Toyota

Since the Dilly, Dally, Delay & Stall Law Firms are adding their billable hours, the Toyota U.S.A. and Route 44 Toyota posts have been separated here:

Route 44 Toyota Sold Me A Lemon



Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Abramoff Net

In case you were wondering who Todd Boulanger was, Unheard No More explains and includes this curious statement --
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Boulanger is linked with Kevin Ring former legislative director for former Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA). Ring was indicted in September 2008.
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Some names keep popping up in reference to the Mashpee Wampanoag pursuit of Tribal recognition and casino gold, like Jack Abramoff .
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Glenn Marshall’s Bad Plan predated Marshall's guilty plea --
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....Kevin Ring and Michael Smith, still work with the Mashpee. On the hectic morning of [investor] Len Wolman’s visit,.....
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Len Wolman is part owner of Twin River, a Rhode Island slot parlor and dog track that has filed for bankruptcy to rid itself of dog racing, increase operating hours to 24/7 over the strong opposition of the host community and reduce the percentage of slot revenue paid to the state. A plausible argument might be made that his participation in the Mashpee Wampanoag deal was intended to prevent competition since it was previously done in Rhode Island to prevent Harrah's from conducting gambling, as well as England.
.
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The Mashpee have also benefited from the largesse of Michigan real estate developer Herb Strather, who bankrolled the $1.76 million purchase of the 125-acre spread in Middleborough where the casino will be built.
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...in the mid-1990s Strather...led the push to bring casino gambling to Detroit in the form of the MotorCity Casino, only to suddenly back away from the project shortly before it opened in 1999 after state gaming regulators noted concerns about his past real estate dealings. (The Michigan Gaming Control Board never made public any findings on Strather, but apparently raised enough worry to convince him he wouldn’t qualify for the gaming license he would need to stay on as an investor in the venture.)
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Massachusetts Attorney General Coakley argued for the need to create the appropriate legal framework before consideration is given to expanded gambling.
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Remember, this is the state in which Dianne Wilkerson stuffed a cash bribe in her bra to spend at Foxwoods Casino.

.



.


The article concludes with the following statement --
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Would you expect anything less with casinos involved?


Other articles --
The Abramoff Net

The Gambling Man

Campaign Contributions

An Invitation to Corruption?

Brockton's Dirty Air .....

won't stay in Brockton regardless of how insulated Middleboro pretends it is.


.
.
.
Regarding the Brockton Power Plant, the Brockton Enterprise reports --
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A state energy board has signaled it may approve a construction permit for the 350-megawatt power plant at the meeting in Boston — the last step for the project at the state level.
But Brockton officials who oppose the plant still hope to change the board’s mind.
As part of this, they plan to highlight what the city Board of Health calls a high level of particulate matter in the city — which would rise with the estimated 85 tons of particulates to be emitted by the plant each year.

According to Dockery, many studies link health effects with particulate levels allowed by the EPA.
“I don’t think there’s any evidence that there is a ‘safe’ level” for particulate matter, he said. “It appears that each incremental increase in the particle levels has an associated incremental health effect.”
.

Dirty Coal: On Coal River included --




FACT:


During normal operations there would be only three (3) to seven (7) workers
at the proposed plant.



CHECK:


The Energy Facilities Siting Board Memorandum (Page 41). READ NOW


If They Build It, It Will Bring:


109 Tons per year Carbon Monoxide
10 Tons per year Hazardous Air Pollutants
85 Tons per year Particulate Matter
7 Tons per year Sulfur Dioxide
31 Tons per year Volatile Organic Compounds
107 Tons per year Oxides of Nitrogen1,
134,000 Tons per year Carbon Dioxide



1,600,000 Gallons

.

of Treated Sewage Water Mist



Into Our Air Everyday From cooling towers.


750,000 Gallons of diesel fuel will be stored at the plant, to replenish would require


37 Round Trips each day for 60 days by 10,000 gallon oil tankers delivering diesel.


Brockton is already ranked

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ninth (9th)

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on the list of

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environmentally overburdened

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New England communities.

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Gridlock! Anyone? Add 50,000 cars per day according to the calculations used by the Middleboro Casino Study Committee and maybe as many more to retain 100 employees at the Raynham Slot Parlor, along with the Brockton Power Plant that will employ 20 workers burning diesel fuel.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Seize the Day!

Senator John Kerry addressed US/China relations at the National Press Club Luncheon series -- China and Global Warming
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It's worth viewing. And the Senator included information about China's progress in alternative energy solutions.
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If you read what is being said by scientists or the warnings offered by those who analyze security threats posed by Global Warming, there is little positive on the horizon unless we, as inhabitants of the planet act.

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McKinsey & Co analyzed the potential energy savings to the consumer and economy in terms of: Unlocking energy efficiency in the US economy
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Worth reading -- here's a comment --
.

The research shows that the U.S. economy has the potential to reduce annual non-transportation energy consumption by roughly 23 percent by 2020, eliminating more than $1.2 trillion in waste – well beyond the $520 billion upfront investment (not including program costs) that would be required. The reduction in energy use would also result in the abatement of 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually – the equivalent of taking the entire U.S. fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the roads.


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ENN weighed in on the McKinsey report.

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This from Huffington.


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From Scientific American --

Senator John Kerry, a leading architect of climate change legislation being drawn up in the U.S. Senate, on Wednesday said the bill will have tough controls to stop abusive financial market speculation on pollution permits that will be traded among companies.


By encouraging the broader use of alternative energies like solar and wind power to replace dirty coal- and oil-burning utilities and manufacturing, the legislation would fundamentally change the way energy is produced in the United States.


