Wednesday, November 21, 2012

And these, Thy gifts


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends, 
For everything Thy goodness sends.

                                                                               -Ralph Waldo Emerson


The Grinch who taxed Christmas... And gave us casinos...

... And another reason to shop early...


Mass. prods Amazon to collect sales taxes
Even if Amazon and the state do come to terms on tax collections, Patrick said, “I’m just not sure that we’re going to have an agreement in place in time for the holidays.”
Yeah, that'd be an epic tragedy.

Hey, I get that the state perpetually needs more money, but the Internet has been around for a couple decades, and the recession is limping into it's fifth year.

 So yeah, the timing could be better.
Every Who
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas a lot...

But the Grinch,
Who lived just North of Who-ville,
Did NOT!

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that his head wasn't screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
I'm going with Patrick's 'head wasn't screwed on quite right.'

But look, apparently Steve Grossman's head's not screwed on quite right, either.
“This is not simply a revenue issue . . . it is a matter of fairness and equity to Main Street businesses,” Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman wrote in a letter to US Senator Max Baucus, head of the Senate’s Finance Committee, pushing for online tax legislation.

“Local retailers and other merchants should not have to compete with online sales giants that do not have to collect state and local sales taxes,” he said. “It is simply contrary to sound public policy to penalize companies that actually invest in a brick-and-mortar presence in a community.”
According to Steve, it is a supreme injustice of the highest order that Massachusetts local businesses are required to compete with a massive national competitor that is inexplicably allowed to receive unfair economic advantages.

Unlike all-inclusive mega-casinos plunked down in the middle of small, often struggling New England towns, which can offer free drinks, unlimited comps and indoor smoking.

Or Tribal casinos which receive certain Federal tax breaks based on Sovereign status.

Steve's pretty OK with all that.
Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!
THE GRINCH
GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

"I know just what to do!" The Grinch Laughed in his throat.
And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.
And he chuckled, and clucked, "What a great Grinchy trick!
"With this coat and this hat, I'll look just like Saint Nick!"
Oh wait.  I forgot.  Casinos are good!  Slot parlors are good!  They're just presents under the Commonwealth's tree!

A winning scratch ticket snuggled in our Christmas stocking!  A golden wishbone hidden inside our holiday turkey!

But then, why doesn't it feel that way to the folks down in Whoville?

And why do casino interests have to outspend casino opponents 300 to 1, or wait for an economic downturn to turn up the pressure on legislators to create jobs, or spend millions on lobbyists to buy votes, or build shell offices in target towns and cities too look like they're inevitable, or use predatory devices and business practices for the bulk of their profits?

And why did Deval Patrick seemingly listen only to gambling interests?  Why did he make stuff up to win this fight - instead of looking at the facts, or listening to the experts, or relying on the advice of the same progressive supporters who worked to get into office in the first place?
Then the Grinch said, "Giddyap!"
And the sleigh started down
Toward the homes where the Whos
Lay a-snooze in their town.

All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care
When he came to the first house in the square.
"This is stop number one," The old Grinchy Claus hissed
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Irony and the Ecstasy

“Unfortunately, Mr. Lynch has gained a reputation throughout the country as a hired gun who will come up with reasons to deny Indian tribes their sovereign right to land as long as the price is right,” Cedric Cromwell, the Mashpee Wampanoag chairman, said in a statement.

“Throughout our quest for federal recognition, and now an initial reservation, those with a financial motivation to deny us our rights have paid so-called experts to refute our history and our identity as Mashpee Wampanoag people.”

Conn. researcher can swing fates of tribes:
-- James Lynch debunks historical claims of Indians, sometimes testifying in disputes over casino proposals
Ah, the delicious irony.

A Tribe that once used billionaire casino investor money to hire an expensive lobbyist with 'questionable credentials' to influence the federal recognition process, then used more billionaire casino investor money to outspend a small community 300-1 in order to influence a casino vote that would benefit them financially, is suddenly calling the guy working on behalf for a rival tribe - for free - a 'hired gun'.

Oh so delicious.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Phew!

In case you hadn't heard
The final tally shows Brunelle beating fellow Middleboro Democrat Adam Bond by just 12 votes, 818 to 806. In the unofficial count, Brunelle led Bond 818-804.

One small step for a democrat. One giant Hail Mary Pass for democracy.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Taunton Casino Theme Song

An update to my 2007 classic, Middleboro Casino Theme Song, sung to the lyrics of For the Wonder of It All.


Mashpee Tribe
Knows what they're doing
Don't care about
Supreme Court's ruling.
After all
That's what money's for...
Be the King
Not the Goat.
Make things up
And buy the vote.
Gentle stewards
Of the slot machine,
Yeah!
Let's lie...
For the plunder of it all!


Paradise,
Is A Governor
Who buys the hype,
And the wonder
And a press
That couldn't care less for the truth...
Keep the public
In the dark.
Talk about
That water park.
Who wouldn't want a casino
Next to their kids' school???
Yeah!
Let’s live...
For the blunder of it all.


Gambling bill
Just a game of Keno
At Beacon Hill
Resort casino
Where Legislators
Can be bought and sold...
Jobs and horses,
Used as bait,
Plus a quarter
For the State.
Pass the bill!
And save some billionaires...
Yeah, let's vote!
To knuckle under for it all!


Cut a deal,
Let’s get going
Break the ground
Before it’s snowing
Spin the truth,
Around and 'round it goes…
Drain the swamps
Steal the stars
Get you drunk
Jump in your cars
Take the wheel, and head down 24….
Because we live...
For the plunder of it all!



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

And the stupidity award goes to...

New Bedford Rep. Robert Koczera is concerned about a Southeast Mass. casino, and is willing to put up his dukes over it - for all the wrong reasons.

Apparently, Koczera attempted to add a firm deadline to the Governor's compact with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, currently awaiting a vote of approval from the State legislature, because:
“It’s in my area that the jobs are going to be in limbo and purgatory pending the land in trust issue. That’s the only reason I’m raising these issues. If I didn’t fight, I don’t know who will,” Koczera said, adding that he did not have a “high comfort level” that the Patrick administration held any sway with the U.S. Department of Interior to move the land-in-trust application in a “reasonable amount of time.”
As a result, Koczera came under fire from the Tribe, which, as always, views the majority of commonly accepted business practices as an affront to it's sovereignty.

But Koczera's not getting the supidity award today.

In fact, if you're under the impression, despite all the evidence (which you probably haven't bothered to look at) that a casino will actually help the local  economy, Kocera's deadline is actually kind of smart.

So no, instead today's Stupidity Award goes to perpetual casino proponent State Senator Gail Candaras, (D - Wilbraham), who asserted that adding a deadline amendment to the compact would be it's "death knell", yet still came to Koczera's defense by gently reminding the Tribe that:
“He just wants you to save the economy of southeast Massachusetts the way you saved the pilgrims,”
Groan...

