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Robocalls warn of "secret" casino meeting in Henrietta

Henrietta, N.Y.-- Phone calls to Henrietta residents warned of a "secret" meeting to advance a Seneca-run casino and prompted more than 100 people to pack the town hall on a snowy Thursday afternoon.

"It said come to this meeting, voice your objection," recalled Sandy Murray, who says she was contacted three times.

Last year the Seneca Nation hired a Rochester developer and announced plans to move forward with a casino in Henrietta that appeared to come out of nowhere. Since then some residents have become frustrated with the lack of information and these robocalls helped to fuel that.

"My home has been called twice in the last four days," said Jack Moore. Moore was elected supervisor in November and was sworn in at a board meeting scheduled for Thursday. He wasted no time in addressing the issue of importance to the large crowd.

"We do not have a proposal to discuss at this time," he said. "But we do welcome people's input and will listen to anything you have to say."

"I think there are a lot of bad results from gambling and gambling casinos. I think it would be bad for Henrietta," said David Malone, whose remarks drew applause.

"We have enough casinos around here," said Sam DeSalvo. "If anyone wants to go to a casino they can take a short drive and be there."

Supervisor Moore made it clear there is no proposal on the table. The town has not heard from the Seneca Nation or developer David Flaum. "I think it sits in their court as to how they want to proceed and what's going to happen. We've got to wait and see," said Moore.

13 Wham News has learned the organization behind the robocalls is called "No More Casinos Coalition." It now has a facebook page regarding the Henrietta casino and is soliciting people in opposition to sign up and sign a petition.

It operates out of a PO box located at the UPS store on Hylan Drive. The calls trace back to a landline in Batavia.

The coalition also appears to be part of a national organization that pops up where local casinos are being considered. At best the robocalls were misleading, but worked to fuel the mistrust.

"I think they're kind of going about it rather secretly," said Carol Burritt. She says she does not support a casino in Henrietta. "I just don't see it as a solution to public financing," she said.

The Albany Times Union reports developer David Flaum is trying to purchase a vacant packing plant in Albany for a Seneca-run casino there. It's unclear whether that location would replace the one discussed for Henrietta or be an additional location.

Flaum could not be reached for comment.

Asked if he would support a casino, Henrietta Supervisor Moore said "If I had a personal vote in this- just Jack Moore - I would say that we could probably do without the casino. But I have to be objective and listen to everything."

The Henrietta Town Board is on record as opposing a casino.

Jane Flasch

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Washington Times