The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.
If there’s one thing to be learned from the sad demise of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, it’s the need for transparency, doing the people’s business in the people view. If there’s one place it should be applied immediately, it’s in the dealings around casinos for Massachusetts that surely are going on behind closed doors.
There has been a lot of debate about the impact of casinos on our economy, the jobs they would generate, the revenues that would redound to the treasury. We’ve also heard dire warnings about how our quality of life would be affected, how business would be drawn away from proprietors of small enterprises, like restaurants and other entertainment venues, how casino gambling and accompanying slot machines (possibly at racetracks, called racinos) can mean crime, bankruptcy, domestic violence and suicide (not unlike heroin addiction).
Let’s for the moment willingly suspend our disbelief and accept that all the wonderful things touted by proponents will actually materialize, there’s still a lesson from the fall of DiMasi. Last year, disagreements over casinos between House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Governor Deval Patrick caused the legislative wheels to grind to a halt. This year, presumably to avoid that kind of debacle, the two branches are negotiating their differences behind closed doors.
But who’s in with them? Lobbyists for the casino industry? For Indian gaming? For the racetracks? For the labor unions? Who’s in there representing the public interest? Who’s making sure that, as in the DiMasi case, the public is not deprived of “honest services” of our elected officials?
Whether we support or oppose casino gambling, we deserve answers to those questions in advance and a transparent process for making the plan.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.