It's clear that the casino bill, while initially defeated, is not going away. This story is far from over - and, quite sadly, will only be getting more interesting as time moves on. Of course, there's the more noticeable ways in which this story refuses to die. Republicans in the Senate want to add casinos to the budget, as a budget amendment, even if all such a measure would do is waste time, since it would be defeated in conference committee.
Slightly more interesting - and disturbing - is the fight sure to come this summer on a Racino bill, which would allow the state's race tracks to have slot machines. Racinos present all of the same problems as casinos, without any of the "benefits," as casino lobbyists would call them. While such a measure has never passed in the House, it's been a very close vote. This year, it'll probably be closer. Furthermore, there's been some speculation that the administration will try to tie casinos to the Racino bill - a bill Governor Patrick once promised to veto.
All of this back room maneuvering is petty tame compared to the story between the lines - DiMasi's death threats and journalistic hit pieces. The death threats were so real that police were stationed at DiMasi's home - conversations were overheard about the Speaker's dog-walking schedule. All of this is pretty scary stuff - and could very well be tied to the Speaker's position on casinos, as Frank Phillips suggested in the Boston Globe. Even if that's not the case, it's likely most of the Globe's hit pieces on DiMasi are motivated by people wanting revenge on DiMasi for his efforts in blocking casinos. At least that's what DiMasi thinks. According to one of my sources, who had a chance to personally thank the Speaker for his leadership on casinos, he was quoted as saying "now I am paying for it." And he is.
So, if people are baffled by my support for the current Speaker, hopefully this blog will answer those questions. If they wonder why I'm not a bit more worried about his apparent transgressions, there's your answer. He's been about as good as we could expect any person in his position to be on the issues - far more progressive than Speakers in the past. He's also just as clean as any of the people next in line for his job, maybe cleaner - I'm just not buying these bogus stories coming out about him. I'm certainly not going to convict him in the court of public opinion, I'll let the AG's office handle it, if they think there's anything amiss. Meanwhile, we've seen advances in health care, equality, transportation and renewable energy. He's shown a new-found willingness to compromise with the administration. If a few anonymous sources in the Globe are trying to convict the Speaker before a case can even be made, I'm quite content to let other people pile on. It won't happen on this blog; Massachusetts has far larger problems - like blocking casinos again.