Another day, another round-up of news suggesting that Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal to build three gambling casinos in Massachusetts, and a bid by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to construct the world’s largest casino in Middleborough, are as happening as Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign. This morning we consider four developments.
1. In the Herald, Dave Wedge reports that revenue from three casinos in Detroit is dropping like a rock, with tax money for the state of Michigan falling by $10 million over the past year. Wedge quotes a Detroit autoworker named Mark Hauswirth thusly: “They ruin the city. People blow all their money. It don’t help nobody but the people who own them.” Hauswirth knows whereof he speaks: Wedge interviewed him at, yes, a casino.
Are analogies fair? I don’t know. Building three casinos in a depressed city like Detroit is hardly the same as spreading them out in a relatively prosperous state like Massachusetts. But local casino critics like state Rep. Dan Bosley have been warning us that casinos don’t generate anywhere near as much money as proponents like to think. The Detroit experience definitely falls in line with that.
2. House Speaker Sal DiMasi disses Patrick big-time in today’s Globe, telling reporter Matt Viser that he’s endorsing Hillary Clinton for president because Barack Obama is too inexperienced — just like Patrick.
“I think Massachusetts will look at it to find out what they can see in Obama with respect to what they did with their vote for Governor Patrick,” DiMasi is quoted as saying. “To be perfectly honest, I really don’t want my president to be in there in a learning process for the first six months to a year. It’s too important.”
I’ve heard the Obama-Patrick comparison many times, and I find it borderline offensive. What do they have in common other than a political consultant (David Axelrod) and, oh yes, the fact that they are both African-American? But Media Nation is in tea leaf-reading mode today. And the leaves tell me that DiMasi has decided to take the gloves off after a period of relative calm. Since DiMasi has already made it clear that he opposes Patrick’s casino plan, his outspokenness suggests that he won’t mind killing it once and for all.
3. The Globe’s Frank Phillips informs us that Patrick “has set up a novel political fund-raising system that allows him to skirt the state’s campaign finance law by channeling big contributions through the state Democratic Party, which, in turn, has paid off hundreds of thousands of dollars of the governor’s political expenses.”
If this were a big deal, I’d expect that Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause of Massachusetts, would be upset. Instead, Phillips writes that Wilmot “found nothing about Patrick’s strategy that prompted alarm.” Still, it places Patrick on the defense once again, hampering his ability to move his agenda forward. When it comes to casinos, that’s a good thing.
4. Finally, it turns out that the proposed site of the Middleborough casino may be the home of a rare species of turtle called the northern red-bellied cooter. Gladys Kravitz explains why it matters — although Alicia Elwell, writing in the Brockton Enterprise, reports that maybe the turtle doesn’t live there after all.
Much wrangling ahead, you can be sure.