Thursday, October 29, 2009
7:00 pm. Sorry I stopped the live blog so abruptly. My connected blew out and that was that. The rest of day included some really moving stories from former addicts. I don't know why former addicts usually go at the end of these things. They're the one's who'll be funding the State if it approves gambling.
Then there was some really weird testimony from poker players - one of whom actually disputed the experience of one of the previous former gambling addicts. There also was more talk of jobs, and one guy from the track who kept calling gambling addicts "degenerate gamblers".
It went on 'till about 4:30 I think. One of the last speakers was CFO founder Jacquie Tolosko, who'd moved heaven and earth to be there and who made us all proud by speaking about how casinos rip communities apart. Then she read the letter she shared with USS-Mass.org on the web site. Beautiful.
I think the big point to be made here is that Jacquie and Jessie and Frank and Judy and Carl and me - we're still in this fight 2 and a half years later. And it's not about us anymore. There's not going to be a casino in Middleboro, but what we've learned about expanded gambling since then is what keeps us in the fight. It absolutely made my day to see them there.
Kelly from the League of Women Voters came up and did her usual magic, and Rep Thomas Conroy ended the day by offering his assistance to the committee on a cost benefit analysis of the issue, citing the analysis he did on his own of Deval's 3 casino plan. Gotta love that Conroy.
All in all, the day was better than expected, with many of my colleagues speaking up and squashing flying casino crapola wherever it landed.
I don't know where our testimony will end up. I hope not in the circular file. I hope more people will visit the web site www.uss-mass.org (which I entered into official testimony!) and learn for themselves what most people don't know about the complex issue of expanded gambling. It isn't just a site filled with statistics - there are real people there. Lots of them. You can learn the truth about slot machines, find out what a gambling arms race is all about, and how predatory gambling effects everyone from children to seniors.
After it was over some of us went out and celebrated not having to catch a train at 11:00 pm, reflected on the crazy day, the latest from Statehouse news, strangers who became friends and friends who became strangers. And what a long strange trip it's been.
No one ruminated much on whether we'd won or lost the day. Or what our chances were of winning the vote next year. Or even what the next step would be. The important thing was that a bunch of us came together today and did the impossible - we tried to save the world - in three minutes or less.
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO CAME OUT TO TESTIFY TODAY IN OPPOSITION TO EXPANDED GAMBLING, OR TO SUPPORT THOSE WHO DID!! GREAT JOB!! GREAT TEAM EFFORT!!
2:45 Evelyn Reilly of Mass. Family Institute makes the point that why isn't this a consumer protection issue? Slot machines have been demonstrated to cause addiction - it should be studied.
Patricia Endicott is up, she says her father is addicted to gambling. Has for over 50 years. He's bright and has good interpersonal skills. Yet he ruined his life and the life of his family. She wants the committee to know that addiction effects the family of the addict and ruins lives.
2:40 Clyde came back. Talks about his recent survey that says everyone wants a casino in their backyard. It is telling that half the committee gets up and leaves. Since anything I say about Clyde today will obviously be taken, by him, as character assassination - I will let him assassinate himself.
Time expired Clyde. Now go away. He is cheered by the blue shirt guy who yawned audibly at our side earlier.
2:35 Clyde Barrows is called but he's out some where, obviously dodging the slings and arrows of anti-casino activists. He is called and strolls in but has been replaced with 2 guys in Palmer + Casinos = Jobs T-shirts. One says he's a scientist. He is all, obviously, about jobs. Committee member Frost is finally asleep.
One of these guys worked in a Riverboat casino in Ohio and revitalized the town. Addicts? No - they knew everyone by name and would help them out.
2:34 a guy with a long frizzy blond beard appears speaking up for gambling addicts.
2:30 Rep Bowles. Very pro casino. Good cure for insomnia. Rep Frost is looking bleary.
2:27 Horseman's society is up. Yes the horse industry is doing poorly, but so did Delaware. Now look at Delaware.
2:20 Kathleen Norbut is up!! She has a graphic. It's GREAT! I'll post it if I can later. It's a blow up of that mailing that the unions did one year, except Kathleen has placed little red arrows on it, correcting the fairytales with facts. She relates her union-family background, her husband is a capenter, she comes from a smaller than average town, she has no money she only has a Massachusetts public education. 30,000 jobs - WRONG! Good paying jobs WRONG. Median range $20,000. We are volunteers. Please stop this fiscally poor policy. I do not believe as a tax payer that I should subsidize the gambling industry. She rattles off costs and asks for questions. She gives the report that Jen Lendler couldn't, in her 20 years in the industry, couldn't place. Final statement:
Please our communities can't take another hit.
2:15 A job recruiter for Mohegan Sun spreads some sunshine. Some committee members are skeptical. (Some??)
2:05 Charles Baker and Jennifer Lendler (pointy horns and bifurcated tail) Lendler (20+ years in the industry) are there with the guy who owns Suffolk Downs are there - at least being honest, sort of, as to who they represent. Lendler's not familiar with the 9 - 10 ratio we keep talking about (so it must not be real). Committee seems a bit concerned about traffic. But they recognize this and are working with the authorities. They could be up in running in 5 to 6 months.
2:00 I had a whole really intersting segment about Mohegan Sun in Plamer but my connection crapped out and I lost it. Sen. Tucker made a funny and they supported a local ballot referendum. (If necessary...)
BTW Clyde Barrow is here! Jihad! Or is it Fatwah? I can never remember.
