The Casino Deal

After a stalemate that lasted for months, Penn National Gaming, the City of Columbus, and Franklin County have tentatively agreed to a deal that will end their squabble and allow construction of a west side casino to proceed.

Under the deal, Columbus will kick in $15 million in environmental clean-up and road improvement costs and Penn National will agree to have the casino site annexed into Columbus, which will then benefit from tax revenues and “host city” revenues generated by the casino.  Both parties will pay $2.5 million toward development projects in the west side, and an as-yet-unidentified party is supposed to kick in $11 million to buy the Arena District site where Penn National originally was going to build the casino.  The deadline for getting all of the pieces of the deal inked is June 10, and if that deadline is met Penn National thinks the casino can be completed and open in 2012.

I voted against the constitutional amendment authorizing casinos in Columbus and elsewhere in Ohio because I don’t think Columbus needs a casino.  My side lost, and it became inevitable that a casino would be built.  Since the vote, and the later decision to move the casino to a location in the city’s depressed west side, workers in the construction industry and west side businesses and residents have been looking forward to the jobs that casino construction and operations will provide.  For their sake, I’m glad that a deal has been struck.

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Outdoing Indiana Jones

Modern technology is allowing for amazing advances in, of all things, the discovery of sites and artifacts of ancient civilizations.  The most recent example is found in Egypt, where the new field of “space archaeology” — which seems oxymoronic — has produced the discovery of 17 lost pyramids and thousands of previously undiscovered tombs and settlements.

The space archaeologists use space telescopes, powerful cameras, and infra-red imaging to identify materials buried beneath the surface.  Ancient Egyptians built using mud brick, which has a different density than the surrounding soil and allows the outlines of buried structures to be detected.  One use of the technology was applied to make discoveries at the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis, which will forever be recalled by fans of Indiana Jones and Raiders Of The Lost Ark as the home of the Well of Souls and the Ark of the Covenant.

You don’t need a bullwhip, a well-worn hat, and the ability to take a punch to be an archaeologist — a satellite, a camera, and a creative approach to using new technology will do just fine.  And what is really exciting about this development is the potential uses of this technology in Babylon, and Persia, and other sites in the Fertile Crescent and elsewhere.  Who knows what other evidence of ancient civilizations will be found buried beneath the sands?