Monday, July 30, 2007
And so, it was with no small amount of delight that I discovered I'd found the one spot in Middleboro where you could almost get an earful of what was being said under the tents out back. Almost. But I was easily able to identify the voice of the speaker - Jacquie Tolosko, the president of CasinoFacts.org.
Though I couldn't make out the actual words she was saying, it was the emotion in her voice, carried on the breeze with it’s strength and honesty, which rolled over the hill and down the lawn to me. Suddenly, I wasn't as tired as I thought I'd been.
Later, I would learn that while Jacquie had been speaking, her voice broke twice. And when it did, a large part of the crowd seized the opportunity to mock her en mass. As if her sincerity tickled their funny bones. As if her concerns for children and family were laughable matters.
It’s difficult for me to comprehend what kind of sociopathic low-brow trailer trash would do that sort of thing to a person so courageous as to stand before three-thousand strangers and speak from the heart, but clearly they’re charter members of that same sad deluded faction which actually believes a casino is their friend.
Back at home on Sunday morning, I awoke to the sun, stultifying heat, and fifty messages from assorted family and friends. They were all essentially the same:
"I’m so sorry." "How are you?" "After all your hard work… we lost."
Lost? We didn’t lose. We were vindicated.
A month ago, members of CasinoFacts scrambled to gather enough signatures in only two days for one purpose – to place an article on the ballot which asked the obvious question - Did the people of Middleboro even want a casino?
We wanted that question on the ballot because of the very nature of the other question on the ballot. Did the people of Middleboro approve of the agreement.
We wanted to hear what the People really wanted, because we knew they'd been lead to believe that if they didn’t say ‘yes’ to the agreement - that the Tribe would build a casino anyway, and that they’d be left with a big nasty casino and no money (like Bridgewater.) And so I refer to this as the fear and intimidation vote.
The real vote, the true vote, binding or not, was the overwhelming show of hands that demonstrated that Middleboro didn’t want a casino. And this is the vote that the Secretary of the Department of the Interior will see when deciding whether allow the Tribe to take that land into trust.
And if Middleboro doesn’t want a casino, you can imagine how we, in the outlying communities, must feel. And guess what? We get a say with the Department of the Interior, too.
So, will Glenn Marshall go against the wishes of the host community? Could it be possible that in his long life he somehow missed the lesson that ‘No means No?’ Or does he actually plan on date-raping the town of Middleboro?
Time will tell.
In the meantime, it’s apparently going to be up to us to get the word out about the NO vote, because the Fourth Estate seems to have taken a vacation day. No mention of it at all as far as I can tell except in the Herald. The TV news, the Globe and The Enterprise all forgot to mention it, and thus mislead their viewers and readers to understand that Middleboro 'approved a casino'. They didn't. They 'approved an agreement' they didn't think they had much of a choice of turning down.
I don’t know if it’s the reporters - because I’ve watched them scratch down every word in every meeting we shared a seat at - or their editors who are responsible for neglecting to tell the whole story of the Town Meeting. But it’s completely inexcusable. Speaking of which, Brockton Enterprise, if you plan on ripping off any more material from this blog you’d better start giving me my own byline.
So, my darling readers, it’s up to us. Get out your pens, and once again put to use those formidable writing skills I’ve seen you demonstrate with such frequency in the opinion section leading up to this debacle. Send your editorials to every paper in every town – and every town has a paper – and get out the word. It’s sad we have to do the newspaper’s job for them, but do it we will.
The battle isn't over. Just as the wind carried only Ms. Tolosko’s brave voice down to me on Saturday, and not that of the vicious sounds of her detractors, it will be our cause which will, at this war's end, rise up and prevail over ignorance, stupidity and greed.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
I’m writing this on the evening of the historic town meeting in Middleboro tomorrow. I know most of you won’t get to read it until Sunday or later, and by then you’ll already have the benefit of knowing what happened.
But at the moment, I don’t.
So with these last few hours of uncertainty, I’d like to say a few words about the people I’ve worked along side with these past three months.
To Jacquie, our valiant and admittedly unlikely leader, who became a friend along the way – if you hadn’t been the one to step up and hold us together, Jacquie, this all really would have been a done deal. You are one amazing woman.
To Jim, who I've known on and off since childhood. Someone with a deep and sincere appreciation for this rural landscape of ours. When I think of you now, I am only reminded of those nights my children and I, wrapped in layers of fleece, freezing in the dark and comforted with only a thermos of hot chocolate and the promises of meteorologists, waited in the back yard for stars to make a wish on. I wonder if you and your children will ever get to have similar memories. Will a casino steal your stars and your wishes?
For Frank, a man nearly impossible to say no to. It was his voice that finally woke up the sleeping towns around Middleboro. He’s worked tirelessly since the beginning. I can’t even imagine the mileage, voice minutes and shoe leather he’s gone through.
For Rich who, this past month, has stood up with me in some gracious towns, and with me again in hostile ones. He has no idea how much I appreciated his bear hug after reading Tank Man. He has no idea of the awe he inspired in me as I watched him shove a sock in the opposition’s mouth at the last selectman’s meeting with his two-million dollar lesson on comp rooms. He probably has no idea of how much he means to me and the rest of the group. But he should.
For Jesse, the tireless queen of the clipboard. No one knows Middleboro more than this lady. She is insanely smart, ridiculously funny, and as tenacious as a pit bull with her teeth on the ankle of town hall. And most thankfully, she is on our side.
To AnneMarie, a force of nature. She took the thankless, relentless job of organizing volunteers and turned it into a horse race against billionaires. You deserve a spa day after this, AnneMarie. A bunch of them.
To the indomitable Chuck and Mrs. Shea. I’ve watched your bright and spirited presence put this group on the map. I’ve looked for your faces at more than one meeting for the strength to persevere. Thanks for being there.
For Iron Mike, the only person for whom I ever saw make Marsha put down the gavel. (I think she liked it.) You have been an inspiration since the beginning and I’ll admit to being disappointed when I didn’t see you at a meeting! You have the spirit of a fighter - and you know Gladys just loves that sort of thing.
For Judy W. – who doesn’t remember this, but when we were both much younger, interviewed me for a job I didn’t get. I hope, Judy, that I’ve finally managed to pass the audition. Thank you for sitting in those airless rooms with me with no audio or air conditioning and managing to remember everything with seamless clarity... and e-mail it to me later.