1:20 Another USS-Mass.org panel. The press all leaves to talk to Ced. Tom Larkin talks about the social costs and how casino profits won't be as high as they think after these costs. He uses a lot of statistics. The !@#$% next to me in a blue shirt makes a big point of audible yawning. Ironically Tom mentions 'ignorance' unrelated from this in his testimony at the same time.
Fred Berman, who I have finally met, talks about the casino industry being just like the tobacco industry. The blue shirt yawns again and Les gives him a look. Fred talks dispels discretionary spending myths.
Jessie Powell of Middleboro is up!! She gets in a dig to the Middleboro selectman. It's not inevitable. The June Spilka hearing as a Lovefest. The casino handbook. Go Jessie! Don't think you'll be different. She talks about the gambling arms race - it always expands. Munch munch munch. It's no longer entertainment. We need jobs we can be proud of. Insists on them doing a cost ben analysis! Yeah Jessie! She did GREAT!
Les is up now. Differentiates predatory gambling from other types of gambling. We've heard about 10% of the patrons accounting for 90% of the revenue all day, he has yet to dispute it. He agrees the lottery is predatory which elicits a whistle from a blue shirt behind me. He compares the gambling industry to wall street - they call it Casino Capitalism, not Biotech Capitalism. Les talks so fast - I can't keep up. Rep Frost on the committee, who has asked, a lot of pro-type questions. starts choking, possibly on his own words.
Frost said the State does tax people with addictions - like cigarettes. Tom says it's different, the State doesn't promote it. Frost isn't buying it. It's the same.
1:03 Cedric Cromwell is up. Groan. I am trying not to roll my eyes, but it's been a long 2 years. Ok... wait for it...... His Tribe "met the PILGRIMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Of course they did! They always meet the Pilgrims when they are trying to score points for a casino. Except the Mashpee Wampanoag didn't meet the Pilgrims!
Ced continues to play the sympathy card. He has plans for a casino in Middleboro. ( I wish someone would ask him why he opposes Cape Wind.) He still thinks land is going into trust. He actually uses the word 'relationship' and Middleboro in one sentence. He says Obama is working on a fix. Huh?? In fact, he's meeting with Obama next week.
Now he is being grilled by a rep who has absolutely no understanding of the situation. It is like the blind leading the blind. The rep asks Ced if he'd let the State have more revenue and concessions in terms of a tribal court. Ced admits that it's premature, but hey, they're open.
I find it difficult to keep sitting here listening to this after 2 and a half years. I may have to get up and leave soon.
According to Ced, Dorgan's bill is getting a "lot of traction."
Ced answers a question - No - Tribal Members won't be taxed if they work at a casino.
1:00 Charlotte Burns from Palmer union member, gets up and says it's a big swindle. All she hears is jobs. She works with special needs children and she hears it from them too. Where were the unions when the jobs were going over seas. She give's 'em hell. She's pretty terrific. I was on her panel last year too. Speaks right from the heart.
12:55 Building Trades guy... you'll never where he stands. He says that construction workers can't get work - which is opposite from what I've been hearing. Not that I'm an expert. And I'm not from Western Mass. where he's from.
12:53 A soft spoken little old lady who says she is a retired teacher and union member says no to casinos.
12:50 A Mashpee Wampoanoag guy I don't recognize says the word 'gaming' alot and wants the committee to give consideration to giving the Tribe special benefits. What's new?
12:45 A guy who represents communities around Milford got up and said he supports casinos - just not a lot of them. He also likes mitigation. Next!
Denise Provost from Sommerville tells a story about a family destroyed by Seminole casinos - then she shows pictures of them - gak. Like a low-rent Big Lots with pawning and check cashing.
12:20 When I came back from outside, AFL-CIO titan Bobby Haynes was saying "30,000 to 40,000" jobs! When questioned if he would still support slot parlors which didn't provide a lot of jobs he choked it down a little and said yes. Dammit he just wants casinos. Life will end without casinos.
Joan Menard thinks we can throw money at addicts. Yeah for addicts!
Paul Guzzi of the Boston Chamber, as expected, comes out for casinos. A lot of what he says doesn't make sense so I tune out, but... he gets a lot of questions from the committee so that makes me feel better.
Next up is Kathleen Reinstein from Revere. This girl's got horse manure under her fingernails. She worked at a track and it put her through college. Yee Ha! She practically picks up pom poms and does a cheer. She also simultaneously kind of denogrates her constituency by saying they are not exactly rocket scientists. Nor, do they look like George Clooney. (Her words, folks, not me.) Reinstein's motto: Casinos for dumb ugly people!
Kathleen Reinstein should be riding a mechanical bull with horsetail pom poms.
Sue Tucker gets up and leaves and a blue shirt next to me says, "ha ha, can't take it huh??" and laughs.
I death stare him into silence.
Carl Scortino - Rep from Sommerville is up speaking from the heart about personal stories of gambling addiction and families destroyed by gambling addiction. He can be seen on the video that I'll get on the site if I ever get out of here.
12:03 I took a break. Sort of. I testified on a panel with (are you sitting down?) Bob Massie, Natasha Schull, and Hans Brieter. I had something written, but right before we went on, Bob suggested that I just tell a personal story.
So I did. I told them how, as a web designer, I'm used to aggregating, categorizing and presenting information. And that there is more information out there than the committee of the public realizes. In fact, I'd gone to the printer to have just a few of the pages of the web site reproduced, so I could include 19 copies of them as part of my testimony. Later that day, the printer had called to tell me that this would cost almost $500. So obviously I did not include them. Instead, I submitted the entire USS- Mass.org web site as part of my written testimony. And they'd better go check it out. Because I'll know. Because I'm the web designer.
