Thursday, October 15, 2009

Talk About Being Against Your Own, Best Interests

Why is Salem's Mayor, Kim Driscoll, schilling for the Massachusetts casino lobby? On behalf of the casino lobby's Massachusetts website, she sent out this letter today:
Dear XXX,

Thanks to you, our campaign is picking up speed.

On October 29, the Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies will take testimony on the benefits of resort-style gaming.

This is a huge development -- and a sure sign that we need to keep up the momentum.

Will you write an email telling your state legislator that the Bay State needs the jobs and growth gaming will bring?

Thanks to your dedication, the Massachusetts legislature is moving towards a vote on gaming -- a major success for our campaign.

We can't let up now.

If we want thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars of new investment for our Commonwealth, we need to act.

Click the link below to tell your state legislator that Massachusetts is ready for gaming.

Thank you for all of your help,

Kim Driscoll
Mayor, Salem
Now, here's why Kim's being so shortsighted.

1. Salem's worked for decades to make its downtown area kick ass. Salem attracts young professionals and many of them stay there, something most of the rest of the state wishes it did as well as Salem. Why? Because there's an awesome community there -- tons of things to do, restaurants, beaches, the wharf, the willows, downtown, etc. However, it took a lot of work to get that community -- it wasn't there to nearly the same degree when I was younger. If even 5-10% of the consumer base left, a lot of those restaurants and cool locations would bleed or go under. Where is a casino very likely to be placed? In Revere, at Suffolk Downs or Wonderland, about 10 miles away from Downtown Salem.

2. Slots and casinos would eat into the state lottery. No one has been able to refute Rep. Bosley's numbers on this -- and why? Because they're true. The state lottery takes in a billion+ a year. The bulk of it goes directly to cities and towns. Salem probably gets millions in state lottery money. Furthermore, slot taxes would be around 25%, while essentially the whole enchilada from the state lottery goes to the state. If slots eat just a little of state lottery money, because of the differences in tax rate, there's no way the state would break even. The more slots we allow, the more it eats into the state lottery, the less money goes to cities and towns.

3. I haven't even gotten into social costs, all of which would impact Salem greatly should there be a casino in Revere. Salem already has enough challenging social issues to tackle, it doesn't need a casino on its doorstep.

While slots and casinos are, in general, a lose-lose-lose, they are particularly bad for a city like Salem. It's a great city with a lot going for it, but the success of a city like Salem is always very precarious. A casino in the area would absolutely devastate the city of Salem, possibly delivering it a death blow just after its renaissance. Why does Mayor Kim Driscoll want to play with fire, when her house is made of wood?


Anonymous said...

Smart lady. Why do you think you know more about what's good for Salem?

Middleboro Remembers said...

Professor Grinols went into tedious detail explaining that slots soak up discretionary income and reduce spending at local small businesses - the economic engine of new job creation.

What a pity Mayor Driscoll didn't bother to inform herself before drinking the casino KoolAid!

Why would Democrats continue to promote low wage, low skill, dead end jobs when we need jobs that provide a future, that we can be proud of, that provide hope?

Why do union members continue to support this Fools' Gold fantasy?

Bernie Madoff created better paying jobs than slot parlors based on the same predatory scheme.

Anonymous said...

Speaking about low wage jobs it has always amazed me that the Dems are so easy on illegal immigrants. It is the use of the illegals which keeps a downward pressure on the wages. If they weren't here employers would have to pay higher livable wages to get jobs done.

Ryan said...

Anon 8:29,

I won't pretend to know more about Salem than the mayor (though, having lived next to it all my life, reading its papers and having a great many friends and family there, I do know quite a bit), but I almost certainly know more about slots -- and the impacts arising from slots. I've been studying them for years.

I wasn't always against them -- in fact, in the beginning, I was for them, at least in certain instances, when I knew a lot less. It wasn't until I did more studying on the issue that I could tell I was very, very wrong. Slots are very complicating. The headlines do sound nice -- I won't go so far as Middleboro Remembers, some of the jobs that do come with casinos aren't terrible in terms of benefits, but they tend to cost more jobs than they create within just a few short years, because, as I said, they wreak havoc on a city like Salem. You never see those jobs on the headlines, though, because people don't always put 2 and 2 together and it's a slot bleed over several years, people don't realize the damage before it's already done. And people just assume the casino is going to be in some faraway place, when, in Salem's case, it's probably not -- Revere *is* likely to get one, and that's just around the corner, in a prime location to wipe out Salem's downtown scene. Even a 5-10% loss of income for Salem's businesses would put a huge number of them out of business, and those that would survive would be less than, with layoffs, reduced wages and benefits and scaled back hours. Salem's fun nighttime scene and all the effort people have put into that city to make it a great place to go to year round, would be dead.

Anonymous said...

On one hand Ryan says he does not pretend to know more about Salem than Kim Driscoll, then he tells her how to run her city.

Ryan said...

Nope. I have not done that to her at all. She's telling us how to run the state. She's not asking for a casino in Salem, nor will she get one.

Anonymous said...

She is an accomplished local pol with a high degree of honesty and integrity. Sounds like someone we should be listening to given the assholes that are on Beacon Hill.

Ryan said...

Yes, I agree with everything you said -- that's why I singled her out, and not other Mayors, for example. That said, she clearly doesn't have a firm understanding of slot policy and what it would do to a city like Salem. I am not attacking Mayor Driscoll, I'm criticizing -- constructively -- one thing she's done that was a mistake and, if she gets that wish, would hurt Salem tremendously.

Anonymous said...

Ryan knows best. What is it with you arrogant progressives/liberals?

Ryan said...

There are some things I know about, lots of things I don't. I rarely ever just declare things Good and Proper. I back what I have to say up; people are free to disagree, but if I'm to buy their arguments, I usually expect as much effort and investigation into the issue as I've done.

I don't often write about things I don't know much about. If I do, I'll probably say I'm a novice, or leave the comment up to interpretation or be very open to the opinions and facts of others. Again, as I've already said, I wasn't always a hardened opponent of casinos. I went into it with a very open mind and really did my homework.

Anonymous said...

People are lottert tix addicts and booze addicts. When do we rid ourselves of those vices?

Anonymous said...

Why CLT matters?

Barbara Anderson/CLT matters because Marian Walsh exists

Barbara Anderson/CLT matters because Sal DiMasi exists

Barbara Anderson/CLT matters because Diane Wilkerson exists

David Moisan said...

I can only think Kim is following the money. I'm a longtime Salem resident and I voted against her four years ago because I thought she was depending too much on the housing bubble in Chelsea, and depending too much on the gentrification treadmill we have in Salem.

That was not a good basis to build an economy. It's been alienating for a number of long term residents. If Salem is full of young and hip and dynamic people, the old and unhip, well...

She may think Revere is too far away. Or that Lynn will get the Blue Line if the casino goes through. (I want the Blue Line to Lynn myself of course, but casinos...) She knows that Salem will not have a casino sited within its borders so she is "safe" in that regard.

She's running unopposed this year (well, token opposition at best) and casinos have not been in the buzz here.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. Your thoughts are right on the money.
Driscoll seems insane.

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