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World will warm faster than predicted in next five years, study warns
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Green has even forced its way into the Boston mayoral race --
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Following the lead of Chicago, New York, and other cities, mayoral candidate Sam Yoon will introduce legislation with the City Council tonight to offer financial incentives for people to convert Boston rooftops into green space, as part of a wider “GreenPrint’’ for the city his campaign unveiled yesterday.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How come ..... ?

If a toy or food endangered a child's life, protesters would flood the offices of elected officials demanding attention, correction and action.


In Las Vegas --

Dr. Stanley Lowenbraun, a once-successful Louisville cancer doctor who fell into financial ruin because of a gambling addiction, was found dead in a hotel room at a Las Vegas casino on June 20.
Lowenbraun, 66, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the Las Vegas Hilton, according to the Clark County, Nev., coroner's office.



From the UK --

The father-of-two kept his addiction secret from his wife – borrowing cash from loan sharks and piling money on credit cards – until the family almost became homeless.
His case has been highlighted by support workers as the devastating impact of an “invisible problem” gripping homes in Cumbria.
And they suspect that wider debt masks the true impact of gambling addiction in the county.
The human cost of the issue was highlighted at Carlisle Crown Court....


“Gambling is an invisible problem......

Another Betting Addict --

37-year-old John Robinson not only fleeced his wife but also stole money from the accounts of her mother, who was in a care home, and her disabled son.

...he kept on gambling in the hope that a win would put everything right.

....said that his gambling madness had led him to 'throw away the good life that he had'.

He had lost everything and when he vanished it was because he was going to commit suicide but had handed himself in when that had not worked.


Friend and fellow blogger at Carl's Casino Quotes reported --

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) has operated the statewide problem gambling helpline in Florida for the past 21 years. Fiscal year 2008/2009 statistics showed significant increases in statewide problem gambling. The FCCG received 13,998 contacts to its 24-Hour, toll free, problem gambling HelpLine, 888-ADMIT-IT, during this period, with over 4,400 of those requests for help and information. This represents a 5% increase in contacts in the past year and a 19% increase over the past two years.

Embezzlement arrests in the state have risen nearly 400 percent .....

Statistics have faces and families.

Have we become so totally duped by an industry that produces no product, makes fantastic profits, buys the best marketing, public relations advice and slanted research, that we can ignore, excuse or rationalize the promotion of Predatory Gambling by government? Or the most tragic consequences?

How come we can ignore individuals who make of the statistics?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gridlock!

The Brockton Enterprise reported that traffic was at a standstill because of a car fire in the breakdown lane.



Oh?




Add 50,000 vehicles per day travelling to The World's Largest Middleboro Mega Monster Casino (call it "Resort" if it soothes your conscience) once Kerzner and Wolman absolve themselves of financial risk in Rhode Island and that's going to look like what?


















Road Trip and Divisiveness not Kumbaya don't even begin to present the scope.




Now add to that Gridlock and Smog, the existing Massachusetts Dirty Coal Fired Power Plants, the proposed Brockton Power Plant and already poor air quality hovering over Southeastern Massachusetts,additional traffic to the Raynham Slot Parlor proposed by Senator Pacheco and Rep. Flynn for which no impacts have been included in the legislation.


There are no limitations on hours of operation contained within the bill Senator Pacheco presented. 24/7?




Third World Country anyone?


All to protect what, 100 jobs in Raynham?


The Racino Job Mythos

During a recent conversation with Senator Pacheco, the Senator indicated that "saving" the race tracks with slot machines was important because it represented 1,440 FAMILIES (whatever that carefully worded analysis means).
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The Casino Job Mythos was written last year, prior to the statewide referendum that banned Greyhound Racing.
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The Globe picked a number out of the air that contradicted the state's own figures of 707 employees at ALL tracks, cars included.
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Even Governor Carcieri of Rhode Island pooh poohs the figures that are presented.
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From Hollywood Slots, our counterparts in Maine:
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The most significant justification
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to voters for allowing a gambling
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casino in Maine was that it would
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revive a dying industry: harness racing.
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Same argument. Same justification.
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And from Indiana, same words, different day:
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Track officials said revenue from the slots
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was needed to keep their tracks and the
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horse racing in Indiana viable, and they
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agreed to pay $250 million each over two
.
years to get the slots, as well as spend at
.
least $100 million each to build the new casinos.
.
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One estimate in that study suggests that
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every slot machine removes one job
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permanently from the local economy.
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Why? Because when you think about it, it is a reverse ATM. It spins some lights and sucks money out of your bank account and out of the local economy, transferring to a wealthy corporation. ).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An Invitation to Corruption?

In 1998, Casino and Gambling interest contributed $6,385,318.
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In 2008, contributions totaled $16,946,417.
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Do you think it means anything?
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(Indian Gaming contributions broken out separately.)
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Recipients in the 2008 election cycle were revealing, with top gambling money recipient, Harry Reid (D-NV) garnering $433,150. Give 'em Hell Harry!
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Open Secrets includes the following background statement:
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This big-bucks industry occupies a tenuous position in the minds of some politicians weighing a potential boost in tax revenue and tourist dollars against concerns about gambling’s moral legitimacy and the negative perception that gambling can lead to addiction, abuse and illegal behavior. As such, various groups within the industry donate large amounts of money to federal officials partly in an attempt to help these politicians make up their minds. As gambling has expanded beyond Las Vegas since the early 1990s, the industry’s political giving at the federal level has grown dramatically—despite the fact that most gambling regulations are made at the state and local levels.
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In 2006, Richard Pombo (R-CA) was top House recipient with $245,731. In case memory doesn't serve, Wikipedia provided highlights of the sordid tale: Richard Pombo and Jack Abramoff. Omitted were many details, like the Mashpee Wampanoag connection for those with a local interest.
.
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Attorney General Coakley stressed the urgency to address the surrounding legal issues BEFORE the Massachusetts Legislature careens into approving slot parlors (at Greyhound Tracks), Racinos (to bail out the failing horse racing tracks) or Casinos (that we euphemistically call "Resort Casinos"). As political contributions and corruption convictions escalate, considering the cost might be wise as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Casinos are a Bad Bet"

Friend and fellow blogger, Ryan Adams posted a great program discussing the Local Impacts of casinos that's worth the time to view --

"Casinos are a Bad Bet"


The more you think about the expenses and costs, the less sense this seems to make.

