Nothing is more illustrative of this fact than UMASS Dartmouth Professor of Public Policy, Dr. Clyde Barrow. He's written more studies on casinos in Massachusetts than possibly anyone and they've been very favorable to the industry, but here's the cold, hard facts.
- Clyde Barrow works privately for the industry. Clyde's home address in Fall River is the same address of Pyramid Associates. Pyramid Associates was paid a total of $15,000 for an "economic impact study" by Maine's Yes on 2 campaign in 2008, funded in large part through Olympia Gaming, the Las Vegas group that bankrolled Yes on 2. Barrow also, reportedly, appeared at a press conference and public meetings on behalf of the campaign. [Update: That link isn't working anymore, but this one does.]
- Barrows doesn't include his private, industry jobs on his extensive, public resume at his UMASS Dartmouth page, despite their relevance.
- Barrow's Center for Policy Analysis studies on gambling, which frequently appear on the industry's own website in Massachusetts, are also compromised financially. As recently as March of 2009, Barrows did a study through his center that was favorable of the industry. Included in that report, for those who actually bother to read it, is the fact that the funding comes from the Center's clients, read: lobbyists.
"The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Policy Analysis is a multidisciplinary research unit that promotes economic, social, and political development by providing research and technical analysis in the areas of economic development, public management, program evaluation and polling research for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, private businesses and educational institutions.... The Center for Policy Analysis does not pursue a predetermined research agenda, but is a flexible research organization responding on a timely basis to the problems and issues identified by client agencies."
- For all of Clyde Barrow's UMASS Dartmouth resources, there's very little accountability. The Center for Policy Analysis's Advisory Board is comprised of a great deal of people who have a bone in this fight: Senators Murray and Pacheco, for example. Not only do these politicians not mind Barrows waging this war by using the University to make himself appear an unbiased observer, but they gain from it and use his studies as justification to support their political agendas. It's smart politics, but the Center is an organization that should exist separate from politics.
- The study was funded by The Construction Institute and the The Future of Work in Massachusetts project, which is funded through the UMASS system's President's Office.
- While I'm sure The Construction Institute is a great organization, they have an obvious stake in this fight. It's an organization that wants to build really big things and expand union labor. Need I say more?
- The Future of Work in Massachusetts seems like a great arm of the UMASS Boston Labor Center, but it doesn't exist in a vacuum either. The funding comes from the (Romney-Appointed, often political) President's Office, which comes from the Commonwealth's coffers (to the tune of $1.2 million) -- which means we'll probably never know just who was responsible for that funding. Furthermore, the labor movement appears to be very involved in this project, a movement which is very biased when it comes to the question of casinos.
Studies shouldn't be dismissed out of hand and there are many people on Beacon Hill who are doing their due diligence, some of which probably sit on the other side of this issue. However, it's clear that all too many don't have the important facts, in great part because we haven't commissioned a comprehensive, unbiased study to find them. Given that it's undeniable that casinos will have a huge and likely irreversible impact on the state, it's important for legislators to get this decision right. The question has to be if casinos are worth it. As of yet, there's no substantive, unbiased study to show that they are worth it. Without that evidence, legislators should vote no.