on the casino lawsuit?  How much did Bruce receive in 2007 from the Wendt Foundation?  Why wasn’t that disclosed in his article?  Why do I have to be accused of “swiftboating” the Wendt Foundation by some guy for whom Wendt is a benefactor?

According to the 2006 IRS Form 990 disclosure of The Wendt Foundation, the “Network for Religious Communities” is the recipient of about $910,000 over the course of 2006. While most line-items for payouts have some detail to them, such as “Erie County SPCA: Purchase a replacement vehicle for the Rescue/Cruelty Investigations Department”, the Network for Religious Communities just gets “Support $1,455,000”. There is no further explanation. Network for Religious Communities is one of the many plaintiffs in the anti-casino lawsuit. [UPDATE: “Pat” points out in comments that CACGEC funnels donations through the Network for Religious Communities Rev. Showers is CACGEC’s Treasurer, and CACGEC does not appear to be a non-profit as recognized by the IRS.]

I called Wendt for comment, but no one was around to discuss it and no one has called me back. It appears, however, that Wendt funneled the money for the lawyers through the Network for Religious Communities rather than through the ad hoc, newly created “Citizens for a Better Buffalo”. To whom does Jackson & Jackson send its bills?

3. The Margaret Wendt Foundation, which has spent $2 million to protect the people of Buffalo from themselves by funding this lawsuit against the casino is one big, fat, 501c3 hypocrite.

Based on its 2006 IRS disclosure, between 2003 – 2006, it held $2.73 million worth of stock in Harrah’s. 58,900 shares, to be exact. It sold the shares in 2006 for about $4.8 million – a tidy $2 million profit.

One might say that Wendt’s investment in Harrah’s funded the Buffalo effort to destroy a Harrah’s competitor.

Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. is the world’s largest provider of branded casino entertainment through operating subsidiaries. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada 70 years ago, Harrah’s has grown through development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions, and now owns or manages casino resorts on four continents The company’s properties operate primarily under the Harrah’s, Caesars and Horseshoe brand names; Harrah’s also owns the London Clubs International family of casinos and the World Series of Poker. On January 28, 2008, Harrah’s Entertainment was acquired by affiliates of private-equity firms TPG Capital and Apollo Global Management.

Harrah’s is also a leading management company for several Indian Casinos, such as Harrah’s Rincon Casino & Resort in San Diego, CA.   The Rincon Band of Mission Indians is the tribal organization affiliated with this casino.

Gambling.  Good enough for Bruce Jackson’s kids to make money off of. Good enough for the Wendt Foundation to make money off of.  Not good enough for you.

Not yours.

Research and contributions from Christopher Smith

wendt_form990_2007.pdf

Wendt_form990_2006

UPDATE: Thanks to Tom Bauerle for talking about this this morning.

Also, there’s this:

In 2001, The New York Times reported that Harrah’s Entertainment Corporation was in negotiations to manage and operate three Western New York casinos for the Seneca Nation. Harrah’s has a long track record managing casinos for Indian nations, including the Ak-Chin casino near Kansas City, the Rincon Casino in San Diego, and Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina.

Harrah’s, the world’s second-largest casino company, is one of several companies that have made a proposal to the Seneca Nation of Indians, hoping the tribe will choose them to build and run as many as three casinos in western New York. Harrah’s says it has also discussed a Catskills casino with another tribe — it will not say which one — and scouted locations, armed with a feasibility study it conducted on the region several years ago.

Such casinos in New York would take some business away from Atlantic City, doubling the resolve of casino companies there to get a piece of the action in New York.

”If someone’s going to cannibalize us, I want to be the cannibal,” said Philip G. Satre, chief executive of Harrah’s, which has two Atlantic City casinos. He said his company was talking with the Senecas ”long before the bill was passed.”

So, is it possible that the purchase of Harrah’s stock in 2003 precipitated an expected agreement with the Seneca Nation to operate casinos in Western New York and the sale of that stock been predicated on the announcement or intention of the Seneca Nation to operate the casinos on their own?

(If any other media outlet decides to run with any of this, it’d sure be swell to get some attribution this time. KTHXBAI.)

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72 Responses to “Bruce Jackson, The Wendt Foundation, and Harrah's Casino (Updated)”

  1. lefty July 24, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    OUCH….

    I think Bruce needs some lube after that….

  2. MajorPwnage July 24, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

    Bruce Jackson got PWNED!

  3. The Humanist July 24, 2008 at 2:40 pm #

    Damn, Pundit….remind never to piss you off.

  4. Chris Smith July 24, 2008 at 2:40 pm #

    All of that took but 60 minutes of research.

  5. Pauldub July 24, 2008 at 2:41 pm #

    Wow. Big hammer dude.

  6. JohnK July 24, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    It’s pretty telling that two bloggers spend more time doing research for a story than the reporters at The Buffalo News or the other local media outlets. Why is this the first time anyone is hearing about the Wendt Foundation and Casino monies? Damning stuff.

