TWO BITS OF NEWS : THE REVERE CASINO VOTE AND THE GOP STATE COMMITTEE

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^ Revere says “Yes”

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At first blush there seems not much linkage between last night’s casino approval vote in Revere and the Republican state committee’s vote making opposition to marriage equality an official stand in the party platform. But look again. in Revere, religion interests led the opposition to approval of the Mohegan Sun/Suffolk Downs casino plan. At the GOP state committee, it was religion interests that forced the vote to discriminate against gay people.

What is it about religion — those who profess it — that makes it and them try to tell other people how to live their lives ? Tell you what : you profess a religion, fine; go live it; and leave my life alone.

There was a time — about a century and a half of time — when religion led the fight for civil rights, personal liberty, and the dignity of all people of whatever lifestyle. From about 1795, when the anti-slavery movement was first advanced by religion, in England (it had for some time been advanced by secular leaders) until the 1970s, when the Civil Rights movement crested in America, pastors, ministers, priests, rabbis, and manhy of their congregations took the cause of rights for all — of whatever religion, or of none –as their chiefest calling. Today we like to think of that era in the history of reliigion in action as the norm. The opposite is true. Mostly in the history of the West, and oftener in that of the Middle east, religion has caused the torture of millions and the deaths of millions, often cruelly. On balance religion has been a personal and communal disaster for those societies afflicted by it.

Such a time seems returning now, and not only in America. The will to demand of people that they be governed by other people’s religion has all but captured — and killed — the GOP in America; it has place in Europe (though there the bigotries of today seem mostly godless, fascist, mere racism), and, as we see all too much, completely dominates societies in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, India. As for places like North Korea — fortunately they are rare — what we seem to see is not religion politics but politics as a religion. It ain’t pretty.

I am no prophet of doom. I do not see America returning to the days of religious oppression. Most of us still call the secular, skeptical Constitution home, divided government the norm, separation of religion from state a must. Indeed, most religion groups in today’s America feel the same. They understand that for a religion to try to impose its commands on states’ laws simply makes religion a political enemy. Still, in some states, as we see, the practitioners of religion politics have managed to get their stonings enacted into law. (the current eruption in Arizona is only one of dozens of such initiatives.) My guess is that none will stand. All are unconstitutional and will almost surely be found to be such; and so will die a legal death.

No such legal death can undo the action taken by the Republican State Committee last night. By a vote — ¬†opined by a Republican not present but well informed of the vote — of 52 to 16, the GOP platform now includes language opposing our state’s marriage equality. Of course a party platform is not a law; no one need obey it or give it a damn. Still, the vote puts one of Massachusetts’s two chief political parties at odds with civil rights and human freedom; and as Massachusetts has always been first among polities to seek and secure civil rights and human freedom, the state committee’s vote is an affront to 250 years of our history. We were also the first state to recognize that gay people have just as much right to marry as do any of us.

I am no psychologist. I have no idea what mindset propels citizens of Massachusetts to reject the last 10 generations of our history; to downgrade our gay citizens; to impose on a political party such a burden. Political parties are supposed to win elections. The state committee’s vote loses them.

Of course the party’s leading candidates, Charlie Baker for Governor and Richard Tisei in the 6th Congress District, immediately rejected the vote. Both men stand four-square for gay rights, marriage equality, women’s health rights — even for economic fairness — and are well known to be unshakably committed to these positions. Their campaigns will suffer no harm from a vote whose only goal is to harm. Still, it looks odd for the leading GOP candidates to be running on themes rejected by the party’s formal organization (as the state committee is).

Gabe Gomez, too, who in the past few months has become the most outspoken Massachusetts voice of Republican progressivism, tweeted a passionate denunciation of the state committee vote. I joined his call. I am glad that I did, sad that the need arose.

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^ next to Dan Winslow, Gabe Gomez is now Massachusetts’s man of progressive conscience

Meanwhile, in Revere, 63 % of voters, in a large voter turnout of almost 50 percent, rejected the moralizing “no casino” side, saying “yes, bring it on” to the Mohegan Sun/Suffolk downs casino plan. Mayor Dan Rizzo can now go mano a mano with Mayor deMaria of Everett. That one I look forward to.

