Imagine for a moment that I'm a city commissioner (yes, it's a stretch, but this is what imaginations are for). I get a call from a representative of a Native American tribe interested in putting a casino in Enid. Right on the main drag. In the general area of 10th and Owen K. Garriott. The eastern gateway to the city.
To make it happen, the deal may need some city property that was supposed to be parkland. Where our children play and our quality of life blossoms. This person has also contacted another city commissioner about buying his adjacent property. And, of course, the Casino Man wants to keep all of this hush-hush.
So what do you think, Commissioner Schneider, is Enid ready to roll in some gambling dough?
My immediate answer — no. Heck no. Never.
As a commissioner, I want you to know upfront, sir, that the city I love is thriving, despite the current oil bust. Our Central National Bank Center brings in great concerts and family fun (think Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Dwight Yoakam, Martina McBride, Alan Jackson, the Harlem Globetrotters, Professional Bull Riders, Cirque, etc.). First Friday events are packing downtown. New shops and restaurants are popping up regularly. Houses and apartments are being built for folks of all income levels. School bonds are being passed because we will never shortchange our children. And our water needs for the next 50 years are soon to be met thanks to the wise leadership of our city commission and the generosity of Enid voters more than willing to invest in this community's wonderful future.
So what makes you think we are so desperate for economic development that we are eager to welcome gambling? And the relatively low-paying service worker jobs it produces while the casino owners rake in staggering profits at the expense of other working folks? Why would we cheer the explosive expansion of alcohol abuse and gambling addictions?
Yes, a sucker may be born every minute. But Enid isn't one of them.
Of course, like any other business interested in opening in Enid, you have a right to work with the city on your proposal. But I must tell you now — no. Heck no. Never. As a city commissioner I personally will do everything I can to ensure that a casino never opens within the city limits of the community I love. If you want to set up shop outside of our city limits ... well, that's not my business. But protecting the unique heart of a city I love is.
So, no, Mister Casino Man. I will not secretly work with you to expand vice in Enid. And I'm not alone. I know my people. And Enid is not going to sell its conservative, family-friendly soul for 30 pieces of gambling silver.
Schneider, a retired pastor and former secretary of the Garfield County Election Board, is a guest member of the Enid News & Eagle Editorial Board.