Friday, March 27, 2009

It Tolls for Thee

The Senate Committee for Indian Affairs is meeting soon to discuss the Carcieri ruling. It's vital to the future direction of any "fix" that these people know what the Mashpee Wampanoag and their investors have been up to.

Don't assume that our congressmen know what we've been through. This process needs to change. We need to get the TRUTH into the public record. These letters will be read!

We need to tell them all about the blatant reservation shopping that went on in Middleboro. If you can't find enough to fill 2 or more paragraphs on this blog and others, then you just aren't trying!

Let them know that Carcieri should stand!

Get those letters written or make a phone call. This is important. This committee is already aware of the concept of reservation shopping. But they need to hear from the people who've lived through it. They need to hear our real-life stories.

Last year we had five minutes to tell our side of the story at a BIA hearing. Now we can take all the time we want. People from Rhode Island and other States are writing letters - so join your words with those of other people across this country to STOP RESERVATION SHOPPING!

This doesn't have to be a long letter - just a heart-felt one. A truthful one.

Send a copy of your letter to:

1.) Your Representative in Congress



2.) Senator Kennedy
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
e-mail
Phone (202) 224-4543
Fax (202) 224-2417


3.) Senator Kerry
218 Russell Bldg.
Second Floor
Washington D.C. 20510
e-mail
Phone (202) 224-2742
Fax - (202) 224-8525


4.) Sen. Byron Dorgan
Chairman, Senate Committee for Indian Affairs
322 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
senator@dorgan.senate.gov
Phone (202) 224-2551
Fax (202) 224-1193


5.) Sen. John Barrasso,
Vice Chairman, Senate Committee for Indian Affairs
307 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
e-mail
Main: 202-224-6441
Fax: 202-224-1724
Tollfree: 866-235-9553


6.) Senate Committee for Indian Affairs:
838 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
comments@indian.senate.gov
Phone (202) 224-2251



Still looking for a quick recap to jog your memory? Here's a few excerpts from my blog.

Keeping it Real
"A year and a half ago, the Middleboro Board of Selectmen, after gaveling public opposition, forgoing an accurate assessment of economic impacts, declining to research it's potential 'partner', refusing to personally review Federal regulations, fast-tracking negotiations, rushing a town meeting, listening only to lawyers, one of whom was a non-impartial advocate for the gaming industry, and labeling dissentors as 'braying donkeys' and 'idiots', proudly signed an Intergovernmental Agreement for a Sovereign Nation Mega Casino with Glenn Marshall, convicted rapist and pathological liar, and the Mashpee Wampanaog Tribe, which had cooked the books, lied to Congress and purchased it's recognition with payoffs to various elected officials, with help from nefarious investors and convicted lobbyists, and shunned anyone who got it's way."



Postcards from the Sovereign State of Denial
"The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was not recognized in 1934. It was only recognized in 2007, after thirty years of trying, and thanks to an influx of funds from a Detroit casino developer with assistance from the most notorious lobbyist in the country. Your then-chairman lied to Congress and later turned out to be a convicted rapist and pathological liar, and was recently indicted for crimes related to gaining your Tribe's Federal recognition and criminal self-enrichment. Furthermore, roughly two seconds after your Tribe gained it's hard-bought recognition, it proceeded to plant it's flag in a Middleboro swamp identified by a 2002 Harvard study as the most lucrative location for a tribal casino in Massachusetts, then pump the local populace for a quick agreement before all the impacts could be assessed. The Governor himself does not want a Middleboro casino. Your Tribe's Intergovernmental Agreement with the town of Middleboro was obtained by questionable means, by questionable people, not to mention the fact that your Tribe has no historical or modern ties to the land and is located beyond the 25 mile radius from Middleboro required by new Federal regulations. And, lest we forget, a Federal investigation is still on-going."



The Big Concern - Part 2
"But wait - is that the same Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island which has about 2,137 Members and receives approximately $5.5 million tax-free federal dollars per year, and which is not required to pay taxes on any income they make on the Tribe's 1,800 acres?

Then I'd say it's a good thing that Chief Thomas ALSO doesn't have to be "concerned" about a Sovereign Nation, consisting of a modern-day Tribe he only knows from their frequent criminal escapades documented in the media isn't opening up a gambling casino next door from where he's trying to raise his kids, and which would also bring environmental devastation, increased crime, traffic, and social problems, and be funded by foreign billionaire investors with the money to influence his elected officials, while being informed that he had absolutely nothing to say about it, that it was a done deal, and that this inevitable scenario was going to play out all over this country thanks to official Federal law.

Because, I bet that would really burn his biscuits!"



Just the Tip of the TeePee

"OK, let's see if we can keep count here. A guy from Detroit, with some help from a currently incarcerated lobbyist from D.C., aided by a selectman from New York, upon the advice of a lawyer from the Skokie, for the ultimate benefit of a couple of investors from South Africa, under the guise of helping secure a sound financial future for a middle class tribe from Cape Cod, manipulated by a State election specialist from Dorchester wants to bring class III gambling to the Bay State, in the form of the world's largest Indian casino in Middleboro, Massachusetts."