  7. Ben Franklin July 24, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    Juicy revelations which you will not hear on local TV. BP, perhaps you should notify your friends at WIVB?

  8. Mike In WNY July 24, 2008 at 4:27 pm #

    BP, is the Wendt foundation really trying to save people from themselves? Or are they opposed to the crappy deal the City of Buffalo received and opposed to the special status the Seneca’s enjoy compared to other business owners? If the latter is true, their investments in Harrah’s wouldn’t be inconsistent with their support of the legal fight against the casino.

  9. Tim July 24, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    Congratulations Guys Great example of journalism!

    This is why the web is important in these days of lazy mainstream media.

    Sometimes “progressive” is just another way of spelling regressive.

  10. laughingoutloud July 24, 2008 at 4:49 pm #

    Now, that is what I call investigative journalism. Instead of that Crap put out by an unamed columnist at the News. Here,s hoping this gets legs, very long legs.

  11. Peter Farrell July 24, 2008 at 5:02 pm #

    @ Mike in WNY: Good point, but if that were the reason for their motives I would think that they would have been spending money for legal fees to fight the Seneca’s tax exemptions concerning gas and cigarette sales as well.

  12. odn July 24, 2008 at 5:25 pm #

    Bruce and the Wendt Foundation just got bitch slapped. Serves him right for writing such a stupid article in the first place.

    People never learn not to fuck with us do they?

  13. odn July 24, 2008 at 5:29 pm #

    And even more ridiculous is Art Voice’s for letting him publish that nonsense in the first place…What a joke…!!

  14. Buffalopundit July 24, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    @Mike in WNY: from a prior Jackson column:

    But then Buffalo got lucky. The city’s second-largest foundation, the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, decided that the downtown casino would do the city such harm that it was worth a major investment to keep it from happening. And a large number of community members contributed money to help that effort. Citizens for Better Buffalo was able, using those contributions and the Wendt support, to mount two lawsuits that have now cost a million dollars.

    The exclave part was, for me, the primary issue. The nannyism didn’t enter into it.

    For Wendt, CBB, and Jackson/Rose, it’s all about the nannyism. The exclave bit was the pretext.

  15. Buffalo Rox July 24, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    Interesting stuff about potential interlocking relationships. Good job putting this together.

    However, I think your Harrah’s estoppel argument is a bit overblown. Wendt Foundation used, and likely still uses, professional investment management services to grow the principal. Harrah’s stock was bought in 2003 and sold within four months of the filing of the first lawsuit (by 5/06). They made approx. $2 million off their investment and then spent almost the same amount on the lawsuit. Would it have been more palatable to you if, realizing their new distaste for gambling, they gave it to the city mission or gambling anonymous? Perhaps they thought the highest and best use for this money would be to fight expansion of gambling in Buffalo. I don’t see the Wendt Foundation spending dollar for dollar the amount made on an existing gambling venture against the Senecas Buffalo Creek casino as terribly hypocritical. I would think so if they continued to hold the stock or bought more shares. Are former smokers who enjoyed cigarettes for years but now rail against the “evil” of tobacco hypocrites too? Seems here that it’s simply a case of people changing their opinion on an issue.

    BTW, I don’t buy the nannyism arguments against the casino either. You and others have exposed a lot of other vices that cause societal harm. Good points all. My sole concern is with the exclave being created in the City of Buffalo. NYS wants to collect revenue from gambling? Go nuts – amend the NYS constitution and put in Monte Carlo style casinos.

  16. Christopher Smith July 24, 2008 at 6:44 pm #

    Seems here that it’s simply a case of people changing their opinion on an issue.

    I think you are attaching to their profit motivated sale some sort of morality play when earlier you pointed out that professional fund managers handle their investments. I think that’s a big leap to make here.

    Using Occam as a guidepost, they bought shares in Harrah’s in 2003, rode a huge acquisition wave as Harrah’s grew and bought several casino chains (as well as signed contracts with large Indian tribes to manage their casino ops) and cashed out when the profit was likely the highest. That’s what fund managers do.

    Also, as someone who has been involved in the placement and investment of monies in personal, family, and business trusts, the trustees of the Wendt Foundation are very aware as to where the money is invested. If they are morally opposed to gambling (as they state publicly) they would advise their fund managers to invest accordingly.

    The Wendt Foundation is also highly invested in speculative oil stocks, strip mall development, suburban movie houses, and other things that don’t necessarily jibe with their moralistic and “progressive” tone.

    On one hand, they are maximizing the value of the trust with which they can give back to the community and that is all well and good. I applaud their asset management and capitalistic fervor. However, if one wishes to stake out moral ground, it’s best to not let live in glass houses or walk down the middle of the road to let a massive $2MM truck of irony hit you right in the face. Especially when the company you invest in is a potential competitor to the one you are suing. The conflict of interest is HUGE.

  17. Snarky Snarkmore McSnarkamaphone July 24, 2008 at 7:18 pm #

    oooh, sweet: Mr Jackson, gas-bag of note, is looking pretty bad right about now.