Truth to Power called for a Cost: Benefit Study.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Just the facts, ma'am

Some look on at the Providence Journal reporting and sigh "I told you so."

.

..lobbyists for the mostly out-of-state dog owners and their union backers at the State House won the lawmakers over with arguments — based on a disputed 2003 report — that the elimination of greyhound racing would result in the loss of 225 jobs and of $7.5 million in direct and indirect state revenue, including the millions of dollars in slot play by gamblers lured to the track by the dog races.


.


The state’s own 2004 analysis found that racing “has a no effect on VLT revenues.” Bottom line: Wagering on the dog races has dropped from $37.9 million a decade ago to $13.2 million in 2008, with the owners getting roughly $1.7 million and the state just shy of $1 million after the winners were paid.

.



[Governor Carcieri] also questioned the claimed loss of 225 jobs, noting that state licensing records reflect “fewer than half that number of individuals currently licensed and authorized to work at Twin River in positions related to the live dog races.”

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Residents of the Commonwealth have been marketed, stampeded, overwhelmed, oversold and bombarded with one-sided gambling industry propaganda for nigh on 2 years about the Wonder of It All!

.


.


It's time to gather the facts, assess the costs and make an informed decision.

Truth to Power --

"We believe that once you examine the facts, the revenue and expenses, and give casino/slots a fair examination, they should be opposed because we simply can't afford to subsidize wealthy investors."

Swift Boating Wind

T. Boone Pickens might be forgiven for his Swift Boating because of his apparent death bed conversion to Going Green, but it was not to be as he has quietly abandoned his wind farm project, but not other ventures to enhance his fortunes.


So much for the vaunted Pickens Plan. Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens' massively publicized scheme to build a $10 billion wind farm in West Texas has discreetly been put on hold. Pickens cites the difficulty securing financing during the credit crisis, but has also told reporters that energy prices would have to rise again before the project becomes economically viable.


Although his motives have been revealed, the dialogue has begun.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NIMBYism

In reply to Senator Kennedy's NIMBY Legacy, Chris Kaiser left the following comment:

Great post. I hate hypocrites who support NIMBY. I linked to this article in my most recent NIMBY post. Let me know what you think!

http://blog.mapawatt.com/2009/07/15/nimby-chasing-a-legacy/

LINK

Chris has a lot of solid information posted on the right side of his blog, written in simple terms for people like me to comprehend. Take a look at some of his ideas. His blog has been added to links on the right. Check it out for energy saving ideas.

Another Casualty

Antoine Walker Fails To Pay Gambling Markers, Warrant Issued
Antoine Walker has become the latest ex-NBA player that has gone to Las Vegas, gambled, and not paid his debts. That is according to a criminal complaint that was filed on behalf of three Vegas casinos this week.

He wrote ten checks at $100,000 each and presented them to the casino.

Last year, Charles Barkley, a legendary NBA player and current TNT analyst, was in a similar situation as Walker. Barkley eventually repaid all of his markers, but not before he had to suffer public humiliation.

Times have changed!

It used to be that casino companies were immune to the problems of the economy. People would come out and gamble no matter what their economic position. Times have changed.
Link

They sure have!

Each of the Gambling Cheerleaders at Senator Spilka's "educational forum" indicated "times have changed" and gambling revenues and licensing fees are no longer what they were.

.

In 2008, cancellation of a billion dollar expansion at Mohegan Sun was announced.

Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority to Suspend Earth Expansion of Mohegan Sun

The total project budget for the Earth Expansion and the parking garage components, the remaining components of Project Horizon, was approximately $734.0 million.

.

July 2009, CT slot revenues down 10%

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Atlantic City casinos actually dropped in revenue almost twenty-five percent a couple of months ago. The city is being increasingly hurt by gambling expansion in neighboring states.

Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand are making a play for gamblers in Atlantic City, and it now appears the casinos need to steal AC casino customers more than ever. The two casinos reported their slot revenue this morning, and it was down nearly ten percent.

.

It's pretty bizarre to believe that a "Tribe" operating a wildly profitable casino that only pays $500,000 per year to its host community couldn't afford to move forward with a Billion Dollar expansion program.

What's even more bizarre is that the "Tribe" rented a storefront in Palmer, a town most have never heard of, proclaimed INEVITABILITY and psyched out elected officials.

.

Footnote to Middleboro:

Palmer -- In 2007, 150 acres were sold (~ $20,000 per acre) --

John Lizak, a large property owner in Palmer, said yesterday that he sold the property at the heart of the Mohegan deal to Northeast Realty for about $3 million.

.
Middleboro got how much?

Being played for fools?

