The Great Northeast Casino Glut and Other Disparate Attention Grabbing Items

Thursday, July 3, 2014

IS A CASINO RESCUE BILL IN OUR FUTURE?  A new poll by WBUR indicates that the citizens of Massachusetts favor casino gambling by a wide margin, 56 to 38 percent, although 40 percent said casinos “are a net negative, driving out existing businesses and bringing social ills like crime and gambling addiction.”  This addiction talk reminded me of a study released last fall by the Council on Compulsive Gambling, which said that problem gamblers are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, smoke cigarettes, shoplift, report sex addiction and drive too fast.  The Council study asserted: “With the legalization of casinos, large scale legal gambling in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is about to radically change.  The introduction of up to four casino-resorts in Massachusetts, a state which has the most lucrative lottery system in the country, will likely generate significant social and economic changes.”   On Friday, June 20, the Wall Street Journal ran an article -- “Casino Glut Pinches States” -- on how the oversupply of casinos is eating into state tax yields from gambling.  “Racetrack casinos used to contribute as much as $240 million a year to Delaware’s tax coffers,” the article said.  “But as the Northeast becomes saturated with gambling venues, the state’s casino revenue has tumbled, prompting a new industry request – for a tax break.”  Five years hence, can we say we’re surprised when a bill is introduced in the Massachusetts legislature to cut taxes on casinos to save all those casino jobs?

IT DEPENDS UPON WHAT YOU MEAN BY ‘PENDING.’ On June 30, the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services issued a press release noting the upcoming anniversary of a tragic rooming house fire in Beverly, and drawing attention to a bill that would give cities and towns the option of requiring sprinkler systems in new one- and two-family homes.  “This July 4 will be the 30th anniversary of the Elliott Chambers Rooming House fire in downtown Beverly that killed 15 residents and injured nine others,” the release said.  “This tragedy led to swift passage of legislation allowing communities to choose to require sprinklers in boarding and lodging houses…leading to a decline in rooming house fires and especially fatal rooming house fires.  It is one of the great fire prevention success stories.”  State Fire Marshal Stephen C. Coan was quoted as saying there’s legislation “pending right now” in Massachusetts that would give communities “the ability to choose to require sprinklers when new homes are built.”  He was apparently referring to House Bill 2121, An Act Relative to Enhanced Fire Protection in New One and Two Family Dwellings.  The legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security sent that bill to “study” on March 20, meaning it was for all intents and purposes killed at that point. Now bills can be recalled from study and acted on, but they almost never are.  Opposed by many in the construction and real estate fields, H2121 will not be resurrected from study before the legislature ends formal sessions on Thursday, July 31.   
THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT CONTAINER ARRIVED LATER, OF COURSE.  At the Democratic State Convention in Worcester, Juliette Kayyem gave a wonderfully passionate speech about why she wanted to be the party’s nominee for governor this fall.  According to the official text of the speech released by the Kayyem for Governor Committee, she said, in part: “This is no time for caution.  We can’t simply dream of a Commonwealth that might be.  We must plan for the Massachusetts that SHOULD be.  My inspiration and optimism about this journey comes from my grandmother, my Situ.  She moved here from Lebanon in 1938 and raised 9 children on her own.  She could barely read English.  But she achieved the goal of educating all her children. She carried the proof of her journey with her in a Ziploc bag: birth certificates, citizenship forms, her American Passport.”    According to the Dow Chemical Co. web site, the first Ziploc bags were test-marketed in 1968.  (Kayyem came in fourth in the convention balloting for the nomination, with 12.1 percent of the votes.  She needed at least 15 percent to qualify for the September primary.)

BARNEY AIN’T BUYING LIZ’S ‘NOT ME’ ROUTINE.  Elizabeth Warren is almost single-handedly maintaining the bottom lines of three different airlines.  Her speaking obligations beyond Massachusetts seem to be without end.  Everywhere she goes, Warren is asked if she intends to run for President in 2006, and everywhere she denies having any such intention.   Retired Congressman Barney Frank was asked recently by the State House News Service if he thought Warren, despite her disclaimers, is inclined to seek the presidency.  “Oh, I think yes,” Frank said.  “In the first place, why would you want to get into a profession and have no interest in rising to the top of it?  I don’t know anybody who has that.”  Frank is eager to see Hillary Clinton run.  “I’m a great admirer of Hillary Clinton,” he said.
MOULTON COMES UP WITH INVENTIVE LINE OF ATTACK.  Several months back, the Boston Herald asked former Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei about candidates he had recommended for jobs in the Probation Department.  Apparently, there’s at least one letter of recommendation from Tisei in the files.  Tisei, who’s running again for Congress in the Sixth Massachusetts District, reportedly told the Herald that “a letter from me I don’t think was very helpful,” and that he had “never talked to O’Brien.  I don’t think I ever met him the whole time I was in (the Senate).”  O’Brien is former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien, now on trial in federal court for allegedly rigging the hiring system.   Tisei’s exchange with the Herald inspired Seth Mouton, an Iraq war veteran running in the Sixth District as a Democrat, to issue a press release under the headline, “Richard Tisei to Boston Herald: I’m Ineffective.”  Moulton was quoted in the release as saying: “At issue isn’t that Richard Tisei sent a letter to a now disgraced ex-department head making a job recommendation.  The issue is that Richard Tisei has proven time and time again to be just another Republican who stands for the status quo.  It’s not something to brag about that, after 20 years in the state senate, a letter with his name on it ‘wasn’t very helpful.’ Nor is it impressive that, 20 years into his tenure, he hadn’t met with the head of a major department.  How many other department heads did Richard Tisei not meet.”  Think how worked up Moulton could get if it was revealed that Tisei got someone a job.





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