The Hill and the Hall Week in Review
Each Friday, Paul McMorrow will take you inside the smoke-filled rooms and darkly-lit corridors of government to bring you the hottest and juiciest political tidbits. This week: The DOA Casino Bill, shattered ambitions, Don Quixote, the quotable Connolly, and Irish scones.
Word broke early this week that Gov. Deval Patrick’s casino bill was dead. House Dean David Flynn told the Taunton Gazette, “The casino bill isn’t going anywhere. I find very little support for it from members of the house,” adding that he expects a roll call vote on his racino bill, while “the casinos won’t [get one],” because Dan Bosley’s committee, “will issue an adverse report, preventing the house from voting on the casino bill.”
It’s not how things work. The Speaker’s office has repeatedly said that Patrick’s bill will receive a vote on the House floor before it wraps its budget bill in April, regardless of whether or not it gets a favorable committee report. (PS: It won’t.)
Last week was not kind to Patrick’s bizarre pet cause, and this week, the bill abandoned its slow grave-ward lurch in favor of a full-on sprint. The Globe finally buried the Chamber of Commerce’s well-intentioned, but ham-fisted, casino report, while Bosley issued a position paper that blasts yawning holes in Patrick’s economic projections. And then things got messy.
Bosley has repeatedly said that the fate of casinos, long sold as an economic development package and not a revenue-generation scheme, will rest on two questions: Where does casino revenue come from, and how much does it cost to get it?
Reps appear to be responding to those questions by coming to the conclusion that the money behind Patrick’s plan isn’t really there. Either that, or budget season’s around the corner. Whichever it is, the casino hearing the administration has demanded won’t even happen until next week, but already the bill’s most ardent backers are declaring it all but dead.
We’ve seen a major reversal of fortunes for a plan that just a few months ago was building plenty of momentum, and threatening the Speaker’s hold on his own chamber. It may be that last bit — DiMasi, not Patrick, controlling the House’s fortunes — that accounts for the astounding display of rancor erupting over the past few days.
It’s not as devastating to the collective ambitions of the state’s political establishment as John Kerry’s inexcusable failure to move his ass out of his Senate seat in 2004, but it’s still not good news for any pol who might think of him or herself as being destined for bigger and better things. (That’s no short list, either.)
Best legislative literary allusion of the week: At a Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Senator Robert O’Leary took the microphone to testify. But first, he apologized if he looked or sounded weary. “I spent last night tilting at windmills,” he joked. Senator Robert Creedon consoled O’Leary, saying that if he didn’t succeed in halting Cape Wind, then at least he landed himself “a nice picture in the Globe.”
“Very Kennedy-esque,” Creedon nodded admiringly.
Rookie councilor John Connolly livened up an otherwise sleepy City Council meeting on Wednesday by peppering his speech with ten-cent words like “quibble” and “quagmire.” If we didn’t know better, we’d think Connolly had already tired of the whole “public servant” gig, and was now honing his vocabulary in the hopes of becoming a sesquipedalian New York Times obit writer.
Hope our normally-razor-sharp instincts are wrong on that one.
It’s time for the Hill and the Hall Rumor Control!
Item: Is the Council in for a major post-St. Paddy’s bender?
Turns out, no. Council President Maureen Feeney seemed to leave the door open to government-sanctioned revelry and debauchery when she closed this week’s meeting with a vague promise to keep the celebration rolling the next time the Council meets, “At which time I will bring you some refreshments to keep you going.”
And at least one councilor was overheard asking Feeney if she was planning on distributing pints of Guinness on the Council floor. Unfortunately, Feeney was just alluding to a batch of Irish scones she’d forgotten to bring to work this week.
Wire services contributed to this report.