Saturday, July 14, 2007

Votestock

One year to the day after Middleboro’s now infamous outdoor town meeting, which consisted of 7,000 voters assembled on some baseball fields behind the high school on a sweltering day in July with no shade and only minimal medical facilities, handicapped access, parking, security, refreshments, audio equipment and sanitary amenities, we take a long strange trip back to town.

By the time we got to Votestock
We were 7,000 strong...
The Gathering:
Those words resonate now, just a year after a one half of all of Middleboro’s registed voters withstood the elements and the poor decision making of it’s town leadership to vote as to whether or not to ratify a $7 Million a year agreement with the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe to place a casino within it’s town limits, and as to whether they even wanted a casino.


Residents started lining up at 7 a.m. Soon, this traffic congestion combined with summer tourist traffic to Cape Cod had cars backed up into several nearby towns.


At 11:00, when the town moderator called a quorum, the crowd had swelled to slightly over 7,000 registered voters, some of whom included their pets and family members in the event.


A carnival atmosphere soon formed within the crowds. Adam Bond and Wampanoag Chairman Glenn Marshall kicked off the meeting with a duet, sung to the tune of "I've Got You Babe," originally recorded by Sonny and Cher.


Bond: They say our town can’t pay the rent.
Before it’s earned our money’s all been spent.
But babe. I got you babe.

Marshall: They say it’s true,
You don’t have a pot,
But take a look at all the cash I’ve got
Babe. I’ve got you babe…

The summer heat, with limited areas of shade, caused some voters to shed their inhibitions.



Eventually, the heat and the length of the day proved too much for many.


Traffic prevented ambulances from getting to the high school and so victims had to be air lifted to area hospitals, which were also later overwhelmed.

By the end of the day, the frivolity which had begun the meeting had been stripped away in what many consider the darkest day in Massachusetts history. Ten deaths, four births, 3,600 incidents of heat stroke, 5 diabetic comas, and 167 people taken into police custody for fighting, public nudity and drug use, all in the name of rushing in a gambling casino which hadn't even been on the map four months earlier...

The Aftermath
The Votestock cleanup created it’s own problems. With no money to for cleaning crews, the site remained untouched for three weeks until the town, in desperation reached out to the Bridgewater State Correctional Facility for help. The Facility, which grudgingly sent some of it’s inmates under guard to the baseball fields with face masks and plastic garbage bags, experienced some of Middleboro’s now-famous luck. During the clean-up operation, five inmates escaped by adhering discarded Casino-Friend bumper stickers to their backs and chests and slipped, unnoticed, into the woods behind the fields. Three of the escapees were found less than a week later playing keno in the food court at the Kingston Mall. Another was found stocking shelves at a Raynham Wal-Mart in December. He claims his employer took one look at the casino-friends bumper sticker still afixed to his t-shirt and knew they could hire him at less than minium wage. The fifth escapee remains at large.

Between the cost of the equipment, air evac expenses, clean up and lawsuits, the infamous Votestock '07 cost somewhere in the vacinity of $70 Million , or, in other words, ten years worth of Mashpee Wampanoag casino compensation. The town of Middleboro now rests in receivership.


The Cast of Characters
While none of the original selectmen who orchestrated the town meeting were still in office in Middleboro a year later, we were able to track down former selectman Wayne Perkins, once a major proponent of the casino, in his rocking chair on the porch at the Oak Point Nursing Home. Says Perkins , "I stand by it. I do. I don’t care what anybody says. Never did."

When asked about the deaths, Perkins had this to say, "Those people were going to die at some point anyway. And I don't believe for a moment that six hours in the sun had anything to do with it. The sun's been shining since the day they were born and they never died before. And furthermore, I'd like to believe that each and every one of those people would have cast their votes for a casino if they could have only had the wherewithal to have lasted 'till the end."

Asked if perhaps he and the other selectmen didn't rush the meeting a little too fast, the cantankerous Perkins replied, "Listen, town meetings have been held since the time of Christ, and you don't think they had porta-potties and handicapped access back then, do you? No, of course not. Don’t be ridiculous."

We caught up with former chairwoman of the Middleboro Board of Selectman, Marsha Brunelle at her new home in Bainbridge Island, Washington where she currently makes a living breeding hamsters.

"I love hamsters, don't you?" asks Brunelle, "they so... quiet. They can't talk, can't even make a sound as a matter of fact. No... they just run in their little wheel all day. Can you think of a more perfect life than that? And if they get out of hand… say, if they bite… well, you can just take your gavel and… never mind."

If Brunelle regrets voting for the unprecedented town meeting, she doesn't show it. "Adam Bond just kept saying he could make the casino go away. And I was all for it. I just wanted to go back to business. Dog complaints, variances… that sort of thing. You know."

Shortly after the interview began, Mrs. Brunelle refused any more questions regarding the casino. "I checked," she said, " and no where does it state that I have to take any more questions."

The enigmatic Steven Spataro, once thought to be a possible swing vote to delay the town meeting until adequate accommodations could be made, could not be reached for comment.

Shortly after Votestock, Spataro checked into a sanatorium in Western Mass. and can now be found appearing as an unpaid spokesperson in commercials for FloMax, a prescription medication for frequent male urination and weak stream.