And so, Senator Candaras, for reasons you are obviously beyond all hope of understanding, you are today's well-deserving recipient  of  the Stupidity Award (or, as it's known by Cedric Cromwell, an army of casino lobbyists and the gods of inevitability - the There's-One-Born-Every-Minute Award.)

Congratulations!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Smithers... Release the Hounds


I think it is inevitable that at least some of the public officials who were direct beneficiaries of the hiring and promotion system within probation will be charged.
--Lawmakers targeted in inquiry
Boston Globe, July 15, 2012
Ah... How refreshing.

To see that word... "inevitable"  used to describe the fate of many of the same lawmakers who once used it to explain why some of us had to accept tribal casinos and legalized gambling in our corners of the state.

It would seem that the predator has becomes the prey...

Exxxxcellent...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Five

I remember a startling photograph from the mid-80's - an Atlantic City triple-decker encircled on three sides and from above by the girders of a skyscraper under construction.

The girders belonged to Penthouse publisher and sleeze magnate Bob Guccione who, following the legalization of gambling in Atlantic City, was attempting to erect a towering smut-themed mega casino of his own, only to be foiled by one Vera Coking, a local woman who refused to sell her home, a boarding house which just happened to sit, infuriatingly, in the path of Guccione's unbridled avarice.

Eventually Guccione went bankrupt, the girders came down (but not before a few smoldering cinder blocks fell through the roof), and the sun was allowed to shine on Vera's house once more. But then Coking had to contend with another casino tycoon, The Donald, who wanted to turn her house into a parking lot for his casino.

Over the decades Coking has been offered millions for her house, and was even forced into a lengthy court battle with the city over eminent domain. But she never budged. In fact, she was still living in that house a couple of years ago, and might still be there for all I know.

When I saw that photograph and read Vera's story the first time, I remember thinking that this woman must have been either a little crazy, or a real cool cat. And probably a lot of both. But what I could never have imagined, in a million years, was that someday I'd be standing – sort of - in Vera's shoes.

Five years ago I started this blog thinking, oh I dunno, that I'd be at it maybe a month or two – however long it took for the world to right itself on it's axis and for the notion of the world's biggest casino down the street in Middleboro to vanish mercifully into the vapid void of very bad ideas.

But it didn't. And over the years, the longer I stayed and the more I watched, the worse the nightmare became.

And the world around me was becoming a nightmare too. There were massive bailouts and unemployment and foreclosures and political polarization on a dizzying scale. People took to the streets in protest. (I was one of them.) The law of the land declared that corporations were people - and my inbox began to fill with desperate pleas for contributions to help defend against that monster unleashed.

On any given day Americans could access hundreds of TV channels - yet all of them were obsessed with Lindsey Lohan, and the Kardashian sisters and the Jersey Shore – our daily dose of Aldous Huxley's soma, except that we weren't living in a Brave New World, we were living in a weird scary upside down Donald Trump world where noxious reality show stars are cultural icons, Howard Stern serves as an arbiter of American talent, journalists hack cell phones, banks are the robbers, and casino gambling has become economic policy.

Yesterday a morning show host, a woman who, for 20 years had traveled into combat zones, jumped out of planes, raised money and awareness about heart disease, and could score interviews with people as diverse as Syrian president Bashar Assad, George Clooney and the Dali Lama was fired from her TV “family” - all because she lacked the marketable conviviality of a Rachel Ray.

I mean, when did the world get so freaking shallow?

When I was young I could turn the dial on any radio and find a station playing classical music. I didn't always want to listen to that kind of music – mostly I didn't - but I knew it was there. As I got older I tuned in to those stations more and more, I went to a concerts, visited Tanglewood and purchased scores of classical CDs. And I was the better for it. Even though I had been a little girl growing up poor in a small town I was aware that classical music was valued, that it was an art form and could be beautiful and moving. The TV show 60 Minutes once answered critics who complained that the show did too many interviews with opera signers by replying that they were going to continue doing them anyway.

And that's how it worked. You knew the bad things were there, they always will be, but you knew the finer things were there too.

But now the bad things are no longer a plane ticket away. They come in the mail, run endless commercials on prime time and are enthusiastically supported by a Governor who claims to be a champion of social justice.

Last year my middle schooler told me that a teacher had brought in a deck of cards to help demonstrate some math concepts. The cards, however, were branded with the logo of a popular casino, leading the majority of middle school boys (whose mothers weren't anti-casino activists) into a spirited discussion of how they couldn't wait to go to a casino themselves. When I asked the principal if he'd replace the cards with something more neutral - even offering to buy the new cards myself from a local store - he didn't seem to understand the problem.

And that, my friends, is the problem.

When I was a kid, gambling was the most no-brainer of all of life's potential pitfalls.  It didn't need it's own PSA's.  To kids, smoking could be cool, booze was social and drugs equaled rebellion, but gambling - that was just stupid.  Everyone grew up with cautionary tales about those who lost the inheritance or the house or the family fortune to the chase. The corruption and crime that ran with the industry were well known, even to children. We all understood that there was no faster way to ruin not only your life, but that of your whole family than to place a bet.  That's why you had to go out in to the middle of the desert to do it. Las Vegas was christened 'Sin City' for good reason, and even the word “casino” had an appropriately negative connotation.

Then suddenly there was Atlantic City.  It was still pretty far away. People only went there 'for the shows', but still ended up gambling. Casinos began to swallow up more lives. I never had any reason to think that, decades later, they would swallow my life, too. No one should. Five years ago I could never have imagined a casino would come to my front door. Neither did Foxboro or Brimfield or Taunton. Who'll be next?

Gambling has nothing to do with jobs or economic development or individual liberty.  It has everything to do with channeling limited discretionary income away from the local economy and into the pockets of billionaires and state budgets. Politicians who should know better still think slot machines are a legal way to print money. But c'mon. Casinos aren't charities. Everything comes with a cost.

Newflash: We're the cost.

Somehow, in the past few decades the casino industry managed to win the marketing trifecta - by making gambling seem cool, social and rebellious - all at the same time.

Today's rule of thumb - as long as you can get enough people to tune in, you can become a de facto cultural icon or arbiter of talent or champion of social justice - or whatever you keep saying you are and have the money to promote.  It's the sick reality of the Reality Show Era that reality is essentially irrelevant.

And now it doesn't matter where you live, because there's probably a casino near it.   It doesn't matter if you're responsible and only bring a limited amount of money with you because there'll be ATMs available to spit out more. When the casino runs some software and discovers that you have money invested in your car or house or savings account, they'll even offer you credit, along with a free drink for good measure. If you should win, they might comp you until you lose. If you try to quit for good, they'll send you a coupon for free slot play in the mail. If you're sad or lonely, they'll mail you a birthday card. Because they're your friend. The friend who'll be happy take your house or your money for meds or your kids college fund.

And the people we elect to make our lives better, or at least not screw our lives up more, are in bed with them.

