Sunday, August 17, 2008

Whose Yard Sale is it, Anyway?

I have no idea if the controversy over whether the Town of Lakeville will grant permission for the go-ahead of an anti-casino fundraising yard sale on town property has been resolved or not, but I'd like to weigh in anyway.

Last year, I tried to find some space to hold an anti-casino meeting in Bridgewater - no small task considering our library and senior center were on life support and closed most of the time.

So, I had a nice conversation with some people from a local church and turns out they had a super meeting room we could use. As a formality, though, they'd have to check and get back to me. Well, upon doing so, apparently someone had expressed concerns that my group was 'POLITICAL" - and eventually my request was denied.

Yikes. To quote an old aquaintance, "if you can't count on the church to be a moral compass... what are you left with??"

Um... well, there's always Kerzner International...

Folks, being anti-casino isn't synomomous with 'political'. And a Political Action Committee is just the entry-level designation an organization gets before it figures out how to become a "Non-Profit". The truth is, I've fought this battle alongside liberal atheists and conservative Christians. I've sat at the table with Democrats, Republicans and everything in between and on either side. Pro-union non-union, and anti-union. Men and women. College students and senior citizens. And I've seen eye-to-eye on this one issue with some people I have no blessed hope of seeing eye to eye on anything else in this world.

Because being anti-casino is about not wanting an increase in crime, taxes, addiction, broken families, bankruptcy, divorce, spousal abuse, child abuse and suicide. It's about wanting to protect our environment. It's about wanting appropriate economic development. It's about quality of life. It's about not dumbing down our local, state or national standards in the name of a quick economic fix that will turn into a long-term regional Rockland Industries nightmare down the road for our kids and grandkids to deal with.

So, is that the definition of political, or is it the definition of pro-community?

Now, I'm sorry if the term "anti-casino" isn't all warm and fuzzy and doesn't come with a sash, badges or an annual cookie drive. I'm sorry if it doesn't sound all safe and comfortable. But sometimes, really important, really necessary things don't come in pretty packages. (Though, gosh darn it, you know I've been trying to keep things cute with the Yorkies and spaniels.)

What if the anti-smoking movement had never been able to raise money for education campaigns and legal challenges? What if their efforts continued to be demonized and out-spent by huge corporations and towns and states kept allowing smoking to go on in hospitals, schools, and other public buildings because, well, the whole movement didn't come stamped with a big happy face? What if public officials had continued to allow the marketing of an industry to stand in the way of doing the right thing?

How many people would we still be losing every year to smoking-related health issues?

And, in an other public property conflict of interest controversy taking place in my town, a small group of people are trying to get the high school to allow them to have a table at the annual high school career day event. The group, which is NOT an anti-war group, and which, in fact is partly comprised of former combat veterans, wants to share factual information about what embarking on a potential military career could mean for students. When I first heard of this group, I was skeptical. I wasn't sure they belonged at a career-fair. But since I'll have a child in high school next year, I looked into it.

Boy did I get an eyeful. Among other things, did you know that the 2002 No-Child Left Behind Act makes federal funding available to school districts upon the release of student names, adresses and phone numbers to the U.S. Department of Defense? Sure, parents can opt-out of this intrusion into their child's privacy, but I for one never knew any of this - because it's buried on page 70 of the school handbook.

Now, I'm not anti-military - far from it - but I have seen how recruiters offer monetary incentives to entice people from economically depressed backgrounds, and how they've often failed to provide those benefits - after the recruit is already signed up and sworn in. And I've seen how, so often. we've failed our veterans after they've put their lives on the line to protect our liberties - including freedom of speech. So, if these kids are going to fight for us, shouldn't we at least give them a fighting chance to know all the facts - and not just walk away with a slick marketing brochure and a hard sell?

And if State governments want to balance budgets off the backs of slot machine patrons, shouldn't those patrons know that the machines are rigged.

What, exactly, is the problem with hearing the truth?

And as far as equal time goes - I remember when the entire board of selectmen in Middleboro wore these little pro-casino 'casino-friend' pins during public meetings throughout last year's three ring circus. These meetings were taped and pumped into homes in Middleboro and Lakeville. Was legal counsel consulted before donning the pins? In May of last year, Mashpee Wampanoag chief Glenn Marshall was allowed the stage at the Nichols Middle School - a public school. Marshall, it was later discovered, had lied to congress and done time in prison for rape. The only time, last summer, that residents got to hear from a gambling addiction expert - they had to go on private property to do it. And our own Governor just spent a decent chunk of public change to hire a gaming company which has worked for Kerzner International to tell him an Indian casino would be a good idea.

So, how come public politicians can promote their private agendas while private citizens who just try to tell the truth are accused of having a political agenda?

The only political thing about it are the many politicians - local and State - who seem so intent on keeping the truth about casinos away from the public.


Anonymous said...

I thought I had reached a point in life where the idiosyncracies of human behavior couldn't shock me anymore. I was wrong. The label "anticasino" provokes such a visceral reaction in some to the point of absolute irrationality and loss of civility.

I would think that since the Council of Churches has actively joined the fight to prevent casinos from being built in Massachusetts, their membership would support our efforts. But even all the available information demonstrating the social consequences of gambling has failed to stir the consciences of some with ill conceived, predetermined mindsets about who we are and what we do as a group. It's unfathomable that some individuals hear and see only what they want to.

You are a brave soldier. Keep marching to the beat of your heart.

alice said...

