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Who's putting fuel on the casino fire?

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

I have too many subjects and only one column!


Don't you wish that former State Representative Chris Asselin had been just a little bit more contrite? When I heard his statement about his having been in a "living hell" and the humiliation he has had to face, I broke out the world's tiniest violen to play "Hearts and Flowers."

He still doesn't get it. He and his family were caught stealing from the public. He committed a crime. He's a bad guy. If he wants to re-build his reputation, he needs to say he's sorry about a 100 times and keep his mouth shut about his misery.


Who the heck is fueling the casino fever around here? Governor Patrick mentioned in one speech a willingness to look at the issue as a way to bring in new revenue and suddenly people are dreaming of slots on the Connecticut.

If Patrick and the Legislature can actually agree on a position on casinos, it would be years before any temple to Mammon would be open to collect our paychecks.

Hey, I've got nothing against gambling. It's your money. Spend it as you like. I think that people need to be realistic about the impact of a casino. Look at Atlantic City to see the pros and cons of gaming.

With several Native American groups interested in having casinos on tribal property, one wonders just how many casinos we could have in the region. What would be the impact on the state lottery?

When it comes to the casino issue, people need to slow down, take a deep breath and talk about something real.


I was the reporter who asked Mayor Charles Ryan about his views on the Patrick administration extending the role of the Finance Control Board (FCB) at last week's press conference, and Ryan expressed his goal of seeing the FCB's staying another three years in the city.

"I don't even understand the sense of them leaving. I mean, I'm willing to go into hypothetical questions if someone can tell me why it would make any sense, "Ryan said. "But you're going from something that failed, with some of the same people who were there when it failed, and then you're going back to them, and you're saying, okay, you're in power now, in spite of the fact that you drove us into the Connecticut River; you did nothing to get us out of the Connecticut River, and for some crazy reason you're back in charge. That's not smart."

Traditionally the relationship between any mayor and any city council can be fraught with controversy. After all, sometimes they are allies and sometimes they are opponents.

With the advent of the FCB, the Springfield City Council has become a largely ceremonial body with diminished responsibilities. Naturally the Council would like to get back their power.

The bottom line, though, is whether or not the Council has learned it cannot be a rubber stamp for a popular mayor as it was with Michael Albano. It needs to be a critical, but constructive, body providing a check and balance as well as forward-moving leadership.

While I was covering the last City Council elections, only one incumbent, Tim Rooke, actually publicly apologized for his actions while serving during the Albano administration and pledging to be more fiscally responsible in the future. I give Rooke a lot of credit for saying what he did.

The credibility of the Council is at stake here and the only way it can reclaim it is by restructuring it with ward representation. Some councilors still disagree with that concept, but bringing in direct representation would be another step in the city's recovery.

The sooner we are able to re-invent the Council, the better.


A tip of the reporter's fedora to Heather Brandon who posted a transcript of the Ryan press conference on her excellent blog Urban Compass found at

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.