We grow up believing that the bad guys wear black hats, that they command dark armies, travel in Death Stars, and can mobilize flying monkeys at the snap of a bony finger.

But in reality, the bad guys are billionaire octogenarians with bad toupees, spray-on tans and an uncanny ability to dazzle decision makers.

When I went to that first meeting in Middleboro, more than five years ago, there were people in that room who, honestly, acted like they thought “casino” was synonymous with 'Disney World”.

I mean, is that all it takes? A little marketing and a stained glass waterfall?  Really?

We also grow up thinking that the good guys wear white hats, that they wield magic wands and light sabers and big buckets of water.

But the good guys work in cubicles and drive mini-vans and swing hammers and volunteer at the library. They hold signs and wield high expectations. They don't sell out, or give up or 'fight' for mitigation.

For the good guys, there's no price tag for the place they call home.

Good guys might not always have the right stuff, but they do try to do the right thing.

These were the things going through my mind when my daughter broke the silence.

“It's too bad about the Great Dane.”

“What?”

“You know...” my daughter, the future veterinarian was saying, “how the Great Dane only lives for five years. Kind of sad.”

“Oh I don't know,” I replied, trying to offer the adult perspective. “you can fill a lot into five years.”

This blog, and my life, for the last five years have been a sort of microcosm of what's been happening in the rest of the world. The good, the bad, and the awful. I've often used The Wizard of Oz as an analogy for my experiences, but I can assure you, Dorothy Gale's wild, weird and wicked journey has nothing on mine.

Here's a story.  Back in 2009, with the Carcieri decision was announced, I bought a couple of bottles of champagne, and a friend and I popped a cork on one of them out at the Middleboro ex-casino site. I was so relieved - because I thought that that whole part of this fight was over. A month earlier Adam Bond had ended his infamous political career like the heroine in a Puccini opera - so that was another thing I figured was over and done. The flying monkeys were getting tired too, so that was good. Now, I knew, I could focus on the future. I told everyone I was going to 'retire' in June. I was going to write a book.

That June would have marked this blog's second birthday.

But instead I got an 11th hour call from Bob Massie asking me to help create another web site, another anti-casino organization that was going to try to prevent the passage of gambling legislation at the State level through education and political action. And I tried, I did, to say 'no'. But it was no good. And somehow, another three years went by. Bob wrote his own book. And I'm still waiting for this damn story to end.

Will it ever?  Or does it just come around full circle again. This year I've watched other communities around the State forced to go through what we went through. My own community was targeted momentarily for a casino by the Mashpee Tribe - making the choice to build in another location the by far the smartest thing Cedric Cromwell ever did. A certain Limo driver was back briefly enough to cause trouble, and even perpetual ringworm Adam Bond returned to the stage for a fourth act.

I started to hear names I hadn't heard in years. Someone who'd tried to discredit me and my fellow casino opponents 4 years earlier suddenly wanted to 'friend' me on Facebook. Middleboro, where my children where once verbally assaulted by adults during a 2007 demonstration, instituted a swearing ban. The Plainville Board of Selectmen are Middleboro's Dogstock era redeux. But mostly, folks seemed reinvigorated. Ready to fight. Once more into the breach.

But not me.

People don't visit web sites or read lengthy blog posts anymore, they don't want to hear about testimony or sign-waving or petition signings or traffic simulations - or any of the triumphs and travails of protests past.  Instead they want two short paragraphs on why the Mashpee can't get land in trust.  Preferably with a funny graphic.  They want links to articles written by some journalist they never heard of but which prove a point they've been trying to make. They want some hack lawyer to tell them what they want to hear. Pro bono.

Has it meant anything? All this work, all this time?  Maybe not.

Or maybe that question is still on the table.

And what table would be complete without a good bottle of wine? Fortunately I held on to that other bottle of champagne - and it's a good one - just waiting for some momentous occasion to use it.

My fifth birthday as a blogger seems appropriate, and so tonight I'll raise a glass and offer a toast.

To all the good guys and cool cats who've walked this yellow brick road before me, to those of you who've just joined, and most dearly, to those of you who've traveled it alongside me for so long, like Vera Coking and her little house - we may have been overshadowed by casinos, betrayed by our own government, and forced to dodge more than a few smoldering cinder blocks, but, also like her, we've stood firm in our convictions, remained stubborn, unyielding, and vigilant. We have striven, against all odds and in our own ways, to set the world back on it's axis. The better, finer world we should expect. And we can be proud of that, even if a lot of people think we're just crazy.

It's true, you really can fill a lot into five years.

So what's a few months... or five years... or as long as it takes.

Because, after all, there's no place like home.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stand and Deliver


It's like Deja Vu all over again.

Middleboro Town Manager Charles J. Cristello said many communities surrounding the proposed casino are reaching out to the governor, but to no avail.

"From what we’ve seen and what we've heard, no one is listening," he said

On June 6, Middleboro selectmen sent a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick regarding mitigation measures that have not been addressed during negotiations with the tribe.

"Our own governor won’t even listen to us," Middleboro Selectman Stephen J. McKinnon said Monday night regarding the casino negotiations.

In a June 14 email, state Rep. Keiko Orrall, R-Lakeville, asked Patrick to meet with neighboring communities to hear their concerns and allow them to be included in the compact negotiations with the tribe, but so far a meeting has not been scheduled.

-- Middleboro, other towns want state to listen
to concerns about Taunton

So, OK, I know this is short notice, but, even though the Governor still has his earmuffs on, there are two upcoming opportunities to be heard.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is holding a hearing on June 20, 2012 at Taunton High School at 6 p.m. to listen to concerns regarding a proposed Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal casino in Taunton, Massachusetts.

Speaking time will be limited at this hearing, so if you plan on speaking, please have an additional copy of your testimony for the BIA. Written comments will also be recorded.

Concerns can also be submitted in writing to the BIA, but must be received by July 2, 2012.

If you plan on writing to the BIA, it is important that you send your letters by certified mail, one letter per envelope. Certain other guidelines for mailing also apply - please check here for additional important information.

