House follows the leader in casino votes
Before former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi was felled on federal corruption charges, he exhibited the power of his high office, and the loyalty commanded by it, by engineering the defeat of casino gambling in Massachusetts.
This past week, state representatives offered fresh evidence of how strongly they still heed the speaker’s wish.
The 123-to-32 vote Wednesday in favor of adding three casinos and one slot parlor in Massachusetts was propelled by nearly 50 lawmakers who flip-flopped from a 2008 vote against a similar proposal.
One possible difference? DiMasi opposed casinos when he was speaker, but the man who succeeded him, Winthrop Democrat Robert A. DeLeo, favors them.
At least now he does.
On March 20, 2008, DeLeo - then a top DiMasi lieutenant - was among the majority in a 108-to-46 vote against expanded gambling. So was his top deputy today, House majority leader Ronald Mariano of Quincy.
Yet like DeLeo, while Mariano voted against casinos in 2008, he voted in favor of them last week.
DeLeo spoke for many members and fellow Democrats when he defended his change of heart, saying the Great Recession that took root in fall 2008 underscored the need to use any means to create jobs in Massachusetts. Casinos, he says, will create 15,000 of them.
That said, the ranks of fellow flip-floppers ran the course of the House alphabet, from Atkins and Ehrlich to Miceli, Story, and Wagner, according to roll calls of each vote.
The ideological, if not political, consistency award goes to the House Republican caucus.
Of the caucus members who were in the House both in 2008 and this past week, all voted the same way, either for or against expanded gambling, each time.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where debate is scheduled to begin Sept. 26.
Councilors stymie another court pick
The inaugural “Political Intelligence’’ column focused on the growing problem Governor Deval Patrick has had getting some of his judicial nominees past the Governor’s Council.
Little more than two months later, councilors have stymied another one.
William Rosen, who the governor tapped to fill the top administrative post at the Hampshire County Probate and Family Court, withdrew after councilors questioned his experience in the court system, his work as a lobbyist, and whether politics played a role in his selection as register.
Another question focused on why Patrick was using his appointment power to fill the post when it will be up for public election in November 2012.
The job has been filled on an interim basis since Register David Sullivan was sworn in as Northwestern district attorney in early January.
O’Reilly will host show from Boston
Fox News Channel personality Bill O’Reilly is coming back to Boston.
“The O’Reilly Factor’’ will broadcast its unique political take from Faneuil Hall on Oct. 11, helping mark the network’s 15th anniversary.
O’Reilly studied at Boston University and Harvard.
He also worked in local television before finding network fame.
Free tickets for the 5 p.m. show will be available online, starting at 9 a.m. tomorrow at http://oreillyontheroad.com.
Patrick can sway chancellor choice
The governor’s decision to consolidate his control over the University of Massachusetts board of directors with seven new appointments earlier this month should also give him greater influence over the selection of a new chancellor for the system’s flagship campus, UMass Amherst.
The board has final sign off on any of the recommendations made by the search committee, which has started work and is expected to present finalists to UMass President Robert Caret in six to nine months.
All told, the governor has now appointed or reappointed all 17 gubernatorial appointees to the board.
Of the five additional student members, only two have voting power.
The current chancellor, Robert Holub, announced earlier this year that he will step down in July 2012, after a four-year tenure in which he was accused of poor communication and relationship-building skills.
A past favorite of Patrick’s has been MIT’s former chancellor, Phillip Clay, an unsuccessful applicant for the UMass Amherst job when Holub was selected in 2008, as well as an unsuccessful applicant for the system presidency given to Caret earlier this year.