What week it's been. Wampanoags in Fall River and Freetown. Pocassets in an uproar. A rare Jack Healey siting. Town employees insisting "No comment". And quotes from tedious and mercifully ex-selectman Adam Bond. I felt like I was living in a little place called Bizzaroland - because what was up, was down, and what was down, was up. What was right was wrong, and what was wrong, well that was actually what was right for the economic benefit of... somebody.
So what's going on? Well, let me try to help clear some things up.
1.) Wampanoags scouting casino property in Fall River, Freetown and possibly other Southeastern Mass locales.
It's no secret that gambling expansion is once again on the table. And lets' face it, when you toss chum overboard, who shows up? Sharks. What you are currently witnessing is a feeding frenzy among sharks and bottom feeders alike to get the best bite out of the Bay State should casino legislation be passed. This happens every single time the battle heats up, but this time, with gambling cheerleaders Bob DeLeo and Therese Murray pushing hard, and gambling opponents like Sal DiMasi out of the way, the fish are particularly whipped up.
The Mashpee know they're not going to get a casino in Middleboro, so they're looking for greener, less federally frowned upon pastures, or as Cedric Cromwell might say, "conducting due diligence". And so, they are welcome to abandon their quest to "come home" to Middleboro and "come home" to somewhere else they've never been, and once there, to file another application and go through the process again.
They are also free to buy land and vie to purchase a license, if one were to become available, for a commercial casino. Which the Governor may let them have - if he hated the people of Massachusetts. The Mashpee tribal leadership hasn't demonstrated that they could lead a marching band, let alone their 1,500 member tribe, not to mention a separate sovereign nation harboring potentially one of the world's largest casinos.
2.) The State Indian Affairs Commission may be 'giving' the Mashpee Tribe land for a casino.
Ain't gonna happen. First, the State, including the Indian Affairs Commission can't give the tribe land on which to conduct gambling operations. There are strict federal regulations in place controlling this sort of thing. It is a federal issue. Period. If the state ever did, for whatever perverse reason, attempt to transfer land to a tribe which then attempted to 'game' on it - it would be lawsuit a-go-go. Personally, I think the reporter went looking to the commission for a quote and found someone who wanted to seem much, much more important than he actually is.
3.) But wait, it looks like Jack Healey is involved again!
Jack, with his vast misunderstanding of both federal regulations and the concept of cost benefit, may indeed have invited a tribe or two behind closed doors. But my guess is that it's a nothing but a big fat cokinydink.
4.) Why is the Middleboro planning director is saying "no comment" in the press?
Planning Director Ruth Geoffroy has, in recent years, built her hopes and career on a Middleboro casino. Sailing with her three sheets to the wind across the Kool-Aid sea, Ruth has, perhaps, suddenly found her ship of dreams scuttled on the rocky shores of reality. She's obviously in a state of shock. Let's all give her a moment.
5.) "Mr. Bond said he believes the state will approve slot machines at the Raynham dog track and will also consider offering the track owners a commercial license if they make plans to build a casino resort in the future."
The fact is, there will likely be several gambling bills put forth this month, including those that provide for racinos only, casinos only, and a combination of both. This is no surprise. In a display of unabashed hypocrisy, many pro-casino enthusiasts, such as AFL-CIO's Bobby Haynes, and gambling industry lobbyist Clyde Barrow, have begun mysteriously seeing eye-to-eye with racetrack interests like speaker Bob Deleo. Sure slots, don't bring jobs, but that's ok with Clyde and Bobby. They just want to help that vampire get his foot in the door. That's all.
I haven't observed Mr. Bond's presence at any State gambling hearings, so I'm unclear as to why he is quoted in the Middleboro Gazette as if he has some sort of special inside knowledge. If seeking an actually knowledgeable opinion on the issue, the reporter could easily have contacted Frank Dunphy, president of CasinoFacts.org, and/or Kathleen Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, either or whom would have been happy to go on record. But, if accuracy is unimportant, and the issue of predatory gambling nothing but a joke to the Gazette, then by all means, do keep printing everything Mr. Bond pulls out of his butt.
And one more thing. Regarding the statement, "Mr. Bond abruptly resigned from the board last January after colleagues rebuffed his assertions that the board should try to renegotiate it's contract with the tribe in light of the resignation and later imprisonment on federal charges of former tribal council chairman Glenn Marshall." Since we're clearing up fact from fiction, let's get this straight. Mr. Bond resigned in a weird hissy fit after throwing his various Board colleagues under the bus, in an anxious attempt to deflect personal and professional liability for his part in the casino chronicles - which might have lead to possible federal charges. And should, in my opinion.
Mr. Bond has repeatedly tried to re-write his history, and now it would appear, he has help.
6.) But what about the Pocassets? Can't they build a casino on their land?
No. This is not trust land, or Indian land, or federal land. And don't forget about SCOTUS. No casino.
7.) But why do I keep hearing that work "inevitable" again?
According to Steven Smith of SRPEDD "There is an inevitability about a casino in Southeastern Massachusetts." Well, I'm sure glad Mr. Smith wasn't fighting on our side during the American revolution - or we might have been scarfing down tea and crumpets during the Superbowl last night.
The fact is, the 'inevitability' card is drawn over and over again on this issue because the other reasons to legalize it are weak. The industry relies on inflated job numbers and salaries, along with other gimmicks to dupe the public. Lobbyists harangue legislators. The truth gets lost.
A colleague of mine who sat through the Oct. legislative hearings admitted to me that, after listening to Mashpee Wampaonag chairman Cedric Cromwell's testimony, even he was unaware of all the major impediments to a Southeast tribal casino.
Other people just believe that everything they hear in the papers is the gospel truth. I know I did before this issue opened my eyes.
And that's what they count on. So don't let them get away with it. Fight ignorance with facts.
The inevitability card is drawn for one reason only - it stops the most powerful foe and scariest thing the industry knows - us.
8.) So what are the real facts?
The facts are that there is a still a SCOTUS decision preventing land in trust for Indian Tribes federally recognized after 1934 which includes both federally recognized tribes in Massachusetts, and would include the Pocassets were they to be federally recognized in the future. This decision has yet to be overturned or "fixed".
Level III gambling is still illegal in Massachusetts.
The truth is, YOU can personally help stop both a "fix" and prevent the expansion of gambling in Massachusetts with just a few minutes of your time.
More on that in a day or two.