Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Together We Can't

The timing could have been better.

Yesterday my family and I joined other families in front of the Massachusetts State House to protest a casino. The League of Women Voters met us there and added their own voices. After protesting all morning, we walked to the Governor's office and formally presented him with a letter of our concerns. The Governor wasn’t there, so we handed our letter to his aide. The event made it to every print, web and radio news outlet.

And while we were marching and holding up signs at the State House, a regional task force of 17 towns around Middleboro was meeting just down the street with Governor Patrick’s advisor, Dan O’Connell.

After what was an exhausting day for myself and many people who were trying to reach out to him, Governor Patrick got back from his vacation later that evening and casually mentioned, to someone who would later leak it WBZ, that he would come out in favor of casino gambling in our state.

It was devastating.

I suppose I could understand why Governor Patrick didn’t feel inclined to meet with my sweaty little group – we were just a loose collection of citizens. But that the representatives of 17 South Shore towns banded together, made the trek to the Hub, and still couldn’t get the Governor’s attention, well… I found that disturbing.

I’ve been told, more than once along this journey, that votes count. That the only thing politicians care about is getting re-elected. I’ve personally observed public opinion sway the vote of a Board of Selectmen in three separate town forums.

So… what does it take? Certainly those 17 towns translate into a lot of votes. Did anyone even read their Statement of Concerns? Or did it just get tossed in the trash - not unlike the concerns of Middleboro residents.

The one thing missing from the debate on casino gambling in the Bay State seems to be public dialog. It seems like everyone wants to move in and try to make a quick buck - but this is our home, where we work and raise our children, where we chase our dreams and live out our lives. We deserve a say. And we deserve to be heard.

Governor Deval Patrick ran on a campaign slogan of “Together we can” but as far as I can tell, on the South Shore, even when we do come together, we can’t catch a break.

Governor Patrick has been asked, several times, to visit the town of Middleboro. He’s been invited to meet with CasinoFacts.org – PAC, and also to meet with the 17 town Regional Task Force in Boston. But he's consistently been a no-show. Frankly, if it weren’t for the occasional photo-op on the evening news, I wouldn’t know who our governor was.

So, what exactly is it we can do together - Ignore people?

And is Governor Patrick my governor? I mean, I am appreciative for the good work he’s done, and is attempting to do, for the Commonwealth but, to me, it feels increasingly like my cherished part of the world is, as far as Mr. Patrick is concerned, the forgotten universe. And if he doesn’t understand us, how can make an informed decision regarding a casino here - in our home.

I know a lot of people voted for Mr. Patrick because he inspired them, and renewed their hope for a better Massachusetts. Now, less than a year later it seems he's become the sterotypical politician, ready to rob Peter to pay Paul for his campaign promises. And turning a deaf ear when it suits him. Because a true politician listens to advisors, but a real leader listens to people.


Anonymous said...

What is particularly disturbing is the failure to recognize the ultimate cost to the state in terms of the revenue costs.
Is the reasoning that the Governor will move on to higher office before the Commonwealth must absorb the costs of such a short-sighted decision?

Anonymous said...

I refuse to feel defeated until I hear the Governor's decision, watch the the legislative debate and vote, and feel a final death knell from the BIA.

I will certainly be watching Dan Kennedy tonight at 7 on NECN. He believes, that with all the unfolding events, Middleboro is unlikely to host a casino. I don't want to see one anywhere, but I think a bedroom community is the worst possible choice for a casino.

Personally, I always thought Deval Patrick was just another velvet tongued politician. I suspect he will make a decision he believes will most bolster up the state coffers. Doubtful that family values will enter into his considerations. Gut feeling? Patrick will go for commercial ventures and New Bedford will get the nod.

I am very proud of you, Gladys, and all CFO members for coming forward as a strong, positive voice for the people.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Thank you!

And I love your convinction. It ain't over.

CFO Directors said...

Don't feel defeated until the first coin drops in the slot machines.

After the very first CFO meeting, we all went to the Whitten meeting and were told that the casino was a done deal and we had better just sign an agreement or get nothing. I was energized by the huge show of resistance at this meeting and felt very optimistic about our ability to grow the opposition. On the way out, Jacquie appeared quite dejected - a result of drinking the done-deal flavored Kool-Aid.

The point is - there will be many ups and downs, many media twists and turns, and it is all far from over. If Patrick comes out in favor of casinos - even a Middleboro casino - there is still a long road ahead.

Don't worry, be happy.

Carl said...

Chin up Gladys. It ain't over until the fat lady sings, "For the Blunder of it All"