Some thoughts on tonight's "Forum on Casino Gambling at Suffolk Downs":
1. The event began more than a half-hour late for no reason that was evident or announced to the crowd, which became restless and started chanting for things to begin. The forum finally began at 7:07 p.m. I left about 8:10 while the question session was going on.
2. The format was apparently decided on the fly, as the moderator would, at each juncture, look back and forth and around the room as if to say, "How should we do this?" I'm not sure why time wasn't used to figure out the ground rules while the speakers were standing and chit-chatting.
3. I don't know why Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle was included among elected officials who were given time to speak. I didn't vote for him and neither did anyone else in the room. Plus, his weekly newsletter is distributed free to all of us.
4. Some elected officials, in a move that seemed rather arrogant, made clear that they were going to speak longer than the time allotted. Since some of them are part of the bill-crafting process and have the media at their disposal -- especially the East Boston Times, which is their mouthpiece -- it seems unfair that they would go past the time they were given when members of the public were limited to writing questions on pieces of paper.
5. The most misguided -- and frankly, offensive -- statement was that an independent and comprehensive study of the positives and negatives of casino gambling in Massachusetts is not needed. Huh? Since the research that the legislature is currently using was provided by studies funded by the casino industry AND since an independent study of casino gambling nationally, cited tonight by one of the speakers for the opposition, shows that there are $3 of public expenditure for every $1 expanded gambling brings to a state, it would seem shortsighted and negligent not to have one done -- unless proponents of casinos do not want the public to see the list of consequences that a study reveals.