Why I’m for Repealing the Casino Law

Maura Healey is a Democratic candidate for Attorney General. For comparison's sake, we asked Warren Tolman his position on casinos. His bottom line: "I would vote against repeal." - promoted by david

The significant law enforcement, consumer protection, and public safety impacts of expanded casino gaming in Massachusetts make this a central issue for our next Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer of our commonwealth.

Therefore, I believe you have a right to know exactly where I, and all the candidates for Attorney General, stand on casinos.

I’m opposed to expanded casino gaming and I support the current effort to repeal of the gaming law. I do not believe a modern economy that is focused on creating opportunities for every person can be built on gambling.

The few communities that have voted in favor of casinos are going through tough economic times and many see casinos as a much-needed boost. But evidence from across the country tells a different story. Casinos don’t lay a foundation for diverse economies, they take over. Local restaurants and entertainment venues lose patrons, other industries steer clear, personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures jump, and the costs for police and related services soar

I’ve asked people what local businesses they visited during trips to Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods and the answer I get back for the most part is, “the gas station.”

Some casino supporters act as if we’ve learned nothing in the years since passage of the gaming bill but the last three years have, in fact, taught us a lot. We’ve seen several cities and towns resoundingly vote down casinos after the industry operators had a chance to make their best pitch.

All of which begs the question: Are casinos really a good idea if they’re only good enough for certain cities? I live in Charlestown and I’m opposed to a casino there. The voters of East Boston agreed and voted No on casinos in Boston. Plenty of state leaders have said the same in their hometowns. I know we can do better for everyone.

There are stronger ways to grow our economy. Infrastructure redevelopment creates construction jobs and yields long-term benefits for residents and businesses. Investments in education and job training allow our state to compete for higher-paying and higher-skilled jobs over the long term. A more progressive tax structure, raising the minimum wage, fighting for pay equity, and unionizing our workforce will all do more to support working and middle class families than casino gambling will do.

Recent studies show that casinos may even widen the income gap because gambling proceeds are regressive taxes. They disproportionately affect poorer people who have little discretionary money to lose in the first place. No one wants the government to serve as big brother and tell people how to spend their money but casinos thrive on addictive behavior – just like tobacco companies – and are designed so that people lose. Given all of the evidence about the ills of gambling, I don’t believe in waiting for problems to develop. We need proactive leadership at all levels.

If casinos are built, then the decision about who will be our next Attorney General becomes even more important. It will be the duty of the Attorney General to help protect the public from the accompanying risks, including loan sharking, predatory debt collection, drug and gambling addiction and organized crime. I know some of these challenges well from my years running the Public Protection Bureau in the Attorney General’s Office. As your next AG, I will ensure that our newly-formed Gaming Division recruits the state’s best lawyers to combat these challenges. And I believe that gaming industry should pay for the division.

I will also create a team of investigators stationed full time at the casinos to watch out for abuses just like the teams that Senator Elizabeth Warren successfully fought to put into the banks to watch out for abusive and deceptive practices.

Recently, the Attorney General declared that the current repeal petition was not valid to go to before the voters. The opinion stated that it is improper to shut down the licensing process now that several casino operators have applied. But voters made a decision to shut down the greyhound tracks with a ballot question and that was an industry that had been running for years. I am not concerned about the well-being of casino operators, I am concerned about the well-being of the residents of Massachusetts.

The final decision is up to the courts, but I believe on a matter of this magnitude, the voters should have a chance to be heard.

I also know that the worst reason to support casinos that haven’t been built is because we think we’re already stuck with them. If we have to refund the application fees, so be it.

I support repealing the gaming law and moving Massachusetts forward with smart, sustainable economic policies that help everyone.


79 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Smart play

    Shows independence from Coakley and it’s an easy issue where she can run to the left of Tolman symbolically, even if, substantially, all she is doing is telling us how she will vote as a private citizen.

    A more interesting question regarding Tolman is what his views are on the legality of the referendum.

  2. Also

    Do we have a link to the full Tolman conversation? On the thread soliciting questions for Healy there was a link to a similar thread for Tolman but I haven’t found the link to the full conversation. It would be nice to read his quote in it’s full context.

    • We haven't yet

      had a chance to reduce the conversation to writing. I can tell you that when we asked Tolman about casinos, his response was basically that he had voted against Keno in the legislature, but then became convinced that “it’s already here,” and he applied the same logic to casinos. He said that MA residents are sending substantial gambling revenues to CT and RI that could be kept in-state, and that Springfield in particular could use a large infusion of cash. So, although he said that casinos are not “the best” economic development plan, on balance, he nonetheless opposes repealing the law.

  3. someone who believes something!

    Finally, someone has come along and doesn’t mince words. Healey not only broke with her old boss with this but showed she’s a real person not a politico.
    I especially like what she will do if there are casinos. We will need to fight crime and organized crime like never before. Way to go Maura Healey.

  4. Maura Healey has my vote!

    She has consistently shown Elizabeth Warren style common sense, the courage to stick to her convictions and the smarts to be effective on a variety of issues.
    I have never understood how any public servant could favor inviting in to Massachusetts a casino whose sole purpose is to take money from their constituents. They specifically target the addicted, desperate and those easy to take advantage of, the groups that government is supposed to protect, not exploit.

  5. So Maura, who are you endorsing in the race for Governor?

    I’m running for Attorney General to advance the office’s tradition under Martha Coakley of steady leadership on important legal and regulatory and economic issues facing our state and its nation-leading advocacy for equality, fairness and justice.

