Saturday, January 10, 2009

Where the Heart Is


True story.

About twenty some-odd years ago, while living far from home, I had a friend who was in a bad car accident. Driving down a dark road, in the middle of the night, he rounded a sharp corner - and crashed into a car parked in the middle of the road - abandoned some time earlier by it's owner.

My friend suffered injuries to one of his legs, was in a lot of pain, and confined to bed for months. Every few weeks, for some reason, he'd receive a ticket from the town for the accident. Of course he didn't pay it, but as more time went by, and the town kept sending him increasingly impatient and harshly worded notices about his failure to make good on the ticket, my friend started to worry and wonder if he shouldn't just write a check and be done with it. But I kept insisting he shouldn't. "You didn't do anything wrong," I said. "This isn't just a matter of $30 bucks. If you pay the ticket, it'll look like you're admitting guilt. And none of this was any of your fault." But, over time, the tone of the letters and the pain of recovery wore him down, and finally, he sent the town a check.

Some months later, when my friend was ambulatory, we went to see a lawyer. He listened to us for about a half hour, perused all our documentation, then leaned back in his chair and said, "I'm sorry. I wish I could help you - I'm pretty sure we could have collected somewhere in the range of $50,000 - if only you hadn't paid that ticket."

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Recently there has been some discussion about re-negotiating the Intergovernmental agreement that Middleboro signed with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe for a casino. There has been some sentiment, even in the anti-casino camp, that the IGA should be renegotiated, to protect Middleboro's best interest.

This gives me exactly the same feeling in my gut that I had about that ticket, and I'd like to explain why.

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First - Adam is involved. He's called us names, rushed the agreement to everyone's detriment but the investors, gloated in the glory, used it for self-promotion, withheld the truth - when he wasn't abandoning it altogether - revised history and demonstrated that he'd happily throw the town under the bus if it would help a casino.

And right now he really wants to renegotiate that agreement, delight the investors, look like a hero, mollify the opposition, and make you think it was all your idea.

And he's not the only reason to be nervous. Marsha Brunelle gaveled any casino opposition, and the entire board refused to check into their potential partner's background, sold the town down the river with section 22 B, neglected their neighbors in the surrounding communities, and couldn't be bothered to collect information on economic, environmental and social impacts or to educate the public through a series of public forums featuring actual experts. Good golly - Mr. Rogers spent more time trying to get on the Regional Task Force than he did examining casino impacts!

At this stage in the casino chronicles the only actions that Adam Bond and the rest of the Selectmen can responsibly take in Middleboro's best interest would be to 1.) Send an official letter to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior recinding their support for the project a 2.) Fill him in on the vote on Article III and 3.) Tell the Tribe that they're no longer interested in sharing a town with a sovereign nation that cannot, in the three decades it's spent chasing federal recognition, get it's act together 4.) Get a real lawyer, one with the town's real best interests in mind - and without 'Indian' and 'Gaming' after his or her title. Have he or she take a look at that contract - with members of the opposition in the room.

For Middleboro's citizens, after everything that has happened in the year and a half since the agreement, to demand anything less flies in the face of reality. And to suggest that they should renogotiate anything for the good of the town - especially with Adam and the Board at the helm - is setting up the town up for another fall.

It's like buying a lemon from a used car dealer - you only go back to the dealership to get your money back - not to give the guy another chance to sell you a lemon.

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Second - I've read a lot of Indian Casino case studies. And the thing that stands out clearly to me in every one of them is this - when you oppose a casino or something related to it - you need to be very clear about your opposition.

Because even when you oppose a casino or one or more potential impacts thereof, the first thing the BIA is going to do is to attempt to 'mitigate' it. So, you really have to be very firm in your resolve that nothing will properly 'mitigate' your concerns.

And worse, if you don't oppose a particular impact at all - they're actually going to take that as 'support'.

No kidding. Why do you think the CasinoFacts.org Environmental committee worked very hard with everyone to cover, as best it could, all impacts, and to oppose a casino on those grounds? Because if someone didn't mention, for instance, strong concern about the alewife population in the Nemasket river being poisoned by traffic and parking lot run-off - the BIA and DOI would assume your entire community is not only OK with a few dead herring, but potentially the decimation of the local alwife population.

Renegotiating or revisiting the IGA in light of EVERYTHING we know now -is like drawing a big fat smiley face on that Land into Trust application.

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Third -- There is no such thing as a 'done deal'. There are always choices.

Yet another lesson I learned when I was young was that it's a great thing to write a letter, but if you want that letter to get something done - cc someone else on it. Because it's amazing what people will do if they think someone's else is paying attention.

And so, if you really want to do something productive about the agreement, you'll write a letter to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and the BIA telling them why the land in Middleboro shouldn't go into trust because of all the corruption within the Tribe and it's investors and the sleazy way the agreement was pushed through. Goodness knows there's plenty of material for that right here on this blog.