Here's a post that covers a lot of ground:
They Say that When God Closes a Door He Opens a Window

And just a few of Carl's gems:
For the Record
Who are the Mashpee?

Why are there Indian Casinos?

And a couple from Fiferstone I'm particularly fond of:
Beginnings
The Loophole Narrows

And let's face it, pretty much anything on Carverchick's blog - just do a search on Wampanoag or Mashpee.

C'mon kids, we've written a lot of letters, what's one more???? But don't wait on this! The mail moves slowly in DC! And we don't know when the hearing will be rescheduled. For everyone who's ever been subjected to the whims of the IRG or IGRA, and for everyone who may be in the future, it's our responsibility to come together and speak the truth. Once, and for all.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee." -- John Donne

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sign of the Times

A reader on my previous post enjoyed my new slogan:

"Those who can't lead, install slot machines"

and suggested I ask for variations on that theme - as in "Those who can't lead, (fill-in-the blank)" - which I thought was a great idea.

In fact, I'll go one better and sound the call for your best anti-casino/anti-slots slogans!

What do you think the sign in the picture above should say?

C'mon, kids - why not have some fun while we wait for Cedric Cromwell to figure out he's not getting a casino.

By the way, when I look at the blank sign in the picture, you know what I think? I think it would be nice to have leaders who could grasp how WRONG predatory gambling was - so that we wouldn't need signs and blogs and editorials and grassroots organizations and Statehouse hearings with experts getting shouted down by unions - just so we can try and give them a clue.

Oh well, in the meantime...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tail of the Dog


"Those who can't lead, install slot machines."
- Gladys

And, apparently, those who can't lead or install slots - aren't above asking for a handout."

From Wicked Local West Bridgewater comes this sad tale of slots and mitigation.

It appears that if the slots come to Raynham, West Bridgewater's leadership will be standing at the ready with a thoroughly greased and open palm.

For the record, I knew about this last year, but was hoping it was just a bad dream. West Bridgewater has been a real leader on the Regional Casino Task Force.
“I think for a smalltown, we seem to take a leadership role for things happening in this region,” Albanese said.
In fact, to his credit, Selectman Albanese offered some harsh words for how Middleboro had proceeded down it's casino road by taking a vote on the casino first and asking questions later.

And so it's unfortunate that this small town board with a self-professed reputation for REGIONAL leadership doesn't feel an equal responsibility to ask the hard questions about a revenue generator sucking paychecks out of REGIONAL pockets by means of one of the mostly highly addictive devices there is.
“Slots at the dog track could be very positive, but must be done with caution and be well thought out to make sure the town isn’t affected negatively,” said Selectman Chairman Jerry D. Lawrence.
“We know we’ll have a good watch dog to make sure West Bridgewater gets our piece of the pie,” Lawrence said of (Albanese).
I dunno, folks. Maybe now that Middleboro's casino has finally been spayed and neutered, I should change the name of this blog from Middleboro's Nosey Neighbor to Cranberry Country's Nosey Neighbor, or Metro South's Nosey Neighbor, or The South Shore's Nosey Neighbor.

Because wherever there are pie-sniffing 'watch dogs' pawing at slot machine payouts... there will always be the need for dog videos.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Perspective

According to the Fifth Amendment, private property can be taken by eminent domain only for a "public use" - and only with just compensation - usually for the purpose of building schools, hospitals, roads, rail and utility lines, etc.

But in 2005 the Supreme Court of the United States deliberated the case of Kelo v. City of New London. Essentially, the decision gives municipal governments authority to take private property by eminent domain for economic development purposes.

In the Kelo case, the City of New London exercised eminent domain in a working class waterfront neighborhood, with the intent of leveling homes and businesses to make way for a large pharmaceutical company, hotel, upscale housing and a health club. The "public use" in this case being the presumed benefit of additional jobs, a more lucrative tax base and revitalization of the waterfront area.

The Court's decision, which came down 5-4 in favor of New London, has been one of the most despised and controversial Supreme Court rulings in modern history.

There is something very un-American about a government forcing people off their own property. Ownership is the tangible reward of hard work and dreams. It's often a source of livliehood and comfort, and it provides an personal connection to history, to family and to community.

Which is probably why the framers of the Constitution added the Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights to ensure that eminent domain could only be exercised for "public use". But in Kelo, the court essentially interpreted the Fifth amendment to equate "public use" with "public benefit", giving government enormous and unprecedented power to take private property.

According to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who, in her dissenting opinion, found that "Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

Additionally, "any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

Yikes.

No one likes eminent domain, but it's certainly less loathsome to the property owner when it's used for the benefit of those those things that he also enjoys as member of the larger community.