    Martha Coakley has been one of the best AGs in our state and nation and I’ve been lucky to have been a part of her leadership team on some of our biggest challenges and most important fights on behalf of the taxpayers. In my six years with the office, the Attorney General and I have worked hand-in-hand on monumental victories for equal rights, fair lending and consumer protection.

    Maura Healey, BMGOct 21, ’13
    So Maura, who are you endorsing in the race for Governor?

    • She doesn't have to answer that.

      If I were advising her I would strongly urge no endorsement. She will have to work with whomever is elected, though we can safely presume after the primary she will endorse the person at the top of her ticket.

      • Coakley seems to have endorsed Healey

        Coakley said in a statement she was thrilled that Healey is running. “Maura Healey has been at the forefront of our office’s efforts to protect consumers and homeowners, level the playing field for workers and businesses, and ensure equality for all,” she said.

        - Boston Globe, 10/21/13

        I’ve been a fan of Healey since her days at Winnacunnet. I bet she does the right thing.

  6. Stay on topic please

    I am new here, but it gets nasty very quickly. No one supports the decisions their employer has made 100% of the time, so methuenprogressive, I don’t see your point.

    To the point. she is quite right about the problems with gambling including the fact that it is a public health menace. Yes, folks, you talk about opiates, but let’s get real… this is something the legislature CHOSE to bring into our communities. And the ramifications are horrible.

  7. sorry, I missed you second post.

    Methuenprogressive. Sorry for jumping the gun. I wondered why you were putting her on the spot about supporting Martha. I bet she says out of it. Doesn’t do any good to endorse up the ticket right?

  8. Damn it!

    I was happy to have locked down 2 out of 4 of the candidates I was voting for at the convention, now I am back to undecided in the AG’s race.

    Was for Healey, now I’ll need to give Tolman another look.

    • Is this humor?


    • I was for Warren Tolman

      and still may be, but now I’ll need to give Healey a second look.

      • Why?

        Substantially there is little difference between them on this issue other than personal support at the polls. Do we think Tolman will be any less vigilant in litigating against the assorted criminalistics and social costs that come with casinos? Do we have any evidence he would’ve opposed the referendum and stalled it like Coakley?

        It makes a huge difference as a litmus test for candidates for Governor and the general court, in my book, and I applaud Healy for her independence from Coakley on this issue, as well as her direct advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ rights in this office. She is still an open book on civil liberties, clean elections , gun safety, and the environment in a way Tolman is not. He also has a record of votes on a variety of issues demonstrating his firm progressive credentials. While I applaud Healy for her stance and am befuddled by Tolman’s position-I don’t see this really telling us anything substantial. For Governor it’s a huge issue , for AG it’s a low hanging fruit.

        • Why doesn't Tolman speak for himself?

          In all the articles, he can’t be reached for comment. Nice of you to speak for him, but I don’t know you and I would like to hear from him. Where’s he been? Also I disagree with your final point. It is a HUGE issue for the AG. They will have to fight organized crime coming, loan sharking, all sorts of addiction issues, prostitution…
          You seem like a good friend to Tolman, so just ask him, why, if they should not be in Watertown, why they should be built at all? Maybe his union buddies are more important the the 77% of people in the state who oppose casinos here.

          • A few points

            I endorsed Tolman early, before Healy came in, because I like his record. We have some mutual friends, though I do not know him personally. I also know good people backing Healy as well. I have written several posts and certainly contributed to threads being resoundingly against the casinos. I strongly oppose them, and I oppose Tolman on this issue if he does support them. I just don’t see this issue being the game changer people are making it out to be for AG.

            They will have to fight organized crime coming, loan sharking, all sorts of addiction issues, prostitution…

            I don’t see how Tolman, even if he supports casinos, will somehow skirt his responsibilities as AG regarding this. He has also opposed them in the past and recognizes the social costs, I suspect this move, though I agree I’d like to hear more from him, his from a pragmatic ‘they are inevitable lets take the best deal we can get’ standpoint. A standpoint I oppose, but one certainly different than the kind being peddled by Baker, Wynn, Weld, and Adelson as some down thread have accused him.

            I think the AG has very little power to stop the casinos, though it’s worth noting that Healy is opposing the current AG who fought the referendum. We do not know Tolman’s view on the referendum, but if he also supports the referendum, his lack of support for the position vs. Healy’s support for it is really a symbolic difference.

            On other issues like clean elections, ending political prosecutions, reigning in run amuck anti-terror policies, stopping warrentless wiretaps, protecting civil liberties, taking on gun manufacturers, fighting for the environment and fighting for organized labor whom you needlessly bashed I might add, we don’t know where Healy stands.

            But there is no reason this needs to be a negative campaign, I just don’t honestly see how this symbolic position has the substance people are ascribing to it.

          • took me 3 seconds

            On casino gambling, Tolman said he has “never been a big proponent of gaming.” But he supports the existing law expanding casino gambling and thinks the Attorney General must work closely with the state gaming commission to prevent the problems other states have had and “make sure our laws and our regulations and our vigilance is the toughest in the nation.”

            • Bennett , so you've been here a few hours ...

              and exclusively post on Healey. Hmmmmm.

              I don’t think she needs you, she did a pretty darn good job with this post.

            • Exactly

              the Attorney General must work closely with the state gaming commission to prevent the problems other states have had and “make sure our laws and our regulations and our vigilance is the toughest in the nation.”

              So it seems like either way, with Tolman or with Healy as AG if the referendum passes we are covered. Progressives have a responsibility to vote against casinos in that referendum, but it is totally unconnected to this race.

              • I'll spell it out

                Still undecided in this race.

