Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bay Stater of the Year

JimC over at BMG is asking people to vote for their Person of the Year. In that sort of situation, it's inevitably going to be some national figure, who's admittedly done a great deal of work. What I'm more interested in, though, is a local Person of the Year -- a Bay Stater of the Year.

In all my activism, in all my reading, in all my state politicking, I've thought long and hard about who I think should be the Person of the Year, here in Massachusetts. One name stood out -- a tireless foe of the slot machine and casino lobby in Massachusetts. You may not know her name, but the industry and lawmaking slot-machine cheerleaders certainly do: Kathleen Conley Norbut, President of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts.

Let's think of what she's done in less than a year's time:
  • Co-Founded the state's leading opposition group to slot machine gambling, USS Massachusetts.
  • Stood up against an industry in this state that's spent roughly $2 million in the past two years lobbying.
  • Changed the media dynamic from one where the MSM was almost unanimously singing the praises of the slot industry, to one where there's at least some balance in the reporting (and sometimes even great reporting on the subject).
  • Organized dozens of important events, from pro-and-con forums to the State Democratic Convention's petition drive, which culminated in the State Party voting to come out against slot machine gambling in Massachusetts. The most important event, though, was this past December's Fanueil Hall forum, where over 100 people came to hear Kathleen, Alan Khazei, Scott Harshbarger, Mike & Kitty Dukakis and others speak out against slot machines. It came as no surprise to me, but surprised many others, when Kathleen was the best and most effective speaker of the night.
  • She tirelessly pursued meetings with myriad state officials, culminating in a meeting with Governor Patrick, which ended up lasting over an hour and resulted in him agreeing to two important things: the backing of an independent and comprehensive cost/benefit analysis, as well as an agreement by the Governor to come out against any racino or slot parlor, even if it were in a bill coupled with a resort casino.
Obviously, the last plank is by far the most important accomplishment. It could very well derail Speaker DeLeo's efforts to pass slots at the race tracks, something which would cost this state far more than it would ever earn. Furthermore, it keeps the race tracks and casino lobbyists at each others throats, where they've been for over a decade in Massachusetts. With the slot lobby divided, economic and social justice wins.

This, she's done with little institutional support or money, all the while working full time. Should we win this fight, should slots be blocked yet again, should social and economic justice prevail, we'll all, in large part, have Kathleen Conley Norbut to thank. She has my thanks already, because not only do I think we will win, but her tireless efforts are an inspiration to anyone who knows her and cares about the issues to keep on fighting.


Middleboro Remembers said...

Kathleen will graciously say that it is because of the many hard working supporters behind her and others who are offering advice, but I believe her sincere and heartfelt testimony in Gardner Auditorium proves otherwise.

Coming from a long line of family union members, Kathleen explained why the unions were wrong in supporting predatory gambling.

She explained why the job numbers were wrong and created false hope.

Ryan, as you know, the unions have wrongly supported fictitious jobs numbers and promoted fanciful revenue figures. Surely, this must have created enemies by being told the truth.

Ms. Norbut testified after a former Harrah's employee and casino cheerleader feigned ignorance of Harrah's business model.

It was clearly disclosed in Christina Binkley's bestseller, "Winner Takes All."

10% of Harrah's patrons produce
90% of their profits.

Those are gambling addicts that are targeted, marketed and exploited for casino profits.

Those are gambling addicts that cost taxpayer money by increasing social costs and committing crimes.

Ms. Norbut challenged the cheerleader for her denial and further went on to plead with the committee that small towns, like Monson, simply can't take the 'hit' - they can't absorb the additional costs imposed by casinos.

Wise choice, Ryan!

It's time to support an independent cost-benefit analysis.

Anonymous said...

Why not Sal?

Anonymous said...

How about wilkerson or marzilli? Oh that was lasy tr.

Ryan said...

Anon 10:38, few in the local netroots were more vocal about getting rid of Dianne Wilkerson. Please at least do a cursory glance with the search button before you make such presumptions.

Middleboro Remembers,

Thanks. I think it's nice to recognize the hard working advocates of this state, who do so much behind the scenes. Of all those people, I haven't known any who's worked as hard or effectively as Ms. Norbut.

Anonymous said...

how about sal

Anonymous said...


Ryan said...

I never campaigned for Gallucio and never knew much about him. If presented with his name 6 months ago, I probably would have been able to say he was a Senator, but would never have been able to say which district he was from.

As for DiMasi, I am not responsible for his personal behavior. Enough said. He was stupid, acted stupidly and did tremendous damage to the state with his actions. As a citizen, I felt personally betrayed. What else is there to say?

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