Yesterday, Governor Chet Culver announced that he would not be reappointing a woman who has served on the State Racing and Gambling Commission. Culver’s chief-of-staff says that the governor wants some “new blood” on the commission.
The new blood Culver is referring to is Angela Rivera-Harrison. Culver’s chief-of staff says that Rivera-Harrison “has been involved with labor, and to us, that’s a perspective that ought to have a voice….”
Let me paint you a little picture that will illustrate to you what’s going on here.
We all know that Governor Culver is trying to do whatever he can to smooth over any hard feelings with the labor unions before his 2010 re-election campaign. So far this session, he has been unable to sign into law any of their legislative priorities since the bills can’t pass out of the Iowa House of Representatives, even though Democrats have a large majority.
While there is a possibility that a labor bill like open-scope bargaining could still pass through the House and Senate, Culver is now focused on rewarding the unions by trying to pass a $750 million bonding plan. Culver’s bonding plan would make sure that the union construction shops remain busy for the next few years.
Culver wants to take $60 million in gambling revenues each year to pay for his proposal. That’s all well and good as long as the casinos keep pouring money into the state’s coffers. This is where the Culver’s appointment comes in.
By putting a pro-union person on the Racing and Gaming Commission, Culver is making sure there is enough gambling money to keep the union contractors fat and happy. Trust me – it’s just a matter of time before Culver awards a couple of new gambling licenses. Despite the news that the owners of the Osceola casino are filing bankruptcy, a report a few weeks ago showed that Iowa’s casinos are relatively strong, meaning that Culver will probably look to expand gambling in the state.
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