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.


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.


Anonymous said...

