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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, July 30, 2010

Riverboat gamble

We've come to the second-to-last day of a two-year legislative session, one in which Deval Patrick, Bobby DeLeo and Terry Murray all agree that casino gambling is the answer to the state's economic woes -- and none of them can get together on a plan to make it happen.

Imagine if we had a two-party state with the cooperation skills of Congress?

It may not be all that imaginary if voters take their wrath out on Patrick and lawmakers as union leaders and Republicans are threatening.

Patrick has offered an innovative but risky proposal to end the logjam: one slots parlor, subject to competitive bidding and only under the condition that lawmakers move on other important pieces of legislation on crime, economic development and health care costs stuck behind the impasse.

The silence from lawmakers is deafening -- which actually may be a good sign.

So for verbiage we turn to those outside looking in. AFL-CIO chief Robert Haynes has led the bluster, promising political retribution for wayward lawmakers who don't tow the union line. House Dean David Flynn was a tad more specific, saying it was the Senate's fault and they should pay.

Really helpful political tactics for an electoral sick of finger-pointing instead of instant results.

Meanwhile the ineffectiveness of Massachusetts Republicans was highlighted by the fact they were standing on the outside looking in, ready for all the world to throw a tantrum to gain recognition.

Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei was sniffling, aiming his barbs at Patrick instead of the Senate colleagues who have made a mockery of his title by freezing him out.
“He’s running around the building frantically looking for the Senate president, trying to craft an agenda when he didn’t do that for two years."
At least she's taking his calls, Mr. Leader. It's looking his a sorry ending to his two-decade tenure in the Great and General Court.

As for his running mate, Charlie Baker was also left to fume, offering a popular criticism that fails to understand how things are done in the building where he worked for eight years, namely the executive proposes and the legislative disposes.
“Beacon Hill should be ashamed for wasting the last few weeks in a gridlock.’’
Yep, there's a bulletin. Think it will be any different with you in the Corner Office?

Patrick holds all the cards on this one. He can veto anything he doesn't like and lawmakers will not be in a position to override. They are all hugely aware of the political fallout from failure. And it has always been true the Legislature works best under pressure of deadlines.

This is the mother of all deadlines.

But what is truly irritating about this four-year ordeal is whatever the economic benefits -- which have been debated almost as much as the number of slots and casinos -- that could be just passing.

Under a bill being offered in Congress by Barney Frank, web-based gambling may finally become legal.

That would mean a lot fewer license plates to count in casino or slots parking lots.

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