                The AG race is not, as jconway says, going to be a referendum on casinos. (With the blessing we will have a real referendum on casinos.)

                However, it matters how our constitutional officers, and especially the AG, view issues like predatory gambling and economic impact. It is also significant that Healey expressly (and correctly) sees economic impact and consumer protection as part of the job. That is something I have always felt the incumbent in that office came to only reluctantly.

                It is also a significant declaration of independence for Healey to question the incumbent AG’s finding that the ballot question to repeal the casino law would be unconstitutional. Especially given the strong narrative here that Healey = Coakley.

                Beyond symbolism, I want the next AG to be someone who does not endorse the frankly bizarre theory that anything that affects a bunch of investors anywhere cannot be allowed on the ballot. This notion, which sounds like a Roberts Court decision, would gut the entire referendum process.

                Given all of the above, it is not wonder that people here feel that Healey is entitled to a closer look. Which many do, so by definition this is not “totally unconnected” to this race.

                • Fair post

                  ‘Totally unconnected’ wasn’t the right way to parse it, but on the list of things the next AG can do stopping casinos won’t be one of then. The voters will have already decided that issue and he or she will be bound to enforce that law.

                  Tolman has posted comprehensive policy plans on BMG regarding his approach to protecting consumers, the environment, clean elections, and taking on gun manufacturers. This is the first substantive policy position we’ve heard from Healy and it happens to be the only one where she is more progressive than Tolman but people have said they are switching their votes or going into her column over this one stance. We haven’t even heard Tolman’s full take on this issue, his entire BMG interview, or where Healy stands on the issues he has taken firm progressive positions on.

                  I just feel people are writing him off over an issue that frankly the next AG can’t do all that much about.

                  I am not trying to disrespect Healy here. She has taken the right stance and has boldly distanced herself from Coakley’s asinine approach to the referendum and her tacit endorsement of casinos. I think it was a move of independence and one that has clearly rewarded her electorally already-I just don’t see why people are making up their minds on the one issue we’ve heard from her on rather than waiting for both interviews to be posted and evaluating the full records of both candidates. A single issue I might add where the AGs office has little impact (in terms of whether they move forward or not).

                  • It's HealEy

                    I feel as though consistently misspelling her name is, in fact, disrespectful. JMO.

                  • Not writing Tolman off

                    And I’m not sure anyone else is, either. As you say, this is a choice to be made on more than one issue (and I for one would like to see a lot more on both candidates’ thinking about civil liberties issues, the expanding security state, asset forfeiture, and how they think about prosecutorial discretion). But the casino question, and the issues raised by the referendum, do speak to the candidates’ approach to the law in general, as well as to their priorities.

                    The argument that repeal would be an impermissible taking of property isn’t totally and obviously unreasonable, I don’t think. After all, if somebody sold you a lottery ticket with a payout of $100,000,000, for the winner, and then withdrew the prize before the drawing was held, it would be pretty clear you had been defrauded, and the argument that you always knew that the chances of winning were approximately one in 200 billion wouldn’t change that. But on the other hand, not only is it the case that no applicant for a casino license was ever guaranteed that it would secure a license, but there was always an element of political risk that a reasonable (and highly sophisticated) applicant must have been aware of and have taken into account in deciding whether to make that high-risk, high-potential-return investment in the application process. Whether a candidate sees casino operators as sophisticated players that can and should be expected to bear the losses when they make an informed investment decision that doesn’t work out, or more like consumers that should be protected from certain kinds of risk, tells us something about that candidate’s general approach to wide swaths of public policy.

                    On that level, as well as the matter of casinos and repeal, Healey’s statement is potentially significant. I suspect that’s one of the reasons it’s having an impact: it’s always useful to know how people think, and not simply what end positions they’ve taken. Applauding Healey here doesn’t mean writing Tolman off, but it’s not unreasonable for her position to have had an impact.

                    • I don't even recall this angle of the debate

                      Whether a candidate sees casino operators as sophisticated players that can and should be expected to bear the losses when they make an informed investment decision that doesn’t work out, or more like consumers that should be protected from certain kinds of risk, tells us something about that candidate’s general approach to wide swaths of public policy.

                      But I’d agree that’s a far more substantive policy question the AG may have to answer.

                    • That's completely fair.

                      TBH, I’m not sure whether anyone has made the point in explicit terms, or at least not in any reasonably large public forum. (I keep meaning to try to get hold of and read the briefs to the SJC, and I keep not quite getting to it, but it will surprise me if the argument isn’t laid out there.)

                      But it seems to me to be implicit in and central to the entire argument in favor of the repeal referendum’s validity, as well as the validity of any repeal legislation. The only argument that repeal would constitute a “taking” has to be based on the idea that the gaming license applicants have a contractual or property interest in these licenses being issued, such that the Commonwealth cannot repeal the authorizing legislation without compensating the applicants. And that argument only works, it seems to me, if you agree that our constitutional protections against certain kinds of takings should be construed to guarantee against this sort of political risk, even in cases where the risk is very clear. And as I said, that strikes me as far from a given: while it may be reasonable to protect investors where they can’t gather or assess the information necessary to protect themselves from being induced to take risks they would take if they understood them properly, it is much less reasonable to ask the public to insure wealthy, sophisticated, and powerful interests against risks they take when they know or should in the exercise of reasonable caution have known that risk existed. (And of course, it would be particularly ironic to argue that the public should insure gambling interests, of all sophisticated businesses, against the consequences of taking a business risk and losing.)

