By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Misplaced criticism of DiMasi

A Globe editorial today is really unfair in the way it portrays House Speaker Sal DiMasi’s “lobbying tactics” in defeating Gov. Deval Patrick’s casino proposal. The editorial says of DiMasi:

He does not support the introduction of slot machines at the racetracks — a wise decision, because the model has more negatives and doesn’t generate the kind of jobs and revenues associated with destination casinos. Yet while lobbying House members to kill the casino bill, he promised at least three legislators that he would not block their attempts to bring a racetrack slots bill to the House floor. And this from the leader who predicted Tuesday that casinos would “cause human damage on a grand scale.”

How obtuse can you be? DiMasi allowed the casino bill to come to the floor, where it died a natural death, assisted by DiMasi and state Rep. Dan Bosley, D-North Adams, a recognized expert on the false promises and social ills of casino gambling.

Now certain legislators want a “racino” bill to come to the floor so they can go on record as voting for it, thus pleasing racetrack operators in their districts. That’s fine. As the editorial points out, DiMasi opposes slot machines at casinos, and we can be reasonably sure that a bill allowing them won’t pass.

What’s laughable about the editorial is the inconsistency. DiMasi gets criticized for using his influence to defeat a casino bill that he had allowed to come to the floor. And then he’s criticized for supposed hypocrisy over racinos because — you guessed it — he’s going to allow a bill to come to the floor.

Sounds to me like DiMasi is being perfectly consistent. House members get to vote on controversial legislation. And DiMasi, as speaker, gets to let his members know where he stands. It’s called democracy.

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  1. ben

    While I am steadfastly opposed to state sponsored monopolies in all forms (casinos, lottery, beer distributors, etc.) and, thus, end up on the same side as Dan Bosley on casinos, he is not a “recognized expert” on anything. He’d lose a debate to Billy Madison if his position piece against casinos is an example of his best work.

  2. Anonymous

    There’s more where that came from. In the days ahead, we’re going to hear all manner of whining accusations about how unfair the process was and the evils of politics on Beacon Hill, how DiMasi acted out of personal animus toward the governor while offering no ideas of his own for revenue growth, and how desperately the state needs all those bartender and cocktail waitress and blackjack dealer jobs.Casino opponents should push back. It’s important to win the post mortem spin cycle, because when casinos are proposed again (and they will be), we want the collective memory to be that Deval Patrick tried to feed us phony numbers and studies concocted by casino industry lobbyists, that it was Patrick who looked for a simplistic, regressive answer to the state’s fiscal challenges while DiMasi was thinking big – expanded opportunities for higher education, biotech, green technologies, sustainable growth.

  3. Anonymous

    What was up with Deval Patrick not even sticking around for the vote, heading off to New York on “personal business” instead? How often do governors leave the state midweek on “personal business”? Is he around today?

  4. Lynne

    To be honest, DiMasi HAS offered no real ideas of his own for revenue growth, and blocks all other decent attempts to do so by others. He seems to literally take the false numbers of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce to heart the way Patrick took the Big Casino numbers to heart. DiMasi does have the responsibility to tell us, if not this, then what? We can’t cut anything else (well, at least, nothing so significant it would bail us out, though I’d like to stop paying police to do construction details…). And we are not Taxachusetts anymore, folks. We rank somewhere in the middle (25 or 26th?) in total tax burdens, and something like 45th or 49th (depending on which report you read) in corporate tax burdens. Seems there are some people in this state that do not want to pay their fair share.That said, I think this casino debate was a pretty fair process…it didn’t die in committee like half of bills do. (Though, if it had had a chance of passing, I’m sure some other tactic would have been employed, because DiMasi’s capable of it.) I listened to some of the debate via the state house web stream.I’m glad it died a pretty firm death.

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