    None of this, however, constitutes an argument for the casino.

  18. Buffalo Rox July 24, 2008 at 7:29 pm #

    Chris,

    I’m not saying that the trustees weren’t aware, they’d be breaching their fiduciary duties if they didn’t know what was going on. However, I seriously doubt that the trustees we involved in the selection of the Harrah’s stock. That’s not how money management works.

    As far as morality plays, although it’s speculation on my part, I think they probably told their investment adviser to sell the Harrah’s stock after they became involved in the lawsuit. If they hadn’t sold they would look like hypocrites. Maybe NIMBY attitude prompted their re-evaluation of the merits of gambling or investing in gambling stocks. Who knows? Pundit has admitted that his point of view on this matter has changed over time (from opposition to ambivalence to get it done already). Why should the Foundation be any different? In any event, I think you water your other arguments down by trying too hard to create the glass house in this circumstance.

    Last, your use of the term “conflict of interest” is simply not applicable. Black’s Law Dictionary defines conflict of law as “a real or seeming incompatibility between one’s private interests and one’s public or fiduciary duties.” You and Pundit equate the Wendt Foundation’s investment in Harrah’s stock (with subsequent capital gains) and funding of the anti-casino lawsuit as a conflict of interest (unless I’m mistaken Pundit has been careful not to allege that the trustees breached their fiduciary duties to the Wendt Foundation in pursuing this lawsuit). I don’t see how the Wendt Foundation owes a public or fiduciary duty to Harrah’s or the Senecas. That being the case, I fail to see how that creates a conflict with its private interest – funding the lawsuit against the Senecas. Again, the Foundation quickly sold off their holdings with Harrah’s after the lawsuit was filed so I think they handled any conceived impropriety as well.

    BR

  19. Jon Splett July 24, 2008 at 7:40 pm #

    Oh snaps.

  20. Chris Smith July 24, 2008 at 9:39 pm #

    Snarky, none of this was intended to be an argument for the casino.

  21. WNYMind July 24, 2008 at 10:59 pm #

    Bruce Jackson is one blatent liar. Wow, the Harrah’s connection is priceless. The Wendt trustees have some explaining to do. It looks like someone like the SEC or state AG needs to start earning their salary.

    For all the people in WNY I’d like to say to Bruce Jackson, Thomas Lunt, Robert Kresse, Janet Day, and Joel Rose that you all are scumbags. I think you need to spend some time in jail.

  22. pat July 25, 2008 at 1:08 am #

    Citizen agaianst gambling in Erie County website http://www.nocasinoerie.org/

    Board of Directors http://www.nocasinoerie.org/about.htm#board.

    They take contributions thru the “Network of Religious Communities”
    http://www.nocasinoerie.org/contrib.htm

  23. mike hudson July 25, 2008 at 3:04 am #

    excellent reporting job alan. kudos.

  24. laughingoutloud July 25, 2008 at 4:46 am #

    Apparently, the closer your ties to this clusterfuck, the better your chances of sticking your hands into the foundation cash box.

  25. Russell July 25, 2008 at 6:15 am #

    This is all good stuff. It’s great you guys exposed all of them for the hypocrites they are.

    Oh wait… I think we’re only supposed to say, “they’re acting like hypocrites,” not that they are hypocrites. Right?

  26. Dan July 25, 2008 at 6:23 am #

    Rox said” My sole concern is with the exclave being created in the City of Buffalo.”
    Others have said the foundation is only concerned about the enclave.
    Well that point has now been settled by law. No one appears ready to challenge the sovreignty issue. So now Wendt will just walk away right?

  27. Chaz July 25, 2008 at 7:28 am #

    Serious reporting??

    Come on!

    It is about as serious as Pundit paying WNYmediaFAIL with leftover campaign money for TV ads.

    Isn’t Pundit part owner of this FAIL operation?

  28. Chris Smith July 25, 2008 at 8:09 am #

    Neither Alan nor I claim this is “serious” reporting. In fact, it’s basic research which is conducted in less than an hour using Google and a phone.

    As for Pundit paying me to make a campaign video, what’s the scandal? Alan is not listed as an owner of Convergence Media Network, LLC dba the Western New York Media Network and wnymedia.net with the Department of State in New York or Erie County. The owners of this company are Chris Smith and Marc Odien. Look it up if you like.

    One could say that we should have done the video for free for one of our friends and most loyal bloggers. However, Alan and I thought it best to maintain some distance and propriety for the arrangement.

    As always, thanks for reading!

  29. jack fate July 25, 2008 at 8:37 am #

    So this makes the casino a good idea how?

    Not that it doesn’t raise important questions and possibly exposes some shady dealings (unlike Pataki, Indian gambling interests and Republican lobbyist who have been nothing but on the up-and-up,) but I don’t see how it changes the crux of the argument against the casino.

  30. Kate July 25, 2008 at 8:38 am #

    Nice.

