During 1993 and 1994, I was living in Columbus, working as a night auditor at one of the hotels (Howard Johnson Lodge) on Route 161, Dublin-Granville Road, near the interchange with I-71. (If you’re wondering, the place doesn’t exist anymore. It, and the neighboring Elephant Bar property, have since been bulldozed and redeveloped.)
During that time, I noticed that we had a perpetual guest. Someone from out-of-state was essentially living at our hotel, with only a few vacation days here and there when he would head back to his home state.
What was the deal with that guy?
Of course, the hotel was grateful to have him stay there. It sure helped the bottom line to have a room occupied every night.
A front desk clerk from the evening shift gave me the scoop one night when I came in for my graveyard shift: The hotel’s perpetual guest was a lobbyist for the casino industry. He was there to peddle influence with our state legislators. I frowned and said that I hoped that casinos would stay away from Ohio. The front desk clerk told me matter-of-factly that there would be casinos in Ohio one day because, in the gambling industry, the “house” always wins, and they weren’t going to pay out all this cash for lobbying just to get shut out. He predicted that the casino industry is absolutely certain Ohio will cave-in someday, and so the money they are spending on peddling influence is a sure bet.
I’m not taking anything for granted, but it’s been 15 years since I started at that night auditor job, and Ohio voters have laudably held the line against casinos, voting down proposal after proposal.
We’d had many out-of-state lobbyists sweep into town to stay at our hotel, but they’d stay for a week (probably when a critical piece of legislation was before the General Assembly) and then leave. They didn’t stay month after month after month like the gambling lobbyist.
Think of the costs of hotel rooms for lobbyists. Think of the expenditures for meals. Think of the expenditures for transportation. Much of the salaries of such lobbyists would have been spent in Ohio. Add in the price tag for entertaining politicians. Then add the price tag for advertising.
In these past 15 years, the casino industry has pumped millions of dollars INTO our economy, trying to get us to legalize their fraudulent parasitic schemes, while we’ve been a tightwad and denied them the satisfaction of picking our pockets. That’s a track record Ohio can be proud of. Let’s keep the streak going.
Don’t like the corrupting influence of lobbyists upon our state government? Well, I have an idea about how to frustrate the plans of at least a few lobbyists: Vote NO on Issue 6.