Sometimes, when you think you don't have the money to pay for an attorney, that's exactly the time to pay for an attorney well-versed in the applicable laws.
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1. Two Supreme Court decisions now appear to render Land Into Trust and Casino Shopping a non-issue. Would a discussion with an attorney well-versed in Constitutional Law, IGRA, IRA, Supreme Court decisions or comparable expertise be a wise investment?
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29 states signed on to the Hawaii decision. Somehow, 30 states supporting the case might negate any quick fix. Much the same as a Carcieri Fix.
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2. The land proposed for a Mega Casino Bingo Parlor in Middleboro is NOT owned by the "Tribe" that proposed to impose this Monster on the region. It's owned by casino investors.
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3. The Agreement the Tribe has or had with investors has an unknown expiration date at which time the Tribe must repay the investors' money. Their only asset? It seems to be land in Mashpee.
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4. The waters are rather murky about who planned to pay for the Middleboro Fiasco, but deep pocket investors Kerzner and Wolman, now divesting themselves in bankruptcy court of their Twin River money pit, seem none too credit worthy.
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Keep in mind that ANY development that includes 50,000 cars per day, mandates upgrades of "infrastructure" -- ROADS!
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SRPEDD offered information that hurt Middleboro's itty biddies.
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The Middleboro Agreement includes a provision that the "Tribe" (meaning casino investors) would pay for Route 44 upgrades. Although that's inadequate, what commercial venture would accept such terms in an economic downturn in which each of the pro-casino experts who testified at Senator Spilka's "educational forum" indicated that gambling is not as profitable as it once was? And some have said that Middleboro successfully shot itself in the foot and sacrificed a potential "shovel ready" project for some "pie in the sky" that evaporated with the SCOTUS decisions.
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Some have questioned if the "investors" pursued this location to prevent competition for the Twin River Money Pit. After all, those investors were generous in their campaign advertising to defeat a Rhode Island referendum and keep Harrah's out. And much the same was done in England.
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Some have even questioned why Middleboro never did an impact study.
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Someone say the "investors" were only paying the "planning fees" to keep competition out and pending a commercial venture.
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5. Apparently, no one has reviewed the BIA submission because rumor has it that it was grossly deficient and flawed.
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6. Someone questioned if spending $22 MILLION for water improvements to benefit the "Tribe" should be paid for by the "Tribe"
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And, yet the Middleboro Board of Selectmen, instead of gathering factual information, investing in legal expertise, continue to follow the Fool's Gold.
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True to form, Middleboro's very own Gavel Queen knows the facts:
.
Selectwoman Marsha L. Brunelle said the selectmen gave the Resort Advisory Committee an extensive list of areas that needed to be addressed and a timeline.
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Marsha, could you point out where we could easily find the LIST on the PTWS (for the uninitiated, Pathetic Town Web Site that the Town Manager is supposedly working on)?
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All I've heard has convinced me It T'Ain't Comin'
.
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Plan all you want with other people's money, but do you think you could resolve the mess of the Zoning Regulations and Planning Regulations so that a readable copy is available for purchase and available online, just like other towns?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mashpee Wampanoag Pipedreams

In response to my tepid comments about the potential Middleboro Mega Bingo Hall, a regular reader sent the following:



Much more important, the Hawaii decision, which everyone is forgetting!! This decision puts the nail in the coffin for investers' Reservation Shopping, especially in New England.

The March, Carcieri v Salazar ruling from SCOTUS says that tribes not "now" federally recognized and under federal jurisdiction in 1934 are not eligible for federal trust under the IRA and created a limit to Secretary of Interior authority. There are about 562 tribes currently recognized but there were only 59 IRA tribes on the list. The potential impact is staggering.

Within weeks of the 8-1 Carcieri v Salazar decision, a second strike on fee to trust was issued. This time it came from a case originating in the state of Hawaii. In the 9-0 decision on Hawaii v. the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Justice Alito wrote, "It would raise grave constitutional concerns" Congress sought to "cloud Hawaii's title to its sovereign lands" after it had joined the Union. "We have emphasized that Congress cannot, after statehood reserve or convey....lands that have already been bestowed upon a state". How many readers of this paper could be effected by issues concerning land that has been "bestowed upon a state"; as an original colony, through disestablished territory or when the territory entered into statehood?

The hat trick came from the Navajo Nation v. United States, Essentially, in this 9-0 decision SCOTUS ruled that it is necessary to have a statute or a regulation establishing trust.

Congressional hearings have been held and some of those in Congress believe that although they have tried there is no fix to the Carcieri decision. FEE TO TRUST IS IN TROUBLE.




As I suggested in Maybe it's time for an attorney? , maybe it's time for an attorney?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Racism at West Moreland, Pennsylvania's Valley Club

Coming home on the commuter rail, I shared my lunch and enjoyed the company of an endearing and charming "gentleman. "
.
We shared numerous details of our personal lives - I mostly listened to his, and sadly admit that I didn't understand all of his conversation.
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He explained the details of a movie he viewed in Boston, unfamiliar to me and he shared the wisdom of his years -- 5 years to be precise.
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The train was air conditioned and he put on his sweat shirt.
.
When I put mine over my head, we shared a few comments about curly 'dos,' mine being only slightly less curly than his.
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We shared the map of the train stops and he commented about which was next and counted the number 'til he was 'home.'
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My charming lunch companion never noticed that his skin was decidedly darker than mine, nor did I. He was just intent on continuing our interesting luncheon dialogue.

When I reviewed emails accumulated during my luncheon encounter, I discovered Color of Change reported about a particularly egregious incident of racism ---


Two weeks ago outside Philadelphia, 65 children from a summer camp tried to go swimming at a club that their camp had a contract to use. Apparently, the people at the club didn't know that the group of kids was predominantly Black.






View more news videos at: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/video.