Thanks to the miraculously upbeat Judy G. for keeping me company through dog complaints and flying monkey attacks. Thanks for the laughter, the conversation, the humor, the endless, boundless energy. And truly, thanks for that Townie hat. I’m honored you even thought of me.
For Jim Knox, who stopped my heart with his moment at the mike at the last selectman’s meeting - and for his smart, witty and dead-on ideas. And thanks most of all, thanks for getting me to come out and hold a sign. What a great experience!
For Dave, who never stopped smiling. For Greg, who somewhere stopped smiling, but never stopped working. For Jeff for cracking jokes in my ear when I was desperate for a laugh. For Rob, for that sober earnestness thing he always has going on that I could never do in a million years. For Penny and Sharon who I never got to know very well...because they were always working so hard behind the scenes. For Les, who I never met at all, for his incredible efforts. For Terry and Melinda for their compliments on my writing – I don’t care - you’ll just never know how much that’s really meant to me - and kept me writing.
To Terry T. who was forced to stand and hold a sign beside an unshowered and uncaffinated Gladys during what, for her, are the wee hours, on a hot, very public Middleboro sidewalk for several hours one morning. Thanks for the coffee, the conversation and for not leaving me behind to be devoured by flying monkeys.
To those wonderful people of Plympton and Halifax and East Bridgewater who’ve done the most incredible thing – make me feel, finally, like I wasn’t alone. Like I wasn't the only one with an opinion but without a vote. Thanks for being part of the turning point in this fight. Thank you for your insights, your energy and your hard work. Thank you for stepping up when even my own town wouldn’t listen.
To everyone I saw at meetings but never knew your name. Thank you.
Thanks to all the people I didn't meet, or didn't get to spend much time getting to know, simply because you were the ones keeping the world in one piece for the rest of us. Thanks for coming home early. For staying up late. For being alone. For being alone with the kids. For putting up with us. For putting up with this. Thanks for just being there so we could be here.
And finally, for Mark, with whom I’ve often thought I shared a brain. Get me a picture of Davy Jones tearing the roof off town hall? No problem. Need audio of that twently-two minute dog complaint? No questions asked. Can any of you imagine where we would be if Mark hadn’t built us an outpost in the digital universe. Especially after we were no longer permitted commentary? Mark, like Dorothy said to the scarecrow, I think I’ll miss you most of all.
As of this writing I don’t know what the outcome will be tomorrow, and I obviously don’t know what the future will hold either way, but I do know that the people of CasinoFacts are some of the most intelligent, talented, moral, world-savvy people it has my honor and privilege to work with. We all took our own roads in this effort, but still came to the same place. Thanks for letting this prolific ex-patriot from Bridgewater tag along, to make you laugh, and be able to refer to you as friends. Friends Indeed.
Friday, July 27, 2007
They are handed to me on a plate.
Dog complaints longer than casino discussions. Forty-minute diatribes by selectmen while the public is verboten from emitting so much as a peep.
Red signs are stolen right off lawns. Sign wavers at the Rotary cause mayhem.
A psychologist who’s own behavior borders on the psychotic accuses good people of being racist while he lies about his identity on blogs. He wears his intimidating scowl like a bullet proof shield and brandishes his camera like death ray. He gets right in your face, and when you tell him to knock it off, he brings the police to ‘protect’ him while he snaps dozens more. What’s his personal reason for wanting a casino? His wife works at the library and her hours have been cut. He wants more money for the Library!
A selectman’s wife who acts more like Cruella DeVil. “Get me that casino! I don’t care how you do it! Poison them! Drown them! Bash them on the head! I don’t care how you kill the little beasts, just do it and get me my casino now!"
The soon to be retired school teacher who wants to move to Florida and sell her land on Precinct Street, stuffing Casino-Friend feathers into hands at every opportunity.
The chief of police who wants the casino because he owns some unusable land near the proposed casino site he wants to unload.
The Fire department that wants a casino so they can get 16 new employees – why? So they can all get promotions!
The school superintendent who took only a month to decide before selling out every schoolchild for generations to come. Why? Money! That’s more important than kids, right?
One morning I stood in front of the Post Office with a NO CASINO sign in my hand and within minutes I was surrounded by the familiar faces of Casino-Friends, as if someone at the Honey Dew had made a call to the Wicked Witch, who in turn sent the flying monkeys to intimidate Gladys with her terrifying red sign along with the rest of town. “Thank you for being here,” more than one demoralized anti-casino resident whispered in my ear that day.
An agreement to bring the biggest change to the town in Three-Hundred-and-Thirty-Eight years, a decision to inflict one of the most massive changes ever seen on the residents of the South Shore and it all goes down in three months.
An agreement handed to the public five days before deciding on it.
The most hideously planned town-meeting in Massachusetts history is going off tomorrow because a few people, not the majority of people, can’t wait.
I have a niece-in-law with an autistic child who wants to come to the meeting but can’t find a babysitter who can care for her child. All her friends and relatives are going to be at the meeting. I suspect a lot of parents, people who should most certainly have a say in this casino issue aren’t going to make it because children are banned from this town meeting. This wasn’t always the way. They could have been allowed. Marsha was adamant to the Town Moderator that they would not be. She sited historical precident. In the earliest town meetings only men voted. But now women and men both work and vote and care for children. But in Middleboro, their rights weigh less than does the patience of the Mashpee Wampanoag’s billionaire investors. Why? Money!
Unions threatening their members to put blue signs on their lawns. To vote yes or else.
Older citizens too frightened for their health to attend a day-long ordeal in the drop dead middle of summer are staying home while others bend to persuasion of a rich landlord, for a bus ride and free dinner.
We give quote after quote after quote to the press, and they nevertheless expend their precious news ink on the insights of his highness, that magnificent inexplicable town-jacker, Adam Bond.
At an Oak Point forum he refuses to debate anyone from CasinoFacts, and so Ted Eayers shows up and says it’s inevitable - the predictable lament of the uniformed.
CasinoFacts organizes a forum and brings in speakers like Citizens for Limited Taxation, The League of Women Voters and, the Massachusetts Council on Gambling Addiction.
The Middleboro Board of Selectmen brings in lawyers, the Tribe, and more lawyers.
Casino-Friends pays people from out of town to hold signs, make phone calls, send out postcards, and carry petitions.
We hold a public rally of over 200 people at the town hall with photographers and newscameras, and close it by walking through the center of town holding NO CASINO signs. Quite a sight. And yet, what photo did the paper use the next day? Two Casino-Friends sitting dejectedly on a bench, obviously after we had left.