For example, he drives on the highway, plugs into the electrical grid to power his home, educates his children in the school, and may seek emergency treatment at the hospital. The decision to enact eminent domain is subject to public review and discussion, possibly even a public vote. The end result generally has a long shelf life. It may remain on that same site for a hundred or more years.

The benefit from economic development, however, is less certain. A more lucrative tax base equates to more money in municipal budgets - but that money won't necessarily be spent on something directly beneficial to the private property owner being displaced, nor for the greater good of the general public. And expenditure of additional tax revenue may not necessarily be subject to public review. It could even be misspent, misappropriated, or mislaid. A private developer is subject to the whims of the market. The end result may not only not have a long shelf life - it may never be built. There may be purpose of public benefit in these uses of eminent domain, but there is no certainty of it.

Understandably, the outcry across the country over Kelo was intense and far-reaching. In fact, as I recall, it was the one and only time I ever found myself in complete agreement with George Will.

The decision was so odious that then-President George W. Bush issued an executive order directing that eminent domain be used only for “ ...the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken."

Public response to Kelo was so overwhelming that Congress was pressured to introduce several bills to limit it's ramifications.

And in the wake of Kelo, 42 States would later enact legislation which restricts the power of government to take private property for economic development.

But you're asking - what does any of this have to do with us?

Well, I think there's some of you who still have some lingering anxiety over the notion of a "fix" to Carceiri v. Salazaar.

So let's get some perspective, - if there was ever a Supreme Court case that needed fixing, it's Kelo v. The City of New London. Right?

Then, how does the Kelo ruling compare with Carcieri?

Well, for one thing, there won't be any Presidential executive order thanks to another Supreme Court ruling. In United States v. Kagama, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress alone, not the President, holds plenary (absolute) powers over Indian affairs.

And while there might be rumblings in Congress, they won't get far because the States are siding with Carcieri. States do not want the Federal government taking land off the tax rolls and telling them what they have to do. Never have. But most especially when it comes to "gaming".

In fact, when you think about it - giving the Federal government authority to take land into trust is sort of like exercising eminent domain on States.

After Kelo, Congress introduced legislation to limit the ruling, but these bills have not been passed.

In fact, the only "fix" to Kelo came at the State level - the result of a huge groundswell of outrage from coast to coast that resulted in changes to eminent domain laws in the majority of States to prevent another situation like Kelo.

What do you think? Would there be a huge groundswell of outrage in Massachusetts if the Mashpee Wampanoag can't get their casino?

Let's take a look at Kelo v. City of New London. This was not a case that could negatively effect a percentage of 2 million Native Americans, some land claims and a handful of casino investors. This was a case that had ominous negative repercussions for every home and business owner in America.

And it still has not been "overturned".

So, putting things in perspective, a "fix" to Carcieri is neither imminent nor likely.

This excellent article in Indian Country Today outlines the potential for various "fixes" to Carcieri, but still agrees with many of the points I've made in several posts on this blog.

Apparently, even Matthew L.M. Fletcher, director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center at Michigan State University, who, immediately after the Carcieri announcement was saying that the definition of "now" would be pretty easy to fix with a "technical ammendment" to the Indian Reorganization Act is singing a different tune:
Some Indian country officials believe that a favorable legislative resolution for tribes must happen in short order. Otherwise, current and past Indian land claims will not only sit in possible jeopardy, but also more state and local interests will have time to make arguments to Congress members to try to sway their minds to leave the Supreme Court decision alone.

Fletcher cautioned that just because the Congress is now controlled by a Democratic majority does not mean a fix positive for tribes will sail through. After all, many Congress members hail from districts where Indian issues, especially gaming, are unpopular with non-Indian constituents. As a result, some legislators could see an opportunity to create a fix that might limit Indian gaming or other issues.

“There are so many political entities [including states and localities] that have just been waiting to go in and rehash a lot of things that have been going on in Indian gaming,” Fletcher said. “It doesn’t mean a quick fix is not doable, but you might end up with radical changes in the IRA.”
Talk about a new perspective...

So... want to do your best to seal the deal on Carcieri? Then write a letter, or several, to your Congressmen, letting them, in no uncertain terms, know how "unpopular" Indian gaming has been with you. Fill them in on all the fun things you've had to endure thanks to screwed up Federal Policy, and how inappropriate casinos are not only for your neighborhood, for for the whole State.

Carcieri v. Salazar has been a step in the right direction. Now, taking a cue from Kelo, we should be gathering momentum - like those Statewide grassroots movements across the country did after Kelo, and which lead to major changes in eminent domain laws. We should push for an amendment to our own State's Constitution preventing the future collection of revenue from predatory gambling practices.

Think little guys like us can't change the world?

"Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead




Friends, if you're looking for a good book, do yourself the favor of checking out the newly released "Little Pink House", by Jeff Benedict.

Benedict is also the author of my well-worn, much beloved and irreparably highlighted, dog eared copy of "Without Reservation: How a Controversial Indian Tribe Rose to Power and Built the World's Largest Casino" - the enlightening tale of how Foxwoods casino came to be.