Then I told them a story about how, at a Mass Democratic committee meeting this spring I was handing out informational pahmplets, and one woman didn't want to take one. "I like playing slots. We need the money." But I told her that modern slot machines are designed differently, and they cause a serious addiction. She thought about that for a second then said, "I don't care." "You don't care about addicting people?" I asked. "No. We need the money." And then, I said to the committee, if that's what the party's come down to, why am I a democrat. But a month later, my faith in the party was renewed by the resolution taken in Springfield by the Mass. Democratic Party to oppose predatory slot machines.
And then, after Bob spoke eloquently - I used wanted to get the hell out of there. I needed air. It wasn't the circus it was last year, but it was hot and crowded and filled with inaccuracies and inconsistencies and more fairytales than in the whole children's section of Barnes and Noble.
I'm depressed. I have no paper and pencil handy for Hans Brieter and Natsha Schull to autograph. Dr. Brieter and others say, "good job" to me, but I didn't do a good job. How do you put 2 and a half years of reality into 3 minutes?? I can't even afford to print out a portion of it to be read later.
Frank and I gave an interview. It might be in the Enterprise.
10:40 Sen. Marc Pacheco. I'm taking a rest. Oh wait he mentions Middleboro. Wants a local host community vote. Nope, no good, still boring. He is getting cut off before he can do the Butt-For dance. But he insists on talking up simulcasts. Committee tries to stop him, it's no good, it's the Pacheco wind machine. He side steps.
A guy on committee (will find a name) asks if Pacheco means a local ballot vote or a town meeting vote.
Another committee member (I wish I had a cheat sheet) asks Marc if the State up the licenses up for auciton and the race tracks didn't get even one of them, would he still be for gambling?
10:37 Sen. O'Leary - Cape and Islands - opposing! He says he's at odds with the Tribes (who are here today) though he has a lot of respect for them. He speaks about how what people hope for in the beginning - never pans out - and ends up worse. They own YOU as much as you own THEM. We will be foreced to renogotiate and compromise.
10:32 Brian Walace. (Double Groan). Basically, it's Sal DiMassie's fault. Now we have a real man in the speaker's office. Someone who'll give us a fair shot.
10:30 Sue Tucker up after much blue applause for Flynn. She says it's the worst possible time for this.
Hey look - it's Cedric Crowmwell, chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe famous for the ex-Middleboro casino.
Tucker mentions taxes higher in states with casinos/slots. We need cost benefit numbers.
I hope no one expects me to be clever or spell properly today. Everyone only has 3 minute and they'are all talking really fast... which isn't a bad thing.
93,000 million dollars net, she says.That doesn't include regulatory bureaucracy. Addiction. $80,000 hit to lottery.
She brings up the new type of addiction caused by slot machines and objects (0jbects!) to the state partnering with gambling interests to addict citizens.
New point, the lottery won't put a lein on your house. (won't break your fingers either.) She brings up gambling arms race that always happens. See the uss-mass.org web site. I can't type fast enough for links. As she leaves we clap - blue shirts boo.
10:25 Back in Gardner. The first guy up is all about entertainment. The second guy (GROAN) is none other than my very own rep and neighbor, David Flynn. He is all about inevitability. It's about time dagnabbit. He's been waiting since the freaking cretaceous period waiting for this legislation passed and now that we finally have three more dinosaurs in office it's a done deal. He mentions B'water a lot.
9:30 USS-Mass.org Press Conference at the Grand Staircase. Lots of points raised. Speakers were Sue Tucker, Bob Massie, Les Bernal, Steve Sears and a rep from Cape Cod whose name I didn't hear because Frank D. showed up!! Hooray! I've got video but give me time to get it uploaded. Ryan will have it too.
9:15 It's blue shirts, not red today.
One of them comes down to tell President of USS-Mass.org Kathleen Norbut, that there are no costs associated with slots.
I am glad he did not approach me.
Live blogging from Boston today.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
First, former candidate for Lt. Governor Bob Massie posted a very strong, very public letter on Blue Mass Group chastising friends, political allies, candidates, unions and churches for their endorsement or lack of an outcry on expanded gambling in Massachusetts.
In 2008, at the Statehouse hearing for Deval Patrick's three casino plan, the other anti-casino folks and I suffocated through hours upon hours of pro-casino testimony on the part of legislators and the AFL-CIO from early morning to the afternoon. And so much ignorance and indifference all in one place was very depressing.
And then came Bob. I'd heard about him several times from a colleague who'd gotten my hopes up with glowing characterizations. But when I laid eyes on him, wearing a clerical collar, my first and very cynical thought was, 'oh here comes a priest - he'll probably say a prayer for the committee or something while they roll their eyes and text their BFF's.' (My experience with religious organizations on this issue has not been positive.) I also figured he was in a weakened state due to his liver cancer and hemophilia.
But instead, within two seconds of reaching the microphone, Bob Massie was knocking Patrick's and the union's argument right out of the park. This was no soft spoken cleric. He was hellfire. The gloves were off. And, up in the nosebleeds among the hired red shirts, it was nothing less than inspiring. We rose to our feet.
Think about it, how long had those of us from the Middleboro fight waited to hear a public figure stand up and do the right thing? The closest we'd ever come was the vote the Regional Task Force took to oppose Middleboro. But this guy - this guy was standing up and raising his voice for us and for everyone else who'd be hurt if Deval's ill-thought out plan was enacted.