When the campers entered the pool, White parents allegedly took their kids out of the water, and the swimming club's staff asked the campers to leave. The next day, the club told the summer camp that their membership would be canceled and that their payment would be refunded. When asked why, the club's manager said that a lot of kids "would change the complexion ... and the atmosphere of the club."


A "Whites only" pool in 2009 should not be tolerated. The club's actions appear to be a violation of section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act. Whether or not any laws were violated, a "Whites only" pool should be something every American condemns.

















Caution is advised in viewing the video below due to an obscenity.














"Pool Boots Kids Who Might "Change the Complexion," NBC Philadelphia, 07-08-09 http://bit.ly/90Zyr


"Section 1981 Summary," Employment Law Information Network
http://www.elinfonet.com/1981sum.php

"60 Black Kids Booted from Philly Pool For Being Black -- Speak Out," Jill Tubman at Jack and Jill Politics, 07-08-09
http://bit.ly/GkJTs


VIDEO: "Please Don't Change the Complexion of our Pool," This Week in Blackness, 07-08-09
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saTCMJVYljU


"Swim Club Accused of Discrimination," FOX 29 Philadelphia, 07-08-09
http://bit.ly/7EKGy
"Valley Swim Club: Day Two," Adam B at Daily Kos, 07-08-09
http://bit.ly/qbpSA







Casino proponents in Middleboro were alarmed when Glenn "The Felon" Marshall suggested to them that casino opponents were racists.


Since Casino Proponents in Middleboro have expressed their widespread concern and opposition of racism, I share this in the sincere belief that this incident is deserving of widespread condemnation and hope those vocal critics will step forward in their comments about the Valley Club.

.

.




Since I was present on two occasions when Glenn "The Felon" Marshall repeated verbatim his racist criticism, if anyone is in contact with him in his federal abode, maybe they could share this incident in hopes that he would speak out for these children based on his sincere concern about racism.

Massachusetts Attorney General Announces Energy Consumer Liaison Group

The Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, has announced --

Energy Consumer Liaison Group Kick-Off Meeting July 29, 2009

As the Massachusetts ratepayer advocate, one of my concerns is that actual consumers of energy - businesses, individuals and their advocates - are often not at the table when decisions are made about the costs and the reliability of the energy that we receive. The decision-making process can often be too complicated, time consuming, and costly for consumers and their advocates to play a meaningful role.

That is why my Office pushed for ISO New England Inc., the region's bulk power operator, to create a Consumer Liaison Group (CLG), which will meet periodically with leaders at ISO, to give consumers and their advocates an opportunity to participate in decision making regarding the region's electrical system. Many of the most important decisions that affect the price and reliability of energy in New England are made by ISO. We urge consumers and their advocates to participate in the CLG - it is open to all.


The first meeting of the CLG is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Doubletree Hotel in Westborough, MA.

Below is the invitation that ISO issued regarding the meeting, which includes information about how to register.

Please contact Jed Nosal, Chief of our Energy & Telecommunications Division, at (617) 963-2106 if you have any questions.

We hope you will join us on July 29.

Cordially,

Martha Coakley
Massachusetts Attorney General



Message from ISO-New England, Inc.

ISO New England Inc., operator of the region's bulk power system and wholesale electricity markets, is beginning a very important initiative to enhance consumer involvement in the regional electricity system's decision-making process. Consumers pay for the infrastructure investments needed on the electric system to ensure that it is reliable and adequate to meet growing demands. However, they may not have an opportunity to get involved in the considerations that lead to these investments, including how the electric system is operated, planned and built, and the rules governing the region's wholesale electric markets. ISO New England is working with consumer-focused organizations including states' attorneys general and consumer advocates to create a Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) to provide such an opportunity. The purpose of the CLG is to establish a forum for the sharing of information between ISO New England and those who ultimately use and pay for electricity in New England. The goal is for consumers and consumer representatives to gain a greater understanding of ISO activities and proposals, and the decision-making process regarding these activities, and to increase their overall knowledge of the operation of the bulk power system and wholesale electricity markets. In turn, ISO New England will benefit from direct communications with consumer representatives and develop a better understanding of consumer issues and concerns relative to the electric system.

By way of background, ISO New England serves as the regional transmission organization (RTO) for the six-state New England region ensuring reliable electric service for all consumers. In this role, ISO New England is responsible for the day-to-day reliable operation of New England's bulk power generation and transmission system; fair administration of the region's wholesale electricity markets; and long-term regional planning. ISO New England is a non-profit, private corporation and has no financial holding or interest in any company doing business in the region's wholesale electricity marketplace, is governed by an independent board, and receives its jurisdiction from the federal government. ISO New England is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the independent agency that oversees the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, and electricity. In this regard, all of the decisions made by ISO New England must be approved by FERC. In fact, it was FERC's two-year examination of the competitiveness of wholesale markets and responsiveness of regional transmission organizations and independent system operators that led ISO New England to conduct a process to see how it could improve its responsiveness to New England stakeholders, including consumers. Consumer representatives actively participated in the process and, along with the diverse stakeholder groups that make up the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL), spearheaded formation of the CLG. NEPOOL is the stakeholder organization that advises ISO New England, and represents a diverse set of interests, including electricity end-users. NEPOOL fulfills this role through a comprehensive stakeholder process that allows for consideration of the current performance of the market, as well as proposals to modify and improve the marketplace. In addition to involvement with the ISO, the CLG will also assist consumers to participate more actively and meaningfully in this process.

Please join us for the kick-off meeting of the CLG, to be held on Wednesday, July 29 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Doubletree Hotel in Westborough, MA, to hear about and shape this new important initiative.