"Little Pink House" is not only about the all-true David and Goliath battle that was Kelo v. City of New London, it's a story of grassroots, strength, commitment, and courage. It's about real-life people facing down a colorful cast of variously zealous, indifferent, self-important and hostile characters to protect their homes and way of life.

And so, it might sound a little bit familiar.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Waiting to Exhale

From today's Brockton Enterprise article entitled:
Despite setback, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe pushes ahead with Middleboro casino plan:
... Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said the Bureau of Indian Affairs has given his tribe the “green light” to continue with the process that began with its August 2007 application.

The tribe contends that the court decision ruled it would take an act of Congress to take land into trust for tribes that were recognized after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. Cromwell said the tribe was under federal jurisdiction in the 1800s, and therefore not constrained by the decision.

“We were under federal jurisdiction as part of the 13 Colonies,” Cromwell said.

Sometimes, I don't even have to blog about something because someone does it for me. Case in point, comment #44 on my previous blog:

The tribe is posturing. The only way to prove they were under federal jurisidction is if they had a treaty with the government.

They didn't.

They were under state jursidiction. Always have been.

The person who posted here and asked if the tribe was a state created tribe is absolutely right. They were citizens of the Town of Mashpee, which was considered an "Indian District". But the point is: they were citizens! Complete with full protection of our laws, and the right to vote.

The history books say so.

The Final Determination of the tribe's historical status (as defined by our FEDERAL government) says so.

They have no right to the benefits of the IRA (as Gladys will prove when she completes her research).

The tribe isn't telling it like it is.

And the media is supporting the lies by reporting them. God forbid a reporter should have to check the facts.

Besides all that......

Middleboro didn't need the SC decision in order to stop this casino. If RI had lost this case, and the tribe was granted full access to the IRA, we STILL wouldn't get a casino. There are no historical ties to the land. And even if they change the regulations, they can't change the fact that the tribe has already historically tied themselves to Mashpee. (See Carver Chicks blog, "The Ties That Bind".)

When will the Middleboro BoS start checking the law for answers, and stop reading the newspapers?

I am so sick of the colossal mistakes of our leadership. Never have I seen so many mistakes made by so few.

Short answer: If it wasn't the Carcieri decision it would have been something else to stop a Middleboro casino. It has always been a fractured fairy tale.

When the casino buzz wears off and the hangover fades what will remain is how truly pathetic Middleboro's leadership has been. But now there is an opportunity to change that. If voters re-elect Steven Spataro or any other individual convinced a casino is coming, they will be settling for another three years of someone who isn't concerned about doing their due dilligence for the town. Just another individual living in a fairy tale. And that's the bottom line.

In the meantime, the Tribe and the Town can turn blue holding their breath for the enchanted casino.

The rest of us can exhale.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Section 7 - The Dead Parrot Clause


In case you missed it, I got this comment on my previous blog:

Dear Aunt Gladys,

We attended this evening's Middleboro Candidates' Night and are confused.

Maybe you could explain.

We printed Carcieri v Salazar like responsible citizens. We read the entire decision and discussed it to ensure our accurate comprehension.

To us, the Mashpee Wampanoag Mega Middleboro Casino is DEAD.

DEAD like the poor parrot.

If you had attended Middleboro's Candidates' Night, they seem to exist in another dimension of time or space. Maybe Rod Serling could explain.

There seem to be casino supporters who still believe the future plan exists.

There was no one else we could turn to for advice.

Is it something in the Middleboro water?

Is this just denial?
Ok, apparently there is either still a lot of denial or further need for review.

Let's break it down.

As we know, there are four ways that OFF-RESERVATION land taken into trust for Indian Tribes can be used for gaming (those are the operative words).

These are known as "exceptions" to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) - and they permit gaming (with certain restrictions) on new or off-reservation land when the land in trust qualifies under that Act's definition as:
  • Restored Lands
  • Part of a Land Claim
  • A Two-Part Determination
  • An Initial Reservation
The Mashpee Wampanoag's application for Land in Trust would fall under the Initial Reservation exception according to the definitions of IGRA. In fact, the Tribe is actually asking for TWO Initial Reservations - a very unusual move - one in Mashpee and one in Middleboro.

Now, let's switch gears and take a look at Section 7 of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). Keep in mind, the Mashpee Wampanoag currently have no reservation. They have no other land into trust. They are applying to take NEW land into trust.
SEC. 7
The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to proclaim new Indian reservations on lands acquired pursuant to any authority conferred by this Act, or to add such lands to existing reservations: Provided, That lands added to existing reservations shall be designated for the exclusive use of Indians entitled by enrollment or by tribal membership to residence at such reservations.
Notice that this is where the IRA gives the Secretary of the Interior the power to to issue a “Reservation Proclamation” to establish an initial reservation.

But wait! The Supreme Court recently ruled that the IRA does not apply to Tribes which were Federally recognized after 1934.

The Mashpee Wampanoag were Federally recognized in February of 2007.