In the months since that day I'm delighted to say that Bob has become a friend. And, after a liver transplant this summer, he's finally starting to feel better. But he's still calling out legislators and others who hide from their responsibility to do the right thing. I hope you'll read what he has to say - it might make you feel as good as it made me feel that day in '08.
The other extraordinary thing that happened yesterday was that a candidate for Senator, Alan Khazei came out publicly against expanded gambling. In a big way. He urged the Boston Chamber of Commerce to reverse their position on casinos, then spoke up and out at last night's televised debate.
As part of an movement saddled with a recent history of political and religious ducking and covering, yesterday was almost an embarrassment of riches.
Here is a short video of where the candidates, including Khazei stand on expanded gambling.
Notice how Khazei seems to have done his homework on the issue? And how he seems to care about the people and values our State's unique culture?
Capuano and Pagliuca, on the other hand obviously haven't bothered to do their homework on the issue - with Capuano going so far as to say that senatorial candidates needn't be concerned with the issue - which is a not only lazy but also a cop out.
Senators have been required to study Indian gaming legislation in the past and will potentially be called upon to vote on the Dorgan bill in an effort to undo the Supreme Court's Carcieri decision. And furthermore, senators have been known to take a lot of contributions from gambling interests. (I know you are shocked.)
And Coakley. Ugh. She's the worst. I want to hear the logic behind her strong opposition to the legalization of marijuana while maintaining a limp posture on expanded gambling. She hides behind her attorney general hat and says 'all I am required to do is to tell the legislature how much it would cost to regulate the industry to fight gambling-related crime'...
...instead of saying 'as an attorney general I know how much crime this industry create - so much so that it's going to cost a bundle to regulate - and as a person in a running for a leadership position I take a stance against crime. Crime is bad. No casino!'
I mean, jeez Martha! Stop tying yourself to Therese Murray's apron strings and grow a spine. Neither Massachusetts nor Washington needs another politician without a spine or who clams up on important issues when there's an election looming.
I don't know if Khazei has a chance of winning, but I do know that he's done two things that, since becoming a citizen activist, I've found utterly lacking in our elected officials - he does his homework, and he has the courage stands up for the people of his state. And that's what I want to see in a senator.
“I am strongly opposed to gambling in Massachusetts. I understand that people are hurting and need work, but we can create good, high-paying jobs in green industries and clean energy, supporting small business and emphasizing health care, education, bio-tech, tourism, and other industries where Massachusetts has a competitive advantage,” Khazei said in his closing statement at the U.S. Senate debate. “New gambling machines prey especially on primarily low-income families and people suffering from addiction—the very people who are struggling the most in this terrible economy.”
“I am deeply concerned about the lobbyists and special interests behind this idea and their pursuit of personal gain,” said Khazei. “Bringing casinos to Massachusetts would irrevocably change the nature of our Commonwealth, the very birthplace of American democracy. Once we bring casinos to Massachusetts we will never be able to reverse that monumental decision. I'm the father of two young children, and I don't want them to grow up in a state with casinos. Lobbyists and big corporate PACs are pushing this. Citizens can stop this. We have to fight the special interests. I urge Attorney General Martha Coakley and Congressman Michael Capuano to take a stand against casinos in Massachusetts.”
Notice how he doesn't say something along the lines of what a lot of us are very sick of hearing: 'Ooooo look - a revenue source! Must be good! All revenue is good, right! What else is there to know?? Who cares if people get hurt?! We'll just throw some money at them!! Wwwweeeeee!!
Here is an on-line petition to oppose casinos that Alan Khazei has posted on his web site - you don't have to be an Alan supporter to sign the petition.
Monday, October 26, 2009
This just in from Boston.com
BOSTON—Democratic Senate candidate Alan Khazei surprised his host Monday by urging the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce to abandon its planned support for casino gambling in Massachusetts.
The City Year co-founder told a chamber-sponsored candidates forum that expanded gambling will cause irreversible changes in the state's culture and character. Khazei and three other Democrats are vying to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in a Jan. 19 special election.
"We cannot take this step. I urge all of you to reverse your position on casino gambling," Khazei said in a closing statement that sent a murmur through the crowd, triggered a smattering of applause and prompted a rebuke from the chamber's leadership.
President Paul Guzzi said that while he liked and respected Khazei, "I thought it was not the appropriate forum given our focus on federal issues."
Meanwhile the Boston Chamber is expected to come out in support of casinos at Thursday's hearing - which in my opinion makes today's Chamber-sponsored event the perfect forum for a courageous candidate to step up and urge them to reverse their position! Go Alan!
I'm finally excited to vote again!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Today, Iowa Governor Chet Culver ordered a 10 % across-the board spending cut in the wake of plunging tax revenue estimates.
The state’s revenue for the current fiscal year will be nearly $415 million less than previously expected and 1,000 to 2,000 state workers could be laid off.
Iowa, incidentally, was one of the first states in the nation to legalize gambling and also one of the first and few to maintain records on gambling addiction. Before the casinos, 1.7% of the population were problem gamblers but three and a half years later, that figure had more than tripled to 5.4%.
But, speaking of deeper in debt, the city of Detroit, alone, has three gigantic casinos that were supposed to revitalize the city and provide much needed jobs and development. One of them was built by Herb Strather, the man who initiated the Middleboro Casino debacle.
From Herb's blog:
Strather is one of the originators of the casino industry in Detroit and is the former Chairman of Atwater Entertainment which developed and sold Motor City Casino at an 1100% return to investors.Detroit, however, remains a moonscape.
