So imagine his surprise when they showed up at the palace a few days later, wearing expectant smiles and holding a blackened broomstick. He'd have given them the brushoff again, too, had valiant little Toto not revealed that the Great and Powerful Wizard was nothing more than a nervous little man pulling levers behind a curtain.
I've often thought of my own 3-year journey down this yellow brick road much like Dorothy's. I mean, there I was, standing in my own backyard one day, when a tornado picked me up and dropped me in a strange new place, with strange new rules. Once there I made unexpected new friends, fought off flying monkeys, survived poppy fields, and just kept trying to do whatever it took to get back to my own backyard - only to find that, more often than not, the "great and powerful" someone to whom I'd turned to for help, was no more than a coward hiding behind a curtain pulling levers.
Then, in February 2009, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1, in the case of Carceiri v. Salazar, that tribes recognized after 1934 were not eligible under the Indian Reorganization Act. This meant that the Indian Gaming Act did not apply to them either. And shortly after, SCOTUS ruled 9-0 in Hawaii v. the Office of Hawaiian Affairs that the federal government could not take take property from within states and make it federal property.
The broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West had been laid at our feet
Until now. Because, just the other day, Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, the Senate President's appointed casino "guru", and self-appointed Master of the Universe, dug up the witch's corpse and dragged it onto the floor of the Senate.
"See," he shouted to the Gallery, while waving a mysterious memo in one hand and what little was left of the Witch in the other, "Obviously she is still a real threat to us!"
Claiming that the Tribes were about to install bingo slots, that the SCOTUS decision was about to be overturned, that tribes were about to get Land in Trust, and that casinos were about to be built on the South Shore, he proclaimed that
“We must anticipate that this is going to be real,” said Rosenberg, adding that he believes “it’s only a matter of time” before the Mashpee Wampanoag will get land in trust and be entitled to operate a casino.And suddenly, it was as if Rosenberg had set us all back at the other end of the Yellow Brick road, at the very start of our Journey, as if the past three years had never happened.
But it did happen, and we've run into our own share of "Rosenbergs" along the way.
I remember a full auditorium in Carver, and the head of a supposedly neutral casino-impact committee in Middleboro, who stood before the microphone and, with the resounding voice of authority, proclaimed Carver would be greatly helped by a giant casino in the town next door. Yeah, sure, just like North Stonington and Preston were 'greatly helped' to the tune of millions in yearly negative impacts by Foxwoods.
But you could point out facts to this supposedly neutral committee chairman 'till the cows came home, and it wouldn't matter. He had the title. He was great and powerful. And you were nobody. The end.
And likewise, Rosenberg has been repeatedly dismissive to those who've lived through Middleboro and other nightmares, those who fought back, for years, against inevitability, hyperbole, egomania, vested interests, bureaucratic roadblocks, outright lies and more than a few Mr. Know-It-Alls - armed with facts - and won.
But what do facts have to do with a casino debate, anyway?
The other day my husband handed me a cartoon from the Sunday paper. It was Dorothy and Toto, facing the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion across the Yellow Brick road. She is saying,
The Massachusetts senate debates, which were supposed to have been conducted on a higher plane than the House debacle, with the ultimate goal of "doing it right", been a nothing more than a drawn-out circus act, showcasing a grotesque lack of empathy, understanding, or backbone among most of our elected officials.No heart, no brain, no courage.How have you guys stayed out of politics?
Tribes do not make tribal casinos inevitable. Legislators make tribal casinos inevitable - obviously through total ignorance, apathy or an affectation of completely undeserved intellectual superiority.
If the tribes could put in bingo slots, why haven't they? SCOTUS decisions do not get overturned just because some people who don't know all the facts behind that decision, or those with a vested interest think they're wrong. And mysterious memos are just memos, often written to address numerous, and not specific, situations. But more importantly they are not legislation. They are not the law of the land.
Along the Yellow Brick Road, we've learned to try and understand the motivations behind every power play. The fact is, Tribal leadership wants casinos even more than Therese Murray. They have been in a constant state of denial before and since the Carcieri ruling. They produce memos and news articles and various other ephemera as "proof" that it will be shortly overturned, or ignored or minimized. We realized this, we check the facts and we continue to rest easy.
And if Rosenberg had come along on our journey, instead of getting comped at every casino in the U.S. and Canada, he might have been able to see the poppies for the trees. But instead, he sees the world through poppy-colored glasses, dismissing our journey, our victories, and worse, the french-fried broomstick at his own feet.