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The Crosby Show

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Even Scott Harshbarger, the Bay State’s most irascible casino critic, could find little to quibble with in Gov. Deval Patrick’sinspired” selection of Stephen Crosby as the state’s first gaming commission chairman.

Crosby, dean of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, promises transparency in a process that has been anything but as the governor, Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Therese Murray kept casino negotiations buttoned up, producing a bill that lawmakers all but rubber-stamped.

Crosby’s  much vaunted independence will be sorely tested when Mayor Thomas Menino, Robert Kraft, Steve Wynn, and others come calling. How he plans to deal with regulatory and law enforcement issues, which have gotten precious little attention, also bears watching.

However, the trouble with state government veterans is that they have a history that critics are quick to trot out. Crosby, who served in the Cellucci and Swift administrations, acknowledges his views toward casinos have “evolved” from opposition to acceptance of the inevitable.  But Stop Predatory Gambling’s Les Bernal called him out for doing a 180 on the issue. Crosby’s former boss, Paul Cellucci, who’s heaped on praise on him as a consensus builder, went on to represent Magna Entertainment, a racetrack operator.   Professional gadfly Christy Mihos, who is always more than willing than to shout the curse words “Big Dig,” slammed Crosby’s interference in the former turnpike’s authority dealings with Betchel.

While Crosby worked for two of the last three Republican governors, he apparently wasn’t too enamored of the one he didn’t serve under. “They talk about politicians getting Potomac fever," Crosby told Time magazine’s Joe Klein about Mitt Romney in a story published on Monday. "Romney got Potomac Ebola virus." Crosby said of Mitt in a 2007 Time article, "There's two ways to look at this guy. One is that the glass is half empty. The other is that the glass is totally empty."  

It’s good bet that Crosby’s presidential punditry may take a back seat in the coming months. While he’s getting up to speed on gambling issues, The Republican points out that the next challenge is for Attorney General Martha Coakley and Treasurer Steve Grossman to come up appointees to the commission who can match Crosby’s impressive credentials. In other words, top this. 

                                                                                                                                            --GABRIELLE GURLEY


BEACON HILL

CommonWealth reports that Wal-Mart and Bank of America bought film tax credits that were allegedly fraudulently obtained.

State Rep. Will Brownsberger will soon be Sen. Will Brownsberger, as the Belmont Democrat topped a four-way field in yesterday’s special election primary to fill the seat vacated by Steve Tolman, the new president of the state AFL-CIO. There will be no Republican on next month’s final election ballot.

Lynn police raid a store where patrons allegedly bought drugs with state EBT cards. State Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, who sits on a legislative panel reviewing the state EBT program, laments that “you can spend that money on anything you want.” State regulations currently allow EBT recipients to withdraw $300 in cash per month.

CASINOS

Casino plans are dividing Foxborough into two camps, NECN reports. The town’s Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 last night to set a January 10 hearing date to hear casino developer Steve Wynn’s proposal. Many at the meeting wanted to kill off the casino talk now without even hearing from Wynn.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

CommonWealth has two reports on the Boston City Council’s search for a new clerk. Michael Jonas condemns the insider choice of Maureen Feeney, and Colman M. Herman reports on a move to limit the clerk’s income from performing weddings.

The Fall River City Council honored outgoing member Leo Pelletier, who earlier in the day pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on running an illegal Internet gambling cafe.

The mayor of Gloucester calls for raising the pay of most executive positions, in some cases by more than 20 percent, to attract qualified job candidates, the Gloucester Times reports.

A judge tossed out a suit by Randolph to stop construction of a proposed trash transfer facility in Holbrook on the town line.

Middleborough officials are concerned about the drop in the town’s well water level, which fell after a dam was lowered to help nearby Lakeville with flooding.

Departing Marlborough Mayor Nancy Stevens says she’s left the town in good shape.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Sen. Scott Brown held a hearing in Quincy about the delays and obstacles veterans are facing in getting benefits from the Veterans Administration.

Radio Boston discusses yet another report indicating income inequality is extreme in Boston. Meanwhile, Talk of the Nation reports that children are hit hard when their families fall out of the middle class, and Eugenie Beal, writing in CommonWealth, says she would address income inequality by boosting those at the bottom of the income ladder rather than taxing those at the top.

A US Appeals Court strikes down a Wisconsin law that sets a $10,000 limit on contributions to groups that run independent political ads, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

Attorney General Eric Holder will push back against new state laws requiring voter identification at the polls. Holder also floats the idea of automatically registering all eligible voters.

House Republicans are totally cool with that payroll tax they’ve been fighting, so long as it’s married to a poison pill pipeline.

ELECTION 2012

Mary-Ellen Manning, a member of the Governor’s Council since 2001, says she plans to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Fred Berry, the Salem News reports.

The Pew Research Center’s latest poll shows Newt Gingrich with a 14-point lead over Mitt Romney, though the numbers show both candidates with a soft base. New numbers from Iowa have Gingrich slipping, thanks in part to his willingness to hop in bed with Donald Trump; Ron Paul, not Romney, picks up the slack. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows broad GOP support for Gingrich, although it also finds the Republican Party to be more unpopular than Democrats, Occupy Wall Street, or the Tea Party. Romney is seeing visions of Ted Kennedy all over again. Peter Gelzinis says Romney has “all the charm of a friendly proctologist.”

Ben Stein sees a Gingrich-Huntsman ticket as a winner after their Debate of the Wonks. Of course, this is the guy who wrote speeches for Richard Nixon, said there was no such person as “Deep Throat,” and became a game show celebrity.

Obama campaign message to the candidates in the increasingly contentious Republican nomination fight:  Keep at it, boys, keep at it.  Speaking of those rifts, the Globe reports that bad blood between Romney and Gingrich goes back almost 20 years.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

In his latest appearance before the Boston Licensing Board to plead his case to keep his liquor license, celebrity chef Todd English says his fire-ravaged Charlestown restaurant Olive’s really, really is really, really close to reopening. Via Universal Hub.

Luxe living is back, as1 percenters start spending obscene sums again for handbags and jewelry and stuff. Thrift store shopping, meanwhile, is going mainstream among the 99 percent.  But nobody is doing Christmas shopping at downtown department stores the way they used to, writes Robert David Sullivan. Holiday retail sales across the country have been robust, in part, because shoppers are scrimping on the basics in favor of gift-buying.

CHARITY

Wealthy women are more likely than men to make charitable donations to burnish someone else’s legacy or to set an example for young people, according to a study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

EDUCATION

Al Gore lays out his plan for what he calls “sustainable capitalism” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

TRANSPORTATION

The National Transportation Safety Board is urging a complete federal ban on use of wireless devices, hands-free style or other, while driving.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Eight store owners and clerks in Lynn arrested and charged with selling cocaine to needy people with food-stamp cards, the Lynn Item reports.

The Christian Science Monitor examines why former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

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