And then - cc that letter to the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Attorney General of the United States.

Then... write another, very similar letter, and send that to the Attorneys General insisting there be an investigation into the shady dealings that surrounded the signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement with Middleboro - and cc the DOI and BIA on that one.

Now, I have some very wise and learned friends who will tell you that the comment period is over etc. and that no one's going to read your letter. But this is what I believe - no one, not our government officials and especially not political appointees live in a vacuum. And if there's anything the folks in government don't want these days is to be linked to any sort of corruption or scandal - especially in this, the digital age, where hints of wrongdoing have a way of following you around forever. Rod Blagojevich, Bill Richardson, and the Subprime Mortgage, Credit, and Auto Makers debacles - these things are all very fresh in everyone's mind.

Everywhere you turn, people are getting caught with their pants down and their hands in the cookie jar. In fact, this past the fall the DOI was in the spotlight of it's own scandal, and so, what with ties to Abramoff and payoffs to Congress, they may want to put some distance between themselves and the radioactive Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

Remember - this isn't a tribe out in the Western U.S. looking to build a three-hundred machine slot parlor out on Rte. Nowhere so that they can afford to buy books for school children. This is a middle class, fully assimilated Tribe, with a history of corruption, a weak application, facing new, tougher regulations, and which wants to build the world's largest casino in the currently casino-free State of Massachusetts. I mean, how many red flags can you count in this melodrama?

And think about this - early last year, PRIOR to publishing new regulations governing land into trust decisions this Spring (and their effective date in August), the DOI denied several tribes land into trust for being too far from their reservations.

That's right. Those denials were based on feedback from the public - including that of other Tribes - and issued without new regulations in place.

So, in the time it takes to watch a selectman's meeting - you could save your town. Or... you could just hope someone else does it.

Here's those addresses.

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

Bureau of Indian Affairs
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240

Office of the Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108

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Fourth -- We were right the first time.

Back in '07 we heard it, time and time again - if Middleboro didn't sign an agreement, the town could get a casino and no money. And a lot of people believed that.

But on July 28th 2007, roughly a third of the assembled voters at the Town Meeting From Hell voted NO to that agreement.

Those folks were right then, and they're more right now. This isn't a hypothetical exercise anymore. This thing stunk from the start and it's smelling worse by the minute.

Sure, I agree - there are many times in town government when compromise and negotiation are necessary. But this isn't one of them.

You don't win Land into Trust decisions by settling. You win by saying NO. You win by standing your ground. And you win by standing that ground all the way to the Supreme Court if that's what it takes.

Because, for the price of a little piece of mind, you could end up losing more than you even knew you had.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

As always, you've inspired me to write a few letters.
You made good points.
The letters I wrote to the BIA were included in the totals as raising issues others overlooked.
Martha's running for higher office so now might be the time to grab her attention.
I just wished you'd given me the idea yesterday when I was looking outside at the snow.
Off to get writer's cramp!

Anonymous said...

Considering the board of clowns, there are some who recognize the best that might be hoped for with them is a recognition of 'bad faith.' How adults can make up their minds without gathering any facts at all is mystifying.
To this day, the BOS has never put numbers to the potential impacts. And when the Matrix report was discussed at the BOS meeting, was anyone paying attention when the man said he had put together the numbers without traffic projections? So the entire report is meaningless, except it does prove that an ambulance doesn't make any sense, but that never stopped this BOS from making a decision. And Ruth rose to defend the lack of numbers as if you can add a potential 50,000 cars each day and won't have accidents. Take the Kool Aid away from Ruth! She used to make sense.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Well, Anon. 2:43 - at least recognition of "bad faith" is a step in the right direction - and certainly better than... "duh... what indictment? Everything's fine! We signed with the Tribe not Glenn! Nothing's changed! We support the project! What's not to like?!"

Anonymous said...

Gladys,
You don't live in the 'boro so missed a great BOS meeting at which CPA was discussed.
Mini Ma protested that she hadn't received an informational packet about CPA to make a decision.
This is the woman who clearly hasn't read the IGA because she made the comment that the 'Tribe ought to pay for the cost of the ambulance service.' Ought to? Ought to? Since when is that a legal definition?
So she supports the casino without the facts and can't support CPA because she doesn't have the facts?
Casino supporters need to watch the meetings and see who they put on the bored. She should be home baking cookies.
And the rest of the bored was pathetic too.
I know your current hometown passed CPA and has used it wisely.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Yes. My town has it's problems but CPA and Marsha Brunelle aren't among them.

It really gets to me how obviously little your board knows about the IGA. I mean - it's like this is a parlor game to them. Wayne Perkins says there's enough water? Good enough for us!

As I look back on the last 19 months - it really does seem like a trip through the Twilight Zone.

