Friday, July 16, 2010

Gambling round-up

***As expanded gambling comes closer to a reality in Massachusetts, those who stand to walk away with massive amounts of our money have turned up the lobbying heat on Beacon Hill. The Associated Press reports that $1.8 million was spent on lobbyists in the first half of this year, mostly by out-of-state companies. Suffolk Downs spent more than a half-million dollars. In 2009, $2 million was spent on gambling lobbyists. Some of that money went directly to elected officials' campaign funds: last year lobbyists contributed $8,000 to House Speaker Bob DeLeo, $7,800 to Senate President Therese Murray and $4,900 to Gov. Deval Patrick.

***Mayor Menino has decided that the developer who failed to go forward with a project at Downtown Crossing should not profit from any casino that might be built at Suffolk Downs. Vornado Realty Trust, a New York City company worth some $20 billion, owns 20% of the racetrack, but the developer has angered the mayor and that is a no-no in this city. (See Yoon, Sam) Menino is right on this issue, but he is inviting gambling interests into Boston and in the future he can expect to be partners with much more unsavory characters than this.

***Brian McGrory's column from earlier this week discusses the positions state leaders have staked out on casino legislation and his suggestion to solve the impasse.

***Dan Rea's radio program Nightside was scheduled to have guests for and against casino gambling last night. I wasn't able to listen, but I'd be interested in what people thought of it. Thanks to Neighbors of Suffolk Downs for keeping us updated on such things.

6 comments:

Kazak said...

A whole lot of money going around for this casino. If the people who actually live in East Boston and will be affected by its presence want a piece of that action we'll really have to start getting loud. Everyone is getting a check, why not us? No one has even paid me for my vote! What's going on here??

Seriously, we wouldn't have Piers Park or the Bremen Street Park without the community demanding some payback for the presence of so much crap in the n'hood that benefits the region and gives us little in return (aside from air pollution and traffic).

If the casinos are "inevitable" then we should start telling the lobbyists that in addition to paying off the politicians they'll have to pay off the entire community as well. And not just vague verbal assurances of "good jobs."

Mid-Life Progress said...

Jim - The Debate on the Dan Rea show was successful in perpetuating the much needed conversation around the pending casino. Clearly - we haven't had nearly enough. You've done a great job of keeping your readership in the loop. But, we all need to go beyond the blogging and parlor conversations. We need to go outside of our comfort zones a bit and have the conversations in slightly larger forums - among our extended families, friends and colleagues.

Everyone who is impacted, no matter where they stand on the issue, needs to voice their opinion.

It's funny, I had the occasion to talk to one of our at large city councilors the other day about a number of topics. When I brought up the casino - he remarked how oddly quiet East Boston had been about it.

The fact is, there are so many facets to how an impending casino at Suffolk Downs can and will impact the way of life for those in it's path - that this cannot be a decision made on the fly.

People seem to think that this is a done deal. Because they have been told by our politicians that it is a done deal.

Although I appreciate and respect our local pols - none of them has been tried by a decision of this magnitude. The time must be taken to discuss the pros and cons and address potential drawbacks.

Once this genie is out of the bottle, it cannot be undone. The legwork needs to be done beforehand to protect East Boston, Revere, Winthrop and all of the impacted communities.

Kazak - I appreciate your position - but you and dozens of others are jumping the gun. There may be an ominous feeling of inevitability about the casino - but if we are going to be raising our voices up - we need to have priorities.

Mid-Life Progress said...

Kazak - I appreciate your position - but you and dozens of others are jumping the gun. There may be an ominous feeling of inevitability about the casino - but if we are going to be raising our voices up - we need to have priorities. Those that realize the negative impact that a casino will have - need to call our representatives, share our concerns and demand answers. If there are no accessible answers, the next course of action should be to halt on any and all forward movement on a casino, not shrug and stand in line for whatever meager payouts may exist.

- Celeste Ribeiro-Myers

Jim said...

"I had the occasion to talk to one of our at large city councilors the other day about a number of topics. When I brought up the casino - he remarked how oddly quiet East Boston had been about it."

Well, some of us have been making noise, but what if we kicked it up a notch and wrote a letter to the governor, senate pres and house speaker and sent it to the media? Anyone in on this?

Neighbor said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks for staying on top of this, the more voices the better. The debate went well. We're planning another in the near future; we'll keep you posted... We'll also be making our way around to the different neighborhood groups in and outside of East Boston.

People need to know that they need to be calling their reps at 617-722-2000, the governor, the speaker and the senate president because this is not a done deal.

I have heard that Speaker DeLeo is adamant about slots at the race tracks due to pressure from Suffolk Downs because they know we're mounting opposition to the casino. Support for a casino is only at 52% in statewide pols. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Chip Tuttle sat attentively through the forum on June 30th. I'm sure he was surprised to see roughly 300 people in attendance (20-30 were union folks). As politics go, people don't turn out for topics they support. They turn out because they're opposed to or concerned about an issue. Additionally, for every person that comes out there are many others who can't make it but still falls into that category. Chip Tuttle now knows that a referendum on a casino at Suffolk Downs is likely to fail in East Boston thus the push for slots from the Speaker.

Article VII of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, drafted by John Adams, states that:

"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men."


We are organizing and planning the next steps but in the meantime people need to get on the phone and call their elected officials.


John Ribeiro
www.NeighborsOfSuffolkDowns.org

Mid-Life Progress said...

Jim,

Seems like we still have a couple of days left to write that letter. What do you think?

I have called all of my representatives from the Governor to the Speaker and Senate President on down.

I've written to Representative Basile, Senator Petruccelli and Councilor LaMattina - as well as Senate President Murray.

I also called Senator Hart's office to ask for his support in denying approval for casino's at this juncture without the independent cost/benefit analysis, as well as to express my dismay that although he feels that a casino is not right for South Boston, it's perfect for us.

I've received a couple of responses - the most impactful from City Councilor LaMattina.

I do think we need to be heard more loudly and at a higher, broader reaching level.

I will tell you that upon calling most of these offices, most noteably that of the Governor and Speaker and I was advised that they were just keeping track of the number of callers at this point as they have been receiving so many calls.