I have no idea if the controversy over whether the Town of Lakeville will grant permission for the go-ahead of an anti-casino fundraising yard sale on town property has been resolved or not, but I'd like to weigh in anyway.
Last year, I tried to find some space to hold an anti-casino meeting in Bridgewater - no small task considering our library and senior center were on life support and closed most of the time.
So, I had a nice conversation with some people from a local church and turns out they had a super meeting room we could use. As a formality, though, they'd have to check and get back to me. Well, upon doing so, apparently someone had expressed concerns that my group was 'POLITICAL" - and eventually my request was denied.
Yikes. To quote an old aquaintance, "if you can't count on the church to be a moral compass... what are you left with??"
Um... well, there's always Kerzner International...
Folks, being anti-casino isn't synomomous with 'political'. And a Political Action Committee is just the entry-level designation an organization gets before it figures out how to become a "Non-Profit". The truth is, I've fought this battle alongside liberal atheists and conservative Christians. I've sat at the table with Democrats, Republicans and everything in between and on either side. Pro-union non-union, and anti-union. Men and women. College students and senior citizens. And I've seen eye-to-eye on this one issue with some people I have no blessed hope of seeing eye to eye on anything else in this world.
Because being anti-casino is about not wanting an increase in crime, taxes, addiction, broken families, bankruptcy, divorce, spousal abuse, child abuse and suicide. It's about wanting to protect our environment. It's about wanting appropriate economic development. It's about quality of life. It's about not dumbing down our local, state or national standards in the name of a quick economic fix that will turn into a long-term regional Rockland Industries nightmare down the road for our kids and grandkids to deal with.
So, is that the definition of political, or is it the definition of pro-community?
Now, I'm sorry if the term "anti-casino" isn't all warm and fuzzy and doesn't come with a sash, badges or an annual cookie drive. I'm sorry if it doesn't sound all safe and comfortable. But sometimes, really important, really necessary things don't come in pretty packages. (Though, gosh darn it, you know I've been trying to keep things cute with the Yorkies and spaniels.)
What if the anti-smoking movement had never been able to raise money for education campaigns and legal challenges? What if their efforts continued to be demonized and out-spent by huge corporations and towns and states kept allowing smoking to go on in hospitals, schools, and other public buildings because, well, the whole movement didn't come stamped with a big happy face? What if public officials had continued to allow the marketing of an industry to stand in the way of doing the right thing?
How many people would we still be losing every year to smoking-related health issues?
And, in an other public property conflict of interest controversy taking place in my town, a small group of people are trying to get the high school to allow them to have a table at the annual high school career day event. The group, which is NOT an anti-war group, and which, in fact is partly comprised of former combat veterans, wants to share factual information about what embarking on a potential military career could mean for students. When I first heard of this group, I was skeptical. I wasn't sure they belonged at a career-fair. But since I'll have a child in high school next year, I looked into it.
Boy did I get an eyeful. Among other things, did you know that the 2002 No-Child Left Behind Act makes federal funding available to school districts upon the release of student names, adresses and phone numbers to the U.S. Department of Defense? Sure, parents can opt-out of this intrusion into their child's privacy, but I for one never knew any of this - because it's buried on page 70 of the school handbook.
Now, I'm not anti-military - far from it - but I have seen how recruiters offer monetary incentives to entice people from economically depressed backgrounds, and how they've often failed to provide those benefits - after the recruit is already signed up and sworn in. And I've seen how, so often. we've failed our veterans after they've put their lives on the line to protect our liberties - including freedom of speech. So, if these kids are going to fight for us, shouldn't we at least give them a fighting chance to know all the facts - and not just walk away with a slick marketing brochure and a hard sell?
And if State governments want to balance budgets off the backs of slot machine patrons, shouldn't those patrons know that the machines are rigged.
What, exactly, is the problem with hearing the truth?
And as far as equal time goes - I remember when the entire board of selectmen in Middleboro wore these little pro-casino 'casino-friend' pins during public meetings throughout last year's three ring circus. These meetings were taped and pumped into homes in Middleboro and Lakeville. Was legal counsel consulted before donning the pins? In May of last year, Mashpee Wampanoag chief Glenn Marshall was allowed the stage at the Nichols Middle School - a public school. Marshall, it was later discovered, had lied to congress and done time in prison for rape. The only time, last summer, that residents got to hear from a gambling addiction expert - they had to go on private property to do it. And our own Governor just spent a decent chunk of public change to hire a gaming company which has worked for Kerzner International to tell him an Indian casino would be a good idea.
So, how come public politicians can promote their private agendas while private citizens who just try to tell the truth are accused of having a political agenda?
The only political thing about it are the many politicians - local and State - who seem so intent on keeping the truth about casinos away from the public.