The Globe found Adam Bond, former selectman and now Plymouth County District Attorney at his new home in Wellesley Hills. When asked if it wasn't unusual for a Plymouth County DA not to actually reside in Plymouth County, Bond pointed to his Rolex. "This is Wellesley Hills," he said. Then, moving his finger to his armpit, he declares, "This is Middleboro."

"And besides," he continues, "Who'd want to live in the same town as a casino?"

Bond, who came to Middleboro from New York City, was asked if he thinks that he might not have fully appreciated the rural character of his adopted town. He responds, "Of course I appreciate rural character. That's why I moved to Middleboro in the first place. But then, I never met a cow pasture that a forty-story building couldn’t improve. Ever been to Mohegan Sun? Don’t you think it really breaks up the monotony of all those trees?"

When asked about his former singing partner, Glenn Marshall, Bond revealed, “Yeah, we still keep in touch… when I need a new Rolex.” With that, Bond abruptly ends the interview by leaping into his Jaguar convertible and speeding off down Rte. 9.

The Globe found the former Patrick "Tank Man" Rogers, who still resides in Middleboro, bagging groceries at a local supermarket. At one time, Rogers was the only member of the board who disagreed with holding the meeting in July. Later, he would capitulate to the rest of the board's desire to push the town meeting to July 28th.

When asked if he felt he'd eventually made a good decision to go with July 28th meeting, Rogers replied, "Actually, I really can't remember what I was thinking a few minutes ago, so last year? Who knows," after which he pulled a photo from his latest vacation from his shirt pocket. Mickey Mouse had his arm around Roger's shoulder as Epcot Center rose up behind them. "This guy," said Rogers pointing to Mickey, and beaming rhapsodically, "he's been a huge role model for me. If it hadn’t been for him, I don’t know where I’d be today."

Where indeed?

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

brilliant

Anonymous said...

Gladys, but wasn't it fun! You've outdone yourself!

Bob Dunphy said...

I LOVE IT!! You are "Right On" with your humor.

Anonymous said...

Just BRILLIANT i couldn't of said it any better bravo!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I always loved Gladys - I didn't realize how wise she is !!

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is ,I suspect Adam would probably love to do a duo with Glen.He seems to have a real fondness for him.

Anonymous said...

Humor is one thing..reality is another....the meeting is for Middleboro Residents ONLY.....guess that leaves Gladys back in Bridgewater worrying about their budget woes....

Anonymous said...

Very funny story...makes me wonder if Gladys will end up working for the Casino?

Gladys Kravitz said...

Sure, Gladys will work at a casino just as soon as she gets a soulectomy.

And, while she may not have a vote at town meeting, Gladys can reach more Middleboro voters with one blog than with a boatload of feathers.

Anonymous said...

Now I can understand why freedom of speach is such a balancing act in this country. You do not have to be intelligent just mean.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Freedom of Speech isn't a balancing act. It's protected by the 1st and 14th ammendment to the Constitution.

And parody is an age old response to the goofiness of our elected officials.

chris ricco said...

gladys kravitz, hasn't Glenn Marshall suffered enough? Hostile offers, powwows disrupted by 84 yr old women, attacks from vocal minorities, and now this???

Rich Young said...

Gladys Rocks! Parody is an artform and Gladys is Picasso.

I am sorry that Gladys can't participate at Votestock, but I will carry her voice with me into the meeting!

Anonymous said...

These days the power of the blog is mighter than the sword!

Anonymous said...

Dear casinofriends,
When I was a boy,I loved trees and little animals.Guess what, I still do! Thats why I live for no casino.

Anonymous said...

One last bit,the town meeting will go down as the biggest waste of taxpayers money since 1669.Ta!

Anonymous said...

in reference to the comment that says 'you don't have to be intelligent just mean'

speach??

sorry, was I too mean? or would that be meen?

Gladys - this is THE best. Funny, irreverant and spot on. Nice work.

Anonymous said...

Votestock mentioned in Boston Globe!!
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/07/19/town_braces_for_meeting/
"some are now referring to as "Votestock" -- a takeoff on Woodstock."

Anonymous said...

Yes this town meeting is costing the taxpayers more money...Money that is in that reserve account for next year's budget...sadly, this is what the ' no casino' residents wished for...well, that old saying' Careful what you wish for' stands true. My vote is FOR a Casino.

Gladys Kravitz said...

True - the "No Casino" folks wanted a vote - in April 2008 - when there would be one anyway. This would not only be the most economical approach, but it would also give residents a lot more time to consider the effects of a casino on the community. Don't the pro-casino folks want a vote? Why would they want the selectmen to approve an agreement without the input of residents? Are they pro-casino AND anti-democracy?

Gladys Kravitz best high school friend said...

You Go Girlfriend!!!!
You are SO MONEY! The casino, on the other hand, is a waste of our money. Keep on 'truckin'! Never give up the good fight. :)

Anonymous said...

Wasting money seems to be the thing that Middleborough does best......next it's the September Recall Election....another waste of money. Who will fill those positions? Hopefully someone who understands town government, living within your means and what's best for this town. Inexperience is not what we need at this time.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant! :) :) :)

Anonymous said...

Gladys would never work in the casino... who would mind the neighborhood?

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