Monday, June 29, 2009

Or, You Could Just Not Allow Casinos

Weird and perplexing argument coming from Senate President Murray in the SHNS (sorry, can't link to it) roundup today...
When Senate President Therese Murray explained why the Legislature declined to sanction wiretapping in an ethics, lobbying and campaign finance proposal unveiled Wednesday, she suggested the provision would be revisited when the state looks to create a “gaming commission.”
So, let's get this straight -- we can't have wiretapping allowed in our current reforms before gambling. Wonder why?
Asked about her comment Friday, a Senate spokesman said, “We need to establish oversight and enforcement before bringing gaming into the state. The enforcement establishment needs to have all the right tools. Wiretapping would be part of that, but it wouldn’t necessarily be limited to gaming. I think that’s what she was getting at.”
So, Senator Murray recognizes that it's so likely casinos will create the need to be able to wiretap public officials... but she's not going to support it until after slots are legalized? And why would the Senator for even a second think it should be limited to gambling? Does this make sense to anyone? It brings up so many more questions than answers.

Why is Senator Murray against wiretapping now? Why would she only support it, with potential caveats, after casino legislation is filed? Most importantly, why on Earth does she want to get Massachusetts mixed up in an industry in which even she recognizes is ripe with corruption, one that is notorious for getting public officials in prison? Seems like we've been having a little more of that than we'd want, already.

This is dirty politics, when we've been promised reform. This is less transparency, when we need more. It's certainly not inspiring confidence in the system. Why shouldn't we give these tools to our state agencies now, before there are more votes concerning slots. Numerous major Massachusetts politicians have already been caught on the take by the feds, but they can't catch everyone. The gambling industry has a very bad record here. We should be giving our state investigative agencies all the tools they need, not capping them off at their knees, until the damage is already done. Senator Murray, get this right, please.


Truth to Power said...

I attended the senate committee on economic development and emerging technologies today and had more than a few "twilight zone" moments.

Sen. Morrissy stated that we have a lottery that dedicates funds for costs of gambling addiction so with casinos we would have more funds right? Prof. Goodman replied, he had already explained about proximity and increased addiction/problem gambling. "Yes there would be more addiction"

In fact, quite a lot more since all studies agree that proximity brings a multiplier effect of addiction. One gambling addict is projected to cost the tax payers over $13,200 per year in 1990's dollars. That's a heck of alot more than each of the children in the state got for public education.

The other bizzaro moment was when Senator Rosenberg tried to elict a number, a figure, how much dinero would it take to cover the cost of addiction?

There is no price for ruined lives. Senator, what happened to you?

Sen. Petrucelli could not sit still and came and left several times.

Sens. Spilka and Sen. Tucker were present and accounted for, their lights were on and the chair Senator Spilka had some questions that were clearly from an individual working on digesting the information at hand.

The scariest part of the hearing was when the casino and financial consultants agreed with Professor Goodman that the state can no longer be the regulator when it becomes the biggest stakeholder/profiteer should they vote to expand gambling.

"The state has to solve all the problems," said the corporate casino representative.

Be scared. This is very scary.

A cost:benefit analysis must be conducted and a baseline study of current employment, addiction, social and legal costs are necessary.

Did I mention AG Coakley estimates needing 1,000 new state employees to regulate the proposed expanded gambling industry? No of those costs were budgeted in any legislation to date.

Be scared, this is scary.

Ryan said...

Wow? 1,000 jobs? That's a bombshell comment.

About Ryan's Take