Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Apathetic and the Dead

Imagine picking up the Boston Globe one morning to find, on it’s front page, a large map encompassing several towns, one of which was yours. And, under a swath of red, you recognized the place you called home. And not just your home, but your neighbor’s. And your whole neighborhood.

A key at the bottom of the map indicated that the same Tribe which owned the world’s largest casino, one town over, was interested in taking this additional land into trust for gaming purposes.

It would turn out that this red corridor on the newspaper you were holding included somewhere in the vicinity of 700 residential homes and farms across three towns.

According to the story accompanying the map, there would be millions of casino dollars paid to towns to “mitigate” the “impacts”, and a fair market value would be offered to land owners for their property. Not that anyone living there had much of a choice in the matter, anyway.

Within minutes, you and your neighbors would begin dialing the number to town hall. There would be public outcry. A grassroots effort would be organized. Lawn signs denouncing this action would pop up all around town. Eventually, a referendum, taken in those three towns would pass overwhelmingly to oppose the annexation. An expensive and lengthy legal battle would ensue.

Meanwhile, the Tribe was befuddled as to why these citizens were so riled up. Because, for twenty years, the towns around their reservation hadn’t made a peep. Some people had even encouraged casino expansion. And, when a few individuals had spoken up, their towns did not support them.

Some sort of fractured fairy tale?

No. Welcome to Ledyard, Preston and North Stonington Connecticut circa 1993.

And if you think opening up casinos in Massachusetts, whether commercial, Indian, or both, won’t effect your life, think again.

Southeastern Massachusetts, even the parts considered “rural”, are more densely populated than the area around Foxwoods. Therefore, it is very likely that the negative effects experienced in that location would be amplified in ours.

If you drive a car, have a child in school, own a home or business, if you patronize a local business, if your community depends on a reliable water source, if your emergency services are already stressed, and if you care about, or deal with people in your daily life, you will be effected in ways you probably haven’t even thought of yet.

And if you think Massachusetts will stop at licensing three commercial casinos, I’ve got a prime piece of swamp land you might be interested in.

Think about it... our state didn’t exactly stop at one lottery ticket, did it? No, it found it could make more and more money for the state by issuing more tickets. Now it has come to depend on this lottery revenue. You can’t stand in line at the convenience store without being weighed down with a gallon of milk while the guy in front of you spends twenty minutes picking and choosing scratch tickets with more thought and effort than he probably gives to his diet. And you can’t even escape the lottery in the form of ubiquitous Keno games at the mall or your favorite restaurant.

And it still hasn’t stopped – because now, our state treasurer, who runs one of the country’s most successful lotteries, wants to open casinos in suburbia.

So, do you really think you won’t wake up one morning to find your neighborhood painted red, on somebody else’s map?

Don't wait. Act now to stop casinos.

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