Therefore, since the Mashpee Wampanoag no longer fall under the IRA's umbrella, the SOI cannot hand them an initial reservation, and so obviously the tribe cannot game under the initial reservation exception of IGRA.

See? You need part of one Act to qualify, for part of another Act. In other words,

No reservation proclamation = No initial reservation = No IGRA = No Casino!

But what about Tribes claiming that they should all be on equal footing? Won't that be a compelling argument to change the law?

Well, I'm preparing a blog to explain the original intent of the IRA, so that you'll see clearly, like the folks at the Supreme Court did, that it was never meant to be all things to all Tribes.

Ok, but what happens if, say, the Mashpee Wampanoag keep wheeling out that heartwarming bushwah about meeting the Pilgrims and Congress passes an Act to put the land into trust? Well, all that means is that they've got a whole lot of swampy land-in-trust - because they still can't get a reservation proclamation from the SOI because, you guessed it, the IRA still won't apply to them.

But, you ask, what if Congress reforms the IRA to include Tribes Federally recognized after 1934? As in changing "Now" to be defined as "Now and hereafter".

Well, believe it or not, this is a good thing. Governor’s all across this country will unite to force Congress to uphold the 14th Amendment, which requires States to provide equal protection under the law to all people within their jurisdictions.

And, after years of watching the Federal government take land off State tax rolls and exempt it from regulations, States are excited about the potential for opening up the land into trust process for public discussion - which has never happened before!

As we know, the only public comment period for land into trust has been during the EIS preparation period. Currently, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Administrative branch of the government, controls that information. By opening up the process for review, it will then be in the hands of the Legislative branch.

In other words, suddenly there's that magic word, transparency. And now, instead of having the public's concerns simply redlined as "N/A", the world will hear about mega casinos being built on delicate eco-systems in residential backyards, and of corruption, reservation shopping, done deals, rushed agreements and all sorts of other good stuff.

And here's something a lot of people don't know, pressure will also be coming from tribes who benefit from the IRA, but do not, nor wish to, build a casino. They, too, know that a review of the IRA will adversely affect the Act.

For Tribes, investors, and entrenched bureacrats - this would be like opening Pandora's box.

Which is ok with me.

And finally, the truth is, you can’t just reform the part of the IRA you don’t like. The whole Act is subjected to review under the current laws. They will do more to damage to the Act as a whole in trying to “fix” one part.

So, I hope that will help explain the putrid odor of decomposing ex-parrot coming from the vicinity of Precinct Street.

Please feel free to print it out and send it along, perhaps with a pair of reading glasses (still only $1.50 at Ocean State) to your favorite elected officials, candidates for office, and others still living in a chronic State of Denial.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Postcards from the Sovereign State of Denial

Dear Mashpee Tribal Leadership,

I've just finished reading a seemingly serious article in the Cape Cod Times , complete with a quote from Prof. Clyde Barrow. and a side bar detailing tribal revenue requirements, about how, due to the economy, your tribe is considering the need to "scale back" the scope of their casino project.

Hmmmm...

Ok. Let's review. The Supreme Court of the United States, the highest court in the land, recently ruled that Tribes recognized after 1934 are not covered by the Indian Reorganization Act.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was not recognized in 1934. It was only recognized in 2007, after thirty years of trying, and thanks to an influx of funds from a Detroit casino developer with assistance from the most notorious lobbyist in the country. Your then-chairman lied to Congress and later turned out to be a convicted rapist and pathological liar, and was recently indicted for crimes related to gaining your Tribe's Federal recognition and criminal self-enrichment. Furthermore, roughly two seconds after your Tribe gained it's hard-bought recognition, it proceeded to plant it's flag in a Middleboro swamp identified by a 2002 Harvard study as the most lucrative location for a tribal casino in Massachusetts, then pump the local populace for a quick agreement before all the impacts could be assessed. The Governor himself does not want a Middleboro casino. Your Tribe's Intergovernmental Agreement with the town of Middleboro was obtained by questionable means, by questionable people, not to mention the fact that your Tribe has no historical or modern ties to the land and is located beyond the 25 mile radius from Middleboro required by new Federal regulations. And, lest we forget, a Federal investigation is still on-going.

And so, even if by some dark miracle Carcieri is "fixed" to include tribes recognized after 1934, the Mashpee Wampanoag still aren't getting a casino. They are part of the problem that created the need for Carcieri. They are a dual initial-reservation red-flag. They are the poster children for reservation shopping, and of Federally-sanctioned, fact-distorting, investor-funded greed.

Therefore, this might be a good time to reassess your Tribe's economic development plan - not because of the economy - but because, now that your Tribe is no longer covered by the Indian Reorganization Act, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act no longer applies either.

In other words, your casino is a dead parrot.

Respectfully,
Gladys Kravitz

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Gang's All Here

For those of you still worrying about a Carcieri "Fix" and whether Congress will cave to the interests of Tribes, investors, lobbyists and others... here's something you might take comfort in:

The

signed on as Amici Curiae (Friends of the Court) onto the Carcieri v. Kempthorne (now Salazar) case (like Massachusetts did.)

