Monday, February 25, 2008


Breaking News…


What the hell does that mean?

Well, awhile back, the First Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island can take land into trust.

Yeah, that stinks.

But wait - the Governor of Rhode Island, Donald Carcieri, appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States for a of writ of certiorari in the case.

So what’s a writ of certiorari?

Great question. A writ of certiorari, also known as ‘the rule of four’, means that at least four of the judges must agree to grant a second look at a certain contested court case. This alone is a significant achievement for the petitioner, because limited resources and jurisdictional issues weed out most of the requests which come before the Supreme Court. In fact, only between 80 to 150 of roughly 7,500 cases are accepted each year.

Still, what’s that got to do with us?

Well, stay with me. In the orignial Carcieri V. Kempthorne case, the Governor was protesting the taking of purchased lands, meaning non-reservation lands, into trust by the Narragansett Tribe, which was federally recognized after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. And we all know that once land goes into trust, it is taken off the tax rolls and becomes a part of a sovereign nation.

But still, that case is for Rhode Island.

Ah, but there’s the rub – it’s not! See the “et al” part of the Certiorari Granted thing?


Well, Massachusetts is one of the “et al”. We signed on to the suit.

So… if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Rhode Island after reviewing the case, it’s as if Massachusetts wins, too?

Bingo! (No pun intended.)


Yeah, wow.

And you said most of these cases don’t even get a second look?

That’s right.

So this is good, huh?

It ain't bad. In fact, if it turns out that tribes recognized after 1934 can’t put land into trust in Massachusetts, there goes Governor Patrick’s big argument that his three-casino plan is only a necessary pre-emptive strike against the supposed “done deal” that an Indian tribe can build casinos here even if we don’t want them in this State.



Why are these Justices smiling?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Founding Father Knows Best

Today, on Washington’s birthday, I thought it would be a good time to talk about a law he once signed, called the Nonintercourse Act. No, this law didn’t have anything to do with cold showers or salt peter rationing. But it did have to do with protecting Indians from being taken advantage of in real estate deals.

This is how the Nonintercourse Act reads:

That no sale of lands made by Indians, or any nation or tribe of Indians within the United States, shall be valid to any person or persons, or to any state, whether having the right of preemption to such lands or not, unless the same shall be made and duly executed at some public treaty, held under the authority of the United States.

So, basically, this means that land sales involving Indians are void unless first approved by the Federal government. And in a nutshell, the Nonintercourse Act is why we're here today fighting a casino.

Washington was grateful for the support the Indians had given him in the Revolutionary War. They'd served in his armies and even turned the tide in an important battle with the British Navy. And George, in return, wanted tribes protected against unscrupulous land deals, and felt that the Federal Government was the one to do it.

But then… Washington hadn’t had a lot of experience with the Federal Government at that point. No one had. The newly minted United States of America was a brave new world.

In the years to come, the Federal Government would prove an undependable guardian of Indian tribes, from stripping them of their lands in the 19th century, to granting them unprecedented privileges when it came to gaming in the 20th.

And so, it occurs to me that old George would have been rolling in his Mount Vernon tomb for the last 200 years if he’d had any idea at how Native American history would actually play out.

Because, though he sought to protect Indians – Washington would never have envisioned them or anyone else exploiting their sovereign status to saturate the nation with casinos.

George had some pretty strong feelings about gambling. Not only did he outlaw it in his armies, he wrote this formidable admonition to his nephew in 1783.

The last thing I shall mention, is first of importance and that is, to avoid gaming. This is a vice which is productive of every possible evil, equally injurious to the morals and health of its votaries. It is the child of avarice, the brother of inequity, and father of mischief. It has been the ruin of many worthy families; the loss of many a man's honor; and the cause of suicide. To all those who enter the list, it is equally fascinating; the successful gamester pushes his good fortune till it is overtaken by a reverse; the losing gamester, in hopes of retrieving past misfortunes, goes on from bad to worse; till grown desperate, he pushes at everything; and loses his all. In a word, few gain by this abominable practice (the profit, if any, being diffused) while thousands are injured.

Jeez – George sounds just like CasinoFacts! Same stuff, different era.

And so, today, I’d like us all to take a moment to reflect on the vision our founding fathers must once have had for the Great Experiment which became this great nation.

Would their blueprints have included glass towers of greed springing up out of cornfields and forests, in neighborhoods, near schools, in small towns and big cities and everywhere in between?