Residents of the host AND surrounding communities are encouraged to raise the following issues and areas of concern to be addressed by an Environmental Impact Study prior to approval of a Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal casino in Taunton:

  • Air Quality
  • Archaeology, Historical & Cultural
  • Biota - Threatened & Endangered Species
  • Coastal Zone Issues
  • Construction, Demolition, Landscaping & Reclamation
  • Crime Potential, Protection and Prevention
  • Current, Post and Future Cumulative Impacts
  • Demographic Trends
  • Energy (electrical, fuel, etc) Resource Use & Changes
  • Fire Potential, Protection and Prevention
  • Floodplain, River, Lake, Wetland & Riparian Areas
  • Forests, Forestry Resources and Logging
  • Geology, Seismic and Mining
  • Hazardous Substances and Wastes
  • Health and Safety: OSHA
  • Indian Religious Issues
  • Land-use plans
  • Noise
  • Non hazardous waste
  • Paleontological Resources
  • Prime and Unique Farm Lands
  • Protected, Sensitive and Special management Areas
  • Rangeland, Range Resources and Range Activities
  • Recreational/Subsistence Hunting, fishing, Gathering
  • Releases
  • Socioeconomic Issues
  • Stormwater Discharges
  • Utilities Issues and Changes
  • Vehicular and Pedestrian Traffic Issues and Changes
  • Vital resources (light pollution, views, aesthetics, etc.)
  • Wastewater treatment and Disposal
  • Water quality (surface, ground and drinking water)
  • Water quantities needed and/or affected
  • Other (specify)

I've been told that residents in towns as far away as 35 miles from Taunton can voice their concerns to the BIA - and if that means you, this is probably your one opportunity to have those concerns heard, and placed in the official record.

Unless, that is, you work in the Housekeeping department at the Hyatt in which case the Governor will rush right over, bring a film crew, listen intently, demand justice - and write about it in his memoir.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Getting back to our roots...

In May of 2007 an old friend urged me to attend an informational meeting in the next town, my hometown - Middleboro - about a proposed casino.  I had no idea that this meeting would be the spark that would light a fire, that would burn white hot for the next five years, and change my life forever.

Today, June 9, 2012, is a reminder that the same spark caught the wind and spread to Palmer and Brimfield, Fall River and Foxboro, Plainville and Milford, Freetown and Lakeville, and is now burning brightly in East Boston's Maverick Square and at every open poll in the city of Taunton.

Whatever the outcome for these and other communities across the Commonwealth and across the nation, places where regular people living and working and raising kids in cities and towns woke up one day to find themselves facing down billionaires, fighting the end result of gubernatorial hubris, legislative incompetence and failed federal policy, enduring marketing blitzes and media blackouts, and becoming intimately familiar with the corrosive power of ignorance and greed, I just wanted to share these words.
God bless the grass that grows thru the crack.
They roll the concrete over it to try and keep it back.
The concrete gets tired of what it has to do,
It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows thru,
And God bless the grass.

God bless the truth that fights toward the sun,
They roll the lies over it and think that it is done.
It moves through the ground and reaches for the air,
And after a while it is growing everywhere,
And God bless the grass.

God bless the grass that grows through cement.
It's green and it's tender and it's easily bent.
But after a while it lifts up its head,
For the grass is living and the stone is dead,
And God bless the grass.

God bless the grass that's gentle and low,
Its roots they are deep and its will is to grow.
And God bless the truth, the friend of the poor,
And the wild grass growing at the poor man's door,
And God bless the grass.

Welcome friends.


God Bless the Grassroots by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1964 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1992

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Book of Adam

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
--Steve McCroskey, Airplane

Last week a post appeared on Blue Mass Group, where I also blog, announcing that former Middleboro selectman Adam Bond is running for State Rep as a Democrat, in the 12th Bristol district.  In addition, I also learned that Bond was poised to be added to Lakeville's newly formed casino task force.

Folks, it remains an utter, inexplicable mystery to me as to why, after all that has occurred in these past five years, that anyone, including Adam Bond, thinks he has the right stuff to hold public office, or that he actually possesses a clue about Indian law or the negotiation of tribal contracts.

Let’s review:

- In the summer of 2007, Bond participated in negotiations with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and their investors to produce an intergovernmental agreement for an off-reservation tribal casino and sovereign nation. During these negotiations, he helped develop language, in section 22B of that agreement, to compel sitting and future Selectmen to support and actively work to assist the tribe to obtain any and all approvals needed to complete the casino project. Bond responded to public outcry that the clause might compel selectmen to forward the Tribe’s agenda over the towns’, with blatantly misleading comments.



- The first time the Tribe rejected a contract proposal, Bond quickly folded and developed a proposal much more favorable to the Tribe, and not to the town.

- The final proposal Bond helped negotiated required that the Tribe pay the town only an annual payment of $20,000 toward the mitigation of gambling addition. This and other aspects of the intergovernmental agreement severely under compensated the town for potential impacts.

- Bond and his fellow selectmen never made any effort to present a balanced debate on the casino issue to the public. The few public forums that were held consisted only of selectmen, casino interests and/or Indian gaming lawyers. During these public forums casino opponents were routinely gaveled to silence or ridiculed.

- Bond aggressively rushed the timeline for a referendum vote on the casino, deeply limiting the amount of time that Middleboro’s own hand-selected casino task force had been given to study and report back on the issue, and giving voters only a few days to study the final agreement before voting on it.

- During this time, Bond’s abrasive behavior did not help an already tense situation in Middleboro or surrounding communities. His many notable public comments, such as referring to casino opponents as ‘braying mules’ displayed a decided lack of diplomacy. He also managed to alienate other towns in the region with statements such as, he didn’t care the casino trash went, “as long as it didn’t stay in Middleboro.”

- Bond’s focus then and after, was always on ‘the deal’ – the intergovernmental agreement between the Tribe and Middleboro. He was content to believe that ‘mitigation’ could salve any wound the town might suffer due to a casino, seemingly unable to understand that many of the same people he was elected to represent did not put a price tag on their quality of life.

- Despite his self-styled image as an experienced attorney and savvy negotiator, boasting of bringing ‘sophisticated business practices’ to Middleboro, Bond repeatedly neglected opportunities to educate himself on many important aspects of the issue.

- Prior to the town vote on a casino, an 84 year old Mashpee Wampanoag elder named Ameila Bingham attempted to warn the Board of Selectmen about then-tribal chairman Glenn Marshall’s suspicious financial dealings. The board and Bond managed to strenuously ignore Mrs. Bingham’s warnings (and her) to it’s eventual detriment, because Marshall would eventually would be charged with making illegal campaign contributions and embezzlement. But in 2007, Bond dismissed the tribal elder’s warning and the writing on the wall as irrelevant. “We all have skeletons in the closet,” he said. “I still trust the man.”

- Bond’s various ascertains about aspects of Indian gaming law and Federal Indian policy have repeatedly been proven inaccurate. Despite this, and even while much of the town still was still against hosting a casino, he continued to wear a baseball hat around town, with the words, “It’s Coming”, referring to a casino.

- At the now-infamous outdoor town meeting, Middleboro voters, convinced by Bond that they could get a casino anyway, voted in favor (although by slightly less than a 2/3rd majority) of signing an agreement with the Mashpee Tribe, while in a 2nd non-binding vote, voted “overwhelmingly” (to quote the Town Moderator) that they didn’t want a casino at all. However, when residents asked if this information could be communicated to the Dept. of the Interior, Bond lead the charge to declare the vote as “irrelevant”.

- He would later, on his professional web site, actually write that he’d handled “the political marketing of the casino concept”, claim to be an expert in gaming law, and was willing to provide a service called “political engineering”. This was all while he was a sitting selectman for the town of Middleboro.

