Racino likely to land on fall ballot
Racino likely to land on fall ballot
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
By PAUL CARRIER
AUGUSTA - Maine voters probably will get to decide later this year whether the Passamaquoddy Tribe can build a harness-racing track with slot machines in Washington County.
Although the proposal for a racino is still before the Legislature and most lawmakers back it, the level of support is not strong enough to override a veto promised by Gov. John Baldacci.
It would take two-thirds votes in the Senate and the House to enact the citizen-initiated bill over Baldacci's objections. Recent votes for the bill have fallen short of that mark.
Under the Maine Constitution, voter-initiated bills go to the voters unless the Legislature enacts them as written. Backers of a racino in Washington County would like to avert a referendum by getting the Legislature to authorize slots, but a key vote in the House on Tuesday signaled that the Legislature ultimately will sustain -- not override -- Baldacci's veto.
The House passed the racino bill without debate, but the 84-59 vote fell 11 votes short of two-thirds. The Senate, which has supported the bill in preliminary voting, is expected to pass the bill.
The Passamaquoddy Tribe's representative in the Legislature, Donald Soctomah, vowed to fight on. He and other supporters hope to meet with Baldacci to ask him to reconsider his position. If Baldacci holds firm, Soctomah said, he will ask the Legislature to override the veto.
"I don't give up that easily," Soctomah said. Noting that the Hollywood Slots racino in Bangor is the only racino sanctioned by state law, he said it is unfair for Bangor "to monopolize this business."
Baldacci's spokesman reiterated that the governor will veto the bill if the Legislature sends it to him. Spokesman David Farmer said racino supporters who hope to persuade Baldacci to back off are engaged in "wishful thinking," because Baldacci believes the issue should go out to voters.
"It's going out to the people" in a referendum, Senate President Beth Edmonds, D-Freeport, predicted after Tuesday's House vote. A statewide vote is expected Nov. 6.
The Washington County racino is one of several major gambling ventures that have been, or will be, considered by the Legislature this year.
A public hearing is scheduled May 4 on a bill that seeks a statewide referendum in November 2008 on a plan to build a casino at an unspecified location in Oxford County.
Supporters of that initiative are circulating petitions to force a referendum in 2008, but if organizers can persuade the Legislature to send the issue out to the voters, that will allow them to abandon their quest for at least 55,087 valid signatures.
Republican Rep. Gary Moore of Standish announced on Tuesday that he is filing a bill calling for a statewide referendum this November on a racino in southern or western Maine.
Moore's bill would allow a racino to be built, with local support, in a community along the Amtrak line between Portland and the New Hampshire border or in a community along the rail line from Portland to Fryeburg.
In addition to setting aside revenue for scholarships and other public purposes, the bill would earmark 10 percent of the net income from the racino "to fund the acquisition, financing, construction, operation, improvement and repair" of a rail line from Portland to Fryeburg, according to the bill.
Two percent of the net income would help subsidize passenger rail service from Portland to the New Hampshire line. An existing federal grant for that service is scheduled to run out in September 2008.
Moore is billing his plan as an environmental bill because some of the revenue would be used to preserve and expand rail service in Maine, reducing road congestion and pollution.
Dennis Bailey of Casinos No! said the recent gambling initiatives suggest that "we're never going to see the end of it," as more groups ask voters or the Legislature to expand gambling in Maine.
Staff Writer Paul Carrier can be contacted at 622-7511 or at:
Reader comments 1-10 of 22 comments:
Jeff of Vonore, TNApr 25, 2007 11:19 PMJim......It wasn't a war.....it was a swindle and senseless slaughter. Face the music and stop making excuses.
Jim of Gray, MEApr 25, 2007 4:13 PMBill, while my comments may have been a bit over the top. My point is that they continue to put these issues out there year after year until people finally get sick of it and they win by voter apathy. Gay Marriage, Casino/Racino, Bear Baiting/Trapping, Property Tax Caps...they are there every single year. It's like a little kid that will not take no for an answer because if they whine enough Mommy will cave in. One idea that has been floated has been to put a waiting period between iniatives. The problem there is they will just change the wording ever so slightly and ram rod it through again. The other way to do it is to stop the practice of paying people collecting the signatures...so far the best soloution I have heard. And Jeff of VT...the Indians lost the war and to the victors go the spoils. They can either rise up or join in. Especially on the East Coast, the Indian way of life was gone 200 years agio
Mary Poppins of Portland, MEApr 25, 2007 1:36 PMThe Hollywood Slots in Bangor gave the City of Bangor $17,000,000 last year alone. That doesn't count the revenue from extra hotels, meals, shopping, and other things the tourists needed in town. Saco passed on this deal as did Sanford and Scarborough. All three communities are kicking themselves really hard these days. It's not about gambling. It's about doing what's right for Maine. This state needs to wake up and take a look around the rest of the country to see what is working for them. Don't wait for New Hampshire or New Brunswick or Quebec to start building casinos. The first two within a day's drive will do very well. The next five or six will struggle. Hollywood slots in Bangor has been a real blessing for that community and those communities surrounding it.
Bill Randall of Winthrop, MEApr 25, 2007 1:19 PM"If it's not the Racino's for the Indians then it's Gay Marriage." Jim, what does either of these things have to do with you? I agree with the other commenters. You really do come across as a racist - and some might even say you sound somewhat like a superior thinking Aryan Nazi.
