So I suppose it's worth noting that I never even considered going to Middleboro yesterday to witness representatives from the Tribe having a sit down with CRAC (Casino Resort Advisory Committee.)
Because, why bother? I've seen this movie before. The last two and a half years have been like a black comedy that never seems to end. It features a pack of clueless greedy screwballs running all over creation, and each other, at the merest hint of a priceless treasure, that we all know they're never going to get their hands on, buried under a giant "W". It should star Don Knotts and Buddy Hackett (and Ethel Merman as Adam Bond.)
And at first, it was funny. But now we just want it to be over.
It started out as the World's Biggest Casino. Then, it was 'Scaled Back'. Now, according to the Enterprise, it's Casino Lite. Two-thirds less inevitable than other, more filling, casinos.
Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell told the Casino Resort Advisory Committee the tribe has reconsidered building a $1 billion resort casino complex off Route 44 because of the failing economy. He said the tribe is considering “one-third of that in size ... no hotel, a gaming hall with food, not a full-blown mega casino, it doesn’t make sense.”
No, Ced, what 'doesn't make sense' is that you are living in a delusional dream world where casinos are your birthright and Supreme Court decisions are reversed on your say so.
You are not getting a casino. It does not need to be scaled back. It does not have to be built in stages. There is no need to submit "a draft Environmental Impact Statement by December", "hold public hearings in January", or present "a final EIS by July". So just put down the shovel, leave the Kool-Aid on the bar and back away.
Both Cromwell and Tobey are optimistic the casino will go forward, despite setbacks with the investors. Tobey said the move to legalize Class 3 gaming in Massachusetts would give the tribe the green light for a casino once it has land taken into trust, because recognized tribes are allowed gaming by right if legal in the state.Hey guys, how about 'setbacks' with the Carcieri v. Salazar ruling? Oh, that's right, in Cromwelltobey Land there's going to be a "fix" to correct that inconvenient Supreme Court Ruling.
For those of us still living in the real world, let's take a moment to review.
A proposal to 'fix' the Carcieri ruling has been sponsored by a Senator from North Dakota. It is being co-sponsored by a senator from New Mexico, another from Colorado, and two senators from Montana - states where a good share of their constituents are, no doubt, Native American.
Two additional co-sponsors are the two senators from Hawaii - one of whom is of 'Native Hawaiian' ancestry - and both of whom sponsor the Akaka Bill which would set up "a process for the reorganization of the Native Hawaiian government for the purposes of a federally recognized government-to-government relationship with the United States."
The remaining co-sponsor, Al Franken of Minnesota, one of the newest members of Congress, is probably also too new to have ever had a constituent write to him to about having their rights trampled on by the Indian Gaming Act.
In other words, virtually all of the sponsors of the bill have to look like they support overturning a ruling unpopular with their constituents.
However, on the flipside, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah and yes, even North Dakota submitted amicus briefs in support of Carcieri.
And for that matter, so did the:
- Council of State Governments
- National League of Cities
- U.S. Conference of Mayors
- National Association of Counties, and the
- International City/County Management Association
Furthermore, shortly after the Salazar decision, in Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Supreme Court ruled that, "Congress cannot, after statehood reserve or convey submerged lands that have already been bestowed upon a State" - further reducing the likelihood of any Federal land-in-trust acquisitions in Massachusetts.
And, in her testimony before the legislative Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies in June 2009, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley stated that
"The Supreme Court's decision this past February in the Carcieri case effectively puts the Wampanoags and other tribes in Massachusetts on the same footing as any other private party because the Secretary of the Interior's ability to acquire land for Native Americans is limited to those already under Federal Jurisdiction at the time the Indian Reorganization Act was enacted in 1934. Massachusetts' Native American tribes each came under Federal Jurisdiction after 1934. As a result, they are entitled to make an application and bid for a gaming license like anyone else, but do not have special entitlement to conduct gaming under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act or the Indian Reorganization Act."And yet, according to Cromwell...
“Middleboro is the No. 1 choice for gaming in Massachusetts,”Notice he didn't say "We look forward to coming home to Middleboro - our ancestral homeland, where the majority of our tribe currently resides, and where the seat of our government is located." Thankfully, Cromwell's fantasy world is limited to reservation shopping.
Michael Solimini, a casino opponent, questioned if the terms of the deal have changed. “Middleboro was promised a large-scale casino, now the scope has changed downward ... Sounds like a bait and switch. We’re not getting what we were promised two years ago.”Whoa! Mike! You're like totally harshing Aaron's casino buzz with all your heavy negative truth, dude.
“Are you saying you favor a full-blown casino?” Tobey asked. He said the tribe is following the terms of the agreement and called Solimini’s term “harsh.”
An inconvenient truth. And "bait and switch" is a good term for the Tribe's new mantra. That's the one I was thinking of, too.
Probably because Mike and I were there in 2007, watching a lot of folks practically fall over and start speaking in tongues at the very idea of a casino Disneyland with five star restaurants, upscale retail stores, a bunch of golf courses and a waterpark all within a lougee-hucking distance of their very own barcaloungers. Their eyes would dilate into big shiny poker chips at every new mouthwatering description of the magical wonderland within their grasp.
"Vote Yes for Middleboro's Future!"
Not only did the Tribe's chairman promise the people of Middleboro the Land of Oz (before being indicted and hauled off to jail) but he also agreed to pay them 7 million dollars a year for the privilege.
But now I'm left wondering, after the state takes it's cut of whatever it would agree to in a compact, and the Tribe pays for the infrastructure, the 'mitigation' to the town and anyone else, will Casino Lite really be the castle in the sky Cedric Cromwell and Aaron Tobey seem to think it is?
Speaking of which, exactly what color is the sky their world?