Monday, August 6, 2007

Teach... your children well

An Open Letter to Mike Pilla, Middleboro School Committee Vice Chair:

Dear Mike,

I read, with some interest, your editorial in this week’s Gazette. The one in which you seem to be attempting to justify the school committee’s decision to come out in support of a local casino.

The same one in which you state “there is a faction of anti-casino people who have concluded that if one supports the casino, then they will have taught that gambling is acceptable and/or that gambling is a valid means to success.”

The very one in which you insist that if “one supports the sale of alcohol, it does not follow that one would necessarily support drunkenness.”

Mike, if you’re actually trying to make an analogy between patronizing a liquor store and Middleboro’s affirmation of an agreement to become dependent on the future revenue of a Multi-Million dollar addict factory a mile from the Peirce Playground, you need to go back and repeat the third grade.

You continue, in your editorial, to point to the recent casino battle as offering a series of valuable learning experiences for our children, such as, “they have learned that towns have budgets and that some towns do not have enough money to provide all the services people want or need” and that “People post signs ‘for’ an ‘against’” and that “sometimes people do not respect those with differing opinions.” You make a long list, nothing on which I would disagree with.

Except that it’s incomplete. Somehow Mike, you’ve neglected to mention the other lessons the decision to host a casino in Middleboro has taught our young people.

They’ve learned that you should fight appropriate revenue streams, while giving the green light to inappropriate ones.

(…Southpointe and Xerox vs. Slot Machines)

They’ve learned that rushing into a serious agreement without an appropriate amount of forethought, research or discussion is OK.

(Let’s hope all our kids give more time to choosing their future spouses than the town did to signing on with it’s newest business partner.)

That fear and intimidation can really work when you need it.

(Clearly, threats from Glenn Marshall, clandestine sign stealers, verbal harassment at town meeting, and propaganda in the form of free orange t-shirts suggest that intellect has officially taken a backseat to bullying in the old ‘boro.)

That financial dependency is preferable to fiscal responsibility.

(May your daughters all find rich husbands!)

But perhaps these lessons don’t go far enough. You yourself suggest that we mustn't isolate our children from potential dangers. So why not take it a step further and drive the kids down to Foxwoods and leave them locked in the car for a few hours while you feed the slots. Buy them a pack of cigarettes and get them started early on the lessons of addiction. And why not tell them they’re on their own for college since you blew the college fund down at Mohegan this weekend - and watch the expression on their faces. Take them on a field trip over to the Nemasket Cemetery, where I can direct you to the grave markers of a few recent gambling-related suicides which occurred even without a casino down the street. Heaven forbid we should isolate our kids from those potential dangers.

But let’s not forget the most important lesson our children will take away from this sad chapter in Middleboro’s long history, that most noble of messages your committee took no small part in sending with your endorsement of the agreement - that everything and everyone has a price.

Good job, Mike.

Yours Truly,
Gladys Kravitz


Anonymous said...

Thankyou Gladys!! I am glad someone finally said it. I have been saying for months that I don't want to be the only mean Mom that won't let her children go to the water park at the casino for parties. Now, I have heard rumors of field trips!!

Anonymous said...

Good Job Gladys - take him to the mat with it.

Message to Mike - don't try an appease your guilt by providing some sort of ridiculous rationalization. A school committee should not be endorsing a casino - period - and your conscience is telling you the same thing.

Was Alan Bond whispering in your ear "Go ahead, take it, go on, just take it"? Like he did with so many others.

Now you regret it, feel stupid, and try to provide something (I'm not sure what to call it) that attempts, however lame, to justify (probably just as much to yourself, your wife and your kids, as to the rest of us) why you did what you did.

Good luck with life, Mike, you and rest of the cheap sell-outs, will need it.

Anonymous said...

My only concern when everyone says "save the children" is that why does everyone think the Casino will negatively affect the children? My job as a parent is to raise my children I do not expect and I don't want the town to have any control over my kids, many adults here I wouldn't want to even influence my children. It's my job and my job alone to give them the education and the morals to know that they should not go to a Casino. It's the same thing we have to teach them to not get fake IDs and go to clubs in Boston, to avoid a keg party in the many fields of Middleboro. A Casino, while not my first choice for business here in town, will not affect my children they will be raised to be intelligent people who will make smart decisions. This excuse I keep hearing that a Casino will ruin our children just has no bite, please show me the statistics, numbers, hard facts otherwise please move on to other arguments. I am not for the Casino but comments like these make it very hard for me to support your group since you just don't have anything to support your claim. My kids will be fine, having a Casino down the street will not make them gamblers the same as having a liquor store won't make them an alcoholic. Leave the job to raising our children to the parents, if anyone expects the town or any other people to be the moral police of their kids, then unfortunately those are the children that will be the gamblers etc. because their parents aren't doing their job.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Dear anonymous, I have many reasons to oppose a casino in Middleboro. Effects on children and on the adults who care for them are one of them. The web is rife with 'hard facts'. Though I have posted a few citations and links here for your convenience, I would recommend checking for yourself:

Oregon - “The Siuslaw Area Women’s Center has indicated that they project a possible
50% increase in incidences of domestic violence and child abuse will occur as an indirect result of the gaming establishment in Florence.” (City of Florence, Oregon, Letter to Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1/17/96)

They're taking money from their kids' college funds. I've seen cases of parents breaking into their kids' piggy banks so they can gamble." Renee Wert, gambling addiction counselor (Hidden costs of gambling, 4/17/06)

Excerpt from Harrah's Casino policy on kids: Our Unattended Children Policy is a communication effort that encourages parents not to leave children unattended at our properties, and trains employees on the proper approach to use upon discovering an unattended child. Seeking to urge parents not to leave their children without adult supervision, every Harrah's casino has standard procedures to promote parental responsibility and protect the safety of children and minors. Parents are informed through signage and brochures about our policies and employees are asked to keep an eye out and call security for any child that has been left unattended.

Dr. Ken Winters, University of Minnesota
The Hidden Epidemic

Students who live close to casinos are more prone to gambling addiction
Michael Frank, Prof. of Psychology, Richard Stockton College, NJ
The Associated Press 04/17/98

The rate of problem gambling among adolescents was 9.4 percent,
more than twice the 3.8 percent rate for adults.
Dr. Howard Shaffer, Harvard Medical School's Division on Addictions

And my personal favorite (which is too long to paste here):

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information Gladys. I still have a hard time with this. Everyone needs to be accountable for themselves. We live in a society where we all blame someone else or something else, i.e. the casino, for our problems. If this causes someone to increase their gambling or spend their children's college money then they need to be held accountable and they probably are already spending it on other bad things. I guess I'm just tired of the Casino being an excuse for their lack of control, I know it's an addiction but I even feel that we give to much belive that an alcoholic can't control themselves. We all need to work very hard to control our behavior, adict or not, saying a Casino will cause these issues is just giving everyone another cop out. Again I'm still not 100% for this Casino but I sure am for those that live in Liberal MA to get control of themselves and their families and stop making excuses! Either way my family will be just fine and if they happen to become an adict then they need to take responsibiliy and fix it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Abby,I mean anonymous,
I think you it have all wrong.A casino is a wonderful thing for any small town. It just brings out the holyness in all of us. I think that instead of teaching kids reading,writing and math, we should teach them high stakes cards or other table games. The ones that don't catch on can pull the slots like good little boys and girls, and when they become addicted we'll blame it on the parents of these kids, not the lame BOS that lured the evil empire into town.
What happened in Middleborough is people felt like they had nothing to fight with or for,"IT'S COMING OR ELSE!" Most in town layed down their arms and put up a white flag. anyone who say's "I'm not 100% for it", is against it. It sounds like some people are trying to make "nice" the idea of a shite casino coming to town. You're laying down your arms once again.
As for any school dept. member that supported this thing, I don't know what to say. How much time do you all spend looking out for our kids and how much time do you spend counting your money? Do you realise this a casino is mega corporation that will attract youngsters from the region for employment,a cheap good time, and possibly evils that none of us would fathom our kids being involved in. It won't take much for a young person,who aspires to do one thing,to say, "why should I go back to school this year I'm making good tips a the casino". This place will eat Middleboro alive and it's appetite will grow.
I'm having a fundraiser for a monument in town, a question mark on a square foundation,with all the supporters names on it. It will read, "How many people does it take to flush a town down the toilet?"

chris said...

anonymous - A casino depends (for a large part) on people who cannot control themselves, and encourages them to come back again and again and spend the money they could be using for their mortgage, college education, vacations, etc. If everyone had the self control you talk about - there would be no casinos! In the real world, kids will suffer from the consequences

Why is it always up to those against the casino to provide you with hard facts about what is wrong with them - much of it is just plain common sense!

Meanwhile, idiots like Mike Pilla were telling us that a casino would save our schools with no facts whatsoever - before the agreement was even drafted???!! Yes, Mike if you support the casino, you ARE telling your kids that gambling is acceptable. More than that - you're also telling them that it's ok to sell out your town if the price is right, and that it's better to go with the quick easy fix rather than work through your problems and see where you've gone wrong in the past.

Anonymous said...

Middleboro ranks 200th with a ridiculous dropout rate.
Cost $8500 Coyle Cassidy $6400
College acceptance rates anyone?
Instead of complaining about the cost of sports, parents should be screaming about the poor educational quality and dysfunctional school system. It's not $$$, it's institutionalized poor quality.
Perhaps Mr. Pilla is a prime example of over-educated stupidity.
When will parents demand more from the schools? Ever think of a recall? Wasn't the superintendent a swim coach? Where were the parents when qualified superintendents were interviewed?
Thanks for the skewer, Gladys! Well deserved and then some!

Anonymous said...

Don't blame Mike! You elected him.
Maybe parents should pay attention to the budget, the personnel and the administration's failures in the school system. They're failing our kids and whining about $$$?
They only made cuts in noticeable areas. Pay attention and get involved! The next dropout could be your kid!