This is a superb deal for county taxpayers. Instead of the old proposals, which would have required them to foot at least some of the bill, this agreement forces a private developer to take all of the financial risk. All taxpayers have to do is sit back and look forward to increased economic development in the region and a brand new, state-of-the-art entertainment facility that will be one of the finest in the nation.
Now we must hope that the redevelopment plan receives the bipartisan support it needs instead of being the subject of political bickering, which would only hold the project back and be detrimental to its success. But for right now, we should be thrilled that the county is on the rise, and this complex will bring visitors from all over the state and country, along with permanent jobs and increased tax revenue. I’m really looking forward to seeing the project through to fruition.
On the national level, last week Attorney General Eric Holder held a press conference of his own, announcing that the Justice Department would no longer pursue mandatory minimum sentences for certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders.
“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long,” Holder said, “and for no truly good law enforcement reason.”
As you know, I disagree with Holder on many issues. However, he’s right to pursue this change in the prosecution of drug offenders who are adults. If an offender doesn’t have a record of violence, he or she should be given a shot at a drug treatment program instead of prison for years.
Holder’s plan will scale back the prosecution of offenders with no ties to large-scale organizations or who have not committed acts of violence.
Since 1980, our prison population has grown by almost 800 percent, due in large part to the mandatory draconian sentences that come with drug violations. Federal prisons are operating at nearly 40 percent above capacity. The overcrowding creates an economic burden totaling approximately $80 billion.
Something has to change, and I hope that conservatives around the country will be open-minded to these changes.
Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column? ADAmato@liherald.com.