At this first meeting, there will be a discussion about the CLG leadership structure and ongoing work with ISO-NE. The meeting is open to all and an agenda will be available as we get closer to the meeting date. In the meantime, please feel free to forward this invitation to those you believe will benefit from the group and anyone else who may be interested.

To register for this meeting, please visit the ISO-NE website (Note: you will have to log into your ISO TEN account before you can register). For questions or comments, please contact Carolyn O'Connor at coconnor@iso-ne.com or (413) 535-4129.

Dept. of Revenue, Division of Local Services: Local Option

From DOR/DLS --

This Bulletin provides preliminary information about the procedures for implementing sections of the Fiscal Year 2010 state budget regarding local option excises on restaurant meals and room occupancies.

Click on or copy and paste the following link to your Internet browser:

http://www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/dls/publ/bull/2009/2009_15B.pdf

or

LINK

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dept. of Revenue, Division of Local Services: Chapterland

From the Department of Revenue, DLS --


The FVAC Chapter Land Recommended Value - Fiscal Year 2010 have been edited and posted to the DLS website to reflect the new and updated Property Type Classification Codes issued in June 2009. (Please note there have been no changes to values.)

http://www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/dls/bla/farmland/fy10/fy10chapterland.pdf

OR -

LINK

MBPC: Budget Analysis

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center offered a detailed analysis of state budget that's worth reviewing. Instead of offering predigested sound bytes, MBPC always offers detailed information about complex budgetary topics:


The Legislature’s Fiscal Year 2010 Budget
with the Governor’s Vetoes and Amendments

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Select article section to view:
Education
Environment & Recreation
Health Care
Human Services
Infrastructure, Housing & Economic Development
Law & Public Safety
Local Aid
Other
Revenue
Budget by Program Area

This Budget Monitor provides an analysis of the budget enacted by the Legislature, the Governor’s vetoes, and the additional changes he has recommended. Overall, this budget spends more than a billion dollars less than the budget enacted last July. It also represents a reduction of approximately $2.4 billion below the level that would be required to provide the same level of services as the Fiscal Year 2009 budget funded. (This number is larger than the simple difference between the two bottom lines because inflation has increased costs, and job losses associated with the recession have made more people eligible for safety net programs such as Medicaid and homeless services.) The primary challenge at each step of the FY 2010 budget process has been the growing budget deficit facing the state. By early May, declining revenue estimates had increased the FY 2010 budget gap to approximately $5 billion. The Legislature’s final budget uses a combination of strategies, including steep cuts, new taxes and temporary revenues to close the gap. The revenue section of this Monitor details each of the revenue components the Legislature uses to fill the budget gap, but the general strategies are:

Cuts and savings: $2.2 billion
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA): $1.657 billion
Additional tax revenue: $608.7 million
Additional revenue from fees: $206.5 million
Use of reserve funds: $339.5 million


The most prominent strategy used by the Legislature to confront the budget deficit was to cut services and implement cost-saving initiatives. Virtually every aspect of state services will be affected by the $2.408 billion in spending reductions (of which $2.2 billion goes to closing the budget gap).1 Among the areas particularly hard hit by cuts are public health programs, education grants, MassHealth coverage, and unrestricted local aid to cities and towns.
The largest source of new revenue used to close the budget gap is federal stimulus money. The $1.657 billion is a combination of ARRA funds for education, Medicaid reimbursements, and funds to help pay for increased TANF caseloads. While some federal stimulus funds will continue to be available in FY 2011, the amount will be significantly less than is being used in FY 2010. The difference will have to be addressed by new revenue sources, use of available state reserves, or additional cuts in FY 2011 and beyond, unless the federal government provides additional state fiscal relief beyond that authorized in ARRA.
2

New taxes and fees account for $815.2 million of the Legislature’s approach to closing the FY 2010 gap. The bulk of this new revenue ($562.7 million) is from a 1.25 percentage point sales tax increase and the elimination of the sales tax exemption on alcohol. These tax changes will actually generate $837.8 million in FY 2009; however, $275 million of the new tax revenue is dedicated to addressing fiscal problems at the Massachusetts Turnpike and MBTA, and does not directly address the budget gap. The remainder of the new revenue comes from changes to assessments for nursing homes, new taxes on satellite broadcast services, and other smaller tax and fee changes (see the Revenue section of this Budget Monitor for a complete discussion of tax and fee changes in the FY 2010 budget).

The use of state reserves fills $339.5 million of the budget gap in the Legislature’s budget. The largest source of this one-time revenue ($308.5 million) is due to withdrawals from and foregone deposits to the state Stabilization Fund. Additional revenues are drawn from funds dedicated to clean energy investment, smart housing growth and other policy areas. The Governor’s veto message and companion legislation reduces these transfers from smaller funds to only $9 million, as opposed to the $31 million included in the Legislature’s budget.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Clarification: Senator Spilka's Casino Love Fest

After Senator Spilka's Casino Love Fest that allowed casino/racino/slot parlor supporters to present their mostly one-sided informational forum, the following email was sent to Senator Spilka and Menmbers of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technology, that would include: Sen Susan Tucker, Sen. Michael Morrissey, Sen. Anthony Petruccelli, Sen. Stanley Rosenberg --



To: Chair Karen Spilka and Members of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technology.

From: Tom Larkin
Licensed Psychologist

Re: June 29, 2009 Hearing on Gambling

Date:July 1, 2009

Thank you for holding the Hearing. I found it very interesting. This communication is offered to assist you in your deliberations.

1-There appeared to be some misunderstanding, during the hearing, about projections of people with gambling problems.