But hey, Who-hoo! for casino investors!
(...Though Jim Cramer from Mad Money was on one of the talk shows this morning warning people not to touch casino stocks with a ten foot pole.)
Casinos are not economic development. They are a dirty band-aid that ends up giving you an infection.
But what if Iowa built even more casinos?
Well, actually, I lied in the title to this post.
Iowa actually has 19 casinos.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
So I suppose it's worth noting that I never even considered going to Middleboro yesterday to witness representatives from the Tribe having a sit down with CRAC (Casino Resort Advisory Committee.)
Because, why bother? I've seen this movie before. The last two and a half years have been like a black comedy that never seems to end. It features a pack of clueless greedy screwballs running all over creation, and each other, at the merest hint of a priceless treasure, that we all know they're never going to get their hands on, buried under a giant "W". It should star Don Knotts and Buddy Hackett (and Ethel Merman as Adam Bond.)
And at first, it was funny. But now we just want it to be over.
It started out as the World's Biggest Casino. Then, it was 'Scaled Back'. Now, according to the Enterprise, it's Casino Lite. Two-thirds less inevitable than other, more filling, casinos.
Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell told the Casino Resort Advisory Committee the tribe has reconsidered building a $1 billion resort casino complex off Route 44 because of the failing economy. He said the tribe is considering “one-third of that in size ... no hotel, a gaming hall with food, not a full-blown mega casino, it doesn’t make sense.”
No, Ced, what 'doesn't make sense' is that you are living in a delusional dream world where casinos are your birthright and Supreme Court decisions are reversed on your say so.
You are not getting a casino. It does not need to be scaled back. It does not have to be built in stages. There is no need to submit "a draft Environmental Impact Statement by December", "hold public hearings in January", or present "a final EIS by July". So just put down the shovel, leave the Kool-Aid on the bar and back away.
Both Cromwell and Tobey are optimistic the casino will go forward, despite setbacks with the investors. Tobey said the move to legalize Class 3 gaming in Massachusetts would give the tribe the green light for a casino once it has land taken into trust, because recognized tribes are allowed gaming by right if legal in the state.Hey guys, how about 'setbacks' with the Carcieri v. Salazar ruling? Oh, that's right, in Cromwelltobey Land there's going to be a "fix" to correct that inconvenient Supreme Court Ruling.
For those of us still living in the real world, let's take a moment to review.
A proposal to 'fix' the Carcieri ruling has been sponsored by a Senator from North Dakota. It is being co-sponsored by a senator from New Mexico, another from Colorado, and two senators from Montana - states where a good share of their constituents are, no doubt, Native American.
Two additional co-sponsors are the two senators from Hawaii - one of whom is of 'Native Hawaiian' ancestry - and both of whom sponsor the Akaka Bill which would set up "a process for the reorganization of the Native Hawaiian government for the purposes of a federally recognized government-to-government relationship with the United States."
The remaining co-sponsor, Al Franken of Minnesota, one of the newest members of Congress, is probably also too new to have ever had a constituent write to him to about having their rights trampled on by the Indian Gaming Act.
In other words, virtually all of the sponsors of the bill have to look like they support overturning a ruling unpopular with their constituents.
However, on the flipside, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah and yes, even North Dakota submitted amicus briefs in support of Carcieri.
And for that matter, so did the:
- Council of State Governments
- National League of Cities
- U.S. Conference of Mayors
- National Association of Counties, and the
- International City/County Management Association
Furthermore, shortly after the Salazar decision, in Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Supreme Court ruled that, "Congress cannot, after statehood reserve or convey submerged lands that have already been bestowed upon a State" - further reducing the likelihood of any Federal land-in-trust acquisitions in Massachusetts.
And, in her testimony before the legislative Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies in June 2009, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley stated that
"The Supreme Court's decision this past February in the Carcieri case effectively puts the Wampanoags and other tribes in Massachusetts on the same footing as any other private party because the Secretary of the Interior's ability to acquire land for Native Americans is limited to those already under Federal Jurisdiction at the time the Indian Reorganization Act was enacted in 1934. Massachusetts' Native American tribes each came under Federal Jurisdiction after 1934. As a result, they are entitled to make an application and bid for a gaming license like anyone else, but do not have special entitlement to conduct gaming under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act or the Indian Reorganization Act."And yet, according to Cromwell...
“Middleboro is the No. 1 choice for gaming in Massachusetts,”Notice he didn't say "We look forward to coming home to Middleboro - our ancestral homeland, where the majority of our tribe currently resides, and where the seat of our government is located." Thankfully, Cromwell's fantasy world is limited to reservation shopping.
Michael Solimini, a casino opponent, questioned if the terms of the deal have changed. “Middleboro was promised a large-scale casino, now the scope has changed downward ... Sounds like a bait and switch. We’re not getting what we were promised two years ago.”Whoa! Mike! You're like totally harshing Aaron's casino buzz with all your heavy negative truth, dude.
“Are you saying you favor a full-blown casino?” Tobey asked. He said the tribe is following the terms of the agreement and called Solimini’s term “harsh.”
An inconvenient truth. And "bait and switch" is a good term for the Tribe's new mantra. That's the one I was thinking of, too.
Probably because Mike and I were there in 2007, watching a lot of folks practically fall over and start speaking in tongues at the very idea of a casino Disneyland with five star restaurants, upscale retail stores, a bunch of golf courses and a waterpark all within a lougee-hucking distance of their very own barcaloungers. Their eyes would dilate into big shiny poker chips at every new mouthwatering description of the magical wonderland within their grasp.
