Scalping Democracy

There is an interesting detail behind this brewing scandal over the ticket scalping legislative shenanigans.

First, let us all agree that one of the forces driving the effort to reform the anti-scalping law was that the individual fan was being victimized by both the scalpers and the law. Need a ticket, bend over. Got an extra ticket, either bend over or go to jail. The general consensus was that the average customer ought to be able to sell his extra ticket on the street to make himself whole, and not risk arrest. On that I think all parties agreed.

The disagrement was whether there ought to be a prohibition on any sale of a ticket above the face price-plus-service fee. The original consumer protection bill that preserved that prohibition on everyone, including scalpers, went into committee as House 248.

This is where DiMasi’s personal accountant, Mr. Vitale, came into the picture.

The bill that emerged on September 24, 2007 from the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure bore no resemblance to H. 248.

House 4251 not only preserved the scalpers’ business, but it also provided that no one could resell a ticket to anyone other than the ticket scalpers, who would henceforth be set up in their own specially dsignated open-air ticket bazaare!

Read it and laugh:

Section 184L.  No unlicensed person shall resell any ticket … at a price in excess of the face value of said ticket, unless sold to a licensed ticket reseller, and said price shall include any and all fees by the seller, or other evidence of right of entry as the purchase price thereof.

This was the bill that Chairman Rodrigues says that he had assured DiMasi had “adequate consumer safeguards.”

In other words, “sell your extra ticket to the scalpers, or we’ll arrest you.” Nice consumerism!

I have been advised by some that the reason for this was to insure that ticket purchasers were being “taken advantage of” by being sold counterfeit tickets. In other words, they wanted to insure that the buyers (or “scalpees,” if you wish) were getting a real ticket for the exorbitant price they were paying. Call me a fool, but I’d rather go to Dad standing with his boy and holding his hand up than to Chulie with the backward cap and 4-day growth selling he an obstructed seat. But I appreciate those guys looking out for me, don’t you? And how much of a problem is counterfeiting, anyway, compared to the whole scalping market?

Anyway, that bill did not go directly to the floor, as the Globe reported. It went to Ways & Means, from which it emerged a week later as House 4263, without the economic extortion on the fan. Someone wised up between September 24th and October 2d. The new version has no application to the individual fan at all. It regulates only the business of ticket reselling.

So the eventual consumer protection measure that was originally intended — protecting the onesie-twosie ticket resales — did not occur until after Rodriques told DiMasi the consumer protection measures were added — and they were added by Ways & Means chairman DeLeo (or certainly with his authority).

Did DiMasi speak with DeLeo?

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