Would they have recommended gambling revenue as a foundation on which to build a strong fiscal structure?

And would they have considered the outright promotion and legitimization of "this abomidable practice" by elected officials as evidence of a sound democracy?

But there's no need to wonder. Just take a dollar bill out of your wallet and look at the face staring up at you.

The buck stops there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mrs. Kravitz Goes to Raynham

I was making dinner last night when I remembered that Brian Giovanoni was speaking before the Raynham Selectman this evening.

Holy CRAC!

I made it to Raynham with no time to spare. There was Brian, standing out in the corridor like a Roman candle in his lipstick red ski parka, gesticulating as he whispered something about $3 Million Dollars into someone's ear.

Ah, I said to myself, the bloviating had already begun.

I’ve seen Brian in action before, as you know, in Carver. And let me say this, if you already think the Middleboro Casino Circus is the greatest show on earth, you should really see them outside of their natural habitat.

As soon as he is given the floor, Brian assures the Raynham selectmen that he’s not required to be a cheerleader for the casino (which implies that the Middleboro Board of Selectmen are…) and that he’s NOT a cheerleader for it. He’s just trying to be ready if the casino comes.

But apparently, he's also recently received a booster shot of Kool-aid from that quintessential traveling casino-oil salesman, Clyde Barrow.

Perhaps that’s what caused him to low-ball the conservative traffic figures from 40,000 to 20,000. Never fear, Gladys was there to correct it.

For the record, I wasn’t planning on disrupting Brian’s meeting. I don’t share his gift for gab or his quest of the spotlight. But perhaps there was no one better than myself to have been listening to him that night as he painted a fictional picture of harmony and fellowship between his committee and surrounding towns.

His committee welcomed questions! You can ask us anything...

At this point I felt inclined to remind him of the “I don’t give a damn about Bridgewater” comment a member of his committee made this summer.

He brushed this off by saying that his committee had 6 weeks! Six weeks to come with a study for Middeboro! For Middleboro! There was a lot of stress. The comment came during one of his discussions about Middleboro after all.

Actually, I reminded him, it didn’t. It had come as a result of one of my questions concerning Bridgewater - because I’d made sure to ask a question about Bridgewater every time I attended one of Brian’s meetings, if, for no other reason than to remind the town of Middleboro that the effects of a mega resort casino wouldn’t be limited to Middleboro. But naturally, when Bridgewater did come up, it was summarily dismissed, never to be mentioned again until a whole bunch of other surrounding towns picked up pitchforks and torches and threatened to throw a cold bucket of water on Middleboro’s casino of dreams.

“It wasn’t exactly kumbaya, Brian,” I said referring to those languid summer nights at the town hall.

No, it wasn’t, agreed Brain, who thinks we should all just move on.

Moving on is fine, but don’t rewrite the past. Don’t pretend Middleboro ever gave a rat’s backside about anyone else during last summer’s casino orgy.

Brian continued on, proclaiming the wonderful helping hand his town could give Raynham, etc., going off on tangents of interest only to him.

When asked if Middleboro has dealings with the Tribe, I was a bit amazed to learn that they’re ‘around during the day’ and that apparently they’ve been coming to some of Brian’s meetings in the evening. (Really? How novel.) In fact, he can set up a meeting with them if you want. (He is their personal secretary?)

I’m certain they can see my eyes rolling from the front of the room.

Another person wants to know if Brian’s seen any plans yet?


Are there any plans? Even conceptual plans? And has he seen them?


He mentions that the casino will have a water park, which is funny, because just recently Middleboro Selectman Wayne Perkins said there wasn’t a water park planned. Go figure.

And then he goes on to say that the area around rte 44 in Middleboro is unlike that in bustling Raynham. Nope, nothing but trees and open space as far as the eye can see. Well... nothing but that and the KOA.

This would probably come as a surprise to all those people who’ve made their homes in the perimeter of the Precinct Street location. And perhaps the fact that Brian considers Oliver Mill, the historic Muttock area, and every man woman and child living on Plymouth Street, just a poker chip’s throw away, and running parallel to Rte. 44, as nothing but trees and open space, should give one pause.

Selectmen, spectators and the press asked many excellent questions that evening. Mostly about traffic. “You can’t fit a 5” piece of pipe into a 2” piece of pipe…” (something like that.)

