Patrick’s Little Speech Helper

1192721775Yesterday was the day that Governor Deval Patrick finally did himself a favor. He’s been scuttling along for a year now, trying, unsuccessfully, to gain some traction with the legislature, and find some way to pay for his exorbitantly expensive agenda. Casino gambling seemed like a much easier sell than boatloads of new taxes – until Patrick ran into ran into opposition in the House.

But no worries. As the governor showed yesterday, he’s got patriotism on his side. And, much more importantly, he’s got interested parties doing his legwork for him.

One legislator who opposes casinos laughed off yesterday’s hearing as a “dog and pony show,” since the Rep who convened it, David Flynn, did so to push slot machines at the state’s horse and dog tracks. Patrick seized the agenda away from Flynn’s tracks, using it as a massive show of force for his own casino bill.

Both dailies eagerly reported Patrick’s money quote – that gambling is as American as America itself:

“For a very long time now, gaming has been in practice in Massachusetts, and gaming revenues have been used to support public projects. In 1762, John Hancock raised lottery money to rebuild Faneuil Hall after a fire. Lottery funds were used to finance the Revolution.”

The Globe ran the quote A-1, above the fold.

It should’ve sounded familiar to the journalists in the room, because it was. Patrick’s words echoed language from a slick lobbying packet provided to him and his economic development secretary, Dan O’Connell, by Suffolk Downs – a would-be casino developer.

It’s dated July 5, 2007. At the time, Patrick was holed up in the Berkshires, deciding whether or not to legalize gambling. The Suffolk Downs packet told him he should, because it would be the patriotic thing to do:

“For centuries, gaming has been a means of raising revenues as well as a popular pastime in Massachusetts… In the beginning, all thirteen colonies had lotteries as a way to raise revenues to finance the budding nation. In colonial Massachusetts, lotteries were used to raise money for everything from military expeditions to internal improvements. In fact, playing the lottery became part and parcel with upholding one’s civic duty, with Ben Franklin, John Hancock and Harvard College as some of the infant state’s greatest ‘sponsors.’ … Not unlike our forefathers who built this great Commonwealth through gaming revenues, we must approach the idea of expanded gaming with an open mind, for its revenues could help us in building the Massachusetts of tomorrow.”

Isn’t that cute?

While we’re at it, here’s a word on those relentlessly optimistic, T-shirt wearing union activists who flooded yesterday’s hearing, and whose support was cited by the Globe as evidence that Patrick’s political machine is beginning to creak into motion.

The union workers were activists from the local hotel and restaurant workers’ union. They’ve previously tried to prop up Patrick’s casino proposal by buying radio ads that slathered casino gambling in praise. They did so because they believe that casinos would provide good-paying, middle-class jobs for their members (both current and potential).

Want evidence for this claim? Look no further than Jane Swift’s 2002 report on expanded gambling in Massachusetts, which says that the most “significant” economic development benefit that could come from casinos would be “the creation of good quality jobs in the gambling industry.”

The chair of the subcommittee that made that claim? Janice Loux, president of the hotel and restaurant workers’ union.