For the record, I don’t just write a blog. I’ve also written countless letters and editorials. Held a sign on sidewalks and at the Statehouse. Stood in the sun for hours collecting signatures. Created factsheets and handouts. Done my share of data entry. Traveled from town to town and down to DC. I put out an electronic newsletter. I’ve researched, rallied, fundraised, and strategized. And I go to a hell of a lot of meetings.
But to most people lately, I'm a blogger.
I became a blogger because the Brockton Enterprise kept editing the editorials I sent them, or wouldn’t print them at all. And I became a blogger so that I could tell people what was really going on in Middleboro. I became a blogger because the media wasn’t telling the whole story.
But I kept blogging because I saw how it made a difference.
I've been blogging on countless issues in the casino debate since last June. And since then, I’d like to think I made some people laugh, and maybe offered some hope along the way, too. Maybe I’ve given folks something to chew on or maybe even told them something interesting that they didn’t know before.
Middleboro Selectman Adam Bond however, blogging less than a month, has (surprise)insinuated that anti-casino folks have a lot in common with the Third Reich.
And now Adam, who has been causing jaws to drop since last summer with his offensive remarks, is suddenly making a plea for ‘ civility in the debate.’
And who is standing in the way of civil debate? Well, apparently it’s me.
You see, one of the best things about being a blogger, or a late night talk show host for that matter, is the ability to hold elected officials accountable for the things they do.
My blog doesn’t pick on the little guy. I think it’s fair to say that through the magic of PhotoShop, I could have easily ridiculed any number of non-elected pro-casino advocates. In fact, I’ve been asked to do just that many times. But I’ve chosen not to, despite the fact that I haven’t always received the same courtesy. Because ultimately, they, like me, are just citizens speaking out about issues that are important to them.
We can’t make policy or sign multi-million dollar agreements, or bring gambling to the Bay State. We can't personallly usher in giant mega casinos which could potentially harm our environment and permanently alter our quality of life.
So we do what we can.
But apparently, according to Adam, it’s Gladys who crosses the line.
Because, one day not long ago, I’d stumbled upon Adam’s web site for his law practice, which made it clear that not only does Mr. Bond mingle his responsibilities as an elected official and his legal career and his tireless crusade for a casino, he actually throws them all into a blender and hits the “liquefy” button.
And I felt then, and still do, that this isn't merely inappropriate, it's probably unethical.
Subsequently, I wrote a blog called Adam’s New Tool. The blog was accompanied by a little graphic of an office door imprinted with the name of an Adam Bond law firm, followed by a comma, followed by the old lawyer joke: “Dewy, Cheatum, and Howe”.
Adam hates this graphic about as much as I hate the idea of living near a casino. And he wants the graphic to go away as much as I’d like to see the casino evaporate.
But do I think Adam “Cheats ‘em?”
I think the agreement Adam helped draft, and which he campaigned for, took professional credit for on his site, and eagerly signed on July 28th with a smile on his face does cheat the people of Middleboro. I think it cheats them out of their rights to be fairly represented by the folks they elected to do just that. I think Adam’s headlong rush into the agreement cheated many people of the opportunity to become better educated about what a mega resort casino could do to their town, and it cheated the Casino Advisory Committee of the adequate time they needed to assess potential impacts. And I think agreeing to an annual payment of only $20,00 to combat gambling addiction clearly cheats those future gambling addicts and their families a mega casino will generate.
And if he’d just left it at that, it would have been bad enough. But then he went and took credit for all of it on his day job web site. Of all the offensive things Bond has said or done in the course of this debate, that's the one that did it for me.
I had a front row seat to the events that transpired this summer. And it was clear to me that Adam enjoyed being the selectman with the law degree. Because he could stand up and do the PowerPoint presentation. He could negotiate behind closed doors, hobnob with the other lawyers, understand all the latin words, and contribute in ways the other selectmen couldn’t. He was in his element. And I don’t blame him for any of that.
But why the rush? And why wasn't it enough to help a casino come to town, and for the Tribe to pay the town for that privilege. Why add Section 22, Undertakings of the Town, to the agreement? Because section 22 makes it clear who’s the boss, and guess what – unless you’re a casino, it ain’t you.
So, what happens if a casino doesn’t turn out to be a good neighbor?
And what happens if, in the future, Middleboro voters elect an individual running on an anti-casino platform? Is that person still obligated, by virtue of the agreement, Section 22 D, to support it anyway, despite obvious obligations to represent the desires of his or her constituents? Does that sound fair to you? It doesn’t even sound American to me.
And as bad as I originally thought the agreement was last summer, the more I learn as time goes by, the more I think Adam Bond represented Glenn Marshall and the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe far better than he did the people who elected him to do the best thing for his town.
Do I think Adam did his due diligence for the people of Middleboro? If so, then why was it so necessary to rush a town meeting that by very virtue of its timing shut out many Middleboro voters? And why on earth was the Tribe’s timeline running the show and not the people of Middleboro? Because the Tribe would leave and go to New Bedford? They were never going to go to New Bedford. The Tribe still doesn’t want to go to New Bedford. If tomorrow the Governor told them to take their casino to New Bedford, Scott Fearson would probably file a lawsuit and claim he was a racist.
So why didn’t Adam hold any informational forums for the public that presented viewpoints other than that of Glenn Marshall and a bunch of Lawyers? Or have taken the time, like some people did, to look into whether Indian Casinos really are a done deal? (Because they’re NOT!)
If, in Adam’s mind, he is a conquering hero for the ”political marketing of the casino concept” and because he “participated in the logistical set up and execution of the largest Town Meeting ever held in Massachusetts”( which a lot of people couldn’t go to and caused some of those who did to require emergency medical treatment), well that is all just fine and dandy.
But that’s not what happened. He parlayed the whole thing into an advertisement for his law practice.
So, who's crossing the line?
I ask myself, why didn’t Adam ever make the effort to present a balanced debate to the public? And why did he flinch and come up with a much better contract for the Tribe the first time they threatened to bolt? I mean, it's a negotiation, right? Isn't there is an expectation of a certain amount of back and forth in high level negotiations? And what was the real need for the rush to get that agreement signed?
Mr. Bond may be a great lawyer for all I know. He's argued before the Supreme Court for heaven's sake! And I think he probably started out wanting to be a good selectman. But I also believe, at a certain point, his ego became more important than the people he was elected to represent. And after that, I don’t think he wanted the casino to go away, and nothing that anyone could have done or said would have made a difference.
And maybe that doesn't trouble him. But that little office door on my blog does.