I know what you are thinking: How is Mike Netherland going to vote on Tuesday? Well I'll tell you.
1. Slots - Also known as Question 2. I will vote NO, damn it! Why? Not because I am worried about the crime and the addiction or the money that the Gaming industry will rake in. No. I am worried that this will only add to the laziness of our elected leaders.
Even IF slots passes and is a huge success and IF some of that success finds it's way into the school system and IF some of that school system funding makes it into the classroom and IF that funding has any effect whatsoever on the learning of our children, we will have just made our elected "leaders" that much less accountable. We will have removed, for however short a period, any reason to expect them to make the difficult choices in managing our state's public policy.
So NO I want them to be held accountable; to better balance revenue and services. In short, I want them to Earn Their Pay. And I want our business "leaders" to be held accountable as well. Frankly it makes me sick to my stomach to listen to those ridiculous ads about how we MUST approve slots or face certain death! Every time I see it I think of the scene in Star Wars were Darth Vader makes a bargain with Han Solo's friend to capture him alive in exchange for the Princess; a bargain he never meant to keep. "Pray I do not alter it further," Vader says simply.
It is laughable that the Maryland Chamber of Commerce President Kathleen Synder insists that without slot machines poor Marylanders will face historic tax increases. She should at least add the "again" qualifier or the "more historic tax increases" to show that she knows Marylanders have already been hit with tax increases that even the liberal local press admits are: 1. of historic proportions and, 2. have done little to increase revenues!!
Now it's hard to tell exactly whether the COC is going to bat for the gambling and horse racing industries (and is using the "more taxes and slots-for-the-kids" baloney as a cover so later they can defend their misguided positions later on), or whether they are going to bat for powerful Democrats (who are just in it for the campaign contributions and God-knows-what other forms of corruption the gambling and horse racing industries are capable of) who PROMISE not to raise taxes anyway, or whether the COC is simply stupid.
My money is on a combination of the first two. There is great speculation that Marylanders will swallow the taxes-and-schools bait and the personalities behind a successful campaign will be rewarded handsomely. If I may offer a little advice to the Maryland COC: hedge your bet. I know it's difficult to show an obscene amount of enthusiasm for the gambling industry's benefit and a decent amount of healthy skepticism at the same time.
If I were you Liam Farrell of the Annapolis Kapital, I'd start collecting string on who in the MD COC stands to gain the most on slots, politically speaking, of course. Who would be so crass as to accept envelopes stuffed with cash these days?
You know, part of me wants slots to pass just so that we can use the failures of budget deficit after budget deficit, tax increase after tax increase, and zero change in education quality, to ridicule them and hound them from whatever positions of leadership they hold. That would make it all worthwhile.