                      So a lawyer can’t reasonably favor repeal without having taken a position on that core question, even if they haven’t entirely articulated it to the public. (Unless, I suppose, they’ve concluded that it’s worth repealing the legislation even if it means paying off the applicants; but that’s something that can and should be clarified as the campaigns move forward. It seems unlikely here, but you never know.) Conversely, though, it tells us much less if a lawyer says they’d vote against repeal. It could mean that they don’t think the Commonwealth can repeal the law without incurring big liabilities, but it could also mean simply that they’d vote against repeal for unrelated reasons of policy. (It would make it hard to recruit other businesses; they don’t see any other path for Springfield; they don’t think we can afford to give up the licensing fees; whatever.)

                      So I take Healey’s statement as giving us broader general information about her thinking, but I’m not sure that Tolman’s position on the issue tells us anything global about his approach.

                      Although I would very much like to know what his reasoning is on the issue. I’m not a single-issue voter, but the casino question has been and remains a fairly major issue in my area.

                    • I don't buy the "taking" argument

                      I’m no lawyer, so I’m sure I’m not thinking about this in the appropriately structured way, but…

                      * Was it a taking when we outlawed dog tracks in MA?
                      * Was it a taking when individual MA cities and towns increased the age to buy cigarettes to 19 or 21?
                      * Is it a taking when a parcel gets downzoned?
                      * Is it a taking when the municipality eliminates the public parking in front of my home or business?

                      It seems to me that we change laws all the time, and the changes have very real financial impacts on specific individuals or businesses.

                    • Lottery ticket

                      I’d be entitled to the price of my ticket back.

                      At most.

                    • Lottery Tickets are a Tax on stupid people who do not know math (probability and statistics).

                      Or people who have never played Dungeons and Dragons (with the 20 sided die).

                    • Sure, but still.

                      The problem here would be that if the SJC should decide (as I hope it will not) that the gaming applicants did have a property right of some kind in the licenses being awarded, we would not like for the Commonwealth to be on the hook for the prices of their tickets. Which could include all the costs they would argue they had incurred in reliance on the promise that there would be licenses awarded to someone. And of course, the public would be on the hook for MGC’s exorbitant expenses — actually, if repeal goes forward we’re likely to be eating those in any case.

                      (Which is one of the things that was wrong with the legislation, but you don’t want to listen to me rant about that, any more than I want to do it.)

                    • Are future restrictions on casinos a taking?

                      Because if not, why couldn’t MA just squeeze the operations of the casinos? No weekends. No evenings. No alcohol. No food can be served. Minimum wage for casino employees is $15/hr. Slots must pay out 99%. Etc, etc.

                • That's why I'm skeptical

                  It is also a significant declaration of independence for Healey to question the incumbent AG’s finding that the ballot question to repeal the casino law would be unconstitutional. Especially given the strong narrative here that Healey = Coakley.

                  It seems, as was said above, to be low-hanging fruit. A quick way to draw a visible distinction with Coakley, for which people have been clamoring, and also a largely false distinction with Tolman. I agree with you about the referendum issue, but that should be settled before the next AG takes office.

                  Color me cynical, but that’s my reaction. Particularly given the timing, as people (delegate and activist people) are just starting to turn to this race. I knew I was against casinos three years ago. Judging by the comments, this effort to draw a “distinction” seems to have worked pretty well.

                  • I agree

                    Judging by the comments, this effort to draw a “distinction” seems to have worked pretty well.

                    Which is the sad part, I was stunned by the posts on this thread. But the ball is in Tolman’s court to go on the offense on the areas where she is a blank slate and defend his progressive record on the issues the AG actually does hold a lot of power and influence. Hopefully he isn’t caught off guard or defensive about this stance.

                  • False distinction?

                    Based on the quote jconway pulled above, you have one candidate saying, essentially, I don’t support casinos, but I support the law that will bring the casinos, and anyway there isn’t much I can do about this, so we’ll have to work with the legislature, and let’s move on to something else right now, shall we? And another candidate rather vocally advocating repeal. That is far more than a false distinction.

                    The reason is that casinos is THE single largest policy achievement of the Massachusetts Democratic Party over the last 8 years. It is the single most significant policy legacy of Gov. Patrick, its champion. It also might be the single worst policy decision by the government of the Commonwealth in my lifetime, and will, if not undone, prove to be a disastrous failure.

                    So when a candidate in a Democratic primary for statewide office calls the great Democratic achievement of the last 8 years a disaster, which it is, rather than mumbling and shuffling in order to avoid giving offense to the party machine that just produced that disaster, I call that a notable difference indeed.

                    It is a little funny how people here treat this issue like the weather– as something that just happened unexpectedly one day, and oh well, what can you do. Ho hum, I was always against this proposal anyway. There will be a referendum, or not, and there will be a repeal, or not, and we’ll just have to enforce whatever the law turns out to be, and can we talk about equal pay now?

                    It didn’t just happen. It was pushed and enacted by the Democratic Party officials whom you all support so ardently. Maybe you can argue that the transformation of Revere and Everett into Atlantic City (only without the wealth) is a good trade for what will undoubtedly be the marvelous and revolutionary progressive policy achievements to come on protecting consumers, the environment, clean elections, taking on gun manufacturers, and whatever else tickles the progressive fancy. I don’t.

                    I have a great deal more respect for Ms. Healey than I did before, and that isn’t necessarily something I would have anticipated saying about ANYONE from the existing AG’s office.

                    So, I suppose I agree wholeheartedly with your last sentence, anyway.

                    • We'll see

                      If there is actually an initiative to repeal on the ballot, we’ll see what Tolman says. If he’s tepid then, I’ll be disappointed. It would be a factor in determining my primary vote, but just one.