  31. Eric P. July 25, 2008 at 8:48 am #

    Harrahs biz plans don’t include f–ing up the City of Buffalo. Wendt Foundation Making money off them is not such a big deal to me.

    For those who think this is all about “Nannyism” – you’re buying into the most stale pro-casino argument. One fact is that a non-taxed development in the City simply puts other business at a competitive disadvantage. The casino will drain money from the city in many other ways as well. It’s a bad deal economically.

    Personally, I think all gambling, prostitution and drugs should be legalized – so I think that puts me out of the “nanny” midset. (BTW, two out of three of those activities are of no interest to me). Also, I don’t think Jackson or Rose have used the “enclave” issue as pretext for some underlying “nannyism”. Just because you may say doesn’t make so.

    Also, as to why the Wendt Foundation doesn’t oppose the tax-free cigs and gas: There are no tax-free cigs or gas in the City of Buffalo. Does the fact that the Wendt Foundation hasn’t taken on other aspects of Indian commerce or gambling in other places somehow diminish, or make hypocritical their efforts against a Casino in the City? The opponents of the Casino may not be saints, but I don’t see them as double-dealers, either.

    As for the Jackson and Jackson & Jackson thing, BFD. No law firm takes on clients based on who-knows-whom – it’s always done in a fair and noble random search for a saintly advocate of truth and justice. Isn’t it?

    I think Wendts involvement is more about health the City of Buffalo than gambling in general. I’m glad they’re involved in this fight.

    @WNYMIND – absurd comment about SEC and NYS AG. Also, Bob Kresse is a great guy who has done a lot for the city. I do not personally know the other people you mentioned who “ought to be in jail”. I’m just wondering, on what basis do you make an idiotic statement like that?

  32. Buffalopundit July 25, 2008 at 8:52 am #

    This wasn’t an argument about whether gambling is good or bad, or whether the casino is good or bad. I still think the casino deal, per se, is a crappy one, and that we shouldn’t carve sovereign exclaves out of downtown.

    This is about the beneficiaries of Wendt Foundation money, the source of the money, the way in which it’s paid out for this casino effort, etc. Like I said originally, I thought the lawyers were doing this pro bono.

    When a well-respected, widely-read anti-casino activist accuses me of conspiring to swiftboat the foundation that helps enrich him and his family and helps to further the goals of an entity to which he belongs, and he doesn’t disclose any of it, that pisses me off.

    Unfortunately, I was already in a bad mood yesterday, so…

  33. Frieda July 25, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    Excellent work AB & CS. The foundation has 3 trustees and 1 part time secretary. And, do I understand correctly, that each trustee receives 150,000 in compensation.. What warrants that salary? Most administrative functions are performed by professional firms. In addition why is a non profit located in class a office space (key center)? Why are their administrative costs approx 30 cents for every dollar they give away. Makin out like bandits. I’m sure there are plenty of retired individuals, business executives or just plain dilettantes who would more than gladly volunteer their time for free to be a trustee.

  34. Joel Rose July 25, 2008 at 10:22 am #

    Alan,

    As usual you’re making a big deal out of essentially nothing. First of all, Jackson & Jackson are not among the lead attorneys. They’re assisting on the case. They’re young, and this is a learning experience for them. I don’t know how much they get paid, but I doubt it’s going to make their fortunes for them.

    Second, Bruce Jackson was writing articles opposing a casino long before either of his kids got involved in this. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were still in high school at the time. So maybe this is more a case of adult children admiring the work of their father and wanting to be a part of it.

    You chastise Bruce for failing to disclose the connection in his ArtVoice article. If he had, it would have struck me as using the article to promote his kids. So that’s kind of a lose-lose, isn’t it?

    Certainly the younger Jacksons benefited from their connection to their father. Hey, I helped get my kids summer jobs — not very good ones — working for the City when they were young, through my Council Member. Maybe you should launch an investigation of that. Good grief!

    CACGEC, for your information, is organized as a program of the Network of Religious Communities, and therefore inherits its Federal not-for-profit status. We therefore follow the rules pertaining to 501(C)(3) organizations, so as not to jeopardize the parent organization. We have also, within the past year or two, incorporated as a not-for-profit in New York State, but we have not gotten around to doing the paper work to make that corporation a 501(C)(3), and in fact have not made use of the corporation at all, so far.

    You could have ascertained all this with a phone call or e-mail to me, something you chastise Bruce for not doing in one of the versions of your article.

    You could also have asked me about the 2002 interview I did with Bruce, in which I did not bring up the arguments that were eventually reflected in our lawsuit. That was apparently an ah ha! discovery for you. In fact, whenever I have been asked, I have always said that my reasons for opposing a casino are different from the legal arguments. Let me be clear — it’s a predatory enterprise, which is why I oppose it, and it also happens to be illegal, which, for those who support the rule of law, ought to have some significance. You seemed to imply that the fact that I had other reasons besides the legal ones for opposing the casino was some sort of secret I had been hiding until you ferreted it out.

