June 2009
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Day June 27, 2009

“It was a ploy all along”

While we wait for Senator Spilka’s (unintentional?) pro-gambling “informational hearing” (10:00 Gardner Auditorium Monday) where six paid casino representatives will be “balanced” against a neuroscientist and an economist (plus Martha Coakley who hasn’t made her views clear), we should take a look at the sad story about the debacle in Rhode Island in today’s New York Times

A quick recap: Rhode Island allowed Sol Kerzner (the man who created Sun City, the biggest casino in apartheid South Africa) to put slots at the 143 acre race track. The track is surrounded by one acre family homes.  The goal was to “save jobs” at the racetrack.  Sound familiar?  Here’s how it played out.

The company that owns Twin River filed for bankruptcy last week, and told the court that the casino’s survival depends upon it being permitted to be open 24 hours a day and to eliminate its money-losing greyhound track.

In other words, the racino does not want the racing part anymore. Just the casino, thanks.

It has been a ploy all along by these people to keep on getting another thing, another thing,” Mr. Perry said as he stood on the porch watching cars snake into the facility late Friday afternoon.  ”It’s a ploy to keep going to get what they’re looking for.”

There are two warnings for Massachusetts on the flip….

The Guv played it well. So what can he do for an encore?

A lot of ink was spilled covering the back-and-forth sniping between the Governor and legislators over the past few months.  In the end, despite the heated rhetoric, the Governor’s gambit in playing off the sales tax against the trifecta of reforms he sought worked out.   Real reforms will be law on transport, ethics and pensions and the Governor can take a lot of the credit for raising the temperature on all those issues to make it happen.  Like a chastened teenager headed to the headmaster’s office, legislators spewed all forms of bile and bluster about the Governor’s very public tactics.  But, the legislature ultimately chose to stay in school, even if it meant giving the principal what he wanted.  The Governor turned out to be very relevant indeed. Now of course some will say the legislature would have passed this stuff anyway.  After Sal’s indictment, they knew they had to show that Beacon Hill wasn’t endemically corrupted. But what worked for Patrick was a deft use of that thing that only the Governor can truly command – attention – together with a willingness to take some risk.   Using his bully pulpit to call the legislature out on passing […]

Death of a newspaper

My sister-in-law just posted a link about the demise of the Ann Arbor News, the 174-year-old daily in the city where I grew up.  The article gives a good summary of reasons that A2 would be the first in the nation to lose its only daily, but I think these points go to the heart of the matter:

[Critics] frequently fault [publisher] Laurel Champion’s predecessors for being remote and arrogant, losing touch with the community and publishing an often-flat product.

[Owner Newhouse/Advance] is also notorious for weak Web sites, editorially aimless and locked into a rigid and barely navigable design mandated by headquarters. (A ranking of newspaper Web sites last week placed The Star-Ledger’s dead last among 23 rated).

Comment from Mass Nurses Association

This is Andi Mullin, Legislative Director at the Mass Nurses Association. First, let me express our most heartfelt appreciation to those who reached out to support us over the past few days.  Our members are indeed fortunate to have so many wonderful friends and allies. Secondly, I am pleased to report that Sen. Richare Moore contacted us this morning and apologized for the unfortunate comment he made about the MNA on Thursday.   We accept his apology, and look forward to continuing to work with you all to bring safe patient care to all residents of Massachusetts. Thank you all again.

A great primer on swaptions, and other MassPike minutiae

In case you didn’t know, Turnpike board member Mary Connaughton writes a blog over at the Herald that is well worth checking in on.  One of her latest posts, coming on the heels of the swaptions news of the week, is an excellent primer on what swaptions are and how they can go bad.  In general, her posts are heavy on the numbers, which should delight the number-crunchers hereabouts.

Joe Biden at Fenway Park


Vice President on the right field roof deck at Fenway Park next Tuesday June 23 at 5:00 PM



Deval Patrick introducing Vice President Joe Biden


What price should workers pay to stop climate change?

What happens to workers displaced by the changes called for in the recently passed Waxman Markey Bill?  Will coal miners and oil workers be laid off?

This question is addressed by former AFL-CIO leader Joe Uehlein in an article originally published in thenation.com and also appearing in a blog about global labor issues.

Workers who work at socially questionable enterprises often find themselves with conflicting interests: they need their job in a (coal mine, state institution, tollbooth,  expensive teaching hospital, insurance company, etc.) even if they (or we) don’t like how their work is put to use.  

This makes them easy prey for special interests lobbying against progressive social change.  

Stonewall 40th Anniversary

The U.S. gay rights movement was born 40 years ago Sunday at the Stonewall Inn bar (now a National Historic Monument, for that reason) on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village in New York City. Excellent radio documentary “Remembering Stonewall” that streams for free in its entirety here. Interesting discussion on Democracy Now with David Carter, historian and author of Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution; transgender activist Mya Leilani Vazquez; and with historian Lisa Duggan on a, “Look at the Gay Rights Movement Beyond Marriage and the Military.”

Weekly Joke Revue

Borowitz Report: “U.S. to Respond to North Korea with ‘Strongest Possible Adjectives’ Obama: We are Prepared to Consult Thesaurus.” Via TPM and alert BMGer Petr (thanks, Petr!): From Daniel Kurtzman: “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is claiming victory in Iran. It’s controversial and he is very unpopular. And the danger is this – he could ruin the political career of his brother, Jeb.” –David Letterman “Oh. Marital infidelity. You are just another run-of-the-mill human being whose simple moralizing about the sanctity of marriage is only marred by the complexities of their own life. Well, just another politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis.” –Jon Stewart “Needless to say, this not great news for the Republican party. So many prominent Republicans have been caught in these situations lately: Mark Sanford, Larry Craig, David Vitter, John Ensign from Nevada. And do you want to know why this is happening? The gays. They’ve destroyed the institution of marriage and now this is what we get.” –Jimmy Kimmel

American Religious Fanatics Weren’t Always Anti-Science

The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities reminds us that on yesterday’s date in 1721: Boston doctor Zabdiel Boylston took a gamble with his young son’s life and inoculated him against smallpox. Puritan minister Cotton Mather had learned from one of his slaves that in Africa people did not fear the disease that so terrified Europeans. The Africans placed a small amount of smallpox pus into a scratch on children’s arms, thus making them immune to the disease. When an epidemic broke out in Boston in 1721, Mather wanted to try this method. He convinced Dr. Boylston, but other physicians and the public thought the idea barbaric, even sinful. However, when those Boylston inoculated survived, the tide of public opinion began to turn. Within a few years, the once-controversial practice would be routine. Today’s radical religious right, with its dogmatic opposition to science, is in many ways more extremist than the Puritans.