                      It didn’t just happen. It was pushed and enacted by the Democratic Party officials whom you all support so ardently.

                      Let’s distinguish between the Democratic Party officials I support ardently and the ones who pushed and enacted this. I agree with you that it’s a big mistaken and a negative mark on Deval Patrick’s record. I also agree with you that, sadly, it may be his most visible legacy. But I’ve been against the casinos from Day 1. Go back to the thread about Coakley’s AG office bouncing the repeal initiative and you’ll find me saying I found the reasoning specious.

                      I have a great deal more respect for Ms. Healey than I did before, and that isn’t necessarily something I would have anticipated saying about ANYONE from the existing AG’s office.

                      This is exactly what I’m taking about when I say I’m cynical about this. Look how easy that was. She can post this and reap all this goodwill, but what does she really have to do on the issue beyond that?

                    • Exactly

                      She can post this and reap all this goodwill, but what does she really have to do on the issue beyond that?

                      I think this was an easy win for her, and it didn’t cost a dime.

                      I also hate how people keep insisting that it’s one party rule that brought us the casinos or the Democrats are to blame. The Democrats I’ve volunteered for, donated to and voted for were strong opponents of casinos. We made damn well sure Brownsberger got to the State Senate and that his replacement was anti-casino. That was a decisive issue in that special.

                      Also Sonia, Carl, Patricia, Jamie and many other fine progressives did NOT back this in the State House. DeLeo and Joe Manchin may be Democrats, but I’d hardly use them as foils for the rest of the party. And all the GOP is pro-casino to a member.

                    • No, you cannot so distinguish

                      What she did, in essence, was to declare that the Massachusetts Democratic Party has failed the Commonwealth, which is to say that she told the truth.

                      “Let’s distinguish between the Democrats I support and the ones that enacted this.”

                      I don’t think you can do this. For the last ten years or more, I have heard that a vote for Scott Brown is equal to a vote for Mitch McConnell, and is indeed a vote for the most radical elements of the Republican Party. Before that, a vote for Weld was a vote for Jesse Helms.

                      A vote for a member of the party that enacted this policy is a vote for the policy. Treating this policy like a bad weather event that, oh shucks, no one can do anything about simply reinforces this.

                      It will be even more true once the priority of the local Democratic Party is to hide the consequences of their policy, as it will most assuredly be.

                    • National vs. state

                      Yes, at the national level a vote for Scott Brown is basically a vote for Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader. Here in MA Democrats are all over the map, both symptom and cause of being so dominant. Therefore, the same argument cannot necessarily be made.

                    • This show was brought to you by ...

                      This show (casino gambling) was brought to you by Deval Patrick, Robert DeLeo, and Therese Murray, with a large cast of supporting characters. It was NOT brought to you by “one party rule”, but by these specific people. If any of these had said “Nope, not going to happen on my watch”, then it wouldn’t be happening.

                      I’ll try very hard to resist the temptation to explore WHY each of the three came to their position.

                      I like this post, and I again find myself in pretty much complete agreement with CMD. My one quibble is that I, at least, have opposed each of the above three officials here, especially on this issue.

                      One of my favorite parts of this comment is this (emphasis mine):

                      So when a candidate in a Democratic primary for statewide office calls the great Democratic achievement of the last 8 years a disaster, which it is, rather than mumbling and shuffling in order to avoid giving offense to the party machine that just produced that disaster, I call that a notable difference indeed.

                      This, again, isn’t about one-party rule — it is instead about a too-powerful party machine that creates the appearance, if not substance, of being pervasively corrupt. I get that Mayor DeMaria of Everett works very hard at NOT being associated (at least through web searches) with the Democratic Party. Still, his plan to use the power of the city to launder the site chosen by Mr. Wynn strikes me as the epitomizing the corruption I mean. I’m sure it’s all perfectly legal, and I’m sure it still stinks to high heaven. I’m also sure that the Democratic Party machine will, after perhaps some obligatory creaking about appearances, find a way to support Mr. DeMaria’s plan if it becomes needed.

                      Funny how loudly money talks when it’s casino gambling we’re discussing — and talks in a way that is COMPLETELY independent of party affiliation.

                      I’m quite certain I know what Ms. Coakley’s stance would be were she to remain in office (no interest whatsoever). I’m curious about what Ms. Healey posture is towards this proposal from Mr. DeMaria.

                    • Doesn't the Everett proposal

                      implicate the state constitutional interpretation to which David alluded in last month’s post on Kelo v. City of New London?

                      From that post:

                      Anyway, where Jacoby is wrong is in thinking that a Kelo-type “economic development” taking is legal in Massachusetts (he says that Kelo led ”a number of states — Massachusetts, unfortunately, not among them — to pass new laws protecting property owners from abusive eminent-domain takings”). As I read our state Constitution, it’s not, and it never has been. In 1910, our Supreme Judicial Court was presented with a similar question, and wrote:

                      An affirmative answer to this question would make it possible for the city to take the home of a resident near the line of the thoroughfare, or the shop of a humble tradesman, and compel him to give up his property and go elsewhere, for no other reason than that, in the opinion of the authorities of the city, some other use of the land would be more profitable, and therefore would better promote the prosperity of the citizens generally. We know of no case in which the exercise of the right of eminent domain … has been justified on such grounds.