    I find it curious, as well, that you are so concerned about the diversion (as you see it) of $2 million from OTHER worthwhile purposes to the lawsuit, yet the prospect of the extraction of hundreds of millions of dollars from our community each and every year does not bother you at all. In fact, you keep emphasizing that the economic drain on the community is a non-issue for you. You are so persuaded of the correctness of this position, that you cannot allow for the possibility that the Wendt Foundation trustees could legitimately have a contrary view, and that this would justify their decision to use these funds to support a lawsuit.

    Also, the next time you run for office, please don’t posture as an anti-casino candidate. You’re not. You’re merely anti-sovereignty.

    Joel Rose

  35. Chris Smith July 25, 2008 at 10:24 am #

    Frieda, as per the IRS Form 990’s, the three trustees each earn ~$144,000 per year and work 2 hours per week on behalf of the foundation. That’s $1384 per hour. Not bad work if you can get it.

    Also, I only bring this up because someone asked. What they are paid to administer the foundation is of no consequence to me, or I would have brought it up to begin with.

  36. Joel Rose July 25, 2008 at 10:29 am #

    In my previous comment, I forgot to add that you claimed, falsely, that I promised to stop posting CACGEC updates on the BfloIssueAlerts list and then immediately posted one.

    First of all, it was an announcement, not a promise, but more to the point, it included a proviso that I would wait two weeks before stopping the CACGEC posts, to give people a chance to subscribe individually. Dan Warren pointed that out, but your original accusation is still on the web, unretracted so far as I know.

    I’m sure you’re too nice a person to deliberately lie, but at the very least you are excessively casual about checking your facts, and evidently unconcerned about the consequences of your misstatements.

  37. Buffalopundit July 25, 2008 at 10:32 am #

    @Joel, I guess one major difference between your position and mine is that the Senecas are part of “this community”. Furthermore, I reached out to Jackson, who is the subject of the bulk of this article.

    Furthermore, I never postured myself as anti-casino. If you’ll recall my speech to your group last summer, I specifically said I didn’t have a problem with gambling, per se, but was instead concerned with the idea of carving out a sovereign exclave out of downtown Buffalo, and likened it to France doing the same thing. I also said there was a problem with there being casino gambling set up without there being any input from the people, and that Pataki had set up a lousy deal.

    I still stand by all of those statements. Where you and I differ is that I am not concerned with the moral, social, or economic benefits or detriments of casino gambling in a community that is flush with games of chance in various forms.

    A counterargument can be made not only that the casino will generate jobs, but that it creates jobs for its vendors, all of whom employ people and pay state and federal taxes.

    Joel, this all stems from Bruce Jackson of accusing me of conspiring to “swiftboat” a group which, until about a week ago, I had scarcely heard of or cared about.

    But thanks for clearing up the bit about CACGEC getting money through the religious network. It’s nice you get to leave a comment. It’s hard for me to do that at Artvoice without writing a letter to the editor that no one would read.

    As for the BIA post, I wrote:

    Almost immediately after pledging on Buffalo Issue Alerts to stop posting CACGEC updates at that listserv, Joel Rose posted this:

    I fail to see how that is in any way factually inaccurate. It may be misleading given your 2-week promise, but it is accurate nonetheless, and that’s why I didn’t change it.

    In the 2002 interview, you gave all the standard arguments as to why the casino is bad economically and socially – a point that could as easily be made about alcohol. My point was that the sovereignty issue was the legal pretext that permitted you to file suit. Otherwise, your economic arguments alone may be valid, but are not actionable.

  38. indc July 25, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    Apparently Mr. Rose does not think Nepotism is a big deal, but where I work it is considered a mortal sin.

  39. Joel Rose July 25, 2008 at 10:40 am #

    Finally, lest there be any confusion, CACGEC funds held by the Network of Religious Communities are held in a separate sub-account, and are never co-mingled with those of any other Network program. CACGEC does not receive funds from the Wendt Foundation, although we are obviously gratified that Wendt has chosen to fund the lawsuit through Citizens for a Better Buffalo. I am not a member of CBB, although we do have more-or-less cordial relations.

    Anything else? Why don’t you just ask?

  40. frieda July 25, 2008 at 10:48 am #

    Does Mr Rose donate his time or does he get paid for his participation in the suit?

  41. mike hudson July 25, 2008 at 10:59 am #

    alan & chris…keep going. by the viriol being directed your way here it’s plain to see you’re onto something pretty big. i’ve often wondered about the finances behind the anti-casino movement, as they seem to be able to travel, get their stuff out and network in a very professional (i.e. expensive) manner.

    obviously, if bruce jackson or anyone else who is doing writing for publications about this subject is benefitting financially, or their family is benefitting financially, from that writing beyond what jamie moses or whoever is paying them for the articles and not disclosing that fact it’s a major ethical problem.

    journalists get fired for this kind of thing every day. such arrangements, when brought to the fore, damage the credibility of the publication the writing appeared in and, by extension, erodes further whatever little confidence people may have in journalists in general.

    bruce jackson should be ashamed of himself. so should the buffalo news by letting you guys beat them on this story. as for joel rose, he knows no shame.

    helpful hint: why not call jamie and see whether he considers this to be, as rose suggests, no big deal. or you could call/email the ethics department at the poynter institute — the country’s most respected journalistic think tank — and see what they think. last time i needed to do that i spoke with a woman named ally colon.