Never fear. Brian is a water engineer. It’s what he does. And so he thoroughly understands traffic.

He also boasts, modestly, that the Governor used his committee’s report as part of his rejection of the Tribe’s land into trust application. This was interesting, I thought, since Brian seemed rather taken aback right after the Governor’s report came out.

“I can pretty much answer half the questions he asks in there, but he never contacted me or anyone else,” Giovanoni said in a recent Boston Globe article.

But perhaps the most meaningful moment of the evening arrived after Brain completed explaining how Raynham might consider dealing with the Tribe in seeking any remedy for impacts.

“They’re a sovereign nation, like England. And if you show them respect, well, then maybe they’ll be willing to help you out.”
At this point, Raynham Selectman McKinnon thanked Brian for his professional presentation, but asked the question we all, at some level, have wanted to ask since the beginning.

“Son, I guess I just don’t understand why your town would… give up it’s own control, and choose to depend on the Tribe’s benevolence.”

But it’s clear that this is one of those infinitesimally few things that Brian has no answer for.

And I don’t have any profound wisdom to impart to help him understand. I mean, how do you explain America?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Maintaining a Long Tradition of Stewardship of the Land through Conservation:
9.4 Acres

Preserving a Unique and Precious History & Culture:
14.9 Acres

Locating the Seat of a Newly Recognized Sovereign Government:
55 Acres

Building Housing for Tribal Members:
58 Acres

Creating the World's Largest Casino in the Middle of Suburbia:
539 Acres

Understanding Your Priorities:

For conservation, history, housing, culture, government, and more importantly, unbridled greed, there's Land-into-Trust.

For everything else... there's MasterCard.


Friday, February 8, 2008

There's no place like home...

The Beneficent Oz has every intention of granting your requests...but first you must prove yourselves worthy by performing a very small task.

- The Wizard of Oz

We’ve known since the beginning that if the land in Middleboro isn’t placed into trust, then a casino will not be built there. There will not be a class 2 bingo hall. No one’s going to put 70+ million dollars into infrastructure improvements in order to build a bingo hall when two of the World’s biggest casinos are less than two hours away.

The Governor, as part of his own agenda to build three commercial State–controlled casinos, and to dampen the fierce opposition that has been established on the South Shore, has denied the Mashpee Wampanoag’s application for a Middleboro casino. Just one more reason (despite assertions from the ever-skulking Indian Gaming Attorney, Dennis Whittlesey, that this is only the merest bump in the road) for the Tribe’s investors to fold 'em and walk away.

Let’s face it, the Legislature still hasn’t voted to approve legalizing Level 3 gambling, and may not even vote on it this year. Meanwhile, the Statewide grassroots opposition against opening the door to slots is beginning to take off.

Even the town of Mashpee went and opened a can of worms regarding their own special agreement with the Tribe.

And while it’s true that the Tribe can go the commercial route, the very notion offends their concept of sovereignty, not to mention alleviates their investors of their competitive advantage.

Things are looking grim for the future of Glenn Marshalls casino.

So, how can we help to close the door, burn the bridges and salt the earth on the concept of that casino so that it never, ever, ever darkens our doorway again?

With a letter.

That’s all.

Sure, it’s not quite as easy as clicking your heels together three times, but let’s face it, it’s certainly worth your time to write a letter to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior explaining why the land in Middleboro should not be placed into trust.

There is no need for a vast understanding of Constitutional law, a career in Environmental Engineering, an advanced degree in Economics, or an expansive knowledge of American History. This letter will be all yours – and if your reason is that you just don’t like gambling – that’s reason enough. The Wampanoag Tribe wants the land in Middleboro for the sole purpose of building a tax-free gambling casino, and the DOI wants to know how the neighbors feel about that.


He’s heard from Middleboro, he’s heard from the Tribe, and now the DOI wants to hear from members of the community – and that doesn’t mean just Middleboro. The South Shore is in this too. Our opinions will be given consideration to this process. And if he decides not to put the land into trust, that's when you can pop the cork and pour me a glass of it's over!

We’ve been gaveled, bullied and out-spent. But now, for the cost of a couple stamps and a trip to the post office, you can finally have your say. So have it.

Click here for a link to some helpful guidelines.

Make 4 copies of your letter. Keep one for yourself, and send the other 3 to:

Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240

Assistant Secretary- Indian Affairs, Carl Artman
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240 - PAC
P.O. Box 105
Middleboro, MA 02346

But if you can only make one copy - send it to the big guy, Dirk Kempthorne.

