Thursday, December 6, 2007

Earmuffs

There’s a cute scene in the movie Old School in which the Vince Vaughn character covers his young son’s ears with his hands, referring to it as “earmuffs”, so that he and his friends can have an adult conversation.

And I have to admit – the first time I read Deval Patrick’s November 29th comments to the Worcester Economic Club in which he defended his three-casino plan by claiming that all he’s heard “is the emotional argument” – the first thing to come to mind was the image of our governor, thoroughly earmuffed and possibly signing, “La la la la la la la…” in a sort of silly effort to drown out the commotion created by mounting financial evidence that counting on casino revenues is risky business.

I’m not going to lie – I’m a little worried about the Governor. I mean, why has he only heard "the emotional argument?"

Could Deval’s advisors be pulling the earmuffs down over his ears while they engage in adult conversation with moneyed casino investors, the State Treasurer and other interested parties? Instead of the whole picture, are they feeding the Governor only the “emotional” highlights of the casino debate – you know, like gambling addiction, child neglect, domestic abuse, bankruptcies, foreclosure and suicide – none of which obviously concerns him outside of the obligation to stuff a couple of big bills in the mitigation kettle.

Or is he otherwise too busy daydreaming about his future to listen? Do visions of high-profile cabinet positions, multi-page spreads in Newsweek, long walks with Oprah and a boundless political future dance like so many sugar plums in his head while the Commonwealth gets flushed down the same pro-casino toilet which has swept away states like Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island - while leaving them with higher taxes and dependant on gambling revenue?

Or maybe it all has to do with the ladies. The League of Women Voters has, ever since the early 80’s, maintained that banking on legalized gambling is bad tax policy. (And you know how emotional women can be… ) Perhaps Deval has turned a deaf ear to the League and what they're saying in the letter they hand-deliver to his office every day in much the same way he’s learned to tune out his wife’s daily description of the drapes she’d like to buy for the dining room. Oh wait a minute – Deval is into drapes.

While in DC not long ago, I found myself in conversation about Deval’s recently released casino plan with a nice attorney from slot-torn Philadelphia, who struggled to comprehend how a fellow lawyer, not to mention Harvard graduate, could think that casino gambling could actually benefit any state in the long-term.

“He must be smart, right? I mean, he can’t be stupid, can he?”

I found I couldn’t offer him any more than a blank stare.

Since May I’ve watched a lot of lawyers do the casino rain dance, from Middleboro selectman Adam Bond, to so-called Tribal law experts, to the Tribe's lawyers, to the Governor of Massachusetts, and I’m not sure any of them are actually stupid – but I’m pretty sure they think the rest of us are.

12 comments:

wayne said...

To me there can be only one reason.

Personal Profit, whether it be future political aspirations or an "offshore" bank account.

I can see no other logical explanation why these induviduals would go forth with such determination on such an issue.

carverchick said...

I must agreee with Wayne here. Deval is trying to make good on campaign promises so he has a shot at the White House and the rest of us be damned - oh, but we'll get our $200 property tax deduction... I can hear him now "see how I "fixed" Massachusetts - together we can"...the sad thing about all of this is once the true horrors of MA resort casinos come to fruition, he will be looong gone from here and probably to a State where class III gambling is illegal and attempt to corrupt that State too. My gosh, if he ever became President, the USA would turn into a cadillac driving, drape hanging casino country for the rich.

As far as hearing only the emotional side, well, he obviously has very selective hearing...quite a talent there Deval. I am so not impressed.

"na na na na...I can't hear you!"

ooops - was this comment too "emotional" for you Deval? Too bad...I'm a chick.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who said "all politics are local", but we need to take this frigging bull by the horn and CLEAN house.

Our house needs a good scrubbing, and to hell with the enviornment...we need to use bleach.

The feeling of not having control is overwhelming, and if a tax payer gets into a "all politicans are no good" funk....then all that happens is we chase our own tails and spin in our own universe.

cdplakeville said...

It is always about either power or greed. When was the last Ma Gov that didn't want more? Duke for Pres., Weld for Mexico, Cellucci to Canada, Swift to ... (only an acting gov.), Romney for Pres. and Devalue is oh so cosy with Obama. Cash in your chips & run. What a way to run a state? "Together we can" be Devalue's stepping stone.
I would rather be ruled by my emotions (though that isn't my issue either) than by power or money.

Lakeville Lady said...

Dear Carverchick,

I don't know what your income bracket is, but it is unlikely you'll be seeing a $200 property tax deduction. The "plan" for using casino revenues to reduce property taxes will, in fact, come in the form of income tax deductions for those in lower income tax brackets - based on a percentage calculation of income to property tax paid.

