In this Sunday’s Globe, Middleboro Selectman Adam Bond, in acknowledgment of the recent vote to keep fellow selectman Patrick “Tankman” Rogers from joining the 18- Town Regional Task Force on Casino Impacts was quoted as saying, "If you don't want us to sit in your room, then come sit in our room."
Sure. Why can't we all just get along? Come to the unity dance, hold hands, sing Kumbaya.
I know this may come as a surprise, but I couldn’t agree more.
But only for the entertainment value. I’ve found that those Middleboro selectman’s meetings are not unlike a favorite TV sitcom, with the same wacky cast of characters, exhibiting the same familiar foibles, and landing invariably in the same improbable situations week after week after week (even during a writer’s strike.)
As for myself, I could not help tuning in each week and talking about it around the water cooler the next day.
And the Casino No-Impact Study Group (precursor to CRAC)? There was always a lot of Kool-aid being passed around in that room. And I’ll admit, I’d walk out of there some summer evenings, get in my car, and start thinking… well, it won’t be so bad. No crime, no traffic… nothing that can’t be handled…
Then, I’d stop at the light at Plymouth and Rte. 44, look up at the spot where the proposed casino was supposed to go, and imagine a mushroom cloud of orange ambient light enveloping a glinting glass tower peeking above the tree canopy. An immense arching concrete overpass loomed over the Nemasket River, casting a dark shadow, even at night, over Oliver Mill, the Oliver House, and the Muttock Bridge - the very heart of Middleboro’s cultural past. Meanwhile, a line of tour busses passed by overhead, drowning out the crickets and belching their oily black exhuast into the fresh night air.
And then I’d snap out of it.
I would suddenly rediscover the one thing missing during all those meetings, and the one thing missing in any discussion of "mitigation".
Those who would banter nonchalantly about the monetary "impacts" of a Middleboro casino should be required to go down to Target and pick up one of those screen-room tents, set it up on or near the proposed site, and then have one of their informed discussions about such things as the value of stars, while actually sitting under them.
This past week CFO, in a special cameo appearance, spoke at the CRAC house. And at last, a mere six months after the committee slapped their enthusiastic seal of approval on the agreement with the Mashpee Wampanoags, I finally heard a thoughtful discussion of the effects of gambling addiction on families and children. Too bad we don't have a reoccurring role on that soap opera.
Naturally, when the Task Force asked if they could have their own voting seat at the CRAC table in exchange for allowing Middleboro to sit at theirs, Tankman only gulped and searched for a polite way to say, "what are you... kidding?" Unity, it seems, is a one-way street.
Despite all my efforts to inform the public about what goes on in those public meetings, Raynham’s delegate to the Task Force, and the majority of Kingston’s selectmen still seem to be under the impression that Middleboro has something of untold value to offer.
And so I would offer that what that is, is no less than the answer to the burning question as to whether Middleboro’s selectman and CRAC meetings more closely resemble a network sitcom or a PBS documentary covering the demise of a small town. Maybe equal bits of both.
But please, there's no need to take my word for it – come see for yourself. I’ll bring the popcorn.