Friday, July 02, 2004

Governor Vetoes Casino Vote Proposal

As expected, Governor Carcieri vetoed the proposed Casino legislation that would have allowed voters to decide the question this November. The governor claimed that it was a bad deal for the state and that the legislation was
Cooked up at the eleventh hour, this deal would simply hand an out-of-state gambling corporation a 10-year monopoly in exchange for peanuts...There was no competitive bidding process. There were no serious negotiations. . . . As a former businessman, I can tell you that's no way to sucessfully negotiate a business deal...A casino will undercut state revenues, will destroy nearby businesses, will increase the potential for public corruption and will impose serious and unavoidable societal costs on our state.
He pretty much hit all of the bases.

The rhetoric was fiery on the other side, too. According to the ProJo account
But he was also derided by Matthew Thomas, chief sachem of the Narragansett Indian tribe, for suggesting the proposed West Warwick casino would "suck the lifeblood" out of the state's economy.

"I don't want to hear that kind of stuff. It's insulting to the tribe. It's insulting to our people," said Thomas, whose tribe expects a cut of the casino revenue from Harrah's.

"The lifeblood has already been sucked out of Rhode Island when ships landed here," Thomas said of Carcieri's remarks.
Ah, yes, we can always count on Chief Thomas to bring up the persecution suffered by his people initiated some 350-400 years ago by a racist white European culture as being a legitimate reason for a casino. I'm not debating the poor lot suffered by the Native Americans in this country, but I do question their reliance on gambling to "even the score" and "right the wrongs." I'm always uncomfortable when vice is used in such a "noble cause." (Like cigarette taxes for education...doesn't that mean that we want more people to smoke, then?)

Perhaps the most ridiculous assertion was that of Guy Dufault, a casino lobbyist (and former Democratic Chairman) who likened the casino debate to class warfare.
I think at the end, people are going to see it's rich white guys versus working people, and the people of Rhode Island are going to win...Think of everyone up there, Chambers [of Commerce]. Restaurant owners. Elitist politicians. . . . Follow the money. . . . It is definitely a class war, there is no question in my mind, against the working people of Rhode Island who, by the way, go to these facilities all the time.
Has Dufault ever heard the argument that casinos are actually an excessive tax on the poor and working class that he himself says "go to these facilities all the time"? I don't think I need to point out the patent lack of logic of someone championing "the little guy" by asserting what the "little guy" really wants is to lose his money to a casino operation run by Harrah's, do I? Of course, I guess that the right to gamble is a civil right, at least broadly defined in today's world, anyway.

Not to be outdone, West Warwick Rep. Tim Williamson chimed in that
The cornerstone of democracy is the right to vote. And for him to stand up and say the people don't understand this and it's a bad deal, it's just not true.
Well, all rhetoric aside, I do believe that the voters should vote on a casino sometime soon so that the issue can be resolved. Williamson's simplistic populism aside (I wonder how he felt about the peoples right to vote on the Separation of Powers Issue?), a vote by the citizens of the state will, hopefully, put the issue to bed. And whether it sleeps the long, lonely and cold slumber of final death or in the fleetingly satisfying embrace of a high class Vegas whore is the only question left to answer.

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