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Cluster flip-flops

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Let’s see if we got this straight. First Mayor Dennis Archer is absolutely opposed to any casino development in Detroit because the gambling halls will suck much more money out of the city than they will ever return. Then, after countless dollars are spent turning the tide of public opinion, gambling interests succeed in winning a ballot measure legalizing casinos in Detroit.

And just like that, Dennis Archer is all for casinos. They are, in fact, a real blessing to this beleaguered city. Only they must be clustered together, and they must be close to downtown to help revive this once great metropolis. And no matter what, they must not — repeat, must not! — go on the riverfront. That property is too much of a civic asset to waste on gambling halls.

But then there’s a problem acquiring enough property near downtown to cluster the casinos there. Which means that Archer is soon strong-arming the City Council to put all three casinos on the riverfront. Because that is really the best place for them. And that wonderful public asset won’t really be lost. As a matter of fact, it will be enhanced by the presence of those beautiful, windowless casinos and the towering hotels that will accompany them. Besides, explained the mayor, it’s not really riverfront property. It is riverview. Moreover, the important thing to remember is that the casinos will be clustered together, which is vital if the city is going to maximize its casino revenue. And anything less than that is absolutely unacceptable.

Except that, Archer can’t quite close the deal. The riverfront property ends up being too expensive, and not enough land can be acquired to accommodate all three casinos.

But that’s OK. Really. Two of the casinos can stay where they are. They don’t all need to go on the riverfront after all. Clustering? Who said anything about clustering? We’ll put just one of the casinos riverside — even though the people (You remember them, right? They’re ones who convinced Archer to jettison his firmly held beliefs that casinos were really bad for the city.) appear to be overwhelmingly opposed to having any casinos on the riverfront.

Dennis, we realize that Business Week has just declared you a “guru of growth,” and far be it for us to disagree with an expert source like that. But from where we sit, when it comes to casinos and clustering, you’ve looked like a weathervane in a tornado, spinning, spinning, spinning.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette, the Metro Times news editor. Call 313-202-8004 or e-mail cguyette@metrotimes.com

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