by Max Brantley
Gerard Matthews is covering the public hearing and Lottery Commission meeting today on adding vending machine to sales options for lottery tickets. The Family Council is caterwauling, naturally. Gerard's Twitter feed here. Scriptures being quoted. Jesus Christ invoked. Amens heard.
UPDATE: Lottery Commission votes unanimously to put ticket vending machines into use. Crowd grumbles. Get a brief recap from Gerard on the jump.
Once the comments started rolling, the conference room at the Wyndham Hotel in North Little Rock started to feel a little like a church. The crowd cheered, shouting out a chorus of "Amens" and "That's rights" after one commenter loudly proclaimed she believed in "the Light, Lord Jesus Christ." Comments centered around opposition to the lottery and gambling in general, not the lottery vending machines in particular.
The first speaker said he didn't want any more money going to this "circus of a lottery commission" or (and I'm paraphrasing here) looking for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker or social justice or anything else that wastes taxpayer money. When a woman who supported the machines was approached by the media at the end of the hearing, one opponent chided the "liberal media" and the journalists present for wanting to interview her.
You could tell that those who voiced their opposition and stayed for the commission meeting, in which the machines were unanimously approved, felt as though they had been ignored or that the comment session was some sort of kangaroo court. From the commission's perspective, their job is to maximize scholarship dollars. Using vending machines that have already been paid for to raise more money was a no-brainer for them.