The attached article attempts to help you understand projections and other aspects of the problem. I hope you find it helpful.

Projections are estimates. Generally, gambling addiction projections are considered to be underestimated because people with gambling problems self refer at only about 3%, compared to people with alcohol (15%) and drug (25%) problems. (Refer to the attached article to better understand the connection between alcohol and other drugs and gambling).

Pathological gambling projections represent a minority on the gambling addiction continuum. They are one aspect of the total number of people with gambling problems. Pathological gambler projections refer to only a small percentage,1 to 2% of the general population and 4 to 5% of active gamblers. Problem gamblers are another significant portion, about 5% of the general population and 9% of active gamblers. At risk gamblers are another group estimated to be about 18% of active gamblers. Therefore, based on National Gambling Impact Study Commission research, expect 1 out of 3 active gamblers to have some level of gambling problem.

Naturally, supporters of the expansion of legalized gambling seek to minimize the problem, hoping public officials interpret the gambling addiction problem as manageable, therefore they usually only refer to projections of pathological gamblers within the total general population (1 to 2 %).

As Dr. Goodman pointed out, increasing gambling opportunities, will increase the total number of pathological, problem and at risk gamblers in the Commonwealth.

2-The presentation of Dr. Hans Breiter, about neuroimaging and gambling addiction, was interesting. However, as a psychologist, I am bound to remind you that all addictions are acquired through the interaction of the brain and central nervous system with a complex variety of both social and psychological influences. All 3 are equally relevant to understanding how all addictions, including gambling, are learned, reinforced and treated.

3-Your Hearing seemed to me to be primarilly about managing the problem of expanding legalized gambling, as though the decision has already been made.


Is it politically naive to suggest future hearings focus first, on whether the state should indeed expand legalized gambling???! !!! This is best done by comparing the costs of any specific proposal to expand legalized gambling with the benefits. There is abundant empirical evidence, from many indepedent sources, showing that, generally, costs outweigh benefits. (Please refer to the references in the attached article, especially Grinols and the National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report.) Please avoid relying on studies done by the gambling industry or their supporters. (This is very challenging, but essential to the credibility of the process of your deliberations) .

4-Finally, I suggest you focus on where the money comes from. Many independent studies indicate about 80% of money lost, comes from low socio-economic groups. Gambling revenues are relentlessly regressive.


About 1/3rd of people, do not gamble at all. Of the 2/3rds that gamble, it is true, they generally do not have gambling problems and it is relatively harmless for them. (As most people who drink do not have drinking problems, but those with drinking problems cause enormous social instability) Supporters of expanding gambling neglect to additionally point out, that large group, for whom gambling is harmless, do not lose much. Like the shameful regressivity of the Lottery, expanded gambling in Massachusetts will inevitably depend, for the giant share of their revenues, on those who can least afford to lose.

I commend you for trying to understand this complex problem.


I would be happy to assist you in any way I can.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Tom Larkin


Gambling Addiction

By Tom Larkin

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

I-Understanding Gambling Addiction

Gambling problems are defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV), as persistent and recurring maladaptive gambling behaviors characterized by distortions in thinking. DSM-IV sets out 10 criteria;


1-Preoccupation with gambling, 2-Increasingly larger bets and risks, 3-Repeated unsuccessful efforts to cut back or stop, 4-Restless and irritable when attempting to cut back or stop, 5-Gambling to escape or relieve a dysphoric mood (dissatisfaction),
6- Returning to get even, (“chasing” ones losses with greater risks), 7-Lies to conceal the extent of gambling involvement, 8-Committed illegal acts to finance gambling,
9-Jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job or education, 10-Relies on others to relieve a desperate gambling financial situation. (1)

Pathological gamblers exhibit 5 or more criteria. (About 4% of active gamblers)
Problem gamblers exhibit 3 or 4 criteria (About 9% of active gamblers)
At Risk gamblers exhibit 1 or 2 criteria (About 18% of active gamblers)

The gambling industry uses general population projections of pathological and problem gamblers (1.7% to 3.8%) in an effort to minimize the extent of self defeating gambling behaviors. Using the 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report (NGISC) active gambler prevalence estimates, about 30% exhibit some level of self defeating gambling behavior. (8, pages 4-1 to 4-9) Gambling problems, like all addictive behaviors, fall on a continuum from mild (at risk gamblers), moderate (problem gamblers) to severe (pathological gamblers).

The cognitive-behavioral psychological approach to addictive behaviors holds that self defeating thoughts, feelings and behaviors, like healthy patterns, are learned and reinforced through the interaction of physical, environmental and psychological influences. (2, 3, 6) The expansion of legalized gambling influences both our environment and the way people think, feel and behave within that environment. The irrational thoughts that drive both unhealthy feelings (dysphoria, low frustration tolerance and depression etc.) and self defeating behaviors (abuse of alcohol and other drugs, criminal behaviors and maladaptive gambling etc.) are exaggerated, demanding and denigrating. Psychologist Albert Ellis described 3 fundamental irrational beliefs;


1-I must succeed , be loved and respected or I am a failure
2-Others must treat me fairly and respect me or they are bad people
3-The world must treat me fairly or it is a rotten place
Treatment seeks to dispute and replace these self defeating ways of thinking. (3)

II-SMART Recovery and Gambling Addiction

The focus of SMART Recovery self help groups are as applicable to gambling as to alcohol or any other self defeating behavior or feeling. (9, 5)
-Strengthening and maintaining motivation to change
-Coping with urges
-Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors
-Developing a balanced lifestyle

