Letter discusses bingo in Macon County

Published 8:38 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dear editor,

Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford’s recent letter to U.S. Attorney George Beck about bingo in Macon County is troubling. I challenge your readers to read the legislation that created bingo and find that it does not state “any kind of bingo” was voted on in 2003. I think it is a far stretch of interpreting what Amendment 744 to the Alabama Constitution says.

Regarding Amendment 744, I also think Sen. Beasley’s recent SB320 slaps the faces of Macon County voters.  SB320 attempts to place the far-stretched interpretation into law with the voters having no say about it.

In other words, the senator proposes that voters intended to mean “any kind of bingo” could be “played on paper, machines or electronic devices.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you ask the average voter what kind of bingo s/he were voting for in 2003, they will likely tell you the only kind they knew was card bingo, which was illegal until then.

No one, other than the proponents of the legislation, knew about the plans to bring electronic bingo.  The legislation did not and could not legalize electronic bingo, and, according to the Alabama Supreme Court, it is confirmed illegal.  Legislation in Alabama made only card bingo legal, except where electronic marking machines are permitted, like in Greene County.

SB320 could be successful if it requires a referendum. However, it might have to be statewide. That may be a problem.

I am surprised the senator did not hold a town hall to discuss the measure before introducing it.

Not everyone in Macon County agrees that electronic gambling is the future here. Even if the majority does, the right thing to do is let the people decide.

The mayor’s letter to Beck also cites that “more than 2,000 jobs” were lost by the February 2013 closing of Victoryland by AG Strange.

Frankly, I do not believe there were more than 2,000 jobs lost, however, I will be delighted to know differently.

How many of those “more than 2,000 jobs” were held by citizens of Tuskegee?

Perhaps that’s why the mayor of Tuskegee has shown more concern for the town of Shorter business than he has for Tuskegee businesses.

If the mayor committed himself to Tuskegee businesses like he does Victoryland, we should see more development.

There are manufacturing plants, food markets, variety stores, restaurants, banks, urgent health care centers and other viable businesses locating all around us. Attention locally is needed on similar opportunities.  We must give young people, especially teenagers and college graduates, more reasons to plant their roots deeper in Macon County so we can stop the brain drain and population decrease. We will all benefit when we do.

Lateefah Muhammad

Attorney At Law, P.C., Tuskegee