The important thing is that we write these letters and send them.

If the DOI receives only two or three letters - it will be a drop in the bucket. But if we all write - we can fill that bucket.

And we've all seen what one bucket of water can do.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Casino Roulette

Ok… first, the Governor wants three commercial casinos. Then, today, he rejects the Wampanoag Tribe’s application for a casino in Middleboro.

Rep. Tom Calter, (D – Kingston) says he’s for gambling in Massachusetts, but not in Middleboro. He seems confident that the Governor is on board with that.

Then, the Raynham Call prints this story about Rep. David Flynn (D – Bridgewater), who is suddenly on the fence about retiring. The article cites the following cryptic reasons for this change of heart:

Two years ago, Flynn, who wears the honorary title “House Dean” for his earliest Statehouse service, said he would be ready to call it quits in 2008 to spend more time with his family.

Now, he says, there are many critical issues affecting his 8th Plymouth district constituents in Bridgewater, Raynham and Easton.

Topping his concerns are the budget, casinos, commuter rail, and the future of the Raynham dog track.

He says where the casino goes, so goes the train. If a planned gambling resort is licensed for Route 44 in Middleboro, 40 or 50 more trains will be running through Bridgewater 24 hours a day.
Meanwhile, the BIA will be holding hearings in Middleboro and Mashpee...

Palmer, East Boston, Plainville, New Bedford, Worcester, Chicopee. At the tracks, in the cities, in suburbia, in the countryside.

‘Round and ‘round and ‘round she goes, but where the casinos could land… nobody really knows.

So don’t do your victory dance just yet.

Deval is just as dead set on selling his casino plan as the Wampanoag Tribe is dead set on putting their casino in Middleboro.

Think they won't put one there if there's already casino in New Bedford? Did Foxwoods stop Mohegan Sun?

Still looking for a sure bet? Here it is. If Deval gets his way, three casinos will go up in someone’s backyard. And if that backyard isn’t in Middleboro, it doesn’t mean a thing. Because the Tribe will still try to put one there. They are following the Connecticut plan after all. That State fought casinos, too.

By making slots legal in Massachusetts at all, the welcome mat is being rolled out for them in Middleboro.

And a lot of legislators still just don’t understand that.

And remember, it’s not like the Governor sent the Tribe packing. According to this article in the Cape Cod Times:

State officials oppose the plan because the tribe did not build in adequate safeguards for environmental protection, zoning, transportation, labor, public safety, public health and consumer protection...

Sounds like nothing a good old State controlled commercial casino license couldn’t clear right up.

Folks, Gladys is sorry for the buzz kill. I know a lot of you see this development as a really hopeful sign. It’s just that I’ve watched what a game this has been for so many of the factions involved.

And speaking of games, think about this… what’s the quickest way to get rid of the opposition?

Let them think that they’ve won.

Talk to the Hand - Update

In yesterday’s blog I brought attention to the fact that the minutes of the July 28th Town Meeting from Hell had neglected to mention Article 3, other than that it had been defeated, even while the other articles got a full write-up.

I asked if some of you might want to call the Middleboro Town Clerk’s Office and ask that the minutes be beefed up a bit to reflect the existence, if not the importance of Article 3.

The Middleboro Board of Selectmen didn’t want Article 3 on the ballot. But had collected too many signatures on their petitions for them to ignore. Still, they did their best. When, a month after the meeting, a resident asked if the Board couldn’t mention Article 3 in their letter of support to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, they proclaimed it to be “irrelevant”.

Well it's not. And I guess your calls worked. The minutes, which have been moved and can now be found at this link, have been updated. And though Article 3 still only gets the same amount of lines as were dedicated to the Pledge of Allegience and the National Anthem, at least they now read:

The Moderator informed the meeting that Article 3 has no force in law, and that it is only a public opinion question.

ARTICLE 3: A motion to see if the Town approves of the creation of a Gambling Casino Resort Complex within the Corporate Boundaries of the Town was defeated by a majority vote.
Well now, that’s better. What’s even more interesting now is that, if you look at the next paragraph which describes Article 2, you can begin to see a story unfold. No, the town didn’t want a casino, but it had been convinced it would get one anyway, and coerced to vote for the agreement or face financial ruin.

But Article three said it all.

