If you haven’t seen this and you aren’t outraged…..you aren’t paying attention.
A Boston Business Journal analysis of credit card statements and reimbursement reports has spotlighted repeated instances of lavish employee spending since the commission’s inception two years ago. The expenditures, which have been criticized by a state watchdog and at least one casino-license applicant, include dozens of charges at luxury hotels and top-rated restaurants in major cities throughout the world. Other outlays include millions in payments to international gaming consultants.
Unlike other state agencies, the gaming commission has operated without formal guidelines on the amounts and types of personal spending and travel permitted among its employees. In many documented cases the commission’s employees have flouted the agency’s own $71-per-day recommendations when it comes to meals expenses incurred on the job.
Some of those same gaming officials have had tens-of-thousands in airfare, meals and hotel costs covered by the largest casino operators in the world, the same multinational companies that are vying for a select number of licenses to operate in the wealthy state of Massachusetts. (Subscription needed for remaining article.)
Other media outlets have picked up on this exceptional investigative journalism by Craig Douglas, BBJ Managing Editor, Online & Research. Outrage is spreading across the state as people begin to realize the unbridled abuse of the public trust that is unfolding.
“Ranging from a state police officer’s one-way flight from Hong Kong to Boston for $7,257 to a $5,550-per-month housing allowance for top executives to more than $78,000 in parking benefits provided to commission employees in Boston. That parking perk, according to state law, is prohibited at Massachusetts agencies that receive taxpayer funding.
Other charges are of a more personal nature. One commission employee used her agency-issued Bank of America credit card to order from an online wedding-goods vendor. Another employee used his card to buy a $423 iPad. Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby treated a colleague to a $110 visit to a wine bar in Singapore, while Zuniga charged $422 to Plaza Limousine, the self-proclaimed preferred car service for the Boston Red Sox and local VIPs.
The spending pattern has drawn sharp words from former state inspector general Gregory Sullivan, the man who drafted the state’s employee-spending and travel regulations a decade ago. He said the spending rules, which were updated in 2011 and are enforced by the state Executive Office of Administration & Finance, were crafted in response to recurring instances of extravagant travel and entertainment spending at many state agencies. He said there is no reason why the gaming commission should be exempt from the same spending parameters.
The BBJ asked Sullivan, who served 10 years as inspector general and now is a research director at The Pioneer Institute in Boston, to review the MGC’s spending records as they apply to the regulations he helped establish in 2004. “As far as I am concerned, the gaming commission is a state agency. And these examples are wildly beyond what state employees are entitled to,” Sullivan said. “These figures offend my sensibility.”
Voters, taxpayers and Progressive Democrats need to demand that Governor Patrick and the Legislature – the Democrat leadership on Beacon Hill that created this debacle – repeal the law. Any legislator with even a modicum of ethics and commitment to their oath to serve the Constitution and people of Massachusetts should stand up and denounce these abuses. It is disgusting.
Surrounding communities are being refused mitigation for known negative and costly impacts. Other towns and cities are nickel-dimed by forced surrounding community agreements while the commissioners are spending funds that could be used for the public good with impunity.
NORTHAMPTON — Two days after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission denied Northampton’s request for financial relief from MGM Resorts International, City Council President William H. Dwight chastised commissioners for “failing us enormously” and for not upholding the state’s commitment to protect surrounding communities.
Those of us who have opposed the casino/slots proposals predicted these problems….not because we have a crystal ball – but because it is the fact-pattern and business model of government sponsored predatory gambling. It is actually worse than many of us could have imagined and the real increase in tragic human problems haven’t begun.
Opposition is not about gambling for many of us….it is about government sponsored predatory gambling, corruption, abuse and transfer of wealth from lower income vulnerable individuals and small businesses to corporate monopolies.
Disgusted? Take the commonwealth back – donate and get involved with the repeal. www.repealthecasinodeal.org