A bad bet

Question 1 on the Nov. 7 ballot asks: “Do you want to allow a certain company to operate table games and/or slot machines in York County, subject to state and local approval, with part of the profits going to the specific programs described in the initiative?”

Proponents underscore the promise of “part of the profits.” They say public schools will benefit and college scholarship programs will be richly endowed. The “vote yes” campaign depicts the York County initiative as an entertainment center that would be a blessing for tourism, veterans, senior citizens and job creation, as well as a venue for conventions and concerts. They have yet to cite motherhood and apple pie, but there’s still time.

Never doubt that Question 1 is about creating another gambling casino in Maine. Our state’s lobsters-and-lighthouses brand may be a little hackneyed, but it sure beats blackjack and slot machines. And be advised that “a certain company” is none other than Shawn Scott, the gentleman who funded the 2003 referendum that authorized Maine’s first gambling casino in Bangor. Scott sold the Bangor development rights to Penn National for $51 million and then left town, taking with him any promises of public benefit, better schools and happy retirees.

Should Question 1 prevail, skeptics such as Ellsworth State Rep. Louie Luchini foresee Scott flipping the license again, as he did in Bangor, and leaving his successor to fulfill, or ignore, his campaign promises.

Question 1 is an abuse of the citizen initiative process. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle question whether the ballot initiative process was intended to benefit a single individual or company. And isn’t there something murky about ballot-petition signature gatherers being paid $10 per signature?

As Gov. LePage said of Question 1 last month: “It’s a stacked deck. Once again, Maine’s referendum process has been hijacked by big money, out-of-state interests hoping to pull the wool over your eyes.”

The Islander recommends voting “no” on Question 1.





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