July 2010
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Month July 2010

Ecological disaster in Russia and China as fires burn out of control

Putin walks the devastation and makes promises – to rebuild entire villages before winter, $33,000.00 if a family member died.  These photos are gripping.

Grain producing areas larger than Kentucky going up in smoke. Already stressed food production going down. Grain prices maybe doubling or more in some places that can ill afford them. Russian TV and media are as full of this story as the USA's media is of the Gulf Oil Disaster. The BBC reports entire villages reduced to ashe, stunned survivors, and Premier Putin standing in the ashes promising the villages would be rebuilt "before winter." 18 of Russias regions declared as in a state of emergency

Maybe we could lend some of those unemployed firefighters to help those Russian firefighters. But seriously, the human costs and suffering are enormous and this disaster is affecting air quality even here, and may affect how this winter plays out. Moscow was 102 degrees today. Not many people or workplaces are engineered there to handle that sort of heat, and there has been two weeks of it. These pictures were taken by a group of patients and staff fleeing a hospital that exploded into flames

You know, there just might be weightier concerns for the human race than casinos – even if casinos killed the economy of the state of Nevada and are to prudent revenue as crack is to a prudent life style. As John Adams' character so famously sang in the movie/play 1776

"Is anybody there? Does anybody care"

2000 Russians have drowned, trying to beat this heat wave.

Looming Gambling Veto is Deval Patrick’s Moment of Truth as Governor

For those of us who have been working for years to oppose the expansion of predatory gambling in Massachusetts, the last few months and weeks have brought a strange combination of horror and satisfaction.   Horror, because we have seen so many otherwise reasonable — and progressive — legislators accept the misleading or downright false information that has been force-fed to them by lobbyists,  racetrack owners, and secretive billionaires.    Satisfaction, because the whole tawdry process — of closed meetings, illogical argumentation, self-delusion and unfettered greed — is finally being aired on television and the newspapers every day.  

The arguments about the damage slot machines will inflict on individuals, small businesses, and local communities are starting to sink in, so that even long-time Democrats who have tended to think of gambling as a question of personal choice are starting to feel a groaning sensation in their guts.   They are starting to remember that the Democratic Party officially voted at their June 2009 convention against slot machines in Massachusetts.   And no wonder: the numbers are horrific.    

Update on Expanding Gaming Legislation

The Patrick administration issued the following statement tonight in response to the passage by the House and Senate of a gaming bill that includes 3 destination resort casinos and 2 slot facilities for the tracks.  The statement is clear – if the Legislature insists on including 2 slot licenses in the bill, the Governor will issue a veto. Statement from the Deval Patrick Administration “The decision we make to expand gaming in Massachusetts will impact our state for decades.  We have to get it right.  Destination resort casinos will bring thousands of new jobs and increased economic development.  Slots parlors will not.  That is why I proposed licensing up to 3 destination resort casinos, and chose not to include slot parlors in my original bill. “I believe that the bill before the Legislature provides for more licenses than the market can bear, and will therefore not produce the job creation and economic benefits that destination resort casinos would provide.  In addition, the inclusion of two slots facilities for the tracks brings social costs without the benefits, and amounts to a “no-bid” contract for the track owners.  I have been clear from the beginning that is not something I can accept. […]

Governor Patrick will not sign the conference committee’s casino/slots bill

A good statement from the Gov (email):

The decision we make to expand gaming in Massachusetts will impact our state for decades.  We have to get it right.  Destination resort casinos will bring thousands of new jobs and increased economic development.  Slots parlors will not….

I believe that the bill before the Legislature provides for more licenses than the market can bear, and will therefore not produce the job creation and economic benefits that destination resort casinos would provide.  In addition, the inclusion of two slots facilities for the tracks brings social costs without the benefits, and amounts to a “no-bid” contract for the track owners.  I have been clear from the beginning that is not something I can accept….

If the Legislature insists on sending me their gaming bill in its current form without addressing these concerns, I will send it back for amendment.  The amendment will largely be the full text of the destination resort casino bill passed by the Senate last month, which is similar to and based on the legislation I filed in 2008.

This amendment keeps faith with my convictions about the best long-term interests of the Commonwealth and with our shared interest in job creation.  I hope the Legislature will see their way to enact the amendment.  However, if the House and Senate choose to send back a bill with two slots facilities and without a truly open and competitive licensing process, I will veto that measure.

