State Capitol Briefs — Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014

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Raynham track owner George Carney on Tuesday filed an application for live thoroughbred racing in 2015, a state gaming commission spokesman said. The filing came ahead of the Oct. 1 statutory deadline for applications. Commissioners, who oversee live thoroughbred racing, said last week they planned to be flexible about the application process, thrown into flux after the awarding of the Boston area casino license earlier this month, and hoped for “placeholder” applications. Suffolk Downs hoped to salvage its horseracing operation with a resort casino on the Revere side of its racetrack by partnering with Mohegan Sun Massachusetts in a campaign for the license. The commission earlier this month gave the license to Wynn Resorts, which is seeking to build a resort casino in Everett, leading to Suffolk Downs shifting into shutdown and redevelopment mode. Carney, who owns the former Raynham dog track and the Brockton Fair, a potential horseracing venue, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. Stephen Crosby, the chair of the gaming commission, told reporters last week, “Number one, we’ve said we’ll be very flexible. Yes, get us something on Oct. 1, get us an expression of interest, we will be very flexible in letting you come back after the dust settles and you’ve had a chance to put together a plan, we’ll be very flexible in letting you come back and amend that.” Hank Shafran, a commission spokesman, said after Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline the commission will determine next steps, along with how and when to release the applications to the public. -G. Dumcius/SHNS

Gov. Deval Patrick, who has shown interest in potentially shortening the incarceration of a class of criminal offenders, said he does not see a means to accomplish that yet. “I’ve looked at it as you know, and I think the team has had a lot of trouble sorting out how we identify that class, and how we keep it appropriately narrow,” Patrick told reporters on his way into his office Tuesday. “So if you’re trying to figure out whether you should anticipate an action like that, I don’t see a way to get from here to there, yet.” Patrick, who has pushed for and achieved legislative changes to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for certain non-violent drug offenders, expressed interest last December in commuting sentences to ease the burden on crowded correctional facilities. “I have a lot of concerns about the impact on our criminal justice system, and on the prisons in particular, of non-violent drug offenders and the mandatory minimum around that. We’ve moved some legislation, tried to make some changes there, and if there was a way to relieve the crowding in the prisons by commuting a class of those cases, I’d be very interested in doing it,” Patrick said last December after President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates imprisoned on cocaine offenses, including Patrick’s cousin, Reynolds Allen Wintersmith Jr., whom Patrick has said was the son of his uncle, a heroin addict. Legislative leaders in 2012 assured Patrick they would revisit sentencing policy this session, but sentencing changes never gathered any momentum. – A. Metzger/SHNS

Former Gov. Mitt Romney slightly creaked open the door to a third presidential run during a new interview with the New York Times magazine, published online Tuesday. When asked about potentially running for the White House again in 2016, Romney told the Times “I have nothing to add to the story” and mentioned that there are a number of possible candidates looking at the race even now. “We’ll see what happens,” Romney told the magazine. Romney has recently commented that he is not planning to run, but that circumstances can change. The profile covers Romney’s post-election life at his house in New Hampshire and the consequences of two unsuccessful campaigns. One anecdote details a giveaway Romney and his wife Ann held to get rid of some of the campaign keepsakes accumulated over the years. One item, described as a “bedazzled” elephant purse, was snatched up by long-time GOP official Ron Kaufman, who Ann Romney describes as “the king of tchotchkes.” – M. Deehan/SHNS

Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday night lent his name to a Democratic National Committee fundraising email. As the last quarterly fundraising deadline before Election Day approaches on Tuesday night, fundraising emails from political organizations, particularly the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, have taken an increasingly desperate tone. The DNC email with Patrick had a more upbeat, but nonetheless pointed tone. “The Democratic National Committee is with us. They’re pushing hard to rid Congress, state houses and governor’s seats across the country of obstructionist and do-nothing Republicans,” Patrick wrote. “Why? Because while the American people need leadership and a helping hand, Republicans have pledged to spend the next two years standing in the way of progress, suing the President, spreading lies and cynicism.” Patrick added: “Let’s help the DNC help America get back to work. Before the sun sets tomorrow, please give $3 or more to DNC HQ.” Most of the emails barraging people’s inboxes have taken a different tack. One Tuesday morning email, using U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s name, carries the subject line, “just talked to the team (bad news).” In another email, the DCCC claimed, “If we can’t pull it together TODAY, we’re going to get demolished.” Patrick has also hit the campaign trail this cycle to endorse newcomer Seth Moulton in his race against Republican Richard Tisei in Massachusetts’s 6th district as well as stops out of state in New Hampshire, Maine, Florida and elsewhere. -G. Dumcius/SHNS

Gov. Deval Patrick said he does not know enough about the details surrounding the death of a UMass student – who was tapped by campus police to be a drug informant – to “second guess” University of Massachusetts officials. “I think UMass has been paying close attention to the circumstances on that campus and on other campuses,” Patrick said Tuesday when asked by reporters about UMass. “And I think that I share in a sense of loss of the student who passed away, and in the sense of worry about what’s happening on all sorts of campuses around student behavior, particularly with respect to the use of opiates.” In the wake of a Boston Globe report detailing a UMass Amherst student’s overdose death, university officials said they will look at the campus police department’s use of confidential student informants, and whether to require informants to get help for drug addictions. UMass has defended its use of confidential informants. “I’m supporting UMass. You know, I don’t know enough about the details to second guess them,” Patrick said. “But I know that there’s a lot of emphasis on trying to understand what the facts are, and get underneath them, to communicate with the family, who I think have a lot of justifiable questions as well.” After he was caught selling drugs, campus police recruited the student as an informant, in exchange for not pursuing criminal charges, disciplinary action or telling his parents, the Globe reported. Less than a year later, the 20-year old overdosed on heroin. For video, visit: – C. Quinn/SHNS

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