- In May of 2008, Mass Highway held a meeting in Middleboro regarding plans to make much needed safety improvements to Rte. 44, where it was revealed that in the previous three years alone there had been over 100 accidents along the Middleboro stretch of 44. Still, Adam Bond asked if there was anyway these improvements could be delayed to accommodate the Tribe’s construction time line. In fact, the reason I attended to this meeting was because I knew Adam would be there to represent the Tribe, not the better interests of the Town or surrounding communities, and therefore wanted offer my support for the safety improvements.

- In 2007, Bond officially 'sanctioned' anti-casino bloggers at a selectman's meeting, and CasinoFacts.org on Town letterhead.  

- While still on the Board of Selectmen, Bond started a blog, responding to criticism of his role in the casino issues by comparing his critics and their tactics to racists, Nazis and the mafia.

But don’t just take it from me. The Editorial Board of the Brockton Enterprise had made it’s own insights on Bond’s character.

What is Adam Bond’s problem?

The now former Middleboro selectmen chairman who has long had a thin skin and a “my way or the highway” attitude took his ball and went home at Monday’s meeting, quitting the Board of Selectmen with no notice. It was a strange performance, even by Bond’s standards.

Bond has been the biggest proponent in town government of bringing a casino to Middleboro. He led the charge to sign a deal with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to build a $1 billion gambling complex and then, when Wampanoag leadership was in disarray, tried to reopen the deal to get even better terms.

But Bond’s behavior lately has been unconventional and inappropriate for any town official. The outspoken Bond, apparently not pleased with his fellow selectmen, started writing a blog in which he was critical of selectmen and what was happening in town. These cheap shots were unfair and unacceptable. Bond claimed his Web musings were written as a private citizen, but that is nonsense. A town official doesn’t cease to be a public figure when the meeting ends. Selectmen everywhere know that, like it or not, they are on the job 24 hours a day and they cannot speak from the podium one moment and then write commentary on the Web the next and expect the public to differentiate which comments come from Selectman Bond and which come from Private Citizen Bond.
- In the ensuing years, Adam Bond has claimed that his stance on the casino issue was driven by his steadfast belief that a tribal casino in Middleboro was inevitable. Clearly, it was not.  What's also clear is that Bond should have done his homework, like some of us did, instead of gulping the Kool-Aid.

And so it's equally inexplicable as to why Bond continues to offer his advice on the casino issue.  He's rarely been right about any aspect of it, and while in office was ever eager to give the tribe advantages over the very people he was elected to represent, conveniently covering his backside with Section 22 of the IGA - that he also conveniently helped negotiate.  And the whole quality-of-life thing - Bond never got it.  So I ask, how do you mitigate something you don't understand in the first place?

Oh... but Bond is an attorney.

A common misconception is that if a person is an attorney or has some sort of other professional credentials with regards to casinos or Indian policy, then they must be an expert. But that's not the case. In fact, many so-called 'experts' in these areas are paid to provide a positive spin.

Take Clyde Barrow, a professor of public policy at UMass Dartmouth, and one of the most quoted 'experts' on casinos.  Thing is, Clyde Barrow has shilled for the gambling industry.  Feel free to read more about the veracity of various 'expert opinons' and behold the maze of mutually beneficial expert-promoter relationships that have become the cottage industry of casinos and slot barns here.

That's why it's vital to consider your source of information when it comes to casinos or Indian gaming.

If the Lakeville Casino Task Force is really looking for solid advice on Indian Gaming and Federal Indian policy, they are fortunate to have several great grassroots volunteer resources nearby, backed up by nation-wide networks.  Just give me a holler.

Likewise, there is NOTHING to prevent Bond from helping the citizens of the 12th Bristol.  But he doesn’t have to do it from the State House.

I think Adam Bond enjoys being perceived as a leader, but his words and actions have repeatedly demonstrated that he is utterly unsuited to public office.

Take the recent events in Foxboro. While experiencing the casino issue for themselves, Foxboro selectmen did not encourage casino proponents to harass and ridicule casino opponents. Bond, on the other hand did - with enthusiasm.  He attended to parties with them, had ‘secret meetings’ with them, and even brought some of them on his radio show so they could do it for a larger audience.

Foxoboro selectmen did not become cheerleaders of the casino project, despite the fact that they may have been in favor of it. Bond, as you can see, was the ‘biggest proponent’ of the project, rushed it unnecessarily, refused to listen to opponents, called the 2nd casino vote irrelevant, lied on public television about a clause in the IGA that he personally helped to write, and in the process caused a lot of toxic stress for the residents not only of Middleboro, but surrounding towns as well. There are folks in Lakeville, Halifax, Carver,and Plympton and beyond who can tell you the same things that I have about Bond.

And when things got tough, he resigned in typically dramatic style – something he then bizarrely tried to spin into some sort of portrait in courage.

An anonymous person, responding to the negative comments Bond received to the Blue Mass Group posting, implied that I was 'bashing' Adam, that I was throwing stones from the safety of my computer, that I should meet and talk with him first hand to get to know him, and that I lacked Adam's courage, having never run for office myself.  He or she referred to Bond as a 'great American.'

Oh brother.

Ok, here goes.  In Bridgewater we don't get Middleboro selectman's meetings on TV.  So, night after night, I drove down and found myself with a front row seat to Mr. Bond's drippy condescending contempt for the democratic process.  So I was writing what I actually saw and what I heard.  And, as you can see, occasionally Adam's "charm" was even captured on video.

As far as talking to Bond in person, first, I've observed that a visit to Bond's office often turns out  much like a move to Stepford.  Perfectly normal, intelligent fellow witnesses to Bond's behavior and actions suddenly start wanting to re-visit the IGA, or begin to suggest that Adam's decision to step down from the board actually had something to do with helping the town in his capacity as a private citizen.

I don't believe I'm susceptible to Bonds suspect powers of persuasion, but nevertheless, speaking with him face to face, after everything I've seen and heard would be a meaningless exercise.  As if the the Democratic party leadership were to sit down with Rod Blagojevich to get his advice.  With some people, there is a point where you realize that you've already learned all you really need to know.

As far as never having the courage to run for office myself, no, I haven't run.  Instead, I've spent the last five years volunteering virtually all of my time to trying to help folks in Middleboro as well as citizens across the state, the Mass. Legislature, the Governor and his cabinet understand the myriad complexities of predatory gambling and federal Indian policy, as well as writing about, commenting on and otherwise illuminating the political process and the work of activists at all levels. Sometimes to music.

I do realize that a lot of it fell of deaf ears, but then, a lot of people have also told me that it helped.

But, unlike Bond, I've never felt my work entitles me to an elected office, a state paycheck or pension for life.

I don't know why he does.

As far as courage or being brave goes, I don't know about that.  But I do know that, for years, I put up with a lot of abuse from a guy who sponsored Bond's radio show and personal agenda.  It was an incredibly stressful time, not only for me but also for my family.  But, when the same guy ultimately turned on Adam, Bond crumbled like a block of feta cheese.