Not only did the Tribe's chairman promise the people of Middleboro the Land of Oz (before being indicted and hauled off to jail) but he also agreed to pay them 7 million dollars a year for the privilege.
But now I'm left wondering, after the state takes it's cut of whatever it would agree to in a compact, and the Tribe pays for the infrastructure, the 'mitigation' to the town and anyone else, will Casino Lite really be the castle in the sky Cedric Cromwell and Aaron Tobey seem to think it is?
Speaking of which, exactly what color is the sky their world?
Friday, October 16, 2009
But hey, we all need our dreams.
And so, I was reminded of "Delaware North" once again this week when I read about a Woman Arrested for Leaving Son in Car Outside Delaware Casino:
on Sunday at around 9 p.m. a security guard patrolling the parking lot at Delaware Park Racetrack and Slots spotted a 12-year-old boy alone in the car. Police say the boy's 33-year-old mother the boy in the car for more than two hours. According to police, the car was parked away from the main building and there was no way the boy's mother would be able to see the child from inside the facility.Here are a few comments that followed the article.
When the casinos opened in Connecticut, this same issue happened over and over again. People who are "addicted" to gambling don't care about their children or responsibilities and will leave children in the most horrific conditions to follow that addiction.
Knowing that, and knowing the difficulties that places like Atlantic City have with the dregs of society, I can't imagine why Delaware would want to subject themselves to several more locations like that casino.
This is what is happening more and more each day, people need to understand that gambling is an addiction. Sometimes I'm not sure that building casinos in DE was ever a good idea because when they built them the people came but common sense left. I really feel sorry for the Young man because now he can see that his mother has a real problem!!!
Most likely a gambling addiction. I've worked with a lot of compulsive gamblers and it's sad, what they will do when 'under the influence'. Just as bad as drugs or alcohol. Probably not the first time the kid has sat alone for hours while mom gambles.So I started thinking... why Delaware? Think big New Hampshire! You could be the new British Columbia South!
Why, just this year British Columbia has seen a record tally of gambling parents leaving kids in cars - 35 cases in fact.
Here's the one comment someone left after this article:
The cases include:
A mother left her two children, aged 7 and 9, in the trunk of her burgundy Chrysler Intrepid on June 17, 2004, while she gambled at Boulevard Casino in Coquitlam.
A crying child was walking through the Boulevard Casino parking lot in Coquitlam on Jan. 19, 2009. When security located the mother in the casino, she returned to the parking lot, then scolded the child for leaving the car.
Three children, including a toddler and six-month-old, were left in a hotel hallway with a diaper bag in Lake City Casinos in Penticton on March 23, 2009, while their mother was in a casino gambling.
Two children under age 10 were left alone in a fifth-wheel trailer at Treasure Cove in Prince George on Aug. 7, 2008, while their grandfather spent nearly an hour at the blackjack table.
I live right outside Atlantic City, NJ, and used to see this all the time. I would see 9 and 10 year olds sleeping at the entrance to casinos late at night. It made me sick. If parents had money to gamble, they should have $25-30 to pay a babysitter.But folks, it's OK. Children in British Columbia can rest easy because all those neglectful parents and grandparents have been barred from casinos for a whole year.
After a 10 year old girl got killed in Nevada, the casinos started cracking down on parents who leave their kids alone, but it still happens. One couple left their toddler in the car in the garage at Caesars, and then was on the TV news the next day saying "Can't they see I love my baby?" Yeah, right.
That'll teach 'em.
And, with that kind of rock hard regulatory oversight available, why stop at British Columbia? New Hampshire could reach for the stars - and become Indiana East!
Indiana is the place where 72 children were abandoned around casinos in a 14 month period.
Wowee! They must be rolling in tax revenue in Indiana!
And heck, casinos aren't the only places to leave your kids when you go gambling...
children also are left unattended occasionally at other places such as shopping malls.Though, of course, we never read about those other kids - the ones who get left alone at home. Unless something really bad happens...
MO - Mom lost eleven children in a deadly house fire in 1981. She had left the children home alone (10 months to 11 years old) while she was out gambling with their father in St. Louis. In the two decades since the fire, she has had six more children. Gambling lies near the center of most of the mom's problems. She loses consistently and often uses her children's public assistance money and checks for their various medical disorders to gamble, her children said. Consequently, she and her children have frequently been homeless. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch 3/26/01 By Denise Hollinshed)But don't worry, New Hampshire. If your state does get slots, you'll soon be opening up the newspaper to find your own stories like the one about the Indiana parent
charged with child neglect after leaving her 3-month-old daughter in a locked car with the windows rolled up. The infant was revived after receiving oxygen.Don't you just love a story with a happy ending?
Here's a few more heartwarming tales from the parking lot.
IN - Four children were left alone for at least four hours in a car parked at Buffington Harbor. The mother of the children, ages 2, 3, 9 and 16, was arrested late Tuesday after she emerged from one of the two casino boats there.Police found the youngest children clad only in diapers, crying because they were hungry and cold, police and witnesses said. (Youngsters left alone in car as mother gambles"/By Steve Patterson, Gary, Indiana)If anyone would like a further preview of the great things we can expect if gambling expands in New England, check out the many, many stories about slot-related child abuse on the United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts web site's page on how expanded gambling will effect our State's children - and where you will also learn that child neglect is only the tip of the iceberg.
