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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What were the odds?

What's House Speaker Sal DiMasi up to?

In a hard-to-fathom move, the man identified as single-handedly putting a halt to casino gambling legislation in Massachusetts is now proposing voters get a (non-binding) say on the issue.

The announcement comes as the Senate rejected a Republican ploy to endorse casino gambling as part of its fiscal 2009 budget proposal.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Steve Panagiotakis proposed a November referendum earlier this year -- at the height of the controversy. DiMasi didn't buy it then, but now he says he would be inclined to let voters offer a preference.
“I remain opposed to casino gambling,” DiMasi said in a statement issued this morning. “But, given the magnitude of what the Senate is considering, I would support as a compromise Senator Panagiotakos’ proposal to put an advisory question on casinos before voters this fall.”
Clearly a head scratcher, since DiMasi won this one hands down. Gov. Deval Patrick, who tossed away a lot of political capital on this fight, has been met with snark when he suggested the issue is not dead.

DiMasi has been battered of late over a series of unseemly looking activities involving friends and legislation. More importantly, those controversies have failed to still jockeying in the House to be his eventual replacement.

Is agreeing to a referendum a quid pro quo to end that back room maneuvering for his crown? It would certainly be interesting to see how House votes against the bill shift in support of placing a question on the ballot.

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