During the rally, a doughy redhead in a K car drives by twenty-children and hurls the F-Bomb out her window like some blood-drenched harpy. She is followed minutes later by a man in a pick-up grinning as he waves the one-gun salute with both hands.
A marauding band of teenage girls in mini-skirts and hoop earrings marches back and forth in front us waving their blue signs. They remind me of the type of girls who used to hang out in the restrooms in high school and steal your tampon money for cigarettes. They yell at us, and call us ‘fools’. Somehow I suspect these ladies haven’t yet had the chance to sit around the table and dissect the new agreement at length, because I if they had, they probably wouldn't have missed that part which forbid nude dancing on the premises. So much for that high-glamour career, girls.
Make no mistake, if this casino gets in, this will be the Think Tank running Middleboro in twenty years.
Mr. Bond was once quoted, in regards to not having enough money for tents for the town meeting, that it would be "silly" if they couldn't get the money for the tents, and "silly" again if this whole thing fell apart because of those tents.
But hasn't this whole thing been silly? Let's face it, the past three months of jaw-dropping one liners have all been perversely, disgustingly, and disturbingly "silly".
Let's end this circus. Vote NO. Send this thing straight back to hell.
Bridgewater, Ma. – In a surprising development in the casino wars, Middleboro’s neighbor to the North, the sleepy college town of Bridgewater shook things up today by announcing that they will become the first town in the nation to host a five star bordello and resort complex.
The historic decision was engineered by local selectmen Mark Oliari and Herb Lemon as a way to offset the more than 1.6 million worth of debt the town currently finds itself in.
Newscenter 5 reporter Jorge Quiroga is live in Bridgewater
Jorge: I’m here with selectman Mark Oliari. Why don’t you tell us about this deal. Is it really going to be a bordello?
Mark: You betcha, Jorge. But so much more! This will be a five-star resort, complete with a water park, world class entertainment, fine dining and yes, a bordello.
Jorge: Well… I guess the obvious question is, how did you manage to sidestep the legal system.
Mark: Well, if I do say so myself, it was brilliant. I was on eBay looking for collectible bobbleheads one evening, when I came across a guy from Europe trying to sell his royal title to the highest bidder. So I e-mailed him and talked him into keeping his title, and opening an embassy here in Bridgewater on 70 acres of town land easily accessible from the highway.
Jorge: And exactly what European country would that be?
Mark: Oh it’s very small. Too small and poor to have an embassy in a city anywhere n the civilized world. It’s the royal principality of Selloutistan.
Jorge: And this is legal?
Mark: Yes. In fact, anything that happens within a foreign embassy can’t be prosecuted – so… it’s a party, and you and everyone else is invited!
Jorge: Um… Ok. So what precisely is Bridgewater getting in the deal?
Mark: This is the best part! We’re getting a cool billion up front, and then $21 million a year, plus 20% of the uh…of the uh… profits forever. We didn’t really know how much money we should ask for, so we just tripled the amount Middleboro negotiated for that casino. What a stupid deal that was, huh?
Jorge: But how is a such a small country going to pay Bridgewater that kind of money?
Mark: Oh, they don’t have those kinds of funds. But the principality has been able to locate a backer, Lance Slagmeister, from out in LA. He’s made a fortune in the adult entertainment film industry and is now looking to expand into other areas. Because let’s face it, gambling brings in a lot of cash. A lot. But it’s nothing but chump change compared to the adult entertainment industry. Just look at what it did for the Internet.
Jorge: I’m here with Mabel Witherspoon, a client of the Bridgewater Nursing Home, just down the street from the proposed bordello.
Mabel: Don't you mean…the five-starr bordello and resort.
Mabel: Just get it right, young man. There's a big difference.
Jorge: Mabel, I understand you’re a huge proponent of this… project. Can you tell us why?
Mabel: Sure, sweetie. I think this is just the best thing ever to happen to this community. We’re never going to have to pay taxes ever ever ever again. And more importantly, they’ll be able to keep the senior center open for longer hours. And you know what else? They tell me that about 20 acres of this place are going to be set aside just for us gals! How about that! It’s been a long time since this old girl got a gander of some decent man-candy.
Jorge: What about the college? Aren’t you worried about the effect of this … project on the young people who go there?
Mabel: Oh heck, no! All those boys are going to be some of the best customers – and the girls – well just look at all the job opportunities!
Jorge: Do you think this … project might be detrimental to families in the area?
Mabel: Oh poppycosh. All I ever hear now on Good Morning America and Dateline NBC is how Internet porn is breaking up families. This will keep them together, if anything.
Jorge: Next to me is Bridgewater resident Gladys Kravitz, who’s already come out against the proposed bordello. Gladys, you look stunned.
Gladys: What do you expect. One day I’m down in Middleboro fighting a casino, and the next I’m back here battling a bordello! It’s as if three months ago I got abducted by aliens and dropped off on Planet Weird.
Jorge: Why’s that?
Gladys: Well… a casino, a bordello – any way you dress it up it’s still just gambling and prostitution.
Jorge: I’m here with Herb Lemon, chairman of the Bridgewater Board of Selectman, Mr. Chairman, how do you respond to the opposition to this… project?
Herb: Oh, they’re nothing but a vocal minority. Nothing to worry about. I’ve gotten rid of the public forum portion of our town meetings anyway, so we won’t have to listen to that downer clap trap anymore.
Jorge: They’re claiming a bordello resort is even worse than a casino in some respects.
Herb: That’s nonsense. When you gamble, you usually lose. But when you leave a bordello, there’s always a smile on your face.
"Melvin came here to have some fun, not count calories," he says. "Melvin's stomach says bring me some luscious tiramisu, so Melvin's stomach should get some luscious tiramisu ... Who made Rita's stomach president of Melvin's stomach?"
Gladys wants Melvin to go home, get on the treadmill and send his money to Darfur. And for pity’s sake, stop mowing the lawn without a shirt.
Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun raked in over $1.7 Billion on slots alone last year. And they’re growing. Glenn Marshall wants his casino to be the biggest in the world, so who knows how many zillions could eventually be involved.
