OLE comes under fire for tactics
Nothing new in the blogosphere, it's been reported in enough places for me to believe much of it, but the Dispatch brings it to a wider audience
A group of Ohio ministers is accusing proponents of legalized casino gambling of hoodwinking people into signing a petition for a November ballot measure, and yesterday they asked the attorney general and secretary of state to investigate.
From reading the article it doesn't look like much is going to come of it and OLE is almost certain to make the november ballot.
From there, who knows what will happen. I haven't seen any polling, the polling I have heard of tells me it's close. The final result I think will be close too for a number of reasons.
1. The campaign strategy to play up the scholarships and play down (hide?) the slot aspect is smart tactics so long as an organized campaign against it doesn't appear and paints it as deceptive.
2. Little or no organized campaign against it appears to be materializing, or be funded. OLE is bound to spend a few million on TV ads and radio, and indeed already has.
3. I suspect a plurality of Ohioans do not favor the expansion of gambling in Ohio, but the college scholarships are a tempting reward given how expensive college tuition in Ohio has become under Republican governing. A lot of people are bound to think it's a fair trade off.
4. Neither gubernatorial campaign appear too eager to comment on it one way or the other, raising its profile politically or drawing partisan dividing lines.
5. Newspaper editorials will perhaps play a bigger than normal role in the outcome.
Some of the more vocal anti-gambling commenters and bloggers have taken exception (in some cases extreme exception) to BSB running OLE ads. Their thinking I assume is that it promotes the issue.
I actually think the opposite. It's clear from the pages of BSB and elsewhere that it prompted a lot of dialogue, mostly negative. I'd have a hard time thinking of an actual policy issue that has gotten more attention. That for me is a good thing (though given the state of the state and the country, it's puzzling why this issue seems to broil the most).
I have pretty mixed feelings about OLE. I don't think it's a secret that in general terms I don't oppose gambling. If we live in a free country we should be free to do as we please with our own time and money. Personal responsibility is important and I would hate to live in a nanny state that told me I can't do all kinds of activities because it might be bad for me if I abuse it. Prohibition should be a cautionary reminder of this kind of thinking gone mad.
That said, it was the Libertarian candidate whose argument against this specific amendment swayed me the most. I had already been thinking along similar lines, as my questioning of the OLE crew at MTB shows.
I'm just not convinced that the Ohio constitution is the right place to legislate public policy. It doesn't allow easy ways to modify it down the road.
Peirce took this argument a step further, we should not be using the constitution to grant a business monopoly to select individuals.
This I believe is a powerful argument and fits with my general feeling of freedom. If we are going to be free to gamble, everyone should be free to construct a business, within community norms to do so, and not a select few developers given preferential treatment via the constitution.
So while I am not rabidly opposed, as some, to OLE and I think the scholarship aspect of the initiative is excellent policy - I'm not particularly supportive of using the Ohio constitution as the vehicle to push this.
As I said though. I have a hard time getting excited one way or the other about it. The excitement I can leave to others.