Saturday, June 10, 2017

Bill Crawford: When are the people sovereign?

Strong words from Governor Phil Bryant in his state-of-the-state address back in January:

"To the taxpayers who hear this message, rest assured your Governor recognizes that you are sovereign. You, by the power of your vote, grant us the authority to govern. The Mississippi Constitution makes clear that, 'All power is vested in and derived from the people.'"


In this vein many legislators cite the 2001 public vote as good reason to retain Mississippi's controversial state flag. “The people have spoken,” they say.

So, people are sovereign and speak through their votes.


How, then, can legislators ignore the people's vote in 1992 in favor of a state lottery?

Just one of several examples suggesting most legislators' thinking on the lottery isn't terribly rational.

There are those who sincerely contend that gambling is bad. Okay, then how does Mississippi justify having legalized casino gambling, bingo gambling, and, just recently, fantasy sports betting?

And, there's that special committee Speaker of the House Philip Gunn appointed to get the facts about a lottery. Surely similarly sized Arkansas generating about $85 million in state revenue from its lottery would dominate discussion. However, the committee, chaired by Rep. Richard Bennett of Long Beach, seems not too interested in Arkansas, but very interested in how much money Mississippi loses from residents traveling to neighboring states to purchase tickets. Bobby Harrison with the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported Bennett has the Legislature’s PEER Committee “trying to figure that out,” along with how much Mississippians may be spending on gasoline and other items while they buy the tickets.

Legislators' thinking on the lottery is peculiar at best.

Maybe that's because Mississippi casinos don't want a lottery and they have great sway with legislators. Yes, the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association, as Geoff Pender with the Clarion-Ledger wrote, is not, as yet, actively opposing a lottery as they have in the past. But, (it's always the "but" that matters) MGHA wrote Gov. Phil Bryant a letter that said, "In addition to avoiding unintended and potentially harmful consequences, our members would like to ensure there is ample time to study the economic impact (of a lottery)."

Oh, they also want to make sure casinos can sell lottery tickets should one be approved.

The Governor had considered adding the lottery to last week's special session, but after the MGHA letter and other push back, he decided not to.

In his January state-of-the-state address, the Governor suggested it might be time to institute a lottery. Referring to heavy traffic on the Mississippi River bridge, such as that headed to Delta, LA, he said, "We can no longer contain the people’s desire for a lottery; we can only force them to travel." Then in February, as he made one of his many mid-year cuts to the state budget, he again spoke up in favor of a lottery as a way to boost revenue.

Interestingly, most Republican legislators don’t seem inclined to listen to their Governor, much less to sovereign voters.

There are exceptions, like Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon. Read his lottery guidance here:

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (


Anonymous said...

"You, by the power of your vote, grant us the authority to govern. The Mississippi Constitution makes clear that, 'All power is vested in and derived from the people.'"

Clearly Governor Bryant asked the member of his staff who could write most like John Adams to step forward and bring a quill pen.

Reality and history 'clearly' tell us that only the first sentence in the governor's message (above) has any meaning. The rest is hogwash.

And Bryant is right. But what his speech writer meant is, "When you vote these people into office, you give up your voice and most of your rights and your guidance and your wishes and hand all of that over to them. And it is your lot to just shut up from that point forward. Trust us".

Anonymous said...

Phil Bryant and Mark Baker can argue for a lottery all they want. They just can't (legitimately) continue to call themselves Christian or conservative and do so.

Anonymous said...

"Christian or Conservitive"..... the two words used most often to fear monger the the uninformed into following a narritive that is most likely against their best interests. Nothing wrong with being either or both, but when used to bully others on behalf of special interests, it's the Devil in disguise. I'm sure those corporate tax cuts that didn't help my small business in any way were "Christian or Conservitive"!

Anonymous said...

@9:34 KJV; LUKE 6:37

*Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven

Anonymous said...


What an ignorant thing to say. I hope you don't pretend to be a Christian. It's the intolerant who use Gos and religion in an attempt to control others.

Anonymous said...

What the fuck does being Christian have to with considering or approving a lottery for the State of Mississippi. This is not an ecumenical oligarchy. Get the fuck over that notion. It's not 1947.

Anonymous said...

9:34 AM Most of the people lined up at the casino buffet are "conservative Christian"

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian. I am a Conservative. I am not a right-wing nut claiming a Conservative cloak over my head where I cannot see other's points of view and have reasonable discussion.

I see nothing at all wrong with a lottery. I don't think it is going to solve nearly as many things as some of its supporter are hoping. (But I guess if one is a strong supporter of the lottery, hoping is in your nature.)

It will probably raise $35-$45 million net for the state treasury; less than 1% of the current general fund budget. But - it is still 1% that will be paid by the willing. Bring it on; I'll be glad to have it. But if it doesn't come, I'm not going to cry big tears. I will probably continue to buy a few lottery tickets while in Louisiana, but I am not going to make the trip just to get them.

To each their own. You don't like it; don't play. But don't throw down the C/C claim on it because that doesn't fit either.

Anonymous said...

The casinos have effectively ruined Vicksburg. Greenville was already ruined and wasn't worth saving. Tunica has always been distant and irrelevant. Biloxi and Gulfport, the entire Mississippi coastline were ruined by casinos. Philadelphia is out in the middle of nowhere and didn't matter to begin with.

Casinos came to town, bought up everything in sight and built structures so wide and tall we could no longer see what we grew up seeing and enjoying. But, non of this has anything to do with Christianity. The casino empire is based on greed and greed will wipe out a city faster than a high wind.

And people open the curtains of their sixth floor room and look out over the water and pretend its a good thing. Oh, look! A lawnmower down there on Sunday. Used to be you wouldn't dare crank your lawn mower on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

A referendum that was defeated by 60% got passed piecemeal by the legislature as well and I'll bet even those who voted against that referendum don't know it.

Anonymous said...

12:37 For The Win.

I am from the Coast and left before any thought of casinos. Now I can hardly stand to go down there.

Anonymous said...

The casinos did a damn bit of good for the Coast. There are jobs there now that didn't exist before. The tourism business exists for more than those that want to go to the beach, stop at the seashell shops, and buy a T-shirt under the shed.

To say Philadelphia hasn't benefited is idiotic. People go there now for conferences and weekends. Employment rate is one hell of a lot better.

Have some folks lost money because of the casinos? Certainly. Have some made money, not necessarily by winning but by having regular work? Absolutely. Check out the real estate market in Philadelphia. (Hard to do on the coast because of the Katrina effect, but still significantly better after casinos.

Granted, they have done little for Greenville. There's not a market of people on either side of the river. Vicksburg has benefited, but it did have a good tourism business pre-casino.

Can't really judge Natchez or Tunica - couldn't get to the before and still can't.

All in all, for the local economy and the state's economy, the casino industry has been a boom - not the terrible bust you claim.

And my only interest in a casino is occasionally staying in their hotels,and maybe just maybe spending a few minutes and a few dollars at a table. Probably the same 30 - 50 dollars I will spend on lottery tickets annually if they come to the state.

False Visions of Riverboat Gaming.. said...

8:17....'They paved paradise and put up a parking lot'. But your justification is that it provided jobs for a few concrete truck drivers.

Anonymous said...

"We can no longer contain the people's desire for a lottery; we can only force them to travel."

That is pure, unadulterated BS. Nobody is forcing anybody to drive across the river to buy lottery tickets. They are choosing to do so. Period. Gov. Phil should quit lying about it.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

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