And the Council of State Governments alone represents all 50 States as well as New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Qu├ębec, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Now, that's a lot of friends standing beside Carcieri. (And us.)

Feeling better? (You should.)

INTEREST OF THE AMICI CURIAE

Amici are organizations whose members include
state, county, and municipal governments and officials
throughout the United States.1 Amici have a
compelling interest in the two issues presented in
this case.

Disputes over the ownership of and sovereignty
over land claimed by tribes have spawned much litigation
and called into question title to property in
many jurisdictions. Several state and local governments
accordingly have entered into agreements
with tribes, subsequently codified by Congress, in an
attempt to resolve these disputes. The decision below,
however, raises doubts about the finality of
these settlements. In addition, by allowing the Secretary
to restore tribal sovereignty over property
that had long been subject to state and local control,
the judgment below denies petitioners essential
regulatory authority, which could “seriously burden
the administration of state and local governments
and . . . adversely affect landowners neighboring the
tribal patches.” City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation,
544 U.S. 197 (2005). Amici accordingly submit
this brief to assist the Court in the resolution of this
case.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Big Blonde Doofus For Governor...

Massachusetts Treasurer Tim Cahill wants to privatize the lottery, open up some slot parlors and run for Governor. So...what are his qualifications?

Financial Whiz Kid...
Hedge funds and private equity firms would be interested in the project, as they have plenty of cash to put to work, Cahill said.

Ranking Republican member Thomas Davis of Virginia said hedge funds were originally "purely private gambles" by investors, but now "pose very public peril when the bets go bad."

"Designed as a strategy to reduce investment risk, hedge funds now compound risk when complex deals start to unravel and throw off unintended consequences," Davis said.

Among those testifying were George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management, who said hedge funds were "an integral part of the bubble. But the bubble has now burst and hedge funds will be decimated."

Legal Eagle...
...an opinion issued last year by the US Department of Justice said selling or leasing a lottery to private enterprise would be illegal. The opinion, issued in October in response to a number of states considering leasing their lotteries to private companies, said federal law requires that states maintain control over all significant business decisions made by a lottery and keep the vast majority of the money.


Willing to take Responsibility...
“Every time we talk about gambling ... you always take into account the social impact,” Cahill said. It does rise in certain areas where you have more access. I would leave up to the legislature more ways to address that."
Statehouse News Service


Man of principle...
Cahill elaborated. “We’re already paying for the social consequences of people gambling. We don’t have any money in the budget right now to address any of the gambling problems, the social consequences,” he said. “We’re not looking to exacerbate the problem, just looking to capture it in the state. "

Statehouse News Service

And Unwavering Ideals...
When Republican legislators proposed privatizing the Lottery in 2007, Cahill put up a ferocious defense, reminding them that Massachusetts sets the "gold standard" among the nation's lotteries and already operates as a public-private partnership, with 8,000 small businesses that sell the product. "Why would you want to mess with the best-performing lottery in the country?" he asked at the time.

Visionary....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lobby Day 2009

Gladys had to walk back down the Hill almost as soon as she got there this morning after getting a call that Abner Jr. was sick. So, while I didn't participate in Lobby Day today after all, I did get to meet up with some of my favorite anti-casino colleagues before leaving.

A special SHOUT OUT to Frank Dunphy, Jim Knox and John Leschen who got there as early as I did, and braved those freezing gale force winds whipping through the heart of Boston this morning (though I'm certain there was plenty of hot air to be found in the Statehouse offices later in the afternoon.)

In addition to their lobbying efforts, our forces also distributed a Question and Answer book, put together by Stop Predatory Gambling and Casino Free Mass, to all the reps.



Great job, everyone!

Thanks so much to EVERYONE who participated! Your efforts really do make a difference!

See...
From Statehouse News:

GAMBLING OPPONENTS PATROLLING BEACON HILL: Anti-gambling forces wasted no time hitting back against Treasurer Tim Cahill’s proposal to bring slot parlors to Massachusetts. Members of Casino Free Mass, a coalition that worked to scuttle Gov. Deval Patrick’s resort casino proposal last session, patrolled the halls of the State House Wednesday, meeting with lawmakers to tout the ills that accompany expanded gambling. One member, Elaine Bono of Yarmouth, told the News Service that gambling in any form – including slot parlors – would “open up the gates of corruption” in Massachusetts. Bono questioned whether there were any wealthy financiers prepared to pay for the rights to operate a slot parlor, but added, “I don’t know what they know.” Casino Free Mass members also took issue with the assertion – made by Gov. Deval Patrick last year and again by Cahill this week – that revenue reaped from expanded gambling would be used to enhance services for compulsive gamblers. “That’s like handing booze to an alcoholic and saying ‘Hey, we’ve got a treatment program for you,’” said Casino Free Mass supporter Judy Thomas, a Chatham resident. Bono said she and three companions intended to visit Cape legislators, including Senate President Therese Murray and Sen. Robert O’Leary. 2:17 PM

Note: The Elaine Bono in the article is the same who served on the Town Planning Commission for the Town of Ledyard, (yes the host community of Foxwoods - from 1985 to 2001) and she has plenty to say about casinos! Yup - just another braying mule the Middleboro Board of Selectmen obviously couldn't be bothered to listen to.

