Yesterday, the Florida’s Senate Gaming Committee held its second public workshop recently to hear local perspectives about the future of gambling in the state as well as the potential social and economic impact expanded gaming would have on South Florida.
Early last year, state lawmakers shot down a bill to allow major casinos in South Florida. But now they’re reconsidering that decision, and possibly changing other state laws on gambling — and that has plenty of people concerned.
What was noteworthy during Wednesday hearing was how many little old biddies spoke before the Committee to express their outrage at big, bad Disney’s attempts to stop gambling expansion in Florida, while The Mouse was receiving a profit stream from the licensing of the Marvel properties it acquired to gambling interests. Never before have I seen so many of Florida’s senior citizens be so interested in one specific article in the New York Times.
It was almost as if the old biddies had … wait for it … talking points prepared for them. No wwwaaayyy. That would never happen.
“My girlfriends and I go all the time and we have a wonderful time,” Helen DeMarco of Tampa told the committee members. “I don’t view it as gambling. The bottom line is that it’s good, wholesome fun.”
The astroturf effort put forth yesterday worked. The Tampa Tribune story about the hearing talks about the ‘mom and pop’ players; Senator Tom Lee is quoted as saying,” We hear from a lot of ‘suits’ in Tallahassee. … Sometimes it’s easy to forget that what we do up there can really have an impact.”
Now there’s nothing wrong with a coordinated grassroots effort to influence lawmakers during a public workshop. As Omar Little noted, that’s all part of the game.
What was silly yesterday was watching one presenter after another come to the microphone and not be able to pronounce the words spelled out for them on their notes. What was silly yesterday was watching one speaker who COULD BARELY SPEAK ENGLISH mangle the phrase ‘destination casinos.’
What was silly yesterday were the efforts of my friend, Ana Cruz, a lobbyist for one of the casino interests.
In this video, a bus is shown scooping up the same “concerned citizens” who just had to let those state Senators know that ‘gambling is good, wholesome fun.’
In this next video, Cruz, who for obvious reasons did not want to be seen catching a ride with the “concerned citizens,” is seen hopping aboard their bus.
Mind you, it’s easy to rent buses to coordinate a grassroots effort WHEN YOU ARE ALSO THE LOBBYIST FOR THE BUS COMPANY:
Sorry, Ana, just hatin’ on the game, not the player, but yesterday’s efforts were clumsily obvious.