Blogster's Miscellany: Slow Probe, Elevated Risks, River Like a Sewer, and More

Thursday, December 27, 2018

TURTLES ARE THEY. They are either being very careful and painstaking or there’s a hell of a lot to investigate.  Come January, it will be one year since the start of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against former casino magnate Steve Wynn and how his former company, Wynn Resorts, handled those allegations prior to Wynn being granted the Eastern Massachusetts casino license.  Wynn Resorts, which has renamed its casino-under-construction in Everett “Encore Boston Harbor,” could potentially lose its Massachusetts license because of the investigation, but I doubt it will -- and I don’t believe it should, given the tens of millions it has spent on the environmental clean-up and restoration of the casino site on the banks of the Mystic River, where a chemical manufactory once stood.   Without Wynn Resorts the place would have remained a nasty, multi-acre toxic heap in perpetuity.

HOPING HYPOTHETICALS STAY THAT WAY. Recent developments in the stock market have rendered even more unsettling a report this past September from S&P Global Ratings, which placed Massachusetts at “elevated risk” of financial distress during a hypothetical recession.  Under S&P’s “moderate” recession scenario, Massachusetts could expect to experience a 10 percent revenue shortfall and the state’s Stabilization (a.k.a. Rainy Day) Fund could make up for only 62 percent of it.   S&P said only 20 states are well-positioned to weather the next recession, and Massachusetts isn’t one of them.  
GOVERNMENT SHOULDER-SHRUGGING.  If you want to lose your holiday glow really fast, read the Eagle Tribune story of how a couple of commercial buildings apparently dumped thousands of gallons of raw sewage into the Merrimack River for as long as a decade, [“Lawrence buildings disconnected from sewers for years dumped waste into Merrimack River,” 12-2-18].  If you neglect to repair a failure of your car’s emissions control system, you can have your registration suspended, but some people can avoid sanction while allegedly grossly polluting a drinking water source for years.  Years.  Here’s the link:

GOLDEN AGE OF REALTORS. The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman, reported today that the median sale price for a single-family home in Massachusetts reached an all-time high last month, for a November, of $385,000, up from $368,000 a year earlier.  I like owning a home I could never afford to purchase today until I consider all the young couples out there with $3,000-a-month mortgages, brutally long commutes, and 50-hour-a-week-plus work weeks.

WHO’S LOSING WHAT? Steve Aylward of Watertown, one of 70-plus members of the Republican State Committee, sent a lengthy email to his colleagues yesterday asking them to face the “bitter truth” that the Massachusetts Republican Party “is all but irrelevant.”  It’s a long message.  Towards the end, Aylward, a Boston College grad who describes himself as a manager in the banking and information systems industries, gets to what really seems to be eating at him. “I could go on about our failings, why we lose and how our leadership maintains control in spite of those habitual losses,” he writes. “But while we fiddle, the country burns.  Because if you watch the News with any regularity, you know that we are losing our country.  There will be little left of the country we knew when our children and grand-children come of age.”
SOME PERSONS CAN DO AN AWFUL LOT IN 17 YEARS.  In January, 2002, Katherine Clark became a member of the Melrose School Committee, the first elective office she ever held.  In January, 2019, shortly after she takes the oath of office for the third time as the representative for the 5th Massachusetts District, Clark, 55, will assume the position of Democratic caucus vice chair, the sixth highest ranking position in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Clark was elected vice chair by her Democrat peers.

LOVES TRUMP, AND DeLEO!  Geoff Diehl, Republican rep from Whitman who went all-in for Donald Trump in 2016 and ever since, gave his farewell speech on the floor of the Massachusetts House on Tuesday, Dec. 4, recalling how he happened to get a seat next to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, at an event DeLeo hosted in 2010 for Republican members of the body.  It was “one of the greatest evenings of my life,” said Diehl, who gave up his House seat to challenge U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and is reported to be angling/interviewing for a federal job appointment.  He added, “I will never forget how welcome Bob made me feel and how gracious he has been to members on both sides of the aisle during my time in this chamber.”  As far as his personality and demeanor go, Diehl is the antithesis of Trump.  Never have I understood how he fell for The Donald.
DO I HEAR AN AMEN? The Rev. Rick Walsh, Catholic chaplain of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, is known for his thoughtful, history-based prayers with which he opens the sessions of the lower branch.  Take what he said on Thursday, Oct. 4, for example: “God of justice and righteousness, we pray for the efforts of legislators and staff in crafting laws for Massachusetts as we remember that it was on this day in 1636 when leaders of the Plymouth Colony wrote the first code of laws in America.  They were known as the General Fundamentals.  The legal code included a simple bill of rights that guaranteed trial by jury.  The General Court of Plymouth Colony (the first legislature) levied taxes, decreed the distribution of land, and set out punishments for certain crimes.  Several crimes carried the death penalty, including witchcraft and adultery.  The use of profanity was to be punished by no more than three hours in the stock, and if one travelled, worked or participated in sports on the sabbath, the person would be fined 40 shillings or (given) a whipping.  God of truth, we are grateful for the wisdom of today’s General Court and the greater leniency and morality exhibited in its legislation.  May God continue to bless our Commonwealth.”

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