Maybe reading glasses would help clarify Ms. Bono's testimony for the Board.


Monday, March 2, 2009

My Day on the Hill

Last Year
March 19, 2008

I trudged up Beacon Hill.

A girl could get sick of this place, I thought.

I'd spent a week on the Hill last night at the Statehouse hearings. And yet, here I was, a glutten for punishment, perhaps, coming back for more. The League of Women Voters had invited the membership of CasinoFacts.org and anyone else opposed to casinos in the Commonwealth to come back to the Statehouse the next day for their annual "Day on the Hill". And I am not one to let down a friend.

But I'd missed the breakfast.

Damn.

I met up with Fiferstone and we listened to speeches about various topics. It was interesting. I hadn't realized that even in the 21st century, a lot of legislation effecting women had a hard time getting passed at the mostly male Statehouse - and hence the Lobby Day - a day for the League to descend en masse on their reps so they could hear us roar - though men are welcome to roar, too.

It crosses my mind that folks in my part of the State probably have reps like Marc Pacheco (D - Tracks) and Dave Flynn (D - Slots) in part because we don't have a League of our own. I was asked if I would start a chapter. Gulp. My life is at critical mass. I don't have the time to return phone calls let alone organize a political group. But I promised to ask around.

Louise Haldeman, the League's expert on expanded gambling gave a great talk. During the question and answer period someone in the audience stated that since a "casino in Middleboro was inevitable..."

Fiferstone and I are on our feet shouting that notion down. Ow... that hurt. My back and legs, forced to spend hours in a modified fetal position at the union-cramped hearings yesterday, screamed in protest. They want to go home. They want to curl up in a hot tub with some Epsom Salt and aromatherapy.

Then it's over - it's time to head out to find our reps. Tell them not to vote for the Governor's casino plan.

I hope they don't talk back. Because I've had it up to there with blah blah blah jobs... blah blah blah... money going to Connecticut... blah blah blah inevitable... blah blah blah It's Entertainment!

And I'm just another one of the annoying killjoys who bring up costs and impacts and addiction.

I'm tired. I'm tired of crazy flying monkey death threats, I'm tired of nonsensical perseverating rants on public message boards, I'm tired of sociopathic public officials, and tired of bumping into greed and stupidity and big fat bloated egos every time I turn around.

The only bright spot in the past few days was Rep. Conroy's verbal evisceration of the guys from Harrah's at the hearing last night. But it always comes down to that, doesn't it? The money.

My mind wanders to the baby my mother told me about - the one who'll never meet his own dad because a casino was close enough to lure him in with hope - then steal it from him.

I keep walking. I'm alone on today's dark journey because no one else, not one of my Lobby Day cohorts, is going to see "Dean of the House" Dave Flynn.

Lucky bastards.

I meet Carl on the way. He is heading out from work to lobby Rep. Canessa. I've met with Canessa before and at least he's easy to talk to, even if his head's tucked so far up his backside when it comes to gambling that I doubt it'll ever see the light of day.

Carl is in a much better mood than me. I'm jealous. Other colleagues from Cranberry Country are seeking out Rep. Calter, who we have been told, is our friend. But I don't trust him. He's a politician.

In a world that attracts both opportunists and idealists, elected officials eventually seem to break down into a few easily recognizable categories: politicians, leaders - and some who successfully combine both.

But I'm not going to see any of them today. I'm going to see Dave Flynn, an odd bird. An entrenched old-school glad-hander who can't see the forest for the slot machines. And I've been informed that he isn't pleased with my blog.

On my way to Flynn's office I pass Rep. Sue Tucker's headquarters. She fiercely opposes any expanded gambling (with a capitol "F") and I wish she were my rep. How refreshing it must be to be represented by someone who actually cares about whether or not people - people other than dog track owners and their employees that is - get hurt.

In the marble-lined corridors small groups of Leaguers and Lobby Dayers like me are milling around, smiling, laughing - basically looking as if discussing issues with their reps were a positive, even wholesome, experience. Like folks leaving church after a good sermon. I hunt for a frown, a furrowed brow among them.

Nothing.

Unlike me. I am dreading this. What could I possibly say that would change his mind? I tried to get him to talk once while collecting signatures outside Bridgewater Raynham High School. He just shouted something about "eleven years to build a casino" and drove off smoking a cigar.

That's another thing I can't take much more of. Why are there are so many people so convinced they know EXACTLY what's going to happen. I've listened to them all - and if you put them all in a room together, they'd all be saying different things.

I want to go home.