So… how much did the Tribe magnanimously offer to assist in the rehabilitation of all the addicts they’ll generate with this Taj Mahal of avarice? What sobering amount of monetary mitigation did altruistic Middleboro selectman Adam Bond deftly negotiate for that long line citizens who will fall prey to the call of the dice, not just in the next decade, but for generations after he and I are dead and buried? The ones who’ll lose their mortgage payments, their houses, their families, even their lives because a gambling casino five seconds away is going to prove too difficult to ignore? Too easy to ‘chase’ – a term used by gamblers to describe running back to a casino again and again because, having won once, they just know 'this one’s the charm.'
If I might appear to be somewhat overboard on this subject to some of my readers, if I’m not seeing the wonder of it all, like I’m supposed to, please understand, there is a tombstone in the Nemasket Cemetery with the name of a guy I’d went to high school with. There’s another one there belonging to the brother-in-law of the girl I grew up next door to in Middleboro. They died in the same year. The same year a popular Bridgewater teacher died too, and my nephew’s uncle – another Middleboro lifer. They’re all dead because they committed suicide as a result of gambling addiction.
Four men, two towns, one year. Brothers. Sons. Neighbors. Friends. This ain’t some fairy tale.
And so… what amount of money in this supposedly lucrative agreement was agreed on jointly as a sufficient sum to cover the consequences of a ground-zero gambling establishment?
If you still haven’t been convinced that Middleboro officials weren’t living in the real world already, then that insane figure, the yearly amount to “mitigate” gambling addiction problems in the event a casino opens it's doors, should be just the dope slap you need.
Listen, I’ll fess up. Gladys is not a gambler. I have no lucky aura following me around on life’s journey. This year I got a scratch ticket for Christmas and for the first time in my life, I won big! Twenty-bucks! Whoo-hoo!
And, while I was still reeling with joy at this unexpected windfall, I turned my back for a moment, only to discover that while I had, my son had innocently offered to ‘help me out’ by scratching off that one bit at the bottom I hadn’t gotten to.
Toil, not fortune, is Gladys’s lot in life. No getting around it.
So no. I don’t get what people see in gambling. But I’m not going to pretend that a large number of people, including friends and family members, find gambling enjoyable. That doesn’t mean I have any intention of lavishing profuse blogspace to the “OKness” of this phenomenon. The figures speak for themselves. Still, the only difference I see between myself and a gambling addict is that I’ve accepted that I’m never going to hit the jackpot by stuffing quarters in a slot machine. And so I can walk away - but they can’t. That’s why I’m truly the lucky one.
But there were days, in my twenties, when I’d count the pocket change I had left at the end of the work week, walk to the convenience store, and invest in my future with the clever purchase of some quick picks. Why it never failed not to pan out, I can't understand.
It does work for some. And that’s what keeps them and less fortunate others coming back. Like my classmate in the cemetery.
One of my husband’s co-workers said it best. She loves to go to Foxwoods - but she’s sill glad it’s a two hour drive. She knows herself too well.
It’s clear that the State of Massachusetts, and therefore taxpayers like you and I will have to foot the bill for the social consequences of a casino in Middleboro. I keep hearing that the Tribe wants to be good neighbors, but the more I study the latest agreement, it seems like they want to borrow a cup of sugar, and then make us pay for it.
So, if you really feel compelled, over the summer, to drop some quarters, my son has a lemonade stand. He sends his profits to the Make-A-Wish foundation. Can't lose there. Not to mention that the $1.7 billion a year people lose in Connecticut casinos could cure a lot of cancer.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I was asked to reprint my speech. Here it is:
Three months ago, my life was pretty normal. Then I heard about a land sale in Middleboro to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe for a casino.
I was born and raised in Middleboro and so I knew exactly where that land was and I knew how close I, personally, was to it. In fact, everyone in my town of Bridgewater is closer to this proposed casino than 2/3rds of the population of Middleboro.
But I would later discover that it doesn’t matter if you live in an abutting town like Bridgewater or even as far away as Boston - because studies have shown that the quality life in communities as far away as 50 miles from a casino WILL deteriorate.
And sadly, Middleboro officials aren’t as concerned about quality of life as they are about money.
And speaking of money, I’ve started hearing other voices in the surrounding communities asking, 'Hey wait a minute, what’s in this for us? Middleboro gets some money out of this, but we don’t get a thing!'
But that’s NOT true! We get a lot of things.
We get a big increase in crime.
We get more drunk drivers on our roads and we get them on our roads 24 hours a day.
We get to lose local businesses. We get to pay more for low-skilled labor which gets hired up by a casino. We get to house and school the additional labor which needs to be imported to work at a casino since our region currently has a 95% employment rate.
And we get 60,000 more cars on the road every single day, and no matter how big and wide they make 44, we all know that drivers are going to take the back roads in. Those would be OUR backroads.
And we’re definitely going to get skyrocketing rates of gambling addiction, bankruptcy, foreclosures, child abuse and suicide. By the way, despite the $7 + million Middleboro agreed to take for this casino, a WHOPPING $20,000 A YEAR has been set aside for gambling addiction programs. That amount can’t even pay for a single staff person for a gambling addiction program.
There are so many things, we in the surrounding communities are going to get if this casino comes to Middleboro, I could speak all night. So, if you’re truly interested in learning the truth, go to casinofacts.org.
Most of us love this part of the world. Less than an hour to the beach or the city. I once wrote that places like Middleboro and Bridgewater glisten like green jewels in a landscape of asphalt and shopping carts. Towns like ours are becoming harder and harder to find. Instead of leaving our jobs in the city at the end of the day, and leaving the traffic and crime and social problems behind with them, we’ll be coming home to them. Because if a casino comes to Middleboro, then what happens in Middleboro isn’t going to stay there. It’s going to be our problem.
Folks, this casino is not going to be like getting a mall or an office park next door. This is going to be a 24/7, addict-generating, drunk-spewing, water-sucking, environment-crushing, ground-polluting, star-stealing, sky-scraping, traffic-jamming, economy-busting, tax-exempt edifice to Greed.
Which is why I, Mary Tufts of Bridgewater, and 155,000 of my neighbors in the abutting communities OPPOSE THIS CASINO!
She was finally put on the agenda and given FIVE whole minutes to share with her fellow townspeople her vast knowledge of the casino issue. Gladys was prepared.
She was placed half-way down the agenda and, when she arrived 3 minutes late, didn’t think anything of it. After all, Gladys has been used to sitting through dog complaints and numerous other earth shattering matters in order to get a casino discussion.
So when she arrived, she was dismayed to discover the casino had already been discussed.
