Adelson Enters Georgia Casino Fray

Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson came to Atlanta the day after Yom Kippur to meet with leaders of the Georgia General Assembly, at least in part to discuss the potential for a billion-dollar casino in the state capital.

Florida Politics reported Sept. 23 that Adelson had given up on efforts to build a destination casino resort in Florida after six years of effort and had shifted his attention northward.

Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Georgia legislative committees are considering proposals for a constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling in the state as a way to increase the money flowing into the HOPE Scholarship program.

MGM opened the potential bidding with talk of investing $1 billion in an Atlanta casino. Post-Braves Turner Field has been discussed as a possible location, although neighbors declared opposition at a recent public meeting about the stadium’s future.

Adelson isn’t the only Jewish casino magnate reportedly drawn by Georgia’s potential. His neighbor and rival on the Las Vegas Strip, Steve Wynn, also is said to be interested.

The visit by Adelson, well-known as a supporter of Republican candidates such as Newt Gingrich and of Israel, was not missed by Israel’s critics. Adelson’s name came up during the opening session of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation on Friday night, Sept. 25, at Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, along with the suggestion that his opening a casino in Atlanta would be another example of Israeli influence corrupting the United States.

No word on whether Adelson took time to consult with his former No. 2 man at Las Vegas Sands, Georgia Aquarium CEO Mike Leven, but at least there’s some local expertise if Atlanta does pursue the casino path.

Meanwhile, the out-of-state casino business drew a bit closer Monday, Sept. 28, when Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino opened in Murphy, N.C. The casino is much smaller than Harrah’s Cherokee but, at two hours from Atlanta, is an hour closer and has lots of room to grow.

Ex-Emory Prof Duels With Fiorina

One of the persistent critics of Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s reign as CEO of Hewlett-Packard is Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, an associate dean at Yale University’s School of Management. In the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, for example, the Jewish professor came out with an article for Politico titled “Why I Still Think Fiorina Was a Terrible CEO.”

That article accused Fiorina of resorting to personal attacks. So the Fiorina campaign of course resorted to a personal attack in response. An email to the media from Sarah Isgur Flores, Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager, read: “He would know something about getting fired. Of course, his was for vandalism of school property while he was at Emory.”

If Sonnenfeld’s name is familiar, that might be the reason: He was a highflying business professor at Emory University in the 1990s whom Georgia Tech hired away to be its business school dean. But before he could make the move to Midtown, Emory accused him of vandalizing the then-new Goizueta Business School in 1997, forced him to quit and persuaded Tech to withdraw his job offer.

Except that the accusation proved to be so groundless that Emory withdrew all claims against him in settling his wrongful-termination lawsuit in 2000, reportedly with a multimillion-dollar payment to Sonnenfeld. Tech also paid the professor a seven-figure settlement.

Sonnenfeld told The New York Times he would give the Fiorina campaign the benefit of the doubt and assume the staff failed to discover the not-secret withdrawal of the vandalism allegations, but if the campaign brings up the Emory case again, he might head back to civil court.

Jester Claims Critics Turned Anti-Semitic

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester held a press conference Wednesday, Sept. 23, during Yom Kippur, to announce that her ongoing dispute with critics of the DeKalb police had devolved into death threats and anti-Semitic comments.

Jester is not Jewish, but she made Facebook posts about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to support DeKalb’s Jewish community. The response from critics within the DeKalb County Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability was not pretty, she said in prepared remarks delivered at her press conference and posted on her website (www.nancyjester.com).

“I am in possession of posts to my Facebook page where members of the DeKalb County Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability have used numerous anti-Semitic slurs interwoven with insults to women and one which states I am an operator of Satan,” she said.

Jester put the blame on the Georgia State University African-American studies professor who is a leader of the coalition, Makungu Akinyela.

“There can be no place in DeKalb County, metro Atlanta or Georgia State University for a man who leads an organization which tolerates anti-Semitic posts on social media,” Jester said.

Akinyela told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Jester is just trying to distract the public from the real problems of police misconduct.