IN - It was 9 degrees outside when the Keisha Clark, 24, left her 16-day-old infant, 2-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son in a car while she went into an East Chicago casino Feb. 19., police said. The infant was discovered unresponsive in the car about 1:30 p.m. that day, authorities said. The baby was successfully revived and two other children in the car were unharmed. (Woman must take parenting classes, Crown Point, Indiana 9/2/06)
- At least 10 percent of children of gambling addicts suffer physical abuse at the hands of the addict
- children of pathological gamblers frequently reported feelings of anger, sadness, and depression
- 23 of the spouses and 17 percent of the children of pathological gamblers were physically and verbally abused.
- 50 percent of spouses and 10 percent of children experienced physical abuse from the pathological gambler.
Pathological Gambling: A Critical Review (1999)
Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (CBASSE)
And this doesn't even touch the troubles Delaware North could face with the growing problem of youth gambling.
There is no means to confine the impact of legalized gambling to adults. A Rutgers University study found that teens are twice as likely to be heavy gamblers if their parents gamble (Table 2.14). Teens are one-third more likely become pathological level 3 gamblers if their parents gamble (Table 3.5).The case for emulating Delaware just never stops, does it?
A University of Delaware study found that almost one-third of 8th and 11th graders in that casino state had gambled in the past year. Those Delaware teens gambling over the past month were two to three times more likely than non-gambling peers to smoke, binge drink, steal, or use illegal drugs. Student test scores drop. High school drop out rates increase.
But you know what - it's not the fact that little children are being left to swelter or freeze alone in cars, locked in trunks, crying for their parents in parking lots, abandoned in "resort- casino" corridors, needing to be revived with oxygen, becoming more depressed, getting physically and emotionally abused or gambling before they're even old enough to vote that gets to me.
No, the truly grotesque thing about all this is that some State governments are promoting this genuine source of misery.
Not some big private corporation with it's eye on the bottom line and answerable to a bunch of faceless stockholders - but the very people we elect into office to make responsible decisions and protect our children from bad things - not so they can perform their jobs like a bunch of anesthetized tax collectors who spend too much, then write checks on the backs of children from families with gambling problems - aka casinos best customers.
Equally repugnant are the 'big' three in our own home State - Deval Patrick, Bob DeLeo and Therese Murray who pretend - even with all this easily attainable evidence - that gambling is just another business - like Walmart or Best Western or Outback Steakhouse.
Well it's not.
Gambling - most especially in the form of modern slot machines causes changes in the brain similar to that of crack cocaine. This summer I attended a Statehouse hearing on expanding gambling where Hans Breiter, MD, director of the Laboratory for Neuroimaging and Genetics at Mass. General Hospital spoke about his brain scan research.
Breiter goes on to show scans of brains of “normal” people, along with scans of people addicted to various substances and activities such as cocaine and slot machines. And sure enough – the coke scans match up with the slot scans. Breiter says he can't tell the difference between them. He also refers to it “cocaine expectancy” and “monetary expectancy”. He talks about the creation of structural abnormalities in the brain. Some that can be fixed and some that can't.Which makes sense, since we see child neglect and abuse all the time in cases of parental drug addiction.
He talks for a long time, about a lot of things like risk factors and free will and slippery slopes. But in the end, insists his presentation is about 'models' and that to the brain, the 'gaming' model is basically the same as the drug mode.
So I have a thought - since we're considering throwing responsibility to the wind anyway here in Massachusetts, why not legalize drugs and collect tax revenue from it? We could shore up the old budget with something that people are already doing anyway! Heck - it's a form of entertainment! Not everyone partakes and not everyone who does gets addicted.
As for those who do, rest assured, we'd do this the right way. First, we'd sell licenses to build big resort-destination drug parlors, (what souless enterprising capitalist blessed with explicit governmental sanctions to create addicts wouldn't jump at one of those?) where people could pop, inject or inhale "responsibly", then we'd regulate them and use the tax revenue to set up about 20 or so addiction centers which we could totally have up and running in about 6 months!
Talk about an economic shot in the arm!
And the best part? We could call ourselves... Amsterdam West!
Tuesday, October 13, 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.
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
Friday, October 9, 2009
Wednesday, in an interview with WBUR, Senate President Therese Murray said that casinos are inevitable.
A spokesman clarified Thursday that Murray believed both a vote on casinos and the facilities themselves are foregone conclusions. Murray did not specify a timeframe.
Sen. Murray was using step one in the old expanded gambling playbook. I blogged about this last May, which just happened to mark the beginning of my third year battling an industry which once tried to convince me that a Native American casino in my neck of the woods was inevitable (it wasn't). This is the short version.
- Create a sense of inevitability.
- Wave inordinately large amounts of money in front of our most vulnerable citizens - State legislators.
- Inflate the numbers.
- Employ union "influence".
- Repeat the word "jobs" as much as possible. In fact, launch a website called "Coalition for Jobs and Growth" - but only because "Coalition for Crime and Corruption" doesn't sound as appealing.
- All promises are meant to be nebulous.
- Wheel out Prof. Clyde Barrow (still widely believed to be a policy analyst rather than an industry operative) at least once a month to insist our State pockets are being picked by Connecticut casinos.
- Blow off all casino opposition as bible thumping bleeding hearts without a clue as to how the big boys balance budgets. Employ copious eye rolling here.
- Avoid mentioning any associated costs. Deny them if necessary.
- If step 7 is not possible, with a serious face, insist mitigation will contain any conceivable costs.
- If discussing costs does become painfully necessary, try to make such cost sound like a benefit (e.g. the beneficial stimulation effect of slot machine noise on otherwise shut-in seniors.)