I caught the eye of a selectman, holding up a paper with my name on it. He smiled, (who wouldn’t smile at Gladys - she's a nice lady). He attempted to get the chairman’s attention. Fifteen minutes later when I finally did, and he saw my name, he rolled his eyes.
He rolled his eyes.
Here I am, working tirelessly on the anti-casino efforts on behalf of the town of Bridgewater, and a man with a Sonny Bono hairdo and false eyelash moustache rolls his eyes at me?
I didn’t think it could get worse than Middleboro, but the proof is on the video. At least in Middleboro, they pretend to act like you are a human being before ignoring you.
I tried to get the chairman's attention, and by this I don't mean that I stood up and started singing It's a Small World After All - no, that's not my style. I was very subtle. And yet... Herb Lemon, chairman of the Board of Selectman, banged the gavel. Apparently he’d decided to move my five minutes to the beginning of the agenda without informing me, though I have been in e-mail contact with him regularly. And when I, very politely, expressed my dismay, he banged the gavel again and again, insisting I was out of order. Folks, Gladys is not the out of order type. She is the hands-folded, waiting-patiently-for-her-turn type. I’ve been doing this for three months in Middleboro.
Someone explained it to me later that evening… Herb Lemon, chairman of the Bridgewater Board of Selectman, is Best Friends Forever with none other than Wayne Perkins. Go figure. And here I was naively thinking that small town politicians were supposed to represent their constituents.
So... I' m still reeling. All this time I'd been under the impression that I'd been living in the free state of Bridgewater, only to discover that it's actually more undemocratic than Middleboro! Bridgewater is not only more poorly mismanaged than our neighbor to the south, I can see that it has more than double the dept of Middleboro for a very good reason. If it weren't for the fact that we lack a Jack Healy brain trust, construction crews would be breaking ground for a casino at this very moment down at the Nip.
I'm not fighting a casino because I have nothing better to do. If a casino comes to Middleboro, people in Bridgewater will be killed and injured by drunk drivers. There will be others who will commit suicide as a result of gambling addiction. Children will be left home alone and in cars in a casino parking lot. The list of social problems continues.
So, save yourselves. Stupidity and despotism are running rampant on the South Shore. Viva la Plympton! Viva la Halfax!
Fortunately, Gladys has this outlet, this blog, read by well more people than were at the Bridgewater Board of Selectman's meeting last night. Can you hear me now, Herb?
Monday, July 23, 2007
My former English teacher, the man who once instructed me in the birth of English Literature, of knights, of bravery, and of honor, this same man, has buckled to casino interests.
The reason? A house. A magnificent, historically significant example of Georgian architecture, hidden behind a stand of pines on Plymouth Street. It’s backyard is a stunning manicured garden that could make Martha Stewart drool. I was lucky enough to have scored a visit there when I was a teenager.
Apparently, my former teacher, who cares deeply about this house, and who has lovingly looked after it for many years, feels that either the Wampanoag Tribe, or the Town of Middleboro will make good caretakers of the property if given the chance.
Therefore, Gladys would like to turn the tables for a moment and become the teacher.
The Wampanoag’s don’t want the Oliver house. The people who want to go to a casino in Middleboro don’t want to visit the Oliver house. They want to go see a show and hit the slots. They aren’t going to meander on Plymouth Street for the chance to stroll through your lovely gardens, unless someone's back there handing out free Margaritas. They could care less. They’d rather stare momentarily at a Thomas Kincaid print at the mall than at the portraits of the Olivers. If the Tribe does do anything for the Oliver House, it won’t be because they want to. It will be PR.
And the town of Middleboro? Good one. Listen, if that seven million dollars ever lands on the table, every department in town is going to jump on it like a pack of half-starved hyena’s - and you’ll be fortunate if they leave you a bone to pick your teeth on.
Let me share with you the story of the Loring Library.
The Loring Library, an exquisite jewel of a building, curved at either end, with oval and cross-hatched mullioned windows, sat at the top of a hill in front of the Cordage Factory complex in Plymouth. Among other things, the Loring was the place where immigrant workers at the factory, like my grandfather, learned to read and write English.
Then along came Wal-Mart. Since the Nuclear Power Plant wasn't making the ends meet anymore, Plymouth was trying to court new business, and the infamous retail giant had been convinced to locate one of it's super stores on the abandoned cordage property.
But... that pesky hill, the one with the library on it – it would hide the store from the road. Can’t have that. So Wal-Mart decided to demolish the library, take down the hill, and cart it all away. This caused outrage amongst the residents of Plymouth and beyond, for whom that hill and it’s crowning library were icons and sources of the fondest memories. The protest became so thunderous that Wal-Mart could no longer ignore it. And so the company offered the following solution: It would pay to have the Loring lifted off the hill and stored ‘somewhere’, the hill would be removed, and at some indistinct time in the future, something vague could be done with the building. The town grudgingly accepted this concession, the library was taken off the hill without incident, shrink wrapped, and tucked into a far section of the parking lot where it sat like a discarded candy wrapper for years.
After having moved heaven and earth to build their store at Cordage, Wal-Mart eventually found a better location in Plymouth, and unapologetically moved out. The Loring was recovered by private interests, it's shrink wrap removed, and re-located to the opposite side of the road. It now serves as a function hall for wedding receptions and corporate parties.
So, my dear former English teacher, if you don’t want to see Judge Oliver’s desk used as a buffet table for panko crusted chicken, or champagne and Michelob spilled onto that original Southern yellow pine, you should most certainly look elsewhere for an appreciative benefactor.
I am therefore officially offering my services, at no charge, to create and host an Oliver House web site, and to work with you to create a public foundation to raise money for the restoration of the Oliver house – if only you will forget all this nonsense about relying on the mercy of either the casino industry or the perpetually mismanaged Town of Middleboro to somehow appreciate the Home’s value. Look how little they value the environment of the property across the street.
Every month I get a terrific newsletter from my congressman, Stephen Lynch, detailing what he has been busy doing to protect my interests down in our nation’s capitol.
This month I wrote to Stephen to thank him for his dandy newsletter and to tell him how much I appreciated all his good work.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve written, of course. I’ve fired off plenty of letters regarding the proposed casino in the town next door, but have yet to hear back.
And so, I started thinking - as long as I was writing to my congressman to thank him for all that he’s been doing for his constituents, I might as well fill him in on all that I’ve been doing for his constituents as well.
