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

The DiMasi indictment

Three quick points on the indictment of former House speaker Sal DiMasi and three associates:

  • The Boston Globe deserves an enormous amount of credit for its dogged reporting on DiMasi, precisely the sort of public-interest journalism that’s endangered by the meltdown of the newspaper business. Given current trends, life will be easier for future DiMasis, and that’s a shame.
  • The prosecution’s case against DiMasi will never look stronger than it does today, and we should wait to see what develops. But the story that prosecutors tell is a sordid one. My personal favorite is the $25,000 DiMasi allegedly demanded and got following a bookkeeping error on the part of the co-defendants.
  • Never forget that DiMasi’s leadership saved the state, at least temporarily, from the evils of casino gambling. With the House now led by Rep. Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, who reportedly wants slot machines at dog tracks (although his support may be waning), and the Senate led by Sen. Therese “Ka-ching!” Murray, D-Plymouth, there are darker days ahead.

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  1. b.f.

    Are you sure this isn't just another "trial by press" situation, similar to the "trial by press" situation that Chuck Turner had to face a few months ago, wherein reporters rush to publicize the federal prosecutor's version of what happened in the Big Media before the accused elected official gets much of a fair chance to respond to the multitude of allegations in a courtroom situation?Since the pro-casino special interests are quite powerful, it could be that this particular politician was singled-out because, unlike former Coca-Cola board member Deval Patrick (who apparently used to have some business relationship with one of the subprime mortgage/predatory-lending firms before moving into the Governor's office), DiMasi, as you indicated, opposed the Casino building boondoggle plan a few years ago?

  2. Dan Kennedy

    b.f.: That's why I wrote, "The prosecution's case against DiMasi will never look stronger than it does today, and we should wait to see what develops."I'm not prepared to give Chuck Turner a good-conduct medal. It remains to be seen whether what he did was criminal.

  3. NewsHound

    If Mr. DiMasi did not have good points and principles which includes his opposition to gambling, he never would have made it so many years in the House nor risen to be Speaker.If he'd been fully honest he wouldn't be where he is now, nor where he is likely to be going next.It seems like something is broken in our society that we are so often violated by people like him, in particular when so many others have given passionately to other causes, including our dedicated military people, past and present.Sadly, too typical.Sadly, too, that our newspapers are endangered since they are so essential with their continued attempts to keep our government honest. Too bad newspapers weren't more essential to more advertisers and readers.

  4. Peter Porcupine

    DK – exactly why do you think dark days are ahead? The individual legislators also oppose casino gambling – read their statements from the debate. Or is this an acknowledgement that on the Bacon Hill Sheep Farm, the individual legislators will mindlessly follow the dictates of their chosen first Among Equals (regardless of the wishes of their electorate, the good of the Commonwealth, or their own negligible opinions) ?

  5. Middleboro Review

    Dan,Was it merely an oversight that you neglected Senator Marc Pacheco, who introduced the bill below?GOV 74 LOCAL AID Mr. Pacheco moved that the bill be amended by inserting after Section____, the following new Section:-“SECTION _____. M.G.L. chapter 12 is hereby amended by adding, after section 11L, the following section(s): SECTION 11M. The Attorney General is hereby authorized and directed to promulgate rules and regulations that allow for the installation of 6,000 gaming devices, also known as slot machines, at any racing facility licensed under Section 3 of Chapter 128A as of January 1, 2009, in Bristol, Suffolk and Norfolk counties, and 300 gaming devices at the International Terminals operated by the Massachusetts Port Authority at Logan International Airport. The regulations will be adopted by January 1, 2010, and will include the following:1. Each respective host community will have the option via local approval to allow the installation and operation of gaming devices. 2, The tax rate to be paid to the state by slot machine operators will be at least the average and no greater than the highest tax rate that similar operations pay to their respective states throughout the United States.3. The licensing fee to be paid to the state for a license to operate a slot machine facility will be $25 million.4. All revenues generated from this act shall be added to the Local Aid Fund and distributed to cities and towns pursuant to section 18C of Chapter 58. 5. A gaming authority shall be established to license, regulate, and oversee slot machine licensees at licensed gaming facilities in the commonwealth.”The point is made that even had the legislation passed, revenues wouldn't been seen for 12 months:Reform? Where is it?Perhaps more disturbing is that Senator Pacheco attempted to prevent the Regional Task Force from holding its meeting in Carver. For those unfamiliar with RTF, towns surrounding Middleboro formed RTF to examine the impact costs. Within RTF are towns on both sides of the debate. A consistent practice by Gambling Proponents is to stifle debate and discussion. Slot PlaybookWhen tactics are used that prevent an honest public discussion of an issue, doesn't that reveal that something is being hidden?Like Gambling's Dirty Little Secrets?

  6. Gladys Kravitz

    This may be a sign of the apocalypse, but I find Peter Porcupine's words comforting – and true.In 2008, right before the Statehouse casino hearings, I created a video called “The DiMasi Code” – arguing that the fight wasn't between Patrick's forces and DiMasi's – but between the facts and the truth.I was at those hearings for 13 hours – and for me the the biggest surprise of the day (perhaps because I'm from Pacheco/Flynn territory) were the legislators who deftly queried Harrah's casino execs and others. Even in the late and weary hours, their numbers and excuses didn't add up.I also just happened to be at that meeting of the Regional Task Force on Casino Impacts at which the organizer revealed how Sen. Pacheco had tried to bring it to a stop. Casino and slot proponents not only regularly attempt to mute discussion and debate, they enjoy cultivating a sense of inevitability and making the little guy feel like he or she has no power to make a difference in it.This is evidenced by the storefront in Palmer rented by Mohegan Sun.Which reminds of a speech made by Diane Jefferies, former president of the League of Women Voters, who came out to speak at a forum in Middleboro the shortly before the historic July 2007 outdoor Town Meeting (from Hell).She reminded me how American women won the right to vote in 1920 because of one letter – a letter written by the mother of an anti-suffrage legislator – and she had been swayed by the arguments of grassroots suffragists.I have heard many people who "know politics" or "understand the current political climate" say that everything important is done behind closed doors by politicians with agendas.I heard the same about a Middleboro casino for almost two years before the actual truth revealed it was never coming. And this reality was delivered by the hard work of just a few determined grassroots individuals from across the nation.Anyone can make a difference if – they want to. Don't ever forget it. Everything important is subject to individual conscience.

  7. Peter

    Why should we hold him in regard for 'saving the state' from gambling. Do we know for sure that his position on this issue wasn't bought by a special interest? Unlikely since the special interests with money would be the gambling interests, but isn't it irrelevant at this point. If these allegations are true (and so far it's easy to follow the money), he has no credibility whatsoever. I can't see you providing the same dispensation for a Republican/Conservative. ("…as bad as he was, remember that it was Dick Cheney that….")

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Peter: Cheney was quite good on gay rights, and I have no problem saying that.

  9. Marc Larocque

    Turner was set up by an FBI informant. He was the one who said he heard rumors that Chuck took bribes. Although it turns out that informant cannot name one person he knows or offer any proof that Turner ever accepted a bribe. In fact, the informant has recanted his suspicions of Chuck.Give sovereignty back to the Native Americans! I'm 1/64 Wampanoag, you know?

  10. Aaron Read

    Never forget that DiMasi's leadership saved the state, at least temporarily, from the evils of casino gambling.The longer this goes on, the more we see how foully corrupt DiMasi was, the more I suspect that he was just putting on a show to drive up the bidding price. If casino proponents made a good enough offer, DiMasi would've flipped like a flapjack.

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