Jan 6, 1998
Press Release

"After last month's bombshell from the Giuluani administration that they were seriously considering the possibility of building a casino on Governors Island, New Yorkers came out in droves against the idea. The Giuliani administration countered the attack by claiming they were just floating the idea of a casino.

"Well, when MGM officials show up on Governors Island, I think that is a loud and clear signal that the casino idea is more than just floating ... it is quickly anchoring. And gambling is not even legal in New York State! Two bills legalizing gambling failed in the NYS Senate last year. I think the citizens of this city deserve to know when casino developers are setting their sights on our land -- land that is protected by the New York State Consitution from illegal gambling. Yes, Governors Island must be self-sustaining, but using illegal gambling as a method has got to be the option of absolute last resort. There are much better ways to use Governors Island. If MGM wants to build a movie studio or a luxury hotel or develop the northern half of the island into a historic village like Williamsburg, VA, that's great.

"But if they want to turn Governors Island into another MGM Grand, they shouldn't bother coming back to our island. The disposition of Governors Island MUST be an open process where citizens and federal, state and city officials work together to find the best possible use for the island. When I return to Washington later this month, I will be introducing a bill I have drafted that sets up a President-appointed commission. The commission will be chosen after consultation with people who have expertise on the island -- including the Mayor, the Governor, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Defense, GSA, the Coast Guard and others.

"This commission would be empowered to come up with a real plan in a timely manner for Governors Island that the President can approve. My bill also deletes the language from the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that provides for the sale of the island to take place in 2002.

"The President will be able to approve a plan from the commission,but he will never approve a plan that turns Governors Island into a casino. I know that New Yorkers don't want a casino in their backyards either. And when it comes down to it, Governors Island is part of New York City and New York City residents deserve a say. And they deserve to be kept informed. Thank you."