                      Later, in 1955, the SJC considered certain land that was neither “blighted” nor presently “a slum,” though there was “an apprehension lest it become one.” This “apprehension” was not enough:

                      public money cannot be used for the primary purpose of acquiring either by eminent domain or by purchase private lands to be turned over or sold to private persons for private use…. It seems plain that the primary design of the bill is to provide for the acquisition of the area by the use, at the outset at least, of substantial sums of public money and later of comparatively small sums, to formulate a plan for development, including the devoting of some portions of the area to truly public uses, and the return of the remainder to private ownership to be rented or sold for private profit, with the expectation that adjacent areas and the city as a whole will benefit through the increase of taxable property and of values. But this kind of indirect public benefit has never been deemed to render a project one for a public purpose.

                    • I'll remain curious

                      I think it will be interesting to see how the Democratic proponents of casino gambling handle the Everett proposal.

                      Perhaps interesting enough to even merit its own diary here. I wonder how many of the five proponents will dare touch this potentially very hot potato, and what they’ll say if they do.

                      I’m also very curious to hear what Mr. DeLeo has to say about it. My gut says that Mr. DeMario would not have gone public about this without consultation from all of the above — but perhaps I’m too cynical.

                      I must say that the proposal strikes me as just the start of the kind of garbage we’ll see more and more of if casino gambling isn’t stopped and stopped now.

                    • Not even Bob DeLeo

                      can dismiss the state constitution with a wave of his hand. The SJC would have a say if there’s anyone willing to sue over it.

                    • Sometimes takings are consensual

                      if title is clouded. Or at least if there are unknown parties with potential claims to the property, the takings can be without objection.

                      Not sure this it Kelo, exactly. It is essentially legalized money laundering to evade a state safeguard that criminals should not profit from casinos.

                      If we needed a lesson on the corrupting power of the gambling industry, look no further.

                    • re Kelo,

                      my guess is that the property in Everett either is already declared to be “blighted,” or easily could be (there seems to be no dispute that it’s contaminated and can’t be developed until cleaned up). So I don’t think there will be much question as to the legality of taking it.

  9. Excellent statement by Healey

    Well-reasoned, researched, and written.

  10. Weak Comparison to Warren

    I really disliked the way that she invoked Elizabeth Warren’s name. I guess every Massachusetts female candidate pretends to be just like Elizabeth and invokes her name.

    Maura Healey talks about the minimum wage, infrastructure, and growing the economy. If she’s really concerned about those issues, and if she really wants to be like Elizabeth Warren, then she is running for the wrong office. The attorney general has almost no impact on those economic issues.

    • "I guess every Massachusetts female candidate pretends to be just like Elizabeth and invokes her name."

      It’s not just the female candidates.

    • one of the AG's primary roles

      Are exactly all of those issues. Seriously, just look at it’s various departments.

      To the degree an AG succeeds in protecting consumers – and the biggest reason Liz Warren was primarily elected being the Consumer Protection Bureau – is the degree to which they’ll be better than just any other law enforcement official and transcend the office from rank and file AGs.

      • Sure...but

        Sure, the AG protects consumers. That’s a role that every AG has.

        But, the AG has very little impact on infrastructure spending, construction jobs, the minimum wage, and resources allocated for education. Healey listed all of these issues.

        Healey also advocated for a progressive income tax, presumably to pay for these items. But, how does the attorney general change our constitution to permit such a tax?

    • Respectfully disagree.

      I worked with a group in 2003 that brought homeowners and financial experts to testify at hearings in the State House on the dangers of predatory lending to neighborhoods and our economy. We were asking for legislation to block predatory lending practices in MA. The legislature declined to act. The AG’s office finally acted and stopped the predatory lenders.
      The AG’s office moved marriage equality forward. While a legislator is only 1 vote among hundreds, the AG has the power allocating resources to benefit the Commonwealth, protecting the homeowners, workers, the economy or civil rights without having to get permission of the Speaker.
      You’re right about Elizabeth Warren. Although Maura has her smarts, the vision is more like Deval Patrick.

  11. Good policy, good courage

    “Gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson returns to the top 10 richest in the world for the first time since 2007 after making an average of $32 MILLION A Day (emphasis mine) over the last year, third-most of anyone on the planet.” His wealth totals $36 Billion. http://www.forbes.com/profile/sheldon-adelson/
    Gambling is a win/win proposition for casino owners and a lose/lose proposition for communities. Good for Maura for her clear analysis and courage in pronouncing it. That is exactly what I want in an Attorney General.

    • One question

      How does this really make a difference? Healy won’t be AG until January 2015, presuming she wins the primary and general election. Her vote against casinos is just one vote, there is a good chance the voters will approve casinos and there is a good chance they will oppose it. If they oppose it, both her and AG Tolman will have to enforce that law. If the voters support it, both her and AG Tolman would have to enforce that law as well-and presumably create similar offices to mitigate against the social costs.

      I strongly support Warren Tolman but strongly disagree with him on this issue and appreciate that Healy will join her campaign with the NO vote on casinos this fall. I really and sincerely do. But, I don’t see how this move really makes a difference when deciding about who to back for AG considering neither one of them will have a big impact on whether the voters implement it or shoot it down.

      Casinos make sense as a litmus test for Governor-we want our revenue to come from progressive sources and one of the key reasons I am backing Berwick over Grossman is because of that choice.

      But for AG I see Tolman as the more progressive candidate on issues the AG actually will have an impact on: gun safety, the environment (Sierra Club endorsed him), clean elections (Harshbarger former AG and Common Cause President endorsed him), labor rights (endorsed by several labor unions), and he has strongly come out in favor of curbing the anti-terror overreach and restoring civil liberties.

