A prominent supporter of the governor’s casino gambling proposal said today he would seek a fall statewide referendum on it if, as now appears increasingly likely, the House moves to kill the measure this week.
Sen. Steven Panagiotakos of Lowell, a Democrat who serves as chairman of his chamber’s Ways and Means Committee, said the issue is too important to be quashed amid a series of increasingly personal recriminations between Gov. Deval Patrick and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi.
What isn't known yet is if Governor Patrick would entertain such a measure, because if he would, he'd have officially jumped the shark. I couldn't support that kind of Governor, because it represents the Politics of a Bully. Governor Patrick out to condemn such an effort post-haste because, in the end, it's exactly the kind of politics he worked so hard to defeat in June of last year. Imagine the Governor, who worked so hard to protect marriage equality, stooping as low as the homophobic organizations that tried to put equality on the ballot? I can't. He simply must condemn this effort, and now. Let's not forget that the very person who is supporting this measure, Panagiotakos, is also someone who supporting banning marriage equality, by writing inequality into the state's constitution.
When the casino bill is defeated in the legislature, and it will be, it's time to work on our state's common problems. For once, it seems, the Speaker of the House has become a willing participant in solving our state's problems: he's shown a new willingness to compromise on many bills. He's finally agreed to the Life Science initiative. He's, this very day, proposing to create 13,000 new jobs in renewable, green energy in this state. But this casino thing has got to go: it's a distraction. It's ripping the Governor's base apart. We want to work with the Governor; we have common cause. It's time we work on what we have in common - health care, education, renewable energy, etc. - because ultimately they're the important questions of the day.
Finally, I won't be able to blog while I'm at the hearing, but I will be phoning into LeftAhead, the state's Lefty Political Podcast, to make a live report at around 2:30.
Today's Must Read Stories:
-Casinos aren't anywhere near inevitable, no matter what the Governor's been parroting on the matter. What the Wampanoags are asking for is by no means gauranteed, because it's literally never happened before, even for a Class 2 casino (which would be a tiny fraction of what Deval's asking for, because it will lack both real slots and any real investments).
The tribe is also attempting a political and bureaucratic feat that the Bureau of Indian Affairs says has never been tried: parlaying tribal recognition, which it received in February 2007, into two tracts of reservation land 25 miles apart, with one targeted for a casino, the other for its tribal headquarters on Cape Cod.
A spokesman for the Department of the Interior said he did not know of any other case in which the government approved such a request.
Does that sound inevitable to you?
-As public support for casinos is plummiting, new and better job alternatives emerge. I'd imagine it would be lower if people knew about this extremely weird provision in Governor Patrick's law that has yet to be explained.
-The Boston Globe misses the picture, but what else is new? Now is not the time for a whole new idea to create new revenue in this state, because our state is currently distracted by and boggled down with the present conversation: casinos. After that measure is soundly defeated, there's plenty of time for Speaker DiMasi, Senate President Murray and the entire legislature to pass a balanced budget, and perhaps even some kind of new, big idea on creating new revenue.
The Speaker's shown a new-found willingness to work with the Governor, from reforming education to passing the life science initiative. DiMasi's even ahead of the curve on green energy investment. At this point, he's actually earned a little trust in being able to come up with a way to increase our spending in this state for the time being. And, in the end, it shouldn't be the onus of a Speaker to create an alternative to a bad idea, especially when that idea's one big vacuum of a distraction: it's first and foremost his or her job to make sure that bad idea doesn't pass. Good on him for doing so.