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Who's guarding the guards?

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Sunday’s Boston Globe led with the story that lottery officials tacitly accepted, and sometimes actively encouraged, high roller players in their manipulation the game Cash WinFall. The story also found that officials were unaware that a group led by an MIT graduate had essentially hijacked the game to its advantage in August 2010, winning almost all of the jackpot.

The story highlighted not only questionable practices by lottery employees but also a lack of control over the game in the story of the MIT group’s manipulated winnings. The example of poor regulation over a form of gambling comes just as the state gets ready to open the door to casinos, and in the case of the rogue lottery sales agents, it calls into question the ability of state government to prevent misbehavior within its ranks.

Events at the State House, meanwhile, are not doing much to prop up public confidence in government. The Senate in September expressed outrage at the mere suggestion that it would engage in any unsavory practices when it watered down a proposal to prevent casinos from recruiting from the Legislature. The original proposal would have prevented lawmakers from taking a job with a casino for five years after leaving office. The “cooling off” period was reduced to just one year. The House bill has no such provision.

The stories carry home a point the state’s inspector general made in a recent interview with CommonWealth regarding the problems in the state’s special education collaboratives: “It’s a never ending battle against the tide of people inside and outside of government who seek to use undue influence to affect government and to capitalize on loopholes.” 

                                                                                                                                    --CHRISTINA PRIGNANO

BEACON HILL

The state’s Division of Banks has adopted more stringent rules for reverse mortgages, those house loans that seniors can use to tap the equity in their homes.

The father of a murder victim believes that the casino debate is overshadowing anti-crime proposals.

A restraining order has been served on a Leominster man who criticized state Sen. Jennifer Flanagan on his Facebook page, the Lowell Sun reports. Aaron Arsenault, who says he plans to run for Flanagan’s seat and considers himself a member of the press, said the order is an attack on his freedom of speech.

New state AFL-CIO president Steve Tolman lays out his top priorities, including “rebranding” the union to show its solidarity with the middle class.

Foster children are supposed to receive free undergraduate tuition and fees at any Massachusetts public college or university, but the state is covering only a portion of the expenses, the Lowell Sun reports.

NorthEndWaterfront.com reports several Boston legislators and city councilors are pushing an “emergency” bill that would allow the city to restrict nighttime commercial trash collection. Via Universal Hub.

Civilian flaggers do not save the state money, according to a Cape Cod Times report.

Several “man on the street” interviews by the Boston Globe find that residents aren’t clamoring to gamble.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy says a flood of immigrants is taking its toll on the city and its schools. She estimates 819 new students have moved in since June. She also tells the Lynn Item that she just signed a special education plan for a student that will cost the community $308,000 per year.

Tensions are running high on the Dracut School Committee, the Lowell Sun reports.

Three Rhode Island men were charged with defacing public and private property after they were arrested for “tagging” 11 locations in New Bedford’s downtown and historic districts, including the Custom House Square building.

Church bells rang out across Boston as the Old South Meeting House raised a Paul Revere bell in its clock tower, NECN reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The American Spectator attacks AARP’s commercial appeals and lobbying campaigns to pressure lawmakers to leave Social Security and Medicare alone because the magazine says the advocate for the elderly has a lucrative insurance company that profits from the entitlement system the way it is.

ELECTION 2012

Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren have both released web videos. Brown’s video is loaded with patriotic references and shows him campaigning with former Boston mayor Ray Flynn, NECN reports.

Linda Killian, writing in The Daily Beast, analyzes why women don’t win statewide offices in Massachusetts. The New York Times editorial page swoons for Warren’s middle class message. The Herald’s Peter Gelzinis wonders why bizarre things keep happening to Brown.

President Obama’s reelection campaign will pour its energy into a few contested states, including North Carolina and Virgina. The latter should make for lots more passive-aggressive banter with this guy.

Now comes the tough part for Herman Cain -- harnessing his big surge in the national polls. So far, not so great. New York magazine contemplates an Obama-Cain showdown. Things could be worse for Cain, though -- he could be Jon Huntsman, whose flagging campaign is quickly dragging him down toward the level of the 99 percent.

It turns out that folks on Wall Street prefer venture capitalist Mitt Romney to Obama, who goes around doing mean things like this. Related: Mort Zuckerman is still quotably unhappy with Obama.

OCCUPY

Occupy Wall Street says it has raised close to $300,000 from donors, AP reports. Barbara Anderson, in a column in the Eagle-Tribune, says the Occupy protesters should get over their envy of the rich. Peter Lucas, in a Lowell Sun column, calls the group the “mob without meaning.”

BlueMassGroup has a story from a one-time Occupy Boston volunteer on the dangers of a minority of disrupters infiltrating the movement. Meanwhile, RedMassGroup contrasts Gov. Deval Patrick’s visit to the protest with his time spent at Ameriquest.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A Lowe’s Home Improvement store abruptly closed in Haverhill, leaving 100 employees without jobs, the Eagle-Tribune reports. Another Lowe’s opened recently in nearby Salem, New Hampshire, where there is no sales tax.

More companies are bringing back jobs from overseas -- a good trend, says the Cape Cod Times.

The Boston Globe reports on problems with a loan modification program that is resulting in a lawsuit by several families against Bank of America.

John Sununu argues in the Boston Globe that new debit card fees are a direct reaction to Congressional action that scaled back “swipe fees” two years ago.

EDUCATION

With a new regional school district serving Harwich and Chatham, the Nauset Regional School District  on the Cape will have to reassess its mission, says the Cape Cod Times.

The US should do more to welcome promising immigrant students, says The MetroWest Daily News.

HEALTH CARE

The National Review says the decision by the Obama administration to dump the long-term care program for the elderly from the Affordable Care Act shows the health care reform law was ill-conceived and based on misleading accounting.

Massachusetts is one of the few states that does not have regulations governing body piercings by minors. A new bill would require written parental permission and mandate that parents accompany minors if they are going to allow the piercings to be done.

Attorney General Martha Coakley turns up the heat on health care fraud.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

How the tar sands pipeline project in Alberta may become an election issue for President Obama.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

 A key witness in a Milford vehicle homicide case involving an illegal immigrant has apparently fled the country, NECN reports.    

“The Guardian of Seattle,” a “real life superhero,” appears on Fox News to explain his crime-fighting philosophy and tactics.

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