Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Gambler

When the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania legalized gambling, most of us assumed that it would be limited to slots. Little did we know that games of chance would worm their way into all walks of public life and little did we know that it would happen so quickly. And I ain't just talking about the blue haired bingo nights down in the church basement.

Here's the rundown on the games currently being played in Casino PA:

First, at this table, we have Democrat Rep. Tom Caltagirone of Berks County, Former Republican House Speaker John Perzel , Democratic Rep. H. William DeWeese, Republican Rep. Dennis M. O'Brien of Philadelphia and the rest of the State House playing a game of high stakes poker or possibly roulette.

Betting on Black was the new Democratic House Majority, with the exception of Rep. Caltagirone, who tried to draw to an inside straight with the Republicans, only to back the wrong horse when DeWeese brings loaded dice to the table. DeWeese substitutes a ringer for the House Speakership, and causes Caltagirone and the Republicans to fold. Caltagirone will probably later be taking away by casino security. If that metaphor isn't confusing enough, try reading it after half a bottle of Gewürztraminer.

Now with and effective majority-minority coalition running the State House, it'll be interesting to see if this paves the way for more transparent government or just be another exercise in political shenanigans and card counting.

I'm giving even odds on political shenanigans and card counting.

Second, we have the Penguins and Local Officials playing a high stakes game of chicken with the local hockey team and the promise of a new arena. The Lemieux Group is betting that they can squeeze out a bunch of concessions from local politicians, while the local politicians are betting that they can cobble together funding for a new arena in order to stave off a Penguins relocation. Lemieux raised the stakes today by meeting with officials from Kansas City, who are looking to add the Penguins to their collection of mediocre professional sports teams.

I'm giving 2-1 odds that the Penguins will relocate, but a new arena will be built anyway.

Third and finally, we have the Port Authority of Allegheny County playing a game of liar's poker with the public, suggesting that if new funding doesn't come through, fares will be raised and routes will be cut. PAT was sloppy, however: many of the routes that are on the chopping block wouldn't make sense. For example, nearly every route that uses the fairly new West Busway would be cut. Now, while I'm sure that Senator Specter enjoys the shortcut on his way around the Ft. Pitt Tunnel, but that is hardly a good sole use of a public resource. It sounds like PAT is trying to paint a doomsday scenario in order to push for more funding.

I'm giving 3-1 odds that the funding comes through; I'm also giving even odds that my route is the one of the ones that will ultimately be cut.

But remember, for what it's worth, the House always wins...

And always bet on black...

And don't count your money while your sitting at the table; there'll be time enough for counting, when the dealing's done.

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