There is no "plan" to give money to towns from casino revenues to boost state aid, and thereby reduce the need for municipalities to continually push for overrides which raise property taxes - a "plan" that might actually benefit people.

The only towns that will see casino revenue in the form of increased aid are towns deserving of "mitigation" funds - or in the form of gambling addiction treatment programs if your town's residents have self-control problems.

I admit to bias. I have never been to a casino, and have no desire to go to one. Therefore, I just don't get that some people have such a strong attraction that they are willing to sacrifice the character of the entire area.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, FYI- Tip O'Neill said 'all politics is local.'
If the Middleboro Casino Fiasco taught you one single thing, it should be the importance of being involved so you know what your local officials are doing. It begins by attending meetings (or at least watching the Middleboro 6 Stooges [we have an 'interim Town Manager now] re-broadcast courtesy of ComCast -- the cost of ComCast pays for itself in entertainment value alone. No one could script some of their lines!). And it begins by attending town meeting and explaining to others, like your neighbors and friends why it's important. And it begins by informing yourself about how things SHOULD work and not how the Middleboro Clowns are conducting business. They put the town in the hole that required the prostitution only a casino could bring. Your involvement can cause change.

carverchick said...

Dear Lakeville Lady,

I completely agree with you. I doubt that I will see a $200 property tax benefit... Honestly, I don't want one...what I do want, is to not see any casino built in this State. I see no benefit to anyone execpt the investors.
The way I see it, there is absolutely no amount of money that could or would make it okay to sell out on this community or this State for the sake of money...and as far as mitigation goes...you can mitigate all you want, but mitigation is a far cry from not creating those "pesky" issues in the first place..if you don't create more problems, you don't need to mitigate for them...but that is just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

We have allowed ourselves to rally around the false premise taxes = bad and refused to understand the economics that Romney created in the state. His legacy is unfunded state pensions and post-retirements benefits and neglected infrastructure, potholes, bridges to the tune of $40 BILLION -- that's not million.
Until Democrats make an effort to educate voters about taxes and public policy, we're stuck with the flawed 'quick fix' folly of casino gambling. Wouldn't it make more sense to close the income tax loopholes, restore the surcharge, and increase aid to cities and towns to reduce property taxes? Deval seems sorely lacking in leadership.

Anonymous said...

I heard it straight from Senator Pacheco's mouth that casino's will not fund all that is needed in the state. It's just part of the solution. The other part is taxes and they will go up. He said it 3 or 4 times throughout my hour conversation with him. Our good senator's just cannot have enough money to play with in Boston. Thank goodness for our reps!!!
Shelly

Anonymous said...

Shelly, in fairness, we have some great state senators, but Senator Pacheco owes his office to union support. When he speaks of casino gambling, he lists the unions that believe they will secure decent wages and benefits, and of course, Carney is important in Raynham. Other state reps and senators recognize the need for cuts, changes, and new taxes. If the excise tax formulation were corrected, it would funnel additional money directly to cities and towns. And there are a number of tax loopholes that can be corrected that would generate additional funds that Romney refused to address because they affect higher income people. There is much positive with the legislature, but Senator Pacheco isn't it.

cdplakeville said...

I'm no fan of Mitt Romney, but to blame him for the fiscal crisis and put no responsibilty on the state legislature who writes the budgets, passes the budgets, and overrides 90% of spending vetos Romney ever made is just ridiculous. Sen. "But For" and most of the legislators are a macrocosm of Middleborough town officials. Get into a fiscal mess through mismanagement, blame someone else and come up with either tax increases (prop 2 1/2 overrides) or casino money to solve budget shortfalls. Middleborough and the state have spending problems, not revenue problems and casinos will not solve them.

Anonymous said...

cdplakeville, unfortunately, I fully agree with your assessment regarding fiscal train wrecks, but there are several issues overlooked. 1. Romney's grandstanding and presidential campaigning prevented any honest discussion of the true issues. He exacerbated a fiscal mess to create soundbytes, like increasing fees, unfunded state healthcare and reducing the income tax surcharge. 2. The media, including the Boston Globe, published articles that looked like campaign pablum, instead of factual reporting or attempting to educate voters. 3. Voter inattention and apathy allows people like Senator 'But For' to be re-elected based solely on union support. 4. The state Republican party successfully imploded when they ran unknowns and wackos against each Democratic incumbent in the last interim election.
Deval will succeed in getting the next Republican governor elected --he already has.

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