Second Panelist: Kitty Dukakis
She remembers her late father conducting orchestras in Faneuil Hall.
She came as a person in recovery. She called gambling addiction a hidden addiction. She considered it a duty to her children and grandchildren to work against the Commonwealth taking this step.
Third Panelist: Jim RubensGranite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling. He is a Republican, and reminded us all that this is a non-partisan issue and that Casino gambling is a race to the bottom. Casino gambling does not create jobs; it cannibalizes jobs from the local economy for a net loss. With the proposed slot and casino bills, money that once stayed in your state from real, local jobs will all go out of your state as the profits go to Malaysia and Los Vegas.
There is no local spinoff spending from those who travel to casinos. They drive to the casino, spend their money in the casino, have no money left, turn around, and drive home. They do not spend money outside the casino or help the local economy. For more, see New Hampshire says NO to casinos Even the mayor of Ledyard Connecticut, where Foxwoods is located says having Foxwoods there was a mistake, and gave no financial benefit.
Fourth Panelist: Former Governor Michael Dukakis
Alan Khazei told a great story as a lead in. When he was an undergraduate at Harvard, he decided to have a 24 hour fundraising dance but could not get school support or a space for it. He wrote Michael Dukakis, who was then the governor, asking him to be the speaker to conclude the event. To Alan Khazei’s amazement, Governor Dukakis sent him a letter of acceptance. When Alan Khazei showed that letter to the Harvard administration, he got his room and support and held his first major event; a successful 24 hour fundraising dance. He never forgot Governor Dukakis’ willingness to support an unknown student, or how accessible he was.
Dukakis stated the issue is really an issue of public revenue, and our crumbling infrastructure and slashed services result from poor handling of our revenue. He reminded us all that as governor, he dealt with three recessions in 12 years.
Sadly, today Massachusetts has either the first or second highest level of public debt in our nation of any state. That is because when our revenues rose in good times, we did not pay down our debt and build reserves. Instead, we indulged in tax cuts. After I left office, he said, taxes were cut 40 times.
Though these cuts were “sold” as tax cuts, actually each of them were giveaways to special interests at the public’s expense; while sold as ‘job creation’ they created no jobs. He said we threw away first 1.7 billion and then 2 billion in gifts to special interests that did not benefit our citizens and placed our infrastructure and services at risk as soon as there was a downturn.
We would have the resources to support foundation services and maintain infrastructure in good times and bad if we would claw back these unwise giveaways misleadingly sold as “tax cuts” to create jobs.
Further, if we embrace casino gambling, lottery revenue will inevitably go down. As his grandfather would say, in Greek, “Things happen. You are supposed to those things.” Dukakis actually said this in Greek and translated for the rest of us.
Fifth Panelist: State Senator Susan Tucker
She thanked Alan Khazei for raising the issue in his campaign. She said,
We cannot gamble our way our of budget problems because it doesn’t work – just look at Connecticut – this costs more than in brings in.
She went on to say that gambling is a social justice issue. It transfers wealth from to poor to out of state, off shore wealthy billionaires. She paraphrased Martin Luther King as saying that laws which lift the human spirit are just laws; laws which prey on human weakness are unjust laws. Casino gambling violates every singe principle of honest revenue.
Even though Sen. Tucker represents Laurence, where the Bread and Roses strike began the union movement, she quoted the Samuel Gompers Monument and said she wished labor would return to Samuel Gomper’s principles.
Sen. Tucker said that the casino industry is trying to sell the message that casinos are inevitable, but that this is just not true. What is true is that hundreds of millions of dollars are already at play, and all but two of the large Beacon Hill Lobbying firms have already been retained by gambling interests. Senator Tucker made clear that she believes it is critical for all of us to contact our own legislators and make clear that we care about this issue.
Sixth Panelist: Kathleen Conley Norbut
She said she is an unlikely leader of a statewide movement. She is a health teacher, her husband is a union carpenter. He father is in the Chelsea Soldiers home. She lives in a small community on the Connecticut line. She has seen that out of state investors are interested in extracting our income for their profit.
Supporting expanded predatory gambling is a wrongheaded policy with horrific impacts. The region where she lives cannot take another hit; even now the education her children experience is not as good as what she received in 1970 because of how poorly revenue has been handled on the state level. We have sacrificed so much.
This issue is about who we are as a people. 70-80% of casino revenue comes from addicts. 30% of casino users are destroyed by this product. The amount of drunken driving soars.
Australia brought in casinos to solve its economic problems. Its economy is worse then ever and today, 80% of Australians wish they could rid their country of casinos but they cannot. Casinos are like cockroaches.
Further, 90% of the jobs at casinos are in fact the result of the destruction of other businesses and the destruction of local economies. Gambling in Connecticut shows the high social costs to Connecticut of its casinos. Further, this study shows casino jobs were cannibalized from local businesses “eaten” by casinos. The profits from the local businesses stayed in Connecticut – casino profits flow over seas to foreign billionaires.
She met with several members of the administration, including Governor Patrick. She felt touched and honored by the way he listened. Kathleen Conley Norbut’s meeting with Gov Patrick led to a request for a truly neutral study by Governor Patrick
Audience membersThe discussion was opened up to the audience. The comment that impressed me the most was from a woman from Louisiana. She said that when casinos came to Louisiana, per capita food consumption went down, and the Governor who brought in casinos is in prison today.