So, I let Stephen know how I’d never skipped a selectman’s meeting, or an informational session, or a gambling impact study meeting. How I’d made the effort to travel to the next town and to become a grassroots activist, despite being a work-at-home mom, because I felt that this issue was so important.
I informed Stephen about all I had learned since I’d embarked on this journey, about Indian sovereign states and casino gambling and how gambling casino resorts not only negatively effect the host town, but also the surrounding communities. Meaning my town. His town. Bridgewater.
At the end of my letter I asked Stephen to get in touch with me. That I desperately needed to know how he was planning on representing my community on this issue.
And , as usual, he never wrote back.
The year is 2007. Officially part of the information age. And Gladys cannot understand how someone elected by the public can’t utilize a free summer intern to access a free program like e-mail to let a responsible and active constituent from his district that he got her message. Maybe a simple ‘Aattagirl, Gladys!’, ‘Thanks for the update, Gladys’, ‘The following is my studied opinion, Gladys… ‘, ‘Keep me informed, Gladys!’, ‘ I’m listening, Gladys!’
Now, I realize I live on the outer edge of congressman Lynches district - but if he doesn’t want to fairly represent my town, then why doesn’t he just give it up to someone who does. Someone who’ll pay attention.
I’m already sick of small town selectmen curbing free speech at town hall.
And I’m getting really tired of being asked to hand my vote to reps who won’t acknowledge my concerns.
But then… why should an important guy like Stephen waste an essential moment of his time on the likes of me? Just a constituent. Just a mom, veteran and small business owner who attended the same college he did. Just a life-long democrat with an irreverent but ridiculously popular political blog read by thousands of regional voters, quoted and printed in the papers and heard by the good people in Steven Lynches district.
Just not by Steven.
Which is why I, Gladys Kravitz, will never vote for Stephen Lynch again.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Damn that Roger Brunelle!
There I was, standing on the helipad on the roof of my secret lair in the heart of deepest darkest Bridgewater, when my assistant Gustaf handed me a copy of today’s Boston Globe.
Gustaf nervously pointed me in the direction of an article regarding the upcoming Votestock, (so coined by yours truly as part of my brilliant plan) which revealed that Roger Brunelle, the brains and the brawn behind the colossal operation, was finally on to me.
How did he know that I had operatives from the 48 contiguous states armed with carefully constructed fake ID’s, eye link communicators, voice scramblers and concealed automatic weapons, already in place to move in on Saturday and infiltrate the town meeting? I felt for sure that we in the surrounding commnuties had thoroughly mobilized and prepared for every possible scenario to avoid detection. Except, apparently, for the steel trap mind of Roger Brunelle.
And further, how could he have possibly known of my plans to personally pilot my blackhawk helicopter directly over the air space above the baseball fields and release 14,000 ballots with the NO already checked?
So much for my plans for world domination!
Damn that evil genius Roger Brunelle!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Three really big tents:
Eighty shuttle buses:
Mosquito Spraying, refreshments, generators, signage, audio equipment, and 2 On-Site Ambulances:
Proving to the rest of the world that I haven't been making this stuff up:
Saturday, July 14, 2007
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.
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 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."
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Well… it was like that.
There I was, in a sweltering room at the town hall, amidst a sea of stoic faces. The issue tonight was The Casino. The board of selectmen sat at a table in the front of the room. We waited for the meeting to begin.
This wasn’t any different than what I’ve been doing once or twice a week since April - but where were the feathers, the pins, the signs as big as billboards? No t-shirts bore bumper stickers. No little guy with a scowl and a mustache was sticking his Nikon in my face.
That's because this wasn’t Middleboro. It was the green and glorious land of Plympton.
And it was all just sort of… normal.
The chairman opened the floor to questions. People stood up and asked them. No one asked permission. They just did it because that’s what they were used to - speaking up at Town Hall. It all felt so new to me, though I can still remember a time, not so very long ago, when this was the way it was in Middleboro, too.
I raised my hand. The chairman recognized me.
“Hello,” I said, “I’m from Bridgewater. May I say something?”
“Well, why not?!” he exclaimed, making me realize how I’d come to take for granted that any question or comment regarding The Casino would be about as welcome as an open vial of bird flu.
And so, with cautious hesitation, I spoke. And then the funniest thing happened. Something I surely had learned not to expect in Middleboro: People wanted to know more. They wanted to know how they could stop the Casino, how they could help, what could they do, where could they sign.
I wanted to cry.
So, I spoke some more. And no one drowned out my voice or banged a gavel or requested I sit down.
Someone asked, “what’s wrong with that Board of Selectmen in Middleboro?” but before I could answer, another person stood up and revealed that they'd traveled to the last town meeting in Middleboro, and had been astonished by how closed the Board’s minds were, and how little they acknowledged what the people were saying.
I’d been in that meeting too, and now felt heartened to know I hadn't been alone in my observations.
At the end of the meeting, the selectmen prepared to speak in turn. I waited for at least one of them to insist he was a polished professional from a major metropolitan area who knew more than the rest of us, and for another to insist that Middleboro was in such financial straights that of course it needed a casino, and for another to say how good The Casino would be for the people of Plympton, the riches and jobs and tourism it would bring. That the Tribe would see to everything.
So, I waited, as I always do. But it didn’t happen. Instead the selectmen spoke of quality of life, of protecting their citizens, their community and the riches their town has already been blessed with. They spoke with reason and concern.
Like stepping from black and white into Technicolor, suddenly the world was painted with hope. After three months in Middleboro, I’d forgotten what it looked like.
After the meeting, people were anxious to talk to me. They gave me their names, I gave them mine. One woman asked, “Why? Why would people want to put a casino in their town?”
I tried to come up with an answer… “Well… not all of them do.”
“Then why is this happening?”
How do you explain wicked witches and flying monkeys to people who’ve spent their whole lives in the Emerald City.
“I’m not sure. It’s just sort of… different over there. Really different.”
She continued, “… and what’s this about seven million dollars? That’s nothing.”
“I know,” I said. “I know…” How could I offer her a proper answer to that question when I’ve been at a loss to explain it to myself? Poppies?
But suddenly, everywhere, throughout the room, in the lobby and out in the parking lot, people wanted to know how they could help. The vocal majority of Plympton had spoken.
Suddenly I was consumed with a need to go home. All I wanted to do was to go home and tell everyone what I’d seen, to share with them the hope I’d been given this evening. And so I clicked the heels of my new red sequined ballet flats together three times…
… and awoke the next morning, back in black and white, laying back on my bed with a cold compress to my forehead. And instead of the friendly faces of Plympton, I was surrounded by Jack Healy, Adam Bond, Wayne Perkins, Steven Spartaro, Pat “Tank Man” Rogers, and the careworn face of Marsha Brunelle.