      • "considering neither one of them will have a big impact on whether the voters implement it or shoot it down"

        Why are you so sure about that? Whoever wins the Dem primary for AG is very likely to be the next AG, and since there’s so little opposition in the general, can spend the whole campaign talking about the ballot questions. I think it could make a substantial difference, given that the vote (if the question gets on the ballot) is likely to be close, how the incoming AG feels about it.

        • Hmm

          Can you name the last time an AG nominee swung a referendum one way or the other? Every DA and AG Coakley and came out against marojuana de criminalization and it still passed. Obviously as a casino opponent I sincerely welcome her support to this issue, but it strikes me as a poor litmus test for this particular race.

          I also would like to hear her positions on a host of other issues she has been silent on: campaign finance, the environment, civil rights, civil liberties and gun safety. These are issues where Tolman has a long record, key endorsements from important stakeholders, and comprehensive plans to achieve policy changes in the office. Healy may as well and I welcome her thoughts on the subject, but it seems from this thread that people are make a decision on a race this important over a largely symbolic stance on a single issue.

          • If they are on the ballot at the same time

            and the vote is close, it could be significant.

            Also having the party’s AG candidate in favor of repeal would legitimize that position and insulate it from attacks that it is not mainstream, is irresponsible etc.

            I agree that casinos are unlikely to figure prominently in the AG race and that AG positions are unlikely to figure prominently in the repeal referendum, if any. But there will be an effect that is greater than zero, and the vote could be close.

      • The Sierra Club has not endorsed Tolman

        This is 2014. Please only refer to endorsements from this cycle.

  12. I like it when people take a Bold Stand

    Maura Healey and Don Berwick both taking a strong stand against casinos can have an impact on the ballot question. It will bring attention to the fact that the casinos will not help this state or the people who live here more than it will hurt us. The other candidates seem to think that it is a done deal, the horse has left the barn and they have no power to change anything. The people who voted not to allow the casinos in their towns know differently.

    As for working with the Gaming Commission to prevent problems other states have had…well the Commission got us off to a great start screwing our state already with their questionable spending habits. I don’t have a lot of confidence in their accountability.

    The casinos aren’t in the charity business of bailing out states financially with a golden casino chip. They are in the business of making sure that your grandmother spends her social security check and keeps pressing that spin button on the slot machine. They are in the business of getting you to park in their garage and shop, eat, be entertained in their clubs, sleep in their hotel and gamble without ever having to leave their building until you have no more to give them.

    Thank you both for being BOLD. You have got my vote at the Democratic Convention in June.

  13. Thanks Maura. Tipping point for me

    Sign me up as a supporter.

  14. Was leaning Healey...

    …now she can mark me as a 1.

  15. Another reason I want an AG who doesn't support casinos

    In today’s Globe is a piece about the machinations going on in Everett, specifically the mayor’s determination to have a casino there causing him to consider buying the site and then selling it to Wynn even when there are unanswered questions about the legality of the whole deal http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/04/15/city-everett-wants-take-wynn-casino-site-eminent-domain-calling-urban-renewal/fzZtirHWoCtYn0oxDgiZOO/story.html
    and this:
    “However, this is the first time that Everett voters are being asked to put up tax dollars to support the casino. Although {Mayor} DeMaria’s plan calls for Wynn to reimburse the city for the land, the broader urban renewal effort also calls for more than $30 million in other improvements in the areas, some of them paid for with city funds or bonds.”
    So Wynn will get wealthy while the taxpayers get hosed? I don’t know if this is legal, but I want an AG who gets it that the casino industry does not concern itself with the costs it burdens communities with and one who will go the extra mile to investigate any and all potential shady dealings in order to protect the people of Massachusetts.
    And that’s Maura Healy

    • Again

      How will AG Healey (got the spelling right folks!) stop a legitimate ballot referendum in Everett that went one way or another months before she got into office?

      Not only do I respect Healey’s position, it happens to be the one I hold. I’ve made nearly all the arguments she made in her OP myself at one time or another. I just don’t see what the next AG can do about it. We certainly know the bad track record the incumbent has on this issue, but I am 100% confident that Healey or Tolman would both use the full power of the office to mitigate against the legal and social ramifications of casino gambling in Massachusetts.

      I also have full faith these referendums will be voted down, it’s just not something the voters want, and I will continue to support those efforts. I am disappointed in Tolman’s position, and I won’t hide that. But it doesn’t somehow negate all the other great stances he has on the environment, clean elections, gun safety, protecting civil liberties and worker and consumer rights. It also doesn’t somehow give Healey a progressive record on any of those issues since she has yet to talk about them or demonstrate her action she has taken there, and considering all her professional work as been for an office that has neglected all those issues while strongly backing the position she now opposes, color me skeptical.

      • But

        Since you and I are on the same side of the opposition to casinos, don’t you appreciate that she is not just willing to let them happen? I am still waiting for Tolman to respond.
        As to her record, she is not blank slate. She’s worked hard for seven years running the Civil Rights Bureau, she started out working on cleaning up the Boston Harbor working for Judge Mazzonne. She not only fought for consumers to be protected from bad banks, she won a huge settlement and made sure it went to those who were affected. She fought against the racism that was underlying predatory lending. She has fought for workers rights, she took on Apple and won not just a settlement for MA, but demanded that their technology be accessible for the whole nation. You should give her the credit she deserves. Have you met her? Have you seen her at a caucus? She is many things, but she’s not a blank slate. She’s a woman of tremendous substance and I believe if you were not so devoted to Tolman, you would also support.

        • Fair enough

          Since you and I are on the same side of the opposition to casinos, don’t you appreciate that she is not just willing to let them happen?