Oh, and 'great American'?  

A brief synopsis of the Book of Adam:  Without due dilligence or debate, Bond decided a casino was right for Middleboro (and himself), rushed full speed into vote, dividing the town and straining relations with surrounding communities, all while using the bully pulpit to censure and intimidate his critics. Then, when the writing was on the wall, he changed sides, invented a reason to re-open the IGA that would, by no accident, benefit him personally if successful, and was set upon by the same people he'd once gleefully set upon others, the resulting anxiety thereof causing him to pee his pants, resign his office, and attempt to convince the rest of the world he is Gandhi - only to forget all this several years later, and subsequently run for an even higher office for which he is even less suited.

God Bless America.

So like I've said, Bond is free to help the people of the 12th district - without subjecting them to his peculiar form of democracy.

Private citizen Bond, may or may not be, and depending on the individual, a great guy and terrific advocate for the public good - or a slippery thin-skinned self-serving snake charmer.

But Bond in public service would be, and HAS BEEN a proven disaster.

Therefore, good citizens of Lakeville and the 12th Bristol, proceed as you see fit, you are free to think and believe and say whatever you want about Bond.  But don't ever say you weren't warned.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Other Side of Life

This morning I noticed a lot of hits on this blog, all coming from Foxborocasino.com.  For those who might have missed it, that's the site that got in a little bit of hot water recently after posting 'racy ads'.


BTW, thank you to Jobs for Foxboro and Wynn Resorts for doing the right thing, right away, by denouncing and distancing yourself from the web site and it's owner.  Everyone else, take notice.

The existence of the Foxboro website, with or without the racy ads will come as no surprise to those of us who successfully fought to keep a casino out of Middleboro.  The owner of the site, a former Raynham small businessman, once had a forum called Middleborocasino.com (sound familiar?) where he maintained an entire page devoted purely to yours truly, with photoshopped pictures of me, some in various stages of undress.

The original, fully-dressed photos of me were obtained by the web site owner who held a contest, offering a prize for the best Photoshopping job of me, which included a free limo ride for the winner and a group of friends down to Foxwoods casino and back.

This is despite the fact that, while I've done my fair share of PhotoShopping, as you can clearly see here, I never did so by objectifying people sexually.

As my long term readers, both pro and anti can tell you, I kept my focus on the real players in the casino chronicles - rude, condescending, uniformed elected officials with the ability to sign multi-billion dollar intergovernmental agreements and legislate an industry renown for corruption - who used their votes to serve their own interests.  Indian gaming lawyers who worked both sides of the street and maintained that an Indian casino in Middleboro was a 'done deal', when clearly, it was not.  Tribal chairmen who spouted 'inevitability' and made empty promises.  Committee chairmen who overstepped their assigned roles.  Gambling industry owners and lobbyists who'd say or do or spend anything to expand into Massachusetts.  And a certain public policy analyst who pretended to be neutral while taking money from the gambling industry.

In other words, I practice political satire.  The last bastion of the ignored and powerless.

What I didn't do was to go after the people like me (as satisfying as that might have been.)

But back to the web site in question:
When asked about the Foxborocasino.com link on the release, alarm bells immediately were set off with spokesman Scott Farmelant, principal of Mills & Company.

“This website has no affiliation with Jobs for Foxboro or any related entity,” said Farmelant, who sent off a “cease and desist” email to the Foxborocasino gmail account.

A spokesman for Wynn Resorts also stated it has "no relationship whatsoever" with foxborocasino.com and has "taken action" to have its logo removed from the site.

Ah, how many times I would have loved to have had the resources available to to merely summon an attorney or PR person who'd send a cease and desist order to the web site owner.   Not only then, but also when he took out the web site domain for my real name - MaryTufts.com - often posting very bad things about me there.  You can still visit the web site, though he's recently removed all the previous content and the link to the Foxboro casino site.

On the Middleboro casino site, my fellow casino opponents and I were frequently referred to, by name, as terrorists and and pedophiles.  I remember once the front page of the site, for an entire weekend, read that I and another anti-casino blogger wanted him killed.

In fact, if you were to read the official record of the Bureau of Indian Affairs public hearing in Middleboro in 2008, you would see that this same web site owner referred to me as a terrorist and a liar in front of an entire gymnasium full of assembled onlookers.

Before that hearing he claimed to have visited police stations in several towns trying to have some anti-casino bloggers arrested (we're not sure why.)

The web site owner filled the hours between delusions by joining with other pro-casino advocates on various public forums and comments sections and pretending they were me or other anti-casino bloggers, or making stuff up about us or using our kids names in hurtful ways - you know - the usual family-friendly pro-casino stuff.

They did this for years, by the way.

Years.

In fact, for years, the web site owner and others obsessed over a pair of shorts I once wore to a demonstration, concocting the most vile imaginings and posting them to public forums in an endless pursuit of anti-casino character assassination.  

Then there was the time that the web site owner left a comment on my blog, just as I was heading out to the wake of a relative, threatening to come to my house and do me harm.  This created a great deal of toxic stress and anxiety for myself and my family.  Later I would discover that the web site owner had been previously incarcerated, and had a history of drug abuse and violence.  And yes, I have copies of the police reports.

He once got the worst reporter in the world to write an article - an actual article - about how those mean and nasty anti-casino bloggers were harassing and cyber bullying him - the biggest harassing cyber bully of them all.  Insanely, the article also mentioned that he and "a small group of concerned citizens recently held a meeting to discuss the potential for devising a bill, one that would hold people liable for making slanderous comments on Internet message boards and blogs."   Unbelievable.

The web site owner would frequently post his real name with his comments on our blogs, which he said he did proudly, then would launch into a frenzied verbal conniption fit demanding to have them removed - which is why I'm not which using his real name (but which you can find in the article).  It was always attack-and-blame. Attack-and-blame.  As if he were some sort of victim!  Or perhaps merely a gentle jokester who just happens to run contests to solicit mocked-up 'racy photos' of a mom in the next town he can post to make her feel bad.

Oh wait, don't forget the big Halloween party in Middleboro, held at the town hall, where he dressed up as one of the (married) male anti-casino bloggers, and had his then-wife was dress up to look just like me in a 2007 photo that ran in the Boston Herald.   Then they made out in the middle of the dance floor.  I know this because he had someone take pictures, which he then posted on his Milfordcasino.com web site.  At least I think it was that site.  He has so many just like it.

So, what did I do about this guy who pretty much stalked me for a couple years making my life a living hell? Except for the death threat, I ignored him.  That's what you're supposed to do.  If you don't give them the attention they seek, they'll go away, right?  But it didn't matter, because he was always supported by local pro-casino faction.

