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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gaming the system

I'll leave if for the lawyers to decide if House Speaker Robert DeLeo's decision to use campaign cash to pay for a gambling consultant passes the legal test. But it sure doesn't pass the sniff test to me.

While it is certainly magnanimous of the Speaker “to save taxpayers’ money’’ having Spectrum Gaming Group on the DeLeo campaign payroll to help him engineer a massive flip-flop is just the sort of maneuver that leaves people fulminating about politics.

For the sake of argument, let's accept at face value the disclaimers about the group providing policy counsel and not political advice -- or the campaign's insistence the arrangement passed muster with the silent Office of Campaign and Political Finance and the Ethics Commission.

You are still left with an undeniable fact: political fund-raising, cash from people with a potential stake in the outcome, helped push through a controversial piece of legislation while the public had no direct voice in the debate.

That's gamy, not gaming.

If DeLeo campaign treasurer David Martin is so certain of the rightness of his actions he should release the contract with Spectrum and the advisory opinions he claims to have received from the watchdog agencies.

Meanwhile, let's give some praise to the Senate, which has gone through it's own spate of ethics challenges of late. The upper chamber appears to be ready to slow the DeLeo freight train down and let some sunshine -- and public debate -- into the process.

By having Amherst Democrat Stan Rosenberg putting the Senate bill together, Murray opted for sound policy over politics. Rosenberg doesn't gamble; he's a workaholic and has a sound understanding of fiscal policy from time spent as chairman of Senate Ways and Means.

That's not to say gambling is going to die in the Senate. There's too much of a fiscal need for lawmakers to overlook any potential pot of cash, no matter how over- or under-estimated it may be. And there is a uniformity of opinion among DeLeo, Murray and Gov. Deval Patrick about destination casinos.

But the railroading of slots through a compliant House -- with the assistance of "counsel" from DeLeo's political committee -- is about to hit a red light which will allow the public to climb aboard.

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Blogger Gladys Kravitz said...

Stan Rosenberg studies casinos from the inside. His understanding of them is one-sided and shallow, and I don't think anyone should feel comfortable with him at the point man for a casino legislation.

Until Stan sits next to the gambling addict as he files for bankruptcy, or in court with the woman who's never been in trouble with the law but who's going to jail now for embezzling funds from her employer to gamble, or been there to watch a kid go without dinner because his parent emptied their bank account at the slot parlor ATM machine, he hasn't even begun to study this issue.

April 16, 2010 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What else would you expect from a man with two race tracks in his district, who grew up in the gambling (not gaming) environment of a race track (Suffolk Downs)where his father worked. He sees gambling and doesn't see any problems worthy of concern, he only thinks, why not?

April 16, 2010 4:24 PM  

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