  42. Chris Smith July 25, 2008 at 10:59 am #

    Just to clarify, I don’t see Joel addressing any of the substantive points in the original post, it’s just a litany of “why didn’t you call me” and “yeah, so what?” responses.

    As to the question about why we did not contact you…

    1.) As far as I know, you are not a trustee of or officially affiliated with the Wendt Foundation.

    2.) You are not Bruce Jackson

    Since this post had little or nothing to do with your personal participation in the lawsuit, we contacted the parties who were to be discussed in the story.

    As for Frieda’s point about Joel’s compensation from CACGEC, it’s a red herring. As a public employee of New York State, I’m sure Joel is well compensated professionally and has adequate leave/sabbatical time to pursue legal endeavors of all kinds.

  43. Howard Goldman July 25, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    I agree with Pundit. The casino is a mistake because it is owned by a separate nation regulated by a separate set of laws. This creates an uneven playing field for other businessmen. That disqualifies the project in my book.

    Could I or any of you, or Mark Croce or Carl Paladino, decide to open up a similar enterprise? Businesses should not have to compete against tax-free or smoking permitted establishments. That’s why this is wrong. There should not be special treatment for special classes.

    Carl Paladino may be in favor of this casino, but I am against Indian casino’s because I am concerned about protecting his rights as a businessman to compete where he chooses and on a level playing field.

  44. Jon Splett July 25, 2008 at 11:40 am #

    I like how the anti-casino side is completely okay with using religious organizations not having to pay taxes in their quest against the Senecas not having to pay taxes.

    Explain to me how forking over money to Jebus so I can live in a magic castle in the sky after I die is any less a sucker bet than pumping quarters into a slot machine hoping to win a few million.

  45. Peter Farrell July 25, 2008 at 11:58 am #

    Worse, Splett. They’re organizations that don’t pay taxes AND can run “Monte Carlo Night” and bingo operations. Oh that’s not gambling, is it??

    Gee, wonder if that played into the Seneca casino deal with the state.

  46. Know it all July 25, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    bravo! you now need to work with buffaloskoolmess and get to the bottom of the williams connection to the criminals running school 44. please, please, please!

  47. spike July 25, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    But you can’t smoke at the church. And we know how losers who like the gaming industry love to puff puff. Plus I never heard of anybody getting arrested for stealing company money and spending it at bingo, you idiots do not have a clue.

  48. Jon Splett July 25, 2008 at 12:43 pm #

    So to sum up Spikes argument:

    1. People stealing money from their company to gamble with the Senecas is wrong. The church stealing money from fixed income seniors social security checks via bingo and the collection plate is not because only stealing company money is wrong. Touchdown capitalism!

    2.Every single person who gambles loves to smoke making them evil. If we open a casino, these evil smokers will have a place to meet and eventually organize forcing everyone else to smoke just like them killing us all. (Never mind the fact you can smoke in just about any bar in this city after 1 AM when they know no ones coming around to bust them… casino smoking is TOTALLY different.)

    3.Smokers are losers (presumably because they don’t have an ultra cool dog nickname like Spike)

    I also I have a feeling you actually COULD smoke at church if you made some bullshit claim about how it was part of a religious ceremony. Child molesting was illegal until the catholic church demonstrated it was a vital part of their religion and a protected act so there’s precedent.*

    *Citation needed but I assume it’s true because all those priests never had to register as sex offenders and just got moved to different parishes with less attractive children. Their fictional god forgave them so I guess that should be good enough for the legal system….

  49. Peter Farrell July 25, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    Spike,

    1. google – “embezzlement bingo”

    2. Enjoy surfing the links. You could be there a while.

    If the current decision holds, Buffalo could wind up with the world’s largest cigarette/gas outlet for all I know. Wonder if the anti casino forces would fight that since such an outlet would be unfair to other businesses in Buffalo.

    Yeah, right. There will be a ribbon cutting for a new Peace Bridge before that happens.

    You can thank the opening of Casino Niagara for being the first flake of an ever enlarging snowball. Without it, cars by the thousands from WNY(and their money) ventured to it and with it – the hue and cry to bring casino gaming here began en masse. And with that, Pataki(under public outcry) cut a deal with the Senecas to make gaming a reality.

    It certainly is not the best business deal for Buffalo, but without a casino of their own the city gets no casino revenue whatsoever, and thanks to the multiple casinos, bingo halls, racinos, lottos, scratch off tickets, illegal sports betting(did we forget about that???) etc. etc. etc. that exist within an hour’s drive of Buffalo I’m pretty certain that we already have our fair share of gambling addicts and such.