- Capitalize on the media's apparent unwillingness to give equal time to the opposition view, and that of of decision makers to educate themselves.
- While actual bullying isn't recommended, a centrally located shell office in a target community can often achieve the same result.
- Remember - it's not gambling, it's 'gaming' - but more importantly, it's always just "entertainment."
- When studies are required, leave out those pesky "social costs" by insisting they are too difficult and cumbersome to measure - and therefore don't exist or are, at a minimum hard to prove. Better yet, imply "social costs" = nothing of great importance to the rest of us.
- Never dismiss the power of free donuts.
- If these steps fail, return to step 1.
- Rinse. Repeat.
Because people will tend to think she 'knows something' that can only be a mystery to those of us outside the Statehouse, step 1 is a valuable tool in Sen. Murray's hands.
So, some people will believe it's futile to put up a fight. Support of, and donations to, excellent anti-predatory gambling organizations like United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts will be reduced.
Murray doesn't want you to put up a fight because that sort of thing could lead to a definite lack of inevitability which conflicts with her desire for casinos.
The inevitability brigade knows that the opposition is making strides.
A vote has been pushed to next year in order to give the pro-gambling lobby time to re-tool it's message, to work it's expensive magic on more legislators, to keep the party together for elections. They know that even they can't agree on whether to root for casinos or slots or where to put them.
So they pull out the handbook and punt.
Another thing Sen. Murray has going for her with the inevitability device is that the majority of the public doesn't have confidence in the folks at the Statehouse not to cave to the desires of a powerful and well funded industry.
In other words, it is inevitable in both the public's and Sen. Murray's mind that she and others in our legislature lack the backbone necessary to defy a powerful lobby and call for an independent blue ribbon panel to carefully study and weigh real costs and benefits before making an irreparable decision that could effect the quality of life here in Massachusetts.
Because in my experience with this issue, the only thing inevitable about it - are the consequences.
Friday, October 2, 2009
The next thing you know he was telling the teachers union that three casinos would bring 20,000 jobs. Tax rates would be something like 27%, and licensing fees? Well they'd start at a cool $200 mil.
That was then.
Today, the only cool in the room is the chilly caress of ceramic flooring as he and the other casino co-eds wake up to reality.
BOSTON - The state should charge casino licensing fees between $25 million and $50 million and level tax rates in the low 20-percent range on gambling revenues, according to a top executive at the Mohegan Sun casino firm, one of several business interests circling as the Legislature considers gambling legislation.
A full-scale facility could be up and running in Palmer within two years of receiving a license, said Jeffrey Hartmann, Mohegan Sun’s chief operating officer. Hartmann said the company would pay fully for associated infrastructure costs around the Palmer site and expects to create between 2,500 and 3,000 permanent jobs, including 500 white-collar positions.
Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but...
$200 mil - $50 mil = $150 difference
3,000 jobs x 3 = 9,000
20,000 jobs - 9,000 jobs = 11,000 jobs difference
And 500 white collar jobs?
Where, exactly, are these 500 white collars coming from?
Are they out in the kitchen, cooking food and loading the dishwasher, or maybe they're in the front of the house, delivering your dinner or refilling your water glass. Perhaps they're patrolling the parking lot, dealing blackjack or breaking kneecaps in the back room.
There is no magic casino, Deval. And Clyde works for the industry. He and his buddies wait for someone like you to show up then hand you a frosty mug of Kool-Aid laced with slot-hypnol.
That's what they do.
And seriously, when things like families and local businesses and crime and addiction are on the line, don't you think you should be downing some sobering facts instead of tripping the light fantastic with the boys in the pinstripe suits? And when their numbers start swimming before your eyes, shouldn't it occur to you that this might not be the kind of party to show up at with a classy gal like Massachusetts on your arm?
It's funny, but about a week ago I was watching Deval Patrick on the news, speaking to the 100 or so Hyatt employees who'd been 'let go' in favor of some cheaper out-of-staters. He listened to their heartfelt stories, heard how they were being pushed out of their jobs, visibly empathized and ultimately stood by them.
And that's when I remembered how, back in 2007, we here in Southeast Mass. asked Deval to meet with us. To listen to our heartfelt stories, to hear how we were being pushed out of our own participation in the democratic process - for an outside chance that our Governor might visibly empathize and ultimately stand by us. We asked him several times. The Regional Task Force on Casino Impacts, representing a half million citizens of Massachusetts even offered to come to him. But then he pawned them off on one of his advisers.
Meanwhile, the Governor took photogenic walks with Glenn Marshall and met with the 1,500 member Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.
As for me, I sat through 13 hours of testimony to speak at the Statehouse casino hearings in 2008 where Deval spoke first, then jetted off to NYC to pen a book deal.
These days Deval is being asked to meet with the members of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, but still can't seem to manage to find the time.
Ironically , up next on the news after the Hyatt segment was a piece on Deval's dismally low approval rating.
I think Deval did the right thing with the Hyatt employees, but he has never done the right thing for the people of Massachusetts when it comes to slots and casinos. He needs to stop chugging down an excess of jobs and revenue, and start appreciating the people and gifts the State he governs already has - and what they, and it, could stand to lose from one bad decision.
And he really needs to stop listening to slot lobbyists and so-called 'gaming' 'experts'. Those people are the 'Hyatt corporate management team' of the gambling industry.
The anti-predatory gambling folks, on the other hand, have no frosty mug of Kool-Aid to offer Deval - only a warm cup of reality.
So yeah, it's definitely not as much fun. But at least he won't wake up on the bathroom floor in the morning.