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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spotlight on DeLeo

It's amazing how one conviction can change things. And not just for legislative leaders but also for a Statehouse press corps that has shrunk in overall size and in teeth.

When last we looked, casino gambling's future in Massachusetts was being decided by three people behind closed doors. Many observers, myself included, shrugged their shoulders and said why not, we know the issues and would rather see it hashed out quietly than suck the oxygen out of the system -- again.

No more.

While we do know the issues inside and out, we also know that House Speaker Robert DeLeo held out last year for what amounted to three no-bid racinos. We also know that he's the son of a long-time Suffolk Down employee and can claim that track and the now-shuttered Wonderland as part of is district.

And in the post-Sal DiMasi world of the House, we know there is room for shenanigans when things, now matter how seemingly innocuous, are allowed to play out behind closed doors. Notes former attorney general Scott Harshbarger, the target of previous Speaker Tom Finneran's "loony left" opprobrium:

“The public’s entitled to more, particularly now. If the only way you can do this is getting a deal behind closed doors, it strikes me as tone deaf.’’

Deval Patrick has almost as much reason as DeLeo to shine a spotlight on the talks. While he stood up to DeLeo last year, the fresher memory in the public's mind may be testimony at DiMasi's trial portraying him as a novice governor eager to trade a education contract for bargaining chips later on.

While Patrick now holds a stronger hand -- and has already successfully called DeLeo's bluff once -- it would be good politics for him to bring the talks out into the fresh air.

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