But eventually, even they slunk away, watching as the Mashpee Tribe systematically reneged on their promise to build them the 'world's biggest casino', stopped making required payments to the town, and ventured all over Southeast Mass. in search of other places to erect their edifice to greed.  The web site owner drifted off, losing his wife and his business, one might presume, to his casino obsession.  Believe it or not, I quietly wished him well, hoping that he'd get the help he obviously needed and stopped seeking validation in an industry that neither wants nor needs him.

But I stuck around and helped found the largest and most vocal opposition group against expanded predatory gambling in Massachusetts.

My blog will be five years old this year and records my journey -   with photos, videos and lively commentary. I can be proud of that.  Prouder than I could be had I spent my time misrepresenting myself on forums on comment sections, labeling my opponents as pedophiles and terrorists, and pretty much justifying anything I wanted for the benefit of a casino.

Early this year I discovered that the web site owner was at it again - this time in Foxboro.  So I warned at least one of the anti-casino group's leaders about him.  And I didn't even mention all of it.   I hoped that this time he'd behave himself.  I would hate for someone to have to go what me and my family did.  Fighting billionaires, misinformation, and political influence is hard enough without the psychopaths this industry attracts.

I cannot stress how much toxicity this guy and others brought to my life.  I am only now just really starting to feel a little like my old self again.  I am not a politician. I cannot enact or vote on legislation that will lead to things like addiction, bankruptcy, child neglect, domestic abuse and suicide.  I am also not one of the many paid employees of the gambling industry.  I am only a woman who tried to do the right thing.

And, for a time, it seemed like things were going to be better in Foxboro.  But I guess some people never change.  He has been told to cease his connection with the Foxboro casino advocacy groups - something that, in my case and that of my fellow bloggers, would have been nice to hear from the Middleboro board of selectmen (when they weren't hanging out with him) or Tribal leadership.

The sad part is, this guy wasn't the only horrific jerk promoting a casino in Middleboro.  There were others too.

And today, the Foxborocasino web site reads,
'After six years of promoting Resorts in Massachusetts I've been told to "Cease and Desist"  OK!'  
wait a minute...  "OK!"  ??????????????

Yeah right.  This guy links to my blog from that site, as if he is some sort admirer of mine, and hasn't, in actuality tormented me and my family for years.  Using me to look legit.  As if it makes what he did with the Foxboro site "OK!"  

Then, out of curiosity, I Googled my name, discovering that he still owns the domain to the web site in my name - for what reasons I can only imagine - until 2014.

Enough.  I'm done pretending that he doesn't exist.

He exists, he is deeply delusional and he won't go away.  Be advised.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Myth of Inevitability: Middleboro



It was July, 2007, and a young man I'd met at an early gathering of CasinoFacts.org had mentioned in passing that he'd made some calls and had actually found some places across the country where they'd fought a tribal casino - and won.

I begged him for more information.  Where are these towns?  Was it the same situation as in Middleboro?  Did the casino threat really go away?  How'd they do it?  I wanted so badly to believe that a tribal casino wasn't as inevitable as they said it was - but I hadn't been able to find anything.

There's danger, I knew, in wanting to believe in something so much. It's tempting to grasp at straws, but I'd decided to never accept anything but concrete evidence.  I wouldn't base my hope on just more hope.

Because they told us it was a done deal.  Inevitable.  Sign on the dotted line.  It was as if we were a patient given 18 months to live and well-advised to get our affairs in order.

It never sounded right to me.  It never even sounded American to me.

The next week the man handed me a paper with some notes on it, and I started doing some checking on my own.  I And sure enough, there it was.  The tiny town of Plymouth, California.  I wrote a post about it - The Myth of Inevitability - Part 1.  My readers seemed to sigh in unanimous relief.

Years later I would meet one of the grassroots activists that helped stop that casino in Plymouth, but for that moment, in and around Middleboro, everything was right with the world.

The war was still long from over, but for now, there was even more reason to fight.

We may have been overwhelmed, anxious and frightened.  But we weren't stupid.

Inevitable.

We'd all heard it said so many times.  Attorneys, investors, selectmen, tribal members, media types, legislators, people on the train, and at the podium, and waiting in line at the counter.

Once, on the floor of Massachusetts House of Representatives, we were even called 'deluded' for believing it wasn't.

Well, Mr. Calter, I've got your 'deluded' right here.

Apparently, a month and a half ago, the Federal government rejected the Tribe's application for land in trust in Middleboro.

And I've waited a long time to type the title of this post.

Growing up in the 60's, in a world of hippies and riots and protest I heard it all the time:  'Question Authority'.

I guess some of the most useful lessons in childhood aren't the ones taught in school.

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If something doesn't sound right, it probably isn't.  And if you want something so badly that it blinds you to the truth, forces you lie, clouds your judgement and makes do bad things - it's called greed - and when it comes to casinos, greed is the one truly inevitable thing you can count on from the start.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And the Rose Goes to...

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, led by Chairman Cedric Cromwell, have finally concluded their Southeast Massachusetts reservation shopping spree - and, as predicted - have settled on a patch of ground in Taunton, reportedly near Rtes. 24 and 140, off the same exit as the Silver City Galleria.

And I, for one, cannot wait to hear how this property once thrived under the vast reach of Cromwells Mashpee Wampanoag ancestors, when they weren't busy greeting the pilgrims and living on Cape Cod, and perhaps even more recently by former chairman, and steward of the orange jumpsuit, Glenn Marshall himself - who no doubt hunted wabbits in Taunton before shipping off to Vietnam where, as we know, he became a great war hero and eventual savior of the Middleboro economy.

(For those who don't know me, this is sarcasm.)

Well, folks the waiting's over.

Now the Tribe just has to submit a new application to the Federal government, wait for it to show up in the National Register, come up with a proposal, negotiate a local mitigation agreement, manage to convince 2/3's of the city to vote in favor of it, sit through several public hearings put on by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, allow the federal government to perform a complete environmental impact study, bypass two recent Supreme Court rulings, have the Dept. of the Interior take the land into trust and reach a compact with the State, all by July 31, 2012.

By the way, just for demonstration purposes of how likely this is, the first public BIA hearing in Middleboro occurred more than 7 months after the town vote.

But then, there's always the wild card.  It has been revealed that the the Tribe recently budgeted $6 Million of it's 2012 budget for 'gaming predevelopment' - and that could translate into a lot of political Ambien when it comes to keeping Cedric's dream alive in the halls of Congress - not to mention behind those perpetually closed doors on Beacon Hill.

So be careful Taunton.  Don't be in such hurry to rush down the aisle with someone you barely know...

Remember, even the most beautiful rose is doomed to shrivel and fade.  Then all you're left with are the thorns.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Let's Get Real


In Foxboro, where they're waging the all-too familiar war of the missing 'No Casino' sign, they're are also fighting the battle of the 'For Sale' Sign.

Whose data is more accurate when it comes to casinos and property values? 