“Oh,” I said, startled, “I guess it was just a dream…”
“Yes,” said Marsha, “...it was all a dream. Don't ever wander away like that again - you had us... worried."
I shook the sleep from my eyes. “But I know I was in Plympton! It was so real! And I learned so many things!”
“Like what, Gladys?” asked Tank Man, “What did you learn in Plympton?”
“Well… for one thing, I learned that there are still whole towns full of people who don’t think a casino is the answer to all their problems. … And I learned that there are still leaders who are willing to listen to what you have to say, and who place people and quality of life before profits. But most of all…” and I fought back a tear, thinking of the people of Plympton who, like me, like the folks from CasinoFacts.org, were willing to fight to preserve their green and glorious way of life, “ … most of all I learned that, no matter how far away you go... there’s no place like home.”
Adam smiled down at me, then scanned the faces in the room. “Yeah..." he said, "...except for how much money they’ll give you for it!”
Drawing the covers up over my head, I clamped my eyes shut and clicked my heels three times.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
This gives Jesse exactly nine months more than was the town of Middleboro.
I can think of no other reason to explain the considerably more leisurely pace of decision making awarded to Jesse, other than that he cannot speak, hold a sign, write an editorial, dial a telephone, contact his congressman, nor contribute to Adam Bond's campaign fund.
Monday, July 9, 2007
The Four Corners were cordoned off, bands played for the public, and grownups got dressed up in colonial costumes and danced in the street. Girls and women went around wearing bonnets. A man bent down and handed me a ‘real’ wooden nickel with a picture of the town hall embossed on it. "Remember," he said, "don't let anyone give you any wooden nickels," and laughed. It seemed, that summer, that the sidewalks were filled with laughter and smiling faces. It was all delightfully goofy.
And it was apparent to me, even at my tender age, that this was a town in love with itself. America was a new nation compared to most, and yet the town of Middleboro had officially existed for 300 years, emerging as a united entity a full 107 years before the thirteen colonies signed the Declaration of Independence. From the clapboards of the North, to the rock walls of the South, from the bogs in the East and the swamps in the West, residents poured into downtown Middleboro 38 years ago to proclaim that they were damn proud to be a part of it.
So, what the hell happened?
When did everybody give up, nail up the For Sale sign, and decide they were a lost cause?
Three hundred and thirty-eight years after several scattered villages united to become the second largest town in the state of Massachusetts, and almost four decades after grown men square-danced down Main Street in breeches and three cornered hats in a buoyant demonstration of local pride, Middleboro residents will receive just five days, less than a week, to review an agreement designed to sever a part of itself forever.
Deborah Sampson would be outraged.
You should be too. This agreement isn’t about building a mall, or a housing development, or an office park. This is about offering up a slice of your three-hundred and thirty-eight year old history to the highest bidder. It will be gone, out of your control, a sovereign nation, untaxed and in full operation every minute of every day, forever. It’s wealthy investors will forward their own agenda at your town hall, and soon that once-proud voice will be reduced a whisper.
And your town leadership has the impudence to give you only five days to mull it over before you vote on it?
Speaking of which, if it hadn’t been for the constant pressure and due diligence of the good people at CasinoFacts.org, it's doubtful you would have even been allowed a vote. If your current pack of selectmen had their way, it would have been done behind closed doors with the ink dry before you’d gotten a whiff of it.
And eventually, you would have gotten a whiff of it - because the whole thing stinks like a bucket of dead herring. Since May, I have heard many reasons why the town is rushing this agreement past you. From a play for sympathy for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and their long wait for recognition, to the need to make a deal quickly with your ‘new friends’ or in the end they wouldn’t deal well with you, and now the latest - that this treacherous dash for approval is intended to prevent further polarization of the town.
Folks, this casino wasn’t even on the radar in March of this year. And an agreement is scheduled to be completed by late July? Is it any wonder your population is polarized? Last time I checked, this was still the United States of America, and open debate is how We the People reach decisions. With open debate now denied at town hall, is it any wonder it's being hashed out on web sites and street corners? Where are the all the open meetings promised after the land sale? And since when does Middleboro need a bunch of lawyers from Deluxebury, Oklahoma and New York City telling her that they know what’s best?
Make no mistake, this rush to agreement has been engineered by the law firm of Whitten, Whittlesey and Bond. And their clients are the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and their multinational billionaire investors. Not you. Trust me, you're not even in the room. Even if you want a casino, you should be fuming with apoplectic indignation over how the democratic process is being trampled in town hall.
Remember, don’t let anyone give you any wooden nickels. The time to stand up and be heard is now.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Nice try at the meeting Saturday. I know you made the effort. But it wasn’t enough. You have to speak louder, at least as loud as Mr. Bond.
And I would highly recommend that, on occasion, you bang your fist on the table for emphasis, and that you use some smart-sounding words like ‘schema’ and “hypothecation’. By the way, I checked, and ‘hypothecation’ is a financial term which doesn’t mean the same thing as ‘hypothetical’.
I would also advise that you leave the room several times to go talk on your cell phone. This sends a clear message that whoever has the floor at the moment isn’t worth listening to, and that you are utterly more important.
So speak up Mr. Spartaro, people are trying to hear your voice. They long for it. They gaze up at the night sky, where they can still view the stars, and imagine your voice booming with brazen clarity across the crowded firmament. There exists an ocean of voters out there, desperately in need a leader, a true man of the people. Not a mouthpiece for deep pockets. A man, not of haste, but of hope. So let us hear it, Mr. Spataro! Command the floor! Take the day!
(Just try not to scare Marsha or she’ll hit you with her gavel.)
With Sincerest Affection,
Thursday, July 5, 2007
But first, allow me to paint the scene.
The board of selectmen sit at their long table facing a room packed with pro-casino supporters. On the far left sits Adam Bond. He is wearing a pin – the letter “C” with a feather cutting through it. The signal that he has taken the veil. Chosen his side. Embraced the casino. Kissed the dice.
But we all knew he would.
One might consider Mr. Bond the Tom Cruise of the group. Not for his looks but for his stage-leaping histrionics and frequent convictions that he knows more than everybody else, about absolutely everything. Sadly, he is not facing recall, having been elected too recently for such an honor.