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^ Mayor Dan Rizzo is a winnah tonight

I personally think the Revere plan somewhat unattractive and largely compromised by geography and brand; I doubt it will win the Gaming Commission’s license. Steve Wynn’s far more glamorous, better located, Everett plan will likely win it. But it is a step ahead to see Revere put its cards on the table (ha) on the side of entertainment, drama, people dressing up and having a good time, even — yes — people spending money at a roulette wheel. As we have every right to do.

Let the last word here be St Rep Kathi Reinstein’s : “Raising a big, fat Sam Adams pint to Revere tonight,” she tweeted. “63/37 victory ! I’m so proud of my city and its people…”

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

16TH SUFFOLK DISTRICT : WHAT DOES REVERE WANT ?

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^ probably the 16th Suffolk candidate to beat : Roselee Vincent, chairing the Revere Democratic caucus yesterday

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A Special Election, called when an officer holder leaves in the middle of his or her term, gives the communities involved unique opportunity to draw attention to themselves. For the 16th Suffolk State Representative District, from which office Kathi Reinstein resigned to become a voice for Boston Beer Company, that means Revere, the northernmost city in Suffolk County.

In general elections, Revere goes largely unnoticed; the hugeness of nearby Boston all but blocks it. Even now, with two Boston-based Special Elections taking place on the same March 4th Primary Day, Revere’s election lags behind. Every Boston news medium wants to know who will win the Dorchester state representative seat which now Mayor Walsh gave up. Many media are beginning to look at the donnybrook going on in Charlestown and Chelsea, the 2nd Suffolk district. In contrast, the Revere race goes wallflower.

Even the four candidates running seem hushed. None has even 100 twitter followers; two lack facebook pages. Compare that to the hundreds of twitter followers amassed in the 2nd Suffolk or the 1500 twitter accounts and hourly-active Facebook pages attuned to the Dorchester race.photo (12)

^ Chelsea’s Josh Monahan : well-informed with a city-management resume

Yet surely the question “what d0es Revere want ?” must have an answer. Waiting on one, I’ll mention a Revere issue already in play : the Mohegan sun / Suffolk Downs casino. On Tuesday, Revere people will vote whether to approve the plan or not. (Why this election is not taking place on Primary day, I will never figure. Truly our state is run by clown-eyes.) The Mohegan sun plan, which I find hugely inferior to Steve Wynn’s Everett proposal, seems likely to elicit a divided vote. Narrowly “Yes” looks to be the outcome. Do the four 16th Suffolk candidates support that outcome ? What plans do they propose for using the large mitigation money accruing to Revere if the State Gaming Commission awards Mohegan the Boston zone casino license ?

Of course there are other issues that face Massachusetts cities and towns this year : shall we expand pre-school education, and how to pay for it ? What level of Local aid money will Revere need in order to establish dual-language education in its public schools attended by so many newly resident children of Hispanic or Moroccan origin ? How strongly can — will — Revere push for state aid that Blue Line infrastructure repair calls upon, not to overlook purchases of new trains to replace cars that always break down ? What measures will the State take to alleviate the effects of rising sea levels that already threaten to flood almost every home along North Shore Road and its side streets ?

It will be interesting to hear what Roselee Vincent and Linda S. Rosa — the two Revere candidates — have to say. (I have already interviewed the other Democrat, Chelsea’s Josh Monahan, and he has plenty to say, most of it well informed and envisioned.) And that’s not all. This race has the distinction, unique in Suffolk County, of featuring a Republican candidate, Chelsea’s Todd Taylor, who appears to have significant support. I have yet to hear one word of issues from him, but he seems to belong to the Charlie Baker, reasonable GOP middle and is running in by far the most Republican-voting city in Suffolk County. Taylor faces the Democratic nominee on an April 1st election day. Debate seems assured. Hopefully Revere will benefit by having its concerns thus spotlighted.

A first candidates’ Forum takes place this Thursday evening at 420 Revere beach Boulevard.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

below : GOP candidate Todd Taylor and family

1 Todd Taylor candidacy