Is it the gloomy report from the towns around Foxwoods citing millions lost in property values on roads leading to the casino, or perhaps the report with sunny statistics to show how property values actually go up around new casinos?

And is any existing property value data inconsequential to Foxboro if it involves only rural or urban communities?

And whose report is less independent. Whose is more reliable?

What's the answer, and who has it?

An apparent lack of substantive data from independent, peer reviewed sources, suggesting a correlation between home prices and casino development in New England towns like Foxboro, Bridgewater and Plainville has become a sticking point in the current debate.


But does it matter?

The first thing many people worry about when they hear a casino might be coming to their neck of the woods is how it would effect their property value.

Of course, they wouldn't be worrying about their property values at all if some instinctive impulse hadn't kicked in to let them know that there was probably something to worry about - even if that impulse had yet to encounter all the hard facts, disputable reports and sunny statistics that would be waiting to support or contradict it just a few mouse clicks away. 

Because property value is a real concern.  People are concerned about it.  And if owners are concerned, why shouldn't buyers be as well?

I mean, there are young people these days, just starting out, without a lot of money and a ton of debt, who nevertheless feel that stainless steel appliances and granite countertops are their birthright. Certainly the looming presence of a nearby casino would be enough to furrow their brows as they scanned the local listings.

Now, I'm not a realtor, but I have searched for home. And so I know, when you're concerned about something, like the fact that the home inspector says there are signs of termites and water damage, there's no way you want to pay full price for termites and water damage. You're going to want the owner to fix the problem or drop the asking price substantially.

As for me, I live on a road near a state prison. Originally, this was a major concern.  Why did I ultimately chose to build my home there? Well for one thing, because I got a sweet deal on the land. 

Years later, when I learned they wanted to build a casino down the street in Middleboro, I once again became concerned.

And I was not alone.  In fact...
Asked what type of development project they’d most like to see in their community... The most unwanted projects are a landfill (74 percent opposed), a casino (72 percent) and a quarry (59 percent).
In the world of real estate there are many causes for concern, not just those about a casino, but also for things like nearby high tension wires, poor school systems and skyrocketing crime rates that do not translate into increased buyer confidence.

And the transformation of a college town or bedroom community once viewed as bucolic and family-friendly, into a little slice of Sin City, is absolutely positively going to lead to an eventual decline in property values, and probably a change in residential demographics and traffic patterns as well.

Face it, casinos are a stigma. Now, to be sure, stigmas can be overcome, but not without a price. And I can guarantee you it's a price that won't be paid by mitigation, the state of Massachusetts or any billionaire casino investors.

It'll be paid by property owners in casino host towns and surrounding communities.  

Thanks Deval.

Not for nothing, but I've watched just about every episode of House Hunters that HGTV has ever aired.

And here is something you will never hear on House Hunters:
“We've decided to go with House #2 – the one next to the casino!!.....”
Unless it is immediately followed by
“because it's priced $100,000 less than the other 2 similar houses in other towns!!”
The mere fact that Massachusetts gambling legislation requires an agreement in place for 'community mitigation' - a phrase that essentially means 'money to help lessen the impact of some of the bad things that are definitely going to happen to your town' – before a casino can be built should be enough to give anyone with an investment in their community – whether it's in property, business, family, or quality of life - a reason to question the shiny sparkly promises of casino investors and their self-interested local operatives.

“Will a casino lower my property value?”

It's the first question I asked, it's the first question everybody asks.

So fight the battle of the 'For Sale' Sign if you will.   Dissect every word, distill every phrase in those reports. Debate the whole thing to death on Facebook and blogs, on web forums and in comment sections.

But let's get real. Isn't the fact that people on both sides are currently scrambling to prove that it does or that it doesn't, while others merely search for an answer at all, enough for us to agree that the age-old question of whether a casino will decrease property values is, at the very least, a genuine, valid, de facto concern.

And if that much is true, then couldn't the current debate very well mirror a tomorrow where skeptical home buyers wonder the same question out loud, and local realtors assuage their concerns with offers of sweet deals and scores of sunny statistics?



Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Uneven Playing Field

In response to several recent casino proposals, my town council recently suggested the formation of a “Gaming Mitigation Committee'.



So OK, here we go, Bridgewater, listen up.

From now on I need you to think of every casino proposal as if it were a football field.

Imagine that the company wanting to build a casino is at one end of the field. 

The town without a casino is at the other.

Now the second, the moment, the instant a town starts officially using the term 'mitigation', one of those teams moves up to the 50 yard line.

That's because, to the company wanting to build a casino, mitigation means there's a price tag a local government is willing to place on the safety and quality of life in that town.  

And that's music to their ears.

Because now they know they're just haggling over the price.

And 'Gaming'?

'Gaming' is a marketing term the gambling/casino/slot/corruption/political/lobbying industry uses to whitewash/soften/sanitize/glamorize/legitimize it's justifiably dirty image.

They want you and a two thirds majority of everyone else to believe that 'Gaming' implies a mostly harmless form of entertainment.

Well, certainly. 

A mostly a harmless form of entertainment that requires vast amounts of money to pay for the application of influence to assist it's passage into law, and for the expensive regulation, dedicated law enforcement, special interest umbrellas, and perpetually underfunded addiction treatment that follows. 

Not to mention 'mitigation' and tax rates high enough to avoid those tough legislative questions forever, whatever, Amen.

Look folks, Baseball and Football are games. Candy Land and Clue are games. Call of Duty and Mario Kart are games.  Sudoku, Mahjong, Poker and Blackjack are all games. Even Roulette is a game - of chance.

But the 'game' that the gambling industry makes the overwhelming bulk of it's money on – slots – is a deceptive, fixed and predatory 21st century form of loaded dice.

The only real game on the slot floor is the one being played by the casino, figuring out which players they can take, and for how much.

So, for the record, when someone who doesn't work for it starts using the term the 'gaming' industry, it's because they're  either new to it, or because a strange pod-like thing recently showed up in their living room.


Like the pods themselves, the term 'gaming' can be highly dangerous. So don't forget to use quotation marks to keep it safely contained.

And stay alert.  Always use the actual scientific term – gambling – to describe an industry that wins only when individuals, families, businesses and communities lose.

Furthermore – it's not 'The Casino' – it's the 'The Proposed Casino'.

And it's not a resort.  Don't even think of calling it a resort.  It's a casino that may happen to have a resort.  But it won't be a resort that just happens to have a casino.  Resorts don't need their own regulatory bureaucracy.

If you do talk of 'Impacts', keep in mind that the most important of those 'impacts' can never be quantified.

Listen, if you want a level playing field going into this, it's going to be up to you to keep it that way. 

So remember, the best offense is always a good defense.

Form a committee if you must, but call it what it is, a 'Casino Impacts Study Committee' or something of that nature.

Because if the gambling industry really wants to build a casino in your town, they need to prove to you why that would be such a tremendously good idea.

And not just wait for you to hand over the ball.





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