    One more casino will not be Armegeddon and certainly will not turn the region’s population into zombified compulsive gambloholics.

    7 Million$ > 0$(repeat to self several times).

  50. spike July 25, 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    Where is hank? Is he cleaning up McCain’s apple sauce ? And Jon, why do you lump all the churches with catholic’s? Last time I checked there wasnt any bingo at the temple(hi Howard the boy mary married), Mormon’s(but they got the magic underware) or the witness’s(ding dong…have you heard the word?). And those smokers kill people setting up cones on roads.

  51. PlantationEddie July 25, 2008 at 1:24 pm #

    I just picked up this week’s copy of Artvoice. The same newspaper which demonizes the Seneca Casinos? Check out the back page! A full page full color ad promoting Batavia Downs gaming and racing! Explain that!

    @Peter Farrell…Are you the same Peter Farrell who is the sportswriter over at Artvoice? Better be careful for if you don’t drink Bruce Jackson’s Kool-Aid you might just be seeing a pink slip in next week’s paycheck.

  52. Pegger July 25, 2008 at 2:20 pm #

    WOW! Quite the expose’! Some of the “missing pieces” come to light! Kudos to all who played a role in this SenecaGate. Just when I thought the media had caved and our free press had been severely compromised in the process, this is all revealed.

  53. Colin July 25, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    I don’t get why this is such a big deal.

    1. Jackson’s “swiftboating” charge was obviously stupid.

    2. Journalistic ethics should have prompted him to mention that he’s received money from Wendt in his Artvoice column. What he writes at Buffalo Report is his business.

    3. That said, there is a difference between a conflict of interest and the appearance of one. Jackson has been a vocal casino critic since the beginning, long before he received and funding from Wendt.

    4. The insinuation that Wendt is hypocritical for investing in Harrah’s is pretty weak. As far as I know, Wendt hasn’t taken a public stance against gambling. They oppose a casino in Buffalo. If Wendt has, in fact, come out against gambling period, I’d be happy to eat crow on this one.

    5. The claims that this is somehow shady business, or that people need to be put in jail, reflect little more than the hyperbolic nuttiness of some casino supporters.

  54. Prodigal Son July 25, 2008 at 4:26 pm #

    I have a question:

    – If Jackson and Jackson represent CACGEC, but are a minority firm, who is the majority? And where did the $2M in legal fees go?

    That should be very easy to find. If CACGEC is a “program” of the Network of Religious Communities, it should be on their 990. If it is actually itself a non-profit corporation, then it should be on their yearly tax statement. Just because they incorporated as a non-profit, doesn’t mean they are tax exempt. Thye need a 501c3 for that, and Joel Rose says they haven’t gotten around to it yet. If they have been in existance longer than 27 months (the time limit for “cleaning up” income to a 501c3), then they need to be paying taxes on those dispursements, and it would be all contained in their tax filing.

    One last thing – if there is no way for Bruce Jackson to write an article for a newspaper without having a conflict of interest (i.e. children profiting), then he just shouldn’t write an article.

    Why are people going after the Wendt Foundation and anti-casino advocates? Because before you throw a stone, make sure you don’t live in a glass house. If you feel comfortable making a “holier-than-thou” stand, and decide that your small group should overrule the community as a whole (as measured by the representative elected government of that community), then make sure you aren’t a hypocrit.

  55. Colin July 25, 2008 at 5:29 pm #

    1. I think the lead attorney is Cornelius something or other from the Albany area.

    2. CACGEC isn’t the organization behind the lawsuit. That’s the CBB.

    3. If CACGEC is a program of the Network, it operates under the Network’s c3.

    4. The idea that “the community as a whole” supports a casino because Byron Brown does is more than a little silly. Joel Giambra was against a casino, and Chris Collins is for it. Does that mean that the “county as a whole” opposed it, and then changed its mind as soon as Collins was sworn in?

    The only time that “the community as a whole” was actually asked to give its binding opinion on the matter was when the state voted to reject legalizing casino gambling back in the early 90s.

  56. laughingoutloud July 25, 2008 at 6:53 pm #

    From JUly 2006 survey, conducted by Zogby International and commissioned by the Seneca Nation, found 58 percent of respondents said they support a casino, with 37 percent indicating they oppose downtown gambling.

  57. laughingoutloud July 25, 2008 at 7:06 pm #

    And I’m very glad you mentioned Giambra, another hypocrite who opposed the casion, but who was exposed as a frequent flyer at Seneca Niagara.

  58. Colin July 25, 2008 at 7:07 pm #

    The poll you cite was a push poll, if I’m not mistaken. That makes the result less than legitimate. I’ll grant, however, that an evenly worded poll would still probably indicate that a majority of folks support a casino.

    That said, my point was that prodigal son’s claim that the community supported the casino because the government did was false. And again, the only time that gambling has been put to an actual public vote, the pro-casino side lost.