Power to the People

Does this Governor Make My Butt Look Big?

In the summer of 2004, just as pundits were pronouncing that political conventions had become irrelevant, a young senator from Illinois was making his national debut on center stage. As he spoke, he held the nation in his hand. His words painted a future of hope, built on a foundation of integrity, and crowned with the promise of a brand new day. And at the conclusion of his speech, my children watched in wonder as their mom stood on her feet and applauded the TV set.

The man with the unlikely name became the one to watch. I found myself hoping he’d run for president one day, that he wouldn’t have skeletons in his past or make incriminating sound bytes, and that he’d really turn out to be as good as he seemed.

I’d been waiting since 2004 to vote for Barack Obama.

And then, along came Deval.

He’d also inspired. Spoke of the high road, of dreams fulfilled, and hard work toward a common goal. Then, as soon as he got elected, he turned the tables, took the low road, and placed his best laid plans at the feet of the future of casino gambling.

Our newest governor had become the poster boy for political bait and switch.

And so, while Obama opened fire hydrants of hope and the nation danced in a shower of long-awaited optimism, here in the Bay State, we just stood back rolled our eyes.

Caroline Kennedy claims to have endorsed Obama because his ability to inspire people is so much like that of her father. A few years ago, I too felt strongly that what our country needed more than anything was a real leader. A person who could elevate our nation out of this depressing quagmire of war and debt and politics as usual.

I didn’t vote for Deval. But a lot of people in this State did. They placed their faith in his promises, and in return what they got was a governor who played games. Who bent arms and tried to bribe cities and towns with one-time gifts for transportation projects, imaginary jobs, and the myth of an easy way out of a tough spot. His term so far has been one big infomercial to get you to buy something you wouldn’t otherwise have considered.

Deval Patrick's fiscal policy? Buy a scratch ticket. You’ll get rich. Build casinos. They’ll solve all our problems. It's entertainment!

I can’t remember the era of Camelot that Caroline’s dad once created in this country. He was shot and killed when I was still a baby. But it always sounded like a nice place to live in TV documentaries and in the movies.

And I don’t know if the Deval Effect had anything to do with Hilary Clinton winning Massachusetts in yesterday’s primary. But I do know that people all across this State are expressing their frustration with a man who used our hopes for a brand new day, to usher in a self-serving term of the same old, same old. Once bitten, twice shy was how many Bay Staters saw Obama coming into this race - thanks, in part, to Deval Patrick.

Many of us want to see, in Barack, the promise of another JFK. But it's hard to believe in Camelot while living in Deval's Spamalot.

And is it even possible, in this age of prying Youtube eyes and instantaneous satellite feeds to sustain a country on hope when the hiccups of reality keep intruding?

There’s so much riding on the one person who will inherit George W. Bush’s America - and none of us want to screw it up.

I still don’t know who I’ll vote for in the national election, but yesterday, I walked into the voting booth, picked up the sharpie, and colored in the circle next to the name of the candidate who’s accepted less gambling money from their supporters. And who attempted to curtail gambling in their home state rather than expand it. Barack Obama seems to understand that when you bet your future on a scratch ticket, you’ll lose.

And for me, those actions spoke louder than words.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Talk to the Hand...

…because the town ain’t listening.

I found out something interesting today. In the minutes of the July 28, 2007 Town Meeting from Hell, discretely concealed within the antiquated morass of the Middleboro town web site, the only mention of Article 3 – is that it was defeated. No mention about what it was, or why it mattered.

You remember Article 3 – the one where an overwhelming majority of people stood up and said NO – they didn’t want a casino.

And it’s weird because every other article on the ballot got a write up.

The Casino No-Impact Study (Article 1) got over 20 paragraphs, including indents, underlines and a special font.

Article 2 - the vote to permanently sacrifice a portion of the 338 year old town of Middleboro in exchange for a temporary revenue stream, got a whole paragraph.

But Article 3 – just two uninspiring lines:

The Moderator informed the meeting that Article 3 has no force in law, and that it is only a public opinion question.

ARTICLE 3: This article was defeated by majority vote.

And it's a little worrisome since the selectmen have already voted not to mention article 3 in their letter to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

I’m sure there is a simple reason for this grievous exclusion. Perhaps you could call the town clerk at 508-946-2415 and ask that they flesh out Article 3 a bit.

For the people.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Unity Dance

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.