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Saturday, October 18, 2008


PORTLAND – Two Maine legislators appearing in a television commercial for the Yes on 2 campaign voted against the Oxford County casino bill when it came before their committee last April.

Sen. Deborah Plowman of Bangor and Rep. John Patrick of Rumford appear in the ad pledging to “fix” the many problems in Question 2 “when it passes” on Nov. 4th. “We fixed the racino bill and we can fix Question 2,” the legislators say.

The ad can be viewed here:

But when the bill for the Oxford County casino came before the Legislature’s Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee on which Plowman and Patrick sit, they both voted against it.

“They couldn’t hold their nose and vote for this stinker of a bill when they had it in front of them,” said Dennis Bailey, executive director of CasinosNO!, the grassroots organization opposing Question 2. “Now they’re telling Maine people they should vote for it, but don’t worry, the Legislature will fix it.

“If their actions weren’t so outrageous and irresponsible it would be funny,” Bailey continued. “They’re telling Maine people to vote for a law they know is bad, a law that they themselves didn’t vote for, and gamble that the Maine Legislature can improve it. I don’t think Maine voters will take that bet.”

Bailey noted that while Plowman and Patrick think the law can be changed, other state leaders aren’t so sure. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap told the Portland Press Herald that the Legislature is "extraordinarily reluctant to tinker too much" with legislation that reflects the will of voters. Sen. Lisa Marrache, who also sits on the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee, said the Oxford casino bill would require “an extreme makeover.”

When the Oxford County casino bill came before the committee last April, legislators had several options for dealing with the citizens initiated bill: they could vote it down and send it to voters in a referendum; they could pass it and then amend it; or they could have voted to place a competing measure on the ballot for a casino without all the problems contained in Question 2.

“They simply voted no and sent it to the voters,” Bailey said. “For some reason the casino bill was beyond repair last April, now they want Maine people to put this bad bill into law.”

Several statements in the ad are also questionable. Plowman says, “Some people have said the language in Question 2 is confusing.”

“Who said it’s confusing,” Bailey asked. “The language is crystal clear. It will lower the legal age to gamble from 21 to 19. It allows 18 year olds to work in the casino dealing cards. It gives Las Vegas a 10-year monopoly on casinos. It puts the president of the casino, a man from Las Vegas, on dozens of boards and commissions that have authority over health care, education and the environment. Nothing confusing about that.”

Plowman also takes credit for “fixing the racino bill,” the 2003 referendum that resulted in Hollywood Slots in Bangor.

“That’s certainly open to interpretation,” Bailey said. “The Legislature added things to the bill, like payouts to off-track-betting parlors, that the voters never approved. The committee was whipsawed by lobbyists representing every corner of the gambling industry. There’s no way to tell what we’d end up with if Question 2 passes.”

CONTACT: Dennis Bailey, 207-749-4963

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