Jacquie said...

Gladys,

There is no way any outsider would actually believe what has gone on within the past 19 months in Middleboro.

I love the comment Anon 9:16 said about Mini Mae and the facts for CPA and no facts for the casino- Doesn't that just say it all?!?

I'd like anyone to answer me ONE question-
How does one rationalize with the irrational??

Is there ABSOLUTELY ANY WAY?

Carl said...

Gladys,
To the point. I agree 100%. I stand by all my previous statements about the observations regarding the Middleborough Five. I wouldn't buy a used... I mean pre-owned mule from this bunch. It amazes me that anyone would think they could ever get a better deal by going back to the table and renegotiate the IGA. What is it about the tangled web weaved by the investors/lobbyists/casino lawyers/corrupt tribal members that makes them think they can trust any of them. THEY DID NOT NEGOTIATE THE IGA WITH THE TRIBE! "The Tribe" was not at the table. It was investors and lobbyists "for the tribe", meaning for Corrupt Glenn Marshall. There was no one from tribe there. Who was telling Marshall what to do illegally, the investors and lobbyists. Who advised the shunnings and election fixing, the now almost resigned lawyer. McDermott's grubby fingers were in everything that was going wrong in the tribe. All this corruption has everything to do with them being recognized by the feds after decades. It is in the indictment of Glenn Marshall. Who on the BoS has read that? Certainly not dumb & bumber. The sole purpose to commit fraud, violate campaign finance laws etc was to gain something they hadn't achieved in decades. Cash equals recognition. That is what corruption is about. That is why there should be no compromise, no IGA and NO CASINO!

Gladys Kravitz said...

Carl, the town was never given a chance! Nothing but wall to wall lawyers (some of whom turned out to be investors), and the Board of Ineptmen. The only "Tribe" anyone ever saw was Glenn Marshall. In Halifax one night, a resident stood up and said he worked in Middleboro and had met Marshall - and liked him. That he had earned the Congressional Medal of Honor and five purple hearts. "Stand up guy" he called him.

(OMG.)

Write those letters!

Anonymous said...

Gladys,
It hit the list with my letters to the BIA and now you've got me going again! The adrenaline is flowing, so just keep it up!
I watched the Board of Ineptmen (I really like that term. It's fitting!) this evening.
This isn't about the casino, folks. Watch the meetings. This is like a time warp. I've seen boards in other town that were professional and articulate. The 'boro? Sorry to say, but it's like a berg.
And Lincoln Andrews attacking that lady who just asked a question? He made up a number and Minni Ma came to his defense. Who voted for her? It wasn't me.
I can't wait for the April election and hope a decent candidate comes forward because I wouldn't vote for another Ineptitude. I'll write in Bozo before I'd vote for them. And after tonight, that includes Lincoln Andrews. I've heard rumors he's thinking about running. Fat chance for my vote.

Anonymous said...

I work a night shift and my husband records the "Ineptitudes" for me to be informed. I haven't watched it all but my husband left it at the part about cpa. We cant aford it but will vote for it and have signed the petition.
Town employees were the only people voting until a few years ago but we always did not that it mattered. Maybe with young people voting things will change.
What I see is that no one ever disagreed with the selectman and they thought they were important. Their was no place to criticise them. Now they don't like it. Gladys, your story about your friend makes sense. Little things aren't important sometimes until they are important. This is important and not because of the casino. This board is bad. I didn't vote for them and we need to get rid of them.

Anonymous said...

Gladys, see how you inspire people. You must keep blogging, so much more to tell people and you bloggers are the only ones doing it!!!

Myself, I am pushing for our Attorney General, who has much clout representing the state, to write to the DOI herself, to look into this tribe receiving a Sovereign Nation status, at what costs??

Oh, and about Bond, wasn't he who stated, (about the casino coming to Middleboro), "this is a gift from God" I never will get over him having the audacity to say something that stupid. But it is Bond, one of the Middleboro Six, (have to include Healey). Mimi is picking right up where the five, (counting Perkins, his choice also) want her, she is fitting in very nicely, another well placed peg in the hole.

Back to the tribe: Please everyone, Write!! "Silence gives consent."

Thank you Gladys. Always giving us a "heads up"

Anonymous said...

Lincoln Andrews spoke in opposition to the Community Preservation Act and thought CPA should be 'studied.' Mega barf!
Did he raise the same issue regarding the casino?
And Neil Rosenthal talked about creeping government control.
Has anyone explained to him about a Sovereign Nation in town?
All either of them can see is dollar signs for their business profits and no further.
And the faithful fact finder couldn't restrain himself!
Why are casino supporters so blinded on any other issue?
I just finished writing several more letters and raising other issues. Your suggestion was appreciated and I've spoken to several others who will write also. So far, between my husband and myself, we've written
6.

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