Political Pow-Wow

by - June 25, 2010

Murmurings of political corruption have reared their ugly heads here. Earlier this week, the governor of this fine state appointed a new district court judge for the county I work in. The following day the opposing party accused the governor of appointing the man as a way to save the political seat.

Basically, it all boils down to one thing: electronic bingo.

Now see, the governor is 100% against gambling of any kind, especially slot machines. For him, electronic bingo machine and slot machine are one and the same.

The talk around town is that the new district judge got his position in return for not allowing an electronic bingo operation to take root.

Last fall, an electronic bingo facility opened up here. It was promptly raided by the governor's anti-gambling task force and an all out battle began. In January, I went to a press conference in the state capital where opponents to gambling ranted and thumped their Bibles. That's not an exaggeration there. They really did thump Bibles. It was a bunch of Baptist preachers and a few political people.

One speaker said the battle for Alabama that will determine the fabric of its people is about to begin.

"It's going to be a showdown of the magnitude of Phenix City 60 years ago," republican Sen. Henry Erwin said. "If you go to Phenix City today to talk with the people that know and remember the showdown they had in that community 60 years ago they will tell you we don't want to ever see gambling ever again in our city."

 Back then, Phenix City was notorious for organized crime, prostitution and gambling.
Now I'm sitting here picturing a bunch of guys in pinstripe suits, fedoras and tommyguns running around town. Do I really think there's going to be a mob boss lording over a room full of electronic bingo machines? No.

When all the craziness in Phenix City was going on I'm pretty sure it was over way more than just bingo. It was a full-scale casino, complete with its own Godfather-like group of gangsters and prostitutes.

The bingo facility here had so much more than just a casino. There were restaurants and bars, and there's an amusement park and water park in the works. Not to mention the number of people it employed that are now jobless.

But still, there are those who can't get their heads above the gambling is bad attitude they wear so close to their heart to see that.

One preacher from Prattville offered this anecdote at the press conference:
Gambling is like licking a log out in the woods. If you turn it over, you see the rotten part underneath. That's how we believe gambling. When you look at the underside, it's not worth the cost.
 -Thomas Coleman

A former minister, Tom Anderson, of Columbia says, "It has a sordid history. I do not believe gambling can ever be cleaned up."

Another minister said gambling promises things it cannot produce.

Such close-mindedness is truly a tragedy. Are they so blind as to not realize these so-called sinners will just take their so-called addictions somewhere else? People who choose to gamble and truly develop a problem will not stop just because a bunch of Bible-beating, ultra-conservative republicans keep sending in a big bully with a bunch of guns to squash the livelihood of so many people (in a state where unemployment is above the national average).

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