This entire controversy of intimidating and silencing casino opponents has left me bewildered. To deny equal opportunity to allow the other side of ANY issue to be heard seems anti-free speech and very much anti-democratic.
To allow casino supporters to applaud and yell and wave signs at Selectmen's Meetings, but to gavel the opposition to silence fails the smell test.
It would seem that those making the decisions haven't read the laws.
I also wonder what the "legal opinion" will cost Lakeville? Don't they pay a large hourly rate for their counsel?
In this entire controversy, what has been most distressing is that I have discussed the casino issue with friends who disagree and we have remained friends. The discussions haven't become heated or vitriolic. None of us has resorted to name-calling or the level of villification I'm seeing in venues such as Michael Quish's forum or topix.
I believe this is the tone that the Middleboro Board of Selectmen wrongly set under the stewardship of Wayne Perkins and Marsha Brunelle and Adam Bond.
No one spoke disrespectfully about their leadership until THEY spoke disrespectfully to EVERYONE who disagreed with them.
It needs to change. We need to be able to discuss issues we disagree about like adults and not resort to the level of mudslinging that has evolved.
This is NOT a political issues and has never been, but we need to talk.

Anonymous said...

One of the definitions for politics is the total complex of relations between people living in society. So in a sense all socially conscious people are political by nature. In this context it is a good thing. And an agenda is nothing more than an underlying often ideological plan to accomplish a goal. So what is so nefarious about having a political agenda? Who doesn't in regards to some social ideal they feel impassioned about?

carverchick said...

Gladys, I couldn't have said it better myself. Being anti casino is far from being political, yet there it is - even so, since when has being political = bad? I must admit, I have not witnessed gaveling into silence or being denied a place to meet in my Town because something is "political".

On the positive side, at least Lakeville is going through the proper channels to approve the Old Town Hall for the fundraiser....the NON-PROFIT fundraiser. If the casino debate is political, it is because of how it was handled by Middleboro last year, and how some pro people seem to enjoy trashing other towns selectmen on forums and radio shows whenever they can.

If being pro-community, and standing up for our quality of life makes me political, well then I will happily call myself political. At least I can sleep at night knowing that I am on the right side of the debate.

No Casino!

Why I am blogging? said...

You never lose your touch Gladys, my friend. I love your handy work.

Political in most cases is referred usually by pols who disagree with you or just to whishy washy to take a stand. As soon as a "law maker" opens his mouth with an opinion, the subject is labeled for life.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading the insightful opinions posted as comments almost as much as I enjoy reading your blogs.
I hope others will contribute comments for that reason.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Anon. 12:21,

I'm with you.

Anonymous said...

Claiming that a fundraising yardsale is too political is kind of a whimpy stance. It's almost like saying you want to fight the school bully, and when he/she shows up, you try to make a bargain. Maybe we should tell them we won't say we're, we'll just raise a banner that says "for a good and noble cause".

Gladys Kravitz said...

Sandy, I like that even better!

Anonymous said...

Despite what is written in the nether regions about those involved in the anticasino movement, we all remain committed to a worthy cause. Cervantes once wrote that "the victory is in the effort". So in a sense we have already large part due to the leadership of CFOers like you. We've all come a long way over the past year, albeit battle scarred and under constant scrutiny. Please know that without your efforts, we would not have been privy to so much information, and we probably wouldn't have taken the time to write so many letters. You remain an inspiration to us and continue to be much appreciated. Peace and love.

comrade in arms said...

Illegitimati non carborandum. Don't let the bastards get you down.

anthony said...

anon 7:55PM It seems to me the criticism arises in those "nether' realms because of the success of a small group in challenging a profitable business with cash to toss around.
When a small group continues to rise above the name calling and the juvenile rants and presents only the facts, it is to your credit.
You are heard above the roar.
Please continue to present the facts and have faith that you are successful.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Dear readers,

As anon 7:55 reminds us, Cervantes wrote, that "the victory is in the effort".

And if that is the case, then truly, the sustenance is in the support.

Love and many thanks,

Anonymous said...

Keep your excellent "tongue in cheek" blogs. It is entertaining, but more importantly, it does keep everyone informed and up to speed on what's going on at the time it's happening! THANK YOU!

Smoking Owl said...

I seem to recall a pro-casino float being allowed to participate in the 4th of July parade last year. Would an anti-casino float be given the same privilege?

If Lakeville will not allow use of their town hall for a CFO yard sale how about this idea.

Branch out and have a few members of CFO hold yard sales in their own yards. By holding miltiple yard sales at multiple sites all on the same day it would provide more exposure than just one yard sale at one location. Multiple locations may also receive more visitors and produce more revenue for CFO. Imagine yard sales to raise funds for CFO all held simultaneously in Middleboro, Lakeville, Bridgewater, Carver, Plympton, Halifax, wherever CFO has a following! Unfortunately I live on a dead end street and would not get much yard sale traffic by my house. But if volunteers where needed to help man the yard sales, I'd sign up.

Imagine Adam Bond's face when someone on his street is holding a yard sale with a great big NO CASINO sign predominately displayed.

Also, with a blues festival due to take place in Middleboro soon, will CFO be allowed to setup an informational booth or distribute informational literature? These types of activities would reach an audience that may not come to this website and who may be missing out on a lot of educational information regarding the REAL facts of the resort casino debacle.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Hi Smoking Owl - wow! Really great suggestions!! I've never had a yard sale but whenever my nieghbors have them about a million cars show up. My road is also fairly busy on weekends.

And I'm sure there are other busy roads out there. Also, with a yard sale at a private residence, you can hand out all the literature and FACTS you want.

I think the allure of one BIG yard sale is that I think they attract more buyers. Like I said, I never had a yard sale and wouldn't know how to run one if I did. But the yard, that I got.