Monday, June 8, 2009

We Put the Spring in Springfield

We came. We saw. We kicked it's ass!
- from Ghostbusters

As some of you may have already heard, the Massachusetts Democratic Party adopted a resolution to oppose “the legalization of slot machines and any similar efforts to promote addictive and predatory gambling as a means of raising public revenues” at it's convention this Saturday in Springfield.

This momentous development didn't occur overnight, and in fact actually began several months ago.

Across the State, brilliant debates were raging on various democratic forums, bloggers blogged and the issue was never allowed to die. Democrats were becoming educated. We went where they went. Handing them information, talking to them on-line and in groups and one on one, discussing, debating, collecting signatures, raising awareness, changing minds, being there. When the governor held public forums across the State to find out what was on our minds – we told him.

We didn't know what to expect going into the convention. Anyone who's ever come out to protest or rally against casinos or slots knows how "fun" it can be to find oneself debating this complicated issue with someone who won't listen, or thinks they know everything, or believes gambling revenue is the modern day equivalent of manna from heaven. And sometimes they're not very nice.

And yes, we encountered that in Springfield and elsewhere. But for the most part, the Democratic delegates were polite - and most importantly, willing to listen. Even better – many delegates were also willing to pick up the gauntlet for the cause and collect signatures themselves. More signatures than were necessary were collected to pass the resolution. Our table at the convention always had a crowd – and we didn't even have free pins or t-shirts. People who noticed our shirts with the CasinoFreeMass logo often approached us to express their support.

And you probably won't believe this - but I shook the Governor's hand. He was very pleasant - and went on to give a terrific speech - in which he did not mention casinos. I do hope the governor will reverse his position on casinos. We can keep our fingers crossed.

There were low points. Members of our coalition were blocked from speaking at an AFL-CIO meeting where casino interests were given the floor to make typically flashy presentations with lots of misleading information (hey - sort of like human slot machines.) As usual, delegates were presented with all the benefits, but none of the costs. Casino wonderland.

But, since we are so often flooded with stories in the media which suggest there is no support for our cause – it was incredibly invigorating to be among all those folks from across the State who feel as we do - and most of these people have never been threatened with a casino in their backyard. It was a good day to be a Democrat.

The brightest part about this resolution is that now we can have an actual debate about predatory gambling – what it is and why we, as a party should not promote it as a source of revenue. And that debate is what we need. Because, just as many of us discovered two years ago, the more you learn about this issue – the more you find yourself opposing it.

This was an amazing team effort. So many people helped in ways both big and small.

Most notably, Bob Massie, Tom Larkin, Michael Falcone, Sue Tucker, Leo Maley, Ryan Adams, Kathleen Norbut, and our own Jessie Powell, put a lot of time and energy, creativeness - and some serious tenatiousness - into it. There are other folks I'm sure I am forgetting.

I'd also like to personally thank my fellow refugees from the Middleboro casino debacle, Judy, Frank, Jessie, Jacquie, Kim and Carl, who sacrificed their mornings, afternoons and evenings to come out and help when I asked them. Most importantly, they brought their two-years worth of knowledge and experience with them to share with others. I know a few of them probably didn't believe me when I told them how important our efforts would be down the road, but they did it anyway. Thanks for keeping the faith, guys.

On Saturday, as the resolution was being debated on the convention floor, Frank and I were on the Mass Pike, headed back home, when my phone rang. I had a text message - “We did it!” - it read.

We sure did.

10 comments:

Middleboro Review said...

Gladys,

I'm so glad you're commenting on this!

What began as a small group of private citizens who were gaveled to silence by Marsha Brunelle and denied their democratic right to ask questions because Marsha had already made up her mind, has proved her wrong and metamorphosized.

Those of us who sat through meetings filled with union members, bussed in, paid for their time, knew we were right because of you.

Celebrate and Savor your victory!

It's well deserved, accomplished with a great deal of hard work and sacrifice of family time and personal life.