Andrew of South Portland, MEApr 25, 2007 1:02 PM...Noting that the Hollywood Slots racino in Bangor is the only racino sanctioned by state law, he said it is unfair for Bangor "to monopolize this business." When people say that there is no gambling in this state, go ahead and make them look ever the foolish by saying "Bangor and the Maine State Lottery". And when people try to recoup their defeat and say that gambling will not suceed in Maine, go ahead and say "Look at Bangor and look at the Maine State Lottery". Although I know first-hand that casino's and racino's bring jobs, would a casino/racino perform financially better if, say, it was in Brunswick? Or went back to Sanford? But if it lands in Washington I can assure you it will be an economic boon. As I've said before in this raging "Maine vs Gambling" debate; casino's create jobs, jobs require people, people require services, services create jobs, jobs require people, and so on and so forth...
Jeff of Vonore, TNApr 25, 2007 12:57 PMJim of Gray......You sir are a racist a-hole with comments like that. If we were really fair about the whole thing, we'd give this entire country back to it's rightful "owners"......the Native Americans.
Peter Macmillan of Brunswick, MEApr 25, 2007 12:52 PMJim: your comments are racist and you should be ashamed. Would you make similar comments about other races, religions, or groups? If so, save them for some other forum. As for the racino, it's a classic example of getting a foot in the door. Once it's up and running, the owners will announce that to be profitable, they need to expand the casino part of the business. And once it's established, people like Jim will want casinos outside the reservation. I don't want to live in the Downeast version of Atlantic City.
Shawn 123 of North Berwick, MEApr 25, 2007 12:44 PMNice attitude, Jim. Go for a drive on the reservation some time and see how they are living. You'd only be selling your soul (seems like you already have based on your racist comments) if you frequent the casino and actually gamble.
Jay C of Anytown, MEApr 25, 2007 12:30 PMI'm disgusted that the Press Herald would allow this racist comment.
Jim of Gray, MEApr 25, 2007 12:27 PMModerator: This comment was removed because it violated the Reader Comments guidelines.
MainelyJack of New Gloucester, MEApr 25, 2007 10:56 AMIt's never been clear to me what Gov. 38% has against the Passamaquoddys. However, given his support for lotteries and such in Maine, the issue is not public wagering. Somewhere in his long time of it in publlic life, something happened to turn him into an anti Indian authority figure. Some issue or some person crossed him to such an extent that he has been paying them back ever since. The next chapter is about to be written. Indians lose again.
mattynmid of Brunswick, MEApr 25, 2007 10:54 AMTheBam, you hit it right on the head. Washington County overwhelming supports a racino by a 2 to 1 margin. This isn't opinion, it's fact. Baldacci is such a pandering phony and consumate politician. He'd rather screw the Indians and Washington County then tork off his elitist base in Southern Maine and his own back yard in Bangor. The legistlature supports this and last time I looked that were elected by the people of Maine so for Baldy to state the Maine people should decide is laughable at best. I'd have more respect for him is he just vetoed it because he doesn't want gambling vs. trying to save a little bit of face for his beliefs.
Philip of Lewiston, MEApr 25, 2007 10:13 AMThe state has been in the gambling business for decades. It is called the legislature.
TheBam of Bangor, MEApr 25, 2007 9:48 AMActually Jim the last time a Racino was on the ballot, the people said YES. The legislature of Maine has said YES on a couple of occasions. The Governor, blinded by his anti gambling , pro lottery double standard view is the one saying NO, inspite of the peoples wishes. Your post plays right into Dennis Bailey's hand. misinformation . Maine dropped the ball hard on the Casino in Sanford, but fortunately the Racino project in Bangor went forward. Scarborough probably wishes it had the vote to do over again at this point. The Racino in Bangor has been overwhelmingly positive for the city, the state and the harness racing industry. A new race track and racino in Wash. County should be encouraged, supported and voted in.
antonella of old orchard beach, MEApr 25, 2007 9:30 AMAND THE POOR GET POORER,SPENDING MONEY THEY DO NOT HAVE,LIVING IN POVERTY,SMOKING-DRINKING-WONDER IF THEY ARE HOPING FOR THE ABORTION ISSUE TO PASS,THEY SIT AROUND ON THEIR PORCH AND WAIT FOR THE NEXT DRINK-SEX-SMOKE.
sarge of old orchard beach, MEApr 25, 2007 9:27 AMThis might bring in some much needed Dollars so of course our small minded governor will veto it.
Jim of Gray, MEApr 25, 2007 8:57 AMHow many times do we have to say NO? Time to require 5 years in between bringing similar proposals to the ballot. If it's not the Racino's for the Indians then it's Gay Marriage. ENOUGH!!!!
FreedomFrank of Portland, MEApr 25, 2007 8:51 AMDennis Bailey is a paid mouthpiece. You are correct he should have zero credibility. He would sell his own mother to make a buck.
Tom of Bangor, MEApr 25, 2007 8:24 AMWhy not let people decide what they want? Who is Dennis Bailey anyway and why would anyone listen to him? His name comes up continually in the racino issue and you have to wonder why he makes opposing it his life's work. Seems like a waste of time to me but I guess the people of Southern Maine (or Northern Boston) oppose it and are willing to pay Dennis to give it lip service. What a great country we live in.
Reg Bamford of Bangor, MEApr 25, 2007 7:24 AMWe can safely expect several months of scare tactics, misinformation and general negativity from Dennis Bailey and his new best friend Mike Peters. I'd get the popcorn out but I've seen this show before...