A few dozen feet from Flynn's office I pass a group from Brockton ARC and overhear them say they are looking for his office too. I sneak in ahead of them. I want this to be quick. It's a safe bet that my next stop at Pacheco's office will last for a small eternity and include further toxic exposure to his unique but interminable But-For-Slots Manifesto.

Flynn's office is sunny and bright, unlike my mood. Eventually the secretary notices me and tells me Flynn isn't available today (relief!) but she'll grab an aide to come talk to me (relapse). But I figure the aide will be new Flynn-underling and Raynham selectman Joe Pacheco - which I can tolerate.

But it's not Joe. It's some pleasant looking young man in an oxford cloth shirt. I introduce myself, and get the blogging thing off my chest right off so he knows where I stand. He hasn't read my blog, he says, though he's heard of it.

Sure he hasn't read it. Because no one would make a beeline to a web site featuring PhotoShopped pictures of their boss linking arms with a Las Vegas showgirl, standing in his pajamas next to Donald Trump, or being terrified by a blue-faced Glenn Marshall dragging the chains he forged in life.

Naaahhhh...

I quickly recite my rehearsed spiel asking that Rep. Flynn kindly consider not voting for the Governor's three casino plan. Almost immediately, Oxford Cloth is on the offensive.

What alternative did I have, he wanted to know, for filling in the budget shortfall.

Well, not casinos certainly, I countered, which haven't managed to lower taxes in other States.

But Oxford Cloth persists. He is leaning in the doorway, arms crossed. Calm. Smug. Insufferable. But we can use the revenue now from the licenses... he says.

What is up with this? Why am I being challenged to a debate?

Just to show him I mean business I remind him that "if the State approves Class III gambling it could usher in an era of Tribal casinos..."

Yes, it might... he unexpectedly concurs. "But as far as getting approvals it may take up to five years for them to build those casinos."

But, I point out, after they're built those casinos will be there forever. They'll be sovereign. They'll bring an increase in crime to my town and others in the region. They'll decrease our quality of life, cannibalize local businesses, hurt schools, expose us to potential environmental problems and exacerbate social problems. Including gambling addiction. And let's face it, no one's going to want to go to the dog track if the world's biggest casino is 15 minutes away. Tribal casinos will close the tracks.

"Ah," he grins, "But that's still five years worth of revenue the State can take in before they do."

Well, how can you argue with remorseless avarice like that?

The tireless optimist, I attempt once again to locate a pulse. "Doesn't Rep. Flynn care about gambling addiction in his district?"

Oxford doesn't flinch. "What about the lottery we already have? Wouldn't you consider that gambling?"

Before I can answer, a lady from the Brockton ARC, accompanied by a young man with Down's syndrome, answers for me.

"I would!"

We give her our attention.

"My father was addicted to the lottery... Really bad..."

My work here is done. Please let Mr. Flynn know I've dropped by...

Back in the hallway, I marvel at the chilling depth of soulless detachment I have just witnessed in the office of the man who represents me and my 27,000 neighbors at the Statehouse.

I thought I was supposed to leave here smiling serenely like the other Lobby Dayers - not wanting to find the stairs so I can take a leap off the dome.

My shoes feel heavy. I can't lift them. They make soft swishy sounds on the marble.

Because my next stop is Marc Pacheco.

I half-heartedly look for directions to his office. I have trouble reading them because I realize my eyes are filled with tears. I'm tired, I know. That's it. That's all. I have to go home and work on my testimony for the upcoming BIA hearing. Another monkeyfest, I'm certain. I have to try to get someone from my town to show up. I have to get out a blog. Make dinner. Help with homework. Drive to sports. Go to meetings. Return phone calls... I have to...

...find Marc Pacheco's office.

There's a window at the end of the corridor. I stare out into the courtyard and over at buildings across the street and up at the gray sky, letting time pass, attempting to compose myself. A tissue from my purse, eyes dabbed dry. Sniffles silenced.

And that's when I decide not to find Pacheco's office. It's been a long winter, and I need a little sunshine. I'm going to do something more productive. I'm going to accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.

And so I walk down to Senator Tucker's office to thank her for standing firm against expanded gambling in Massachusetts. There is a young man inside - Oxford's counterpart but without the smugness - he stands and shakes my hand. And I ask him to please thank Senator Tucker for me. "I don't live in her district, but I appreciate what she's done. Please thank her... for all she's done... to prevent...

Last night, this morning, next week, the whole year, the whole thing - it hits me.

"...expanded gambling in our State."

And suddenly, inexplicably, and uncontrollably, I dissolve into tears.



If I can do it again, so can you.

League of Women Voters Day of the Hill
March 4, 2009


9:00 a.m. Registration & Reception – Nurses’ Hall
Come meet your legislators and join us for a light breakfast.
10:00 – 12:30 Program – Gardner Auditorium
Hear featured speakers on the issues.
12:30 – Lobby Your Legislators

And it's OK to miss the breakfast...


ShareThis