Next to him we find Wayne Perkins. A small town Don Rumsfeld in shirt sleeves. His is a My-Way-or-the-Highway approach to town government. If he wants it, then so you do, dagnabbit. And in his opinion everyone in town is either hysterical or apathetic, and his alone is the voice of reason.
Facing recall, and not too gosh darn happy about it, Mr. Perkins reads from a 20 page manifesto as to why Middleboro needs a casino, would be lost without one, never knew how it managed without one, and would, in all likelihood, sink like cow patty into the Great Cedar Swamp never to be seen again if it doesn’t get one. He claims there has been gambling all along in Middleboro, since the dawn of time in fact, which he can personally remember. And frankly, rural character is over-rated.
At the center of the table looms the omnificent Chairwoman Marsha Brunelle, a perfect counterpart to Nurse Ratched from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, calmly handing out meds and articulate verbal warnings with the knowledge that she has the power to whisk you downstairs for a lobotomy at the slightest hint of resistance.
Marsha gushes over Mr. Perkins’ diatribe and thanks him for ‘getting it out in public’. Of course, the actual public are no longer allowed to speak in Marsha’s presence, and so they cannot refute any of Mr. Perkins’ claims. Fortunately, voters will at last be allowed to express themselves when she faces recall in September.
Next to Marsha, and also facing recall we have Stephen Spartaro. Sort of a tough man to read. He listens while Mr. Bond commands the floor with a motion to move the town meeting to ratify the agreement with the Wampanoag’s to July 23rd, insisting with typical theatrical vehemence that:
Speed, for lack of a better word, is Good.
If we don’t sign now, contends Bond, the town will lose this golden opportunity, it will be a travesty, a loss for humanity. And that’s when I notice that Mr. Spartaro is laughing. Shaking his head in apparent disbelief – and laughing. Is it possible that Adam does not fool Stephen? But at the end of the day, will Mr. Spartaro be a sparrow or a Spartacus? Will he risk a black eye from the schoolyard bully or will he hand over his lunch money without a fight?
Anchoring the opposite end of the table from Mr. Bond is Patrick Rogers. Like Mr. Bond, too new to face recall, he asks for a moment to speak, and then offers up a gentle narrative about an experience he had recently while touring a museum out west. Throughout the tortuous human interest and laborious irrelevant details of his story, (which I enjoyed immensely) Mr. Bond sat at his end of the table, chewing the last three inches off the end of his pencil.
On his museum tour, Mr. Rogers tells us, he had a chance encounter with a senator who revealed that, even in Washington D.C., he had heard about Middleboro and it’s current dilemma. “Make a good decision, Selectman,” was the senator’s singular advice to Mr. Rogers.
One could tell that Mr. Rogers had been truly impressed by this reminder that he was where he was, in fact, to make good decisions. And good decisions are rarely made with a gun to the head. He suggested the town meeting be moved to August. It was only another week. Not much to ask. Let’s slow down, he cautioned. He acknowledged Mr. Bond’s point about speed, but certainly, this issue is one of great importance.
Finally allowed the floor, Mr. Bond, who’s agenda is now set by the Wampanoag’s and not the people of Middleboro, made light of Mr. Rogers request. He (once again) brought out the fact that he is a lawyer from New York City, that money is time, time is money, and that he knows, and will always know, more than anyone else in this one-horse town.
I am unexpectedly reminded of some homespun advice. “A boy who won’t wait for a girl while she decides on the right dress for the dance - isn’t going to get any better.”
It does makes one wonder, if the Wampanoag’s are putting this much pressure on Middleboro now, what will the future offer – when the Town comes to rely on the Tribe to meet it’s every financial need.
Mr. Bond, with characteristic pretension, informs Mr. Rogers that, in this modern era, one needed to be able to ‘chew gum and walk downstairs at the same time’.
We all waited patiently for Pat to cave.
And that’s when it happened. The Honorable Middleboro Selectman Patrick Rogers said, “No.” He’d prefer to wait.
This was no longer the Middleboro Town Hall. It was Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, 1989, and a man stood alone in the path of approaching tanks prepared mow him down. And certianly this board has less mercy than the Red Army.
Mr. Bond offers a compromise date of July 28th, and spun an analogy likening this process to that of a speeding car. Mr. Rogers politely submitted his own analogy – that a speeding car wasn’t exactly the safest place to be. And it might be best, right now, to apply some brakes. He was only asking for a week, after all. This was hardly unreasonable. Stand tall, Tank Man.
Mr. Bond then took a moment to pontificate on the concept of ‘evil’. He insisted there was nothing inherently evil about a casino, and therefore no reason not to invite one to Middleboro’s swampy shores. Listening to selectman Bond attempt to define the difference between 'good' and 'evil' is sort of like watching Tom Cruise insist he is an expert in psychology.
Marsha calls a vote. We all know that she, Mr. Bond, and Mr. Perkins are all for the 28th. The sooner they can vote, the sooner all this casino buissness can go away and they can go back to voting on zoning variances. Three enthusiatic thumbs way up for the 28th. A moment later, one could hear the sound of Mr. Spartaro’s spine snapping as he too, voted to keep the meeting in July, leaving Mr. Rogers the only dissenter.
But, though he had been out-voted, I felt a sense of hope. Because after the recall election, when there are three more real patriots on the board, and good sense can once again claim a majority, democracy will be restored in Middleboro.
So, if you should see Pat ‘Tank Man’ Rogers around, go shake his hand, slap him on the back, buy him a drink. Better yet, call him and tell him you appreciate that he understands this process needs to slow down. That he would prefer to make a good and measured decision on your behalf.
Later that evening, as I stood in the town hall parking lot anxious to taste the free air of Bridgewater again, I was startled as fireworks began shooting into the night sky. I stayed and watched, reminded, as I always am when watching fireworks, of those famous lyrics, “And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.”
Keep holding onto that flag Mr. Rogers. And make a good decision.
Monday, July 2, 2007
Cut a deal
Let’s get going
Break the ground before it’s snowing
Spin the truth, around and round it goes…
Drain the swamps, steal the stars
Get you drunk, get in your cars
Take the wheel, and head down 44….
Because we live... for the plunder of it all.
Is Seven Million
While we stand to make a Billion
Can’t believe the saps that we have found
Get on board, why should we wait
For the first casino in the state
Bulldoze that KOA
Right down to the ground
Yeah! Let’s live...for the plunder of it all.