Archive for the ‘Deval Patrick’ Category
On the apparent eve of a more progressive era, there are a lot of Beltway Insiders who want the Democratic Party and its candidates to pander to the Religious Right. But Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, addressing a gathering of the Stonewall Democrats at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, urged them to fight. The Boston Phoenix reports:
“This is your party, and this is your country,” he told the GLBT gathering. “And don’t let anybody push you to the margins.”
Patrick went on to ask the GLBT community “to remember that there are others too, in whose struggle you have a stake… who have been pushed to the margins,” including racial minorities, the disabled, and the poor. “There is an awful lot of unfinished business in the fairness agenda” Patrick said.
Governor Deval Patrick’s ill-considered casino gambling proposal went down to a stunning, better than two to one defeat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The vote was 108-46. Now casino proponents are whining that the governor’s bill did not receive a full and fair hearing, even after many months of very public discussion. The simple fact is that the proposal to place three one billion dollar casinos in the state lost on its merits.
I will never understand why Governor Patrick blew so much political capital and public good will in making the three casinos the central feature of his economic plan. Patrick the candidate opposed casinos, knowing full-well the social and economic destruction they leave in their wake. To call his plan regressive, is to generously overstate what casinos are all about. But we have had that debate, and the regressives were routed.
Frank Phillips reported in the Boston Globe:
One of Patrick’s most immediate problems is that the casino initiative alienated a good chunk of his political base, particularly the progressive Democratic coalition that was at the core of his landslide election in 2006.
“I am saddened that he has greatly disillusioned his political base,” said state Representative Jay Kaufman, a Lexington Democrat and early Patrick supporter who voted against the casino plan.
Indeed. Candidate Patrick urged us to a higher standard of discourse. He called on us to become more deeply involved not only in politics but in the process of governance. He called for greater transparency in government and broad civic engagement. He said he would set a higher standard and restore trust in government. But, he delivered none of this in his casino gambling gambit. Instead, he fronted for a disreputable “industry;” using data derived almost soley from gambling interests, and those financed by gambling interests. He developed his plan with none of the transparency or civic engagement we expected from candidate Patrick.
I think Candidate Patrick needs to have a heart-to-heart talk with Governor Patrick. I think they have much to say to each other.
Leo Maley’s op-ed in the Amherst Bulletin spells it out. Maley points out that casinos are generally economically distastrous, and “result in considerable individual and societal harm.” Everyone knows that a lot of gamblers become “problem gamblers,” a term which does not nearly explain the breadth and depth of the “problems” faced by individuals, their families, communities and society at large. Maley reports, for example, that “Gulfport, Miss., saw a 213 percent increase in suicides (from 24 to 75) in the first two years after casinos opened in the city. Such numbers are replicated elsewhere.”
Seems to me that one of the best programs for suicide prevention would be to ensure that casino gambling never takes hold in Massachussetts. Here is an excerpt from Maley’s piece:
Money spent in casinos is diverted from other areas of the economy. Area businesses suffer. Looking at data from the state of Illinois, Earl Grinols, author of the most comprehensive book-length study of the economic benefits and costs of casino gambling, found that for every $1,000 in casino revenue, businesses within 10 miles of a casino saw a decline of $367 in merchandise sales. Commercial casinos actually generated net job losses in 42 percent of counties where they were introduced. A study in the June 2007 issue of the American Journal of Economics and Sociology concludes that the states “should not expect any long-term growth effects from legalizing casino gambling.”
Independently owned restaurants are especially hard hit. Drawing on ample data from regions around the country that have introduced casino gambling, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association estimates that casinos would force the closure of about 200 restaurants in the state.
These macro economic trends can undercut the economic vitality and diversity of an entire region. But the effect on individuals ought to concern us the most. Estimates vary, but it is likely that 40 to 50 percent of gaming machine revenues of a typical casino comes from problem or pathological gamblers.
A comprehensive literature review conducted by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission found that the rate of problem and pathological gambling addictions double among populations that live within 50 miles of a casino. A recent study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that more than 10 percent of people over the age of 65 are at risk of having financial problems because of gambling, and that older gamblers are increasing at the fastest rate.
A Harvard Medical School study shows that 6 percent of the population has trouble with gambling at some point in their lives and 4 percent – 250,000 people in Massachusetts – report that in the past year they have had problems controlling their urge to gamble. Now imagine if that number were doubled.
So says the growing chorus of opposition to what I call Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to expand gambling addiction in Massachusetts. Although as a candidate he opposed casino gambling, Patrick has made casino gambling the centerpiece of his economic program. This has come as a surprise to those of us who supported him from early on.
The Boston Globe reports that while the governor’s support for his own program has been “tepid,” a far flung network of opponents from the Massachusetts Council of Churches to the Massachusetts Restaurant Association is mobilizing against it. Restauranteurs are rightfully concerned that massive “resort casinos” will undermine existing businesses:
Over the past several years there has been a well-funded effort to expand gaming in the Commonwealth. Proposals to allow thousands of slot machines at the state’s racetracks have been unsuccessful thus far. There are important economic risks that could result from expanding gaming, in addition to the well-documented social costs.
The MRA opposes all efforts to expand gaming and allow slot machines at racetracks.
* The restaurant industry is vital to the state’s economy and our success is directly correlated to people’s discretionary income. The expansion of gaming would divert much of that discretionary income out of the economy,the same income that is presently used for dining out.
* The huge revenues that would be created by slot machines would allow these establishments to attract customers away from our businesses with their free or subsidized food, beverages, and entertainment.
* The restaurant industry is vital to the state’s economy. We employ over 9% of the Massachusetts workforce and contributed over $591 million in sales tax on meals last year. Expanded gaming would put this very important economic engine at great peril.
* Our industry is currently being challenged by the economy. Today, operators are facing huge increases in the cost of doing business. Some of these factors include healthcare, energy, and the overall vulnerability in the commodities market.
Restaurants are good neighbors and are owned by many people who have invested in their communities. The livelihoods of many are dependent upon the success of these small businesses. To shift the income of a few businesses (racetracks) would be benefiting a few at the expense of many.
Meanwhile, a pro-gambling addiction state legislator plans to stage a procasino hearing featuring… (drum roll please) — the gambling industry!
The Springfield Republican reports:
BOSTON – Hoping to create some momentum, a pro-casino legislator plans to hold a hearing on Beacon Hill that will emphasize the economic benefits of expanded gambling.
State Rep. David L. Flynn, D-Bridgewater, said he invited representatives of some gambling companies including Harrah’s Entertainment of Las Vegas and owners of the state’s four horse and dog tracks.
“We had the anti-gaming hearing, the can’t-do hearing,” said Flynn, co-chairman of the Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. “This is a can-do hearing.”
Oh yeah. And top officials of the Patrick administration will be there too.