Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Of Citizens and Saints

October 11, 2009

Dear Ms. Vennochi,

Thank you so much for your column in Today's Globe Keeping a Poker Face on Gambling. It is the only print article in recent memory in which a quote by an anti-predatory gambling activist hasn't been relegated to the bottom of the piece!

I feel I must correct your description, however, of fomer speaker Sal DiMasi as our "patron antigambling saint". In 2008, shortly before Deval Patrick's three-casino hearing, I created the short video The DiMasi Code which took on the media for it's portrayal of DiMasi as the only possible hope for a victory for anti-casino forces.

I felt then, as I do now, that if most members of the legislature, as well as the Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee understood the true costs of expanded gambling in our State, they would not vote in favor of it.

But the reality is, most simply do not have even the slightest understanding of the issue. (Although I'm certain many think they do.)

And so it is unfortunate that the media once again appears to be focusing on a theoretical political chess game rather than reporting valuable facts about slot machines and their myriad potential financial, "social" and regulatory costs to the citizens of Massachusetts.

I also felt that your column leaves readers with the impression that the average citizen has extremely limited power to influence a decision in the gambling debate.

Much like Senator Murray's assertion that casinos are "inevitable", a suggestion from an informed source such as a politician or respected columnist that activist groups and concerned citizens are powerless to effect a legislative outcome has the predictable effect of keeping a lot of people from even trying.

Which is unfortunate, since my own personal experience with the issue has epitomized Margaret Mead's famous observation that one should "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Once again, thank you for choosing to write about the issue of expanded gambling in the Bay State. I hope to read more in the coming months.

Gladys Kravitz

October 11, 2009

I agree, there's a case, on the merits, against gambling and I have made it before. The politics of the moment intrigued me. I thought they were worth laying out.

Thanks for reading.
Sincerely, Joan Vennochi

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