Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sheep in the State House

I woke up to the news that seemed in the tank all week: the state House of Representatives voted, overwhelmingly, in favor of legalizing casino gambling and installing slot machines at the state's race tracks.

This follows a completely opposite vote in the same legislative body a couple of years ago, when the same legislative body was against legalizing gambling.

What changed?

The legislators are still using the same "studies" written by the casino industry and its lobbyists, not independent analysis. In fact, this time around they asked only for a "benefits" study, not a "cost-benefits" analysis. Good lord. At least figure out what it is you're getting into before you vote for it.

The legislators are using the same arguments that casinos would create lots of new jobs -- vastly inflated numbers that don't make sense, and are made with the crazy methodology that is "standard" among all kinds of developers (where one hour of subcontracted work qualifies as an entire "job," rather than expressed in FTEs). The unemployment rate might be higher today than it was a couple of years ago, but I predict that the unemployment rate will have dropped significantly by the time that the first shovel goes in the ground.

The legislators are faced with the same arguments that gambling destroys people's lives, such as the nine-year-old boy who had to watch loan sharks repeatedly slam a meat cleaver in-between his father's fingers.

It's the same arguments. In fact, it's virtually all the same representatives voting again, since most of their seats aren't challenged.

What changed?

The speaker of the house, that's who. State Representative Robert DeLeo, whose father we learned this week used to work in the gambling industry at the race tracks, is now the speaker, having replaced disgraced former speaker and former State Representative Salvatore DiMasi.

The old leadership told the representatives a couple of years ago to vote against legalizing gambling, and they did it. The new leadership told the representatives this week to vote for legalizing gambling, and they did it.

A large number of the members of the state house of representatives appear to have no principles behind their voting records; they are just following their speaker like a flock of sheep.

Their benefits for cowing behind DeLeo? Continued leadership positions in the house and the extra pay that comes with it.

Since these legislators appear to operate under no principle other than following their leader, then what does this mean about their votes a few years back to kill efforts to ban gay marriage? Were those votes not based on principle? Will they gladly reverse their votes when a new speaker takes over who wants to get rid of gay marriage?

Gay marriage advocates watch out.

Do I sound cynical? Angry?

Maybe. It's because I learned that our state's representatives ain't got no... you know.

In Allston-Brighton, Representative Michael Moran and Kevin Honan both voted yes in favor of the casino bill. Both voted against the casino bill in 2008.

Image of sheep:

1 comment:

JohnT said...

Both Honan and Moran vote 99.9% of the time with the Speaker. The extra money is a big factor for them. It is rather sad knowing that your Rep can make more money in the public sector than in the private.