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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, March 05, 2009

Not Ready for Prime Time

Perhaps the worst kept secret on Beacon Hill is Treasurer Tim Cahill's political ambitions, followed closely by the antagonism between his camp and that of Gov. Deval Patrick.

So it's hardly shocking that as Cahill offer his semi-annual foray into matters beyond the balance sheet that he was "coaxed" into admitting that his earlier demurrals about challenging Patrick -- perhaps as a Democratic, maybe as an independent -- may be inoperative.

While Cahill dodged the question in a NECN interview with Jim Braude, he was a little more coy with the Globe's Frank Phillips:

...[I]n a telephone interview yesterday, [Cahill] said that he has made no decisions about his future and that he has not discussed his potential plans with what he referred to as his political committee. But he did not close the door on any options.

"Unless the party throws me out, I expect to run as a Democrat, if I run," Cahill said. He also pointed out his sometimes rough relationship with party leaders and activists since he first ran for treasurer in 2002, adding, "If the Democrats throw me out, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
Last summer you may recall, Cahill offered commentary on "Taj Mahal" schools, the life sciences bill and the Turnpike Authority. Not suggestions, Just commentary. We also learned he "administrative challenges" in running the lottery and may have what can now euphemistically call a "DiMasi problem." For the full compendium, click here.

Now he's back with a proposal for three slots parlors as a counter to Patrick's full resort casinos. Problem is, the proposal has more holes in it than Commonwealth Avenue: unrealistic estimates on revenues and licensing fees. Not to mention an industry in recession and not looking to pay what it would have even a year ago to set up shop in Massachusetts.
Cahill's numbers for slot machines were based on an underlying flaw, an assumption that each slot machine would produce profit of $275 per day, which is probably too optimistic, specialists said. Cahill used that number in a financial analysis to conclude that prospective bidders would agree to pay between $665 million and $1.1 billion each in upfront fees for a license.
And oh yeah, another oopsie:
Cahill also encountered problems on a second major proposal, a plan to privatize the state lottery that he unveiled yesterday morning. It is a move that has been contemplated by other states, but which the US Department of Justice has said would violate federal law.
If you want to challenge Patrick's ideas, don't make the same mistake of using unseasonably sunny numbers. When gambling guru Clyde Barrow of UMass calls you out on rosy projections you really have a problem.

And definitely limit yourself to legal solutions.

Patrick is ripe for a challenge. His casino proposal generated unhappiness in his base and the coming months are going to be unmitigated hell with everyone from cops to senior citizens hurling names at him for an economic calamity that he didn't cause but is expected to solve without new taxes or service cuts.

His problem solving proposals take too long to come together -- but at least they don't resemble the Swiss cheese options (or non-options) that have emanated from the Treasury.

Cahill is an ambitious pol eying the next rung. He's seeing the end of his second term and anxious to move one. One problem -- not much of a record to speak of, certainly not in areas that will keep voters awake.

And based on the casino and lottery proposals (and last summer's non-solutions) Treasurer Tim still ain't ready for prime time. Right now, I'd take Patrick's tortoise over Cahill's hare.

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Blogger Ryan said...

Cahill's toast.

I'm just waiting for someone to announce they're challenging HIM in the primary, should he choose to run for reelection (when he realizes he most certainly will not be elected Governor).

March 05, 2009 7:31 AM  
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August 24, 2009 3:51 AM  

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