Gladys, We couldn't have done it without your continuous reminders that it was NEVER inevitable. You have been an inspiration to keep up the fight, even when it seemed lost. And even when Scotty Fearsome told us "It's Coming!"

The rest of the state's residents confronted with the impacts of Predatory Gambling in their neighborhoods are learning that as well.

I recently found a quote that said "You know instictively that promoting gambling is wrong....." and you continue to investigate the facts and search for the experiences of others.

We have a treasure trove of information available from the experiences of other states and it's not good.

Indiana sold "racino" licenses to save their race tracks for $250 Million. (plus additional financial commitments)

Senator Pacheco's legislation proposed selling those licenses for $25 Million. The Senator did so after attempting to prevent the Regional Task Force from holding its meeting in Carver. Faux pas, Senator!

State Treasurer Tim "Slots Parlors" Cahill proposed slot parlors which can't even be justified as creating jobs.

If as much time, effort, energy and media coverage were expended on creating sustainable, productive jobs as has been wasted on the various predatory gambling proposals, the Commonwealth would enjoy full employment!

It's time to drown this baby in the bath tub and move on to truly important things that don't just enrich the few and impoverish the poor.

Gladys Kravitz said...

MR - there was a time when the comment about drowning "the baby" in the bathtub would have generated a zillion-comment post on Topix. Aren't you glad our team spent it's time on more constructive things?

The convention was a truly cool thing to be even a very small part of.

It was reaffirming to watch so many in my party refuse to buy into this cookbook of a revenue scheme.

Thanks again for all your hard work.

Middleboro Review said...

Gladys,

I considered the potential of arousing critics when I purposely worded my comment as such.

It was intended to indicate that what was once an imposing Mega Monster on the horizon, funded by Kerzner and Wolman who own what may be the bankrupt Twin Rivers, with Glenn Marshall accusing any opponents of racism, destroying the night sky, exacerbating the existing gridlock and dividing the town, literally, with a 4 lane highway, has evaporated, thanks to SCOTUS.

When Middleboro proponents stooped so low as to compare opponents to Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan, they ignored that no analysis has ever been done -- even at this late date.

As more and more people understand that casinos don't create viable jobs that provide a sustainable future and that they enrich only the investors, the prospect of casinos diminishes even further.

Casinos suck the lifeblood out of communities and destroy local businesses.

Those who have been drinking casino koolaid for 2 years need to abstain and consider the facts.

Casinos are revenue losers, not revenue generators.

Casinos are not inevitable, even if Scotty Fearsome told you so!

Anonymous said...

Only you could come up with that catchy title!
Thanks for being there, Gladys.

Jacquie said...

One small battle at a time!

In-evit-a-what?

I told MR everytime I see her Margaret Mead quote, it becomes more real to me.

"'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Palmer anyone?????

Anonymous said...

DITTO! Middleboro Review. So well said I can't repeat as eloquently or add anything more!

Well done all of you bloggers and your group of well worn but still ticking, knowledgeable with the FACTS volunteers!!

I love you all for all you have done for our communities.
Please, keep the faith, we will always need people like you.

Anonymous said...

Gladys, I LOVE YOU!

Anonymous said...

Gladys, please enlighten me on Palmer?

Gladys Kravitz said...

Right back atcha, Anon. 9:56!

Regarding Palmer...

This Saturday, June 13, folks will be gathering at the Palmer High School at 10:30 a.m. to participate in a simulation of what traffic could be like if they build a casino there.

Cars, trucks and RV's will follow a marked route.

I am pleased to say there will be a group from right here on the South Shore participating with them!

How's that for solidarity?!?!

But the more vehicles the better. Please join us! Contact me if you'd like more information.

TruthtoPower said...

Gladys it makes my day reading your blog and seeing you again was a special treat. I hope you have a moment to catch the casino debate that aired on Ch 22 Springfield with the fabulous Diane Jeffery and myself as the voice of facts and reason.

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