It was so cold this morning that even a dog was wearing a coat while walking on the woodland way into downtown Northampton.
An accident on Route Nine caused the bus to UMass to be late, resulting in a chilly wait even for those wearing zebra skin pants.
I try to avoid discussing the casino debate in Western Mass because the whole process so disgusts me that I don't want to even invest the energy to follow the convoluted proceedings. The only hero of the whole sordid charade seemed to be Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who originally opposed the casino cartels because he sought to revive his city on more substantial economic grounds. I was therefore disappointed when he reversed himself last month and seemed to welcome a proposal from Valley entertainment entrepreneur Eric Suher. I like Suher, who is an under-appreciated hero of the Valley's music scene, but no matter who is in charge government run casino monopolies are always bad news.
Although I understood the purely pragmatic reasons why Morse switched, I'm delighted to see him make the announcement today that he has switched back to his more idealistic position. That was always Morse's greatest political strength, the sense that he was different than the usual self-serving politician. If voters had wanted the same old pragmatism that has always served Holyoke so poorly they would have re-elected Elaine Pluta.
I was surprised however by the sheer meanness of the attacks on Morse after he announced his switch. Many casino opponents tried to portray him as a prince of evil.
Now that he has switched back, even more anger has erupted from those casino supporters who were recently elated by his switch. One of the weirdest manifestations of the anti-Morse frenzy was this nude picture anonymously sent to me by someone claiming that it was a picture of the Mayor of Holyoke.
I've edited it to make it more family friendly, not that I give a fuck whether this is a family friendly blog. I edit it only so as not to play into the games of the person who sent it. Is it the Mayor? The hair looks slightly wrong to me. However if it is Morse then let me say this about the portion of the photo I've cropped out - whatever his political shortcomings Hizzoner has nothing to apologize for in the sexual realm.
But what if it is Morse? Would it matter? Would the right or wrongness of his political positions be altered by a nude photo? It wasn't clear if the person who sent that photo was a supporter or an opponent of casinos, but what a cheap, stupid way to try to undermine a political opponent. Then again that's just the level of sleaze you would expect from casino politics, and you can expect the campaign for who gets the coveted government granted gambling monopoly to get ever uglier as the process goes on. Mayor Morse was wise to return to the sidelines of the debate, and now if only the mayors of other Valley cities and towns would show the same wisdom. Or wouldn't it be a hoot if the voters of every community where a casino gets proposed turns it down at the polls?
Read more here.
Another sleazy enterprise, this one of longstanding, is the Massachusetts State Lottery. In an absolute farce of a trial former State Treasurer Tim Cahill was freed yesterday by a hung jury on charges he used the lottery to help his embarrassingly unsuccessful third party campaign for governor. It was ridiculous to talk about political conflicts of interest when the very existence of a state run lottery is a conflict of interest by definition. There is nothing wrong with the government taxing gambling enterprises or inspecting the games to make sure they're on the up and up. But they should NEVER actually run the gambling enterprise itself, lest they create something like the current state lottery, a wasteful hackarama awash with the ethical grey areas that ensnared Cahill. The answer to the endless ethical problems are simple - Privatize the Lottery! But don't hold your breath waiting for that commonsense proposal to emerge.
Read more here.
Here's an article on the accident that caused me to be late this morning, and a video in honor of transportation problems from a band that "had a flat tire, or ran out of gas or got pulled over by the cops or some shit like that."