In case you are not familiar with MA’s unusual “return for amendment” procedure: the Governor has (basically) three choices when a bill comes before him: sign it, veto it, or return it for amendment.  The third, which is what Patrick is talking about here, means that he doesn’t sign the bill but instead returns it to the legislature with a different proposal, saying, in effect, “I think this would be better.”  Unlike a veto, there is no override procedure whereby the legislature can make a law despite the Governor’s objection.  Rather, when a bill is returned for amendment, the legislature must enact another bill in the usual way; of course it is up to them whether to enact the same bill they enacted before, the one suggested by the Governor, or some other bill.  That newly-enacted bill then goes to the Governor, who then has only two choices: sign or veto.  (In other words, he can only “return for amendment” once.)

Under the present circumstances, though, unless the legislature decides to come back into formal session (which Terry Murray has already ruled out), returning for amendment has basically the same effect as a veto: it kills the bill.  There is no way a casino bill can get through in informal session, since there are a lot of “no” votes on this bill and a single legislator can prevent it from passing.

Three cheers for Governor Patrick for standing firm against the lousy bill the legislature sent him.  His entire statement is on the flip.

Legislative Errata

At 8:40pm State House News Service reported that the six conferees for the tainted special interest gambling bill filed legislative errata to correct several (8-9 pages) of the errors someone managed to catch. Does this remind you of amateur hour or what?  Three hours and twenty minutes before the gong show ends. This group of tools for the leadership, otherwise known as conference committee members have staff and lobbyists providing them information and assistance to get this bill right.  They used our tax dollars to get gambling industry consultants to justify their jonesing for slots…repeatedly.   We were promised that IF we go there, WE will do it right. And they can’t get right! Governor, run away from this perversion of our democracy!   Run as fast as you can!  

Jeff Perry wants to repeal part of the 14th Amendment

The first section of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – one of the most important statements of equality and human rights ever enacted anywhere on this planet – reads as follows. Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. But Jeff Perry, well, he doesn’t care for that kind of thing. I support those in Congress who are considering a constitutional amendment that would end the practice of granting automatic U.S. citizenship to immigrant children who are born in this country. The concept of birthright citizenship encourages illegal immigration and removes incentives for people to pursue becoming an American citizen through legal means. All due respect, Jeff, this is crazy talk.  I know you’re Mr. Tough On Illegals and all.  But the right way […]

Lawmakers see eye to eye on gambling bill, fail to notice iceberg

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Services provided in the DD community service system are not one size fits all

In my agency alone we provide services to a wide variety of individuals. We have people who left Fernald 25+ years ago and some several months ago. We have non-verbal, non-ambulatory people with profound DD. We serve multi-disabled people with mild DD. There are people with mild DD and mental health issues. The only thing they have in common is that they were declared eligible for services from DDS. Since they are so different, the services we provide are different. Some of our houses have nursing, some behavior consultants. Some just staff focused on helping people become as independent as possible

In the adult world, DD and non DD, most adults live in houses or apartments in neighborhoods. When people have acute mental health issues sometimes they spend time in the hospital. Same for acute medical issues. When people have rehab needs they stay in rehab. I can’t think of any reason why people with DD should be segregated just because of their DD.

I feel for residents of Fernald and places like that. Many have lived together for years. I also feel for the families. Many have not known anything else

The Casino Bill is Dead! Long Live the Casino Bill!

The blame game will start and the easy accusations of incompetence by our governor and legislature will be thrown around like Snookie throws F-Bombs. (Ya like that? A Jersey Shore reference. Man, I am so fresh)

The fact is this piece of legislation that will be voted on tomorrow should the be the subject of some piondexter’s doctorate dissertation at the JFK School. For it to get anywhere all the interests, which by the way have staked out their positions for the past 30 years(except Plainridge )had to be satisfied or there would not be enough votes to get it approved. The solons from the western part of the state wanted a casino, so did the southeastern/Bristol County boys. George Carney has a boatload of votes from members whose districts need/had jobs from/at the nearby track. Same too for East Boston/ Winthrop/ Revere/ and by the luck of the roulette wheel the Speaker of the House is from Winthrop.

So everyone is satisfied here. Charley Sarkis and Joe O’Donnell et al. will bid for a license as a joint venture and Carney and Plainridge will either join up or go head to head in bidding for that second license. Most likely join forces and they’ve probably already shaken hands. Without all these things happening a bill would not get the full support of the more finicky Senate.

Has Anyone Seen a Blue Jay Lately?

Was having a conversation with co-workers about birds today, and it was brought up that a few years ago, they were plentiful, however, none of us can remember the last time we saw one. Has anyone seen any?  Did they die off or something?