    Beyond that, I don’t get why a “small group overrul[ing] the community as a whole” is such a terrible thing. Our history is chock full of examples where the community as a whole was dead wrong, and where it was the efforts of a small group that set things right.

  59. Colin July 25, 2008 at 7:13 pm #

    There’s nothing hypocritical about thinking that a casino is bad for your city, and yet enjoying a casino in someone else’s city. Giambra wasn’t opposed to the casino because he thought gambling was morally wrong — he thought it was a bad deal for Buffalo.

  60. Chris Smith July 25, 2008 at 10:09 pm #

    Questions for Joel Rose:

    Why did you choose to organize CACGEC as a program under the Network of Religious Communities rather than any other 501c3 organization? As you certainly are aware, as a faith-based organization, the NRC is not required to file Form 990 with the IRS which opens up several questions as to how your organizational activities are funded.

    What is the current 501c3 status of CACGEC with the Department of State in New York and with the Attorney Generals office? According to NY records ( http://tinyurl.com/CACGEC ) CACGEC is listed as being incorporated September 7, 2006 as a domestic not for profit corporation with no registered agent. Did you file the requisite paperwork for your 501c3 status with the NY Attorney General? If so, when? What is the status for that request? Will you disclose what monies have have been received, used, and disbursed through NRC for your purposes at CACGEC? As it currently stands, unless you have a 501c3 exemption, your monies and disbursements are taxable. Using the charities search engine at the NY Attorney General’s Office, neither CBB nor CACGEC is a tax exempt organization. Even though both organizations filed for non-profit status in New York State in 2006.

    I have many more questions about this organization, the Wendt Foundation, CBB, NRC, and the people involved. I am certain that you will be as honest and transparent as necessary to state all facts for the public record. I eagerly await your response.

  61. Colin July 25, 2008 at 10:37 pm #

    1. If CACGEC is a program of the NRC, then its “monies and disbursements” are NOT taxable.

    2. I mean this in the nicest way it can be taken, honestly — but who the fuck are you to demand information from anyone?

  62. Chris Smith July 25, 2008 at 11:01 pm #

    If CACGEC is not a tax exempt organization and they are using the NRC as a passthrough for donations, they need to be actively seeking taz exempt status or the money is still taxable.

    I am a member of the community that is “served” by these interests and a taxpayer in New York State. Tax exempt organizations are required to provide public transparency to their activities. I am also the owner of an independent media company, kthxbai.

  63. Chris Smith July 25, 2008 at 11:07 pm #

    Also, I am evidently an uncited source for stories by WGRZ’s Josh Boose.

    http://www.wgrz.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=59623&catid=37

    I gotta keep the media in this town informed by doing some legwork.

  64. Colin July 25, 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    Or CACGEC can be a program of the NRC — not simply a passthrough — in which case its money isn’t taxable.

    Tax exempt orgs are required to be transparent. That means that you can ask the attorney general for a copy of their latest annual report. It doesn’t mean that they’re required to answer questions on a blog posed by someone who says things like “kthxbai.”

  65. Buffalopundit July 26, 2008 at 5:58 am #

    @Colin, no, but Joel Rose suggested in this thread and on BIA that if we had a question, we could just ask. I think that Chris is abiding by Mr. Rose’s suggestion.

  66. Mike July 26, 2008 at 6:17 am #

    Front page of the Buffalo News, nice work pundit. Maybe this will inspire hudson to get back to work weeding out crumbs in government, instead of kicking our boy vince around.

  67. odn July 26, 2008 at 8:56 am #

    @ joel Rose: “CACGEC, for your information, is organized as a program of the Network of Religious Communities…”

    So the CACGEC is a basically a group of religious nut cases, hiding behind a “citizen’s group” who thinks they can tell the people of WNY what is good and what is not for a community.

    How dare you pitch your religious beliefs on a community and mask them as a “citizen’s group”!

  68. Rory July 26, 2008 at 6:45 pm #

    I propose anti casino billboards that read: “its not that we don’t like gambling, it’s that we do!”

    Just because you gambel, doesn’t make you a hypocrite for opposing a casino in Buffalo.

    I go to bars but I don’t want one accross the street from my house.

  69. Dan Meyer August 1, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    Brad Riter of WECK 1230-AM supports Alan’s point of view:

    http://buffalomainevent.blogspot.com/2008/07/great-blog.html

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. BfloBlog.com » Blog Archive » Investigate This! - July 25, 2008

    […] be it from me to bring things like real life, or “politics” to this site, but this literary bitchslap BuffaloPundit administered to some douchebag from Artvoice is just too good to pass […]

  2. Friday Links! « First Time Caller, Long Time Listener - July 25, 2008

    […] Take That, Artvoice! […]

  3. Artvoice Daily » Return of Serve - July 25, 2008

    […] this post over at BuffaloPundit, Alan Bedenko and Chris Smith suggest that the Wendt Foundation’s […]

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