          I do, and have repeatedly said as much in all my posts on this subject. But, whether she is willing to let them happen or not has no bearing on whether they will actually happen or not. Her vote is equal to yours and mine, and hopefully the three of us are joined by a majority of our fellow citizens come November.

          And I look forward to her answers on this blog on those areas, I haven’t seen anything here other than the LGBTQ rights fight and opposition to casinos, both of which I said were laudable-but it is on the issues of the environment, clean elections, gun safety, labor rights, and civil liberties I am most concerned about and Tolman has a clear voting record, clear plan, and clear stances in all of those areas.

          I welcome Healey’s answers to the board, I suspect once we compare them side by side there really isn’t a whole lot of difference. I’d rather throw in an outsider to that office with a proven record I am familiar with, but I have made it very clear if she’s the nominee I can get enthused. It’s sort of sad that somewhat trivial differences like this can get so heated and amplified during primary campaigns.

          • This is from the New York Times--so where

            Scott Harshbarger, a former state attorney general and former president of Common Cause in Washington, is helping to lead the casino repeal movement. Anticasino activists have gathered enough signatures to get the measure on the November ballot, but a legal challenge must first be resolved.

            “This is a mess, and it’s going to get worse, not better,” Mr. Harshbarger said of the process. He said the repeal movement was driven in part by a growing sense that statewide voters should have as much say as lawmakers when it comes to plopping down $1 billion casinos in New England’s town

            • posted to soon

              You keep saying that Tolman has a clear voting record… and clear stances, but he was for Clean Elections and then went negative in the ugly way and really turned that movement sour. He has not done anything in the last 12 years that show he still has the positions he held then. Show me what he’s been doing, not saying he’s going to do, please…

              • Again, let's keep it to the last 10 years

                I’d love to know what he has done, how many times he was arguing a case in court in the last ten years? How has he fought for the environment, which cases did he litigate? Why is he taking all the money he was so opposed to last time? What civil rights cases has he taken on in the last 10 years? Tell me, or better yet, let’s hear from him but not” what I’m gonna do”. I want him to ell me “what I’ve done in the last 10 years” that means he’s have been honing skills for the job” and serving the citizens of the state.

            • Would that be the Scott Harshbarger

              who has endorsed Warren Tolman?

        • Tolman pro-casino, anti-repeal, anti-statewide vote

          The statement from Warren Tolman.

          “The decision of whether the question will be on the ballot is in the hands of the SJC and the next Attorney General has no role in this decision. But if it is on the ballot I will vote against repeal. I support the Legislature’s decision to allow individual towns and cities like Springfield and Plainville to decide if they want a casino in their backyard. The people in these communities want the jobs and economic development that will be created.

          If casinos go forward in Massachusetts, the real issues for the next Attorney General are to enforce casino agreements and to be an advocate for consumers and taxpayers. I will ensure that agreements with host communities and surrounding communities are strictly enforced. I will be the leader on whom Massachusetts residents can depend so that casino operators are adhering to their agreements with regards to traffic mitigation, compulsive gambling, work rules, the impact on local economies, consumer bankruptcy and other issues. Finally, I will continue to be a watchdog on ethics and political corruption.” — Warren Tolman

  16. Thanks Maura

    I am so proud to be supporting and working for Maura Healey – especially on a day like this when she issues a reasoned and progressive position on casinos. Maura has repeatedly taken the side of the people of Massachusetts over entrenched business interests – and her willingness to disagree, respectfully, with her former boss shows the kind of independence I care about. I cheered when East Boston rejected gambling – I wish other communities had done the same but we are ONE Massachusetts and the commitment we make to REAL economic development that pays a living wage and provides long term prosperity should be decided on a state-wide basis.

  17. She answered the wrong question.

    Since she’s not running for legislature or Governor it doesn’t matter what she thinks of casinos on the merits or how she will vote as a private citizen on a ballot question. What I would want to know from AG candidates is whether they believe questions like these are legal, and how vigorously they will keep the industry honest assuming we do get casinos. Personal feelings about casinos as policy are secondary at best in this context.

    • Any port in a storm

      I’m glad someone has taken this stand. If it’s so cheap and easy I hope more candidates take it as clearly and definitively as Healey does above.

    • Hasn't she answered it?

      I agree completely about what the important question is here. But to support repeal is to take a position on the legality of the measure, isn’t it? At least, it ought to be for a lawyer, and doubly so for a lawyer in the AG’s office under present circumstances. It’s not as if she could possibly have overlooked the existence of the issue in making her decision, or in making this statement.

      • You might infer it to some extent...

        …but it’s certainly possible to have ruled differently in your professional capacity while voting your personal preference in the voting booth.

      • She comes close, sort of

        This post, to my mind, is predominantly policy-based. For a lawyer who spent a lot of time in the AG’s office (she resigned to run for AG, I believe), there’s not much you could call legal analysis of the issue. It does, somewhat obliquely, address the legality of the ballot question by raising the greyhound racing comparison. But, despite listing in detail the steps she’d take as AG if we do have casinos, she stops just short of saying: “Had I been your attorney general I would not have issued the ruling Martha Coakley issued.”

        The appeal is more political or values-based: “I believe on a matter of this magnitude, the voters should have a chance to be heard.” Yet, as the post states, [t]he final decision is up to the courts.” She’s got a rooting interest but no real role there at this point.

        Let me clarify that I agree with pretty much everything in Maura Healey’s post. I’m just a bit surprised at people’s willingness to jump on board due simply to this when there are a lot of other issues to be considered and her actual control over this issue seems small.

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