It is important to understand that gambling problems interact with many other self defeating feelings and behaviors. (5, 10) About 50% of people with gambling problems also have problems with alcohol and other drugs. About 40% of those incarcerated and the formerly incarcerated have a history of maladaptive gambling problems. Gambling problems correlate highly with depression, anxiety disorders, suicide attempts, child neglect, abuse and abandonment, domestic violence, homelessness, school drop outs, divorce, criminal behaviors, bankruptcy and the other DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. If group members work on their gambling problem but continue to drink, the likelihood of a gambling relapse is great. However, in SMART Recovery, the group members set their own goals. Cognitive-behavioral tools can be generalized to other problems. (5, 10)

Assuming acknowledgement of a gambling problem, the setting of a goal to abstain or moderate the problem and a commitment to practice changing thoughts feelings and behaviors, the following tools and techniques may be helpful;


1-Compare irrational with rational thoughts, for example;

Irrational Thoughts Rational Thoughts
I am a loser, I might as well gamble I decide whether I gamble
I must be a winner or I am worthless I am worthwhile, win, lose or draw
I am a failure. If I win I am a success There is more to success than money
Life has dealt me a poor hand I can cope and enjoy life without gambling
I cannot win if I do not play Given my history, gambling is very risky
I must win now at any cost Things can get worse, much worse

2-Do an ABC on dysphoria and the urge to gamble
Activating Event-Dysphoria and the urge to gamble
Irrational Beliefs-If I lose I’m a loser, if I win I’m a winner
Consequence-Relapse, continue gambling behavior
Dispute-My gambling is a big problem. I have many reasons not to gamble.
Effect-I have many satisfactions in life; my family, work, hobbies and health.

3-Do a cost-benefit analysis of gambling and of not gambling
Use time lines. Try to shift the focus toward long term thinking.


4-Do unconditional self acceptance and value clarification exercises

-Gambling is driven by feelings of dissatisfaction. Do a hierarchy of values, focusing on the things in life that are satisfying, other than having money. This list usually includes; time with children, family, health, happiness experiences that are free, education, hobbies, credibility (credit cards), loving relationships, special skills, volunteer work, politics, sports, the arts (music, books, films, TV), computer use, spirituality, friendships etc. It is important that the brainstorming come from the group and not the Facilitator.


-Demonstrate the over generalizing fallacy of putting yourself down instead of your behaviors. The human condition is such that all people exhibit both good and bad behaviors at different times. Teach acceptance of self, but not self defeating behaviors.

5-Behavioral Tools

-Brainstorm healthy activities to replace gambling; sports, books, exercise, taking a course, helping others with their drinking or gambling problem.


-Find new non-gambling friends and people who have coped with gambling.

-Acknowledge the gambling problem and take pride in abstaining instead of being ashamed to discuss it with family and friends.

-Practice low cost satisfactory experiences such as taking a walk in the park, reading the morning newspaper, learning to play bridge, doing puzzles and joining a committee at church or on town boards.

-Study gambling’s mathematical certainties. Learn why the house always wins. Become an expert on gambling. Learn how gambling exploits the poor, the less educated and the emotionally vulnerable. Become an activist opposed to expanded gambling.

6-Keep a journal of coping self statements and quotes about gambling.

-“Life’s goal is to enjoy myself, not prove myself.”


-Gambling is driven by exaggerated feelings of dissatisfaction and unworthiness.

-Money has become equated with worth. Gambling has become its short cut. Self worth is far more than money. It is contentment, health, relationships and happiness.

-“I can enjoy life without ever gambling again. If I continue to gamble, I risk my emotional health, my family’s stability and my long range goals.”

-“The gambling industry exploit people like me. I will refuse to be exploited.”

-“ I am rich because I am alive, healthy, have family relationships and have learned to enjoy life, in spite of its grim realities.”

-“The thing about the rat race is that, even when you win, you’re still a rat.” Lily Tomlin





References

1-Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition -1994

2-DiClemente, Carlo C. Addiction and Change, Guilford Press, 2003

3-Dryden, Windy. Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy-Theoretical Developments, Brunner-Routledge Publishers, 2003

4-Grinols, Earl. Gambling in America-Costs and Benefits, Cambridge University Press, NY, NY, 2005

5-Horvath, Thomas. Sex, Drugs, Gambling and Chocolate, Impact Publishers, Inc. 1989

7-National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. (ncalg@ncalg.org)

8-National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report. 1999

9-SMART Recovery Handbook-2nd Edition 2004

10-Whelan, James P., Steenbergh, Timothy A. and Meyers, Andrew W. Problem and Psychological Gambling, Hogrefe & Huber Publishers, Cambridge, Ma. 2007


Tom Larkin is a licensed psychologist and a Facilitator for SMART Recovery, a free abstinence based program. Go to
www.SMARTRecovery.org for a list of area meetings.
Go to
tomlarkin@verizon.net to provide feedback.


April, 2008



Department of Revenue

From DOR/DLS --

1. Time Adjusting Sale Prices
For most assessors it has been many years since the real estate market necessitated they consider whether or not Time Adj us ting Sale Prices was important. The Division of Local Services has created a PowerPoint presentation that demonstrates three generally acceptable methods of time trending in order to be of assistance to local assessors should they decide that trending is desirable. Click on link below:
http://www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/dls/bla/Time_Adj_Sales_Prices1.pps


2. Property Type Classification Codes Booklet
A revised Property Type Classification Codes Booklet was released today. The changes reflect Chapterland code revisions in Open Space and Chapter 61 and 61A categories as well as the deletion of Exempt Property codes that are currently included in the GASB 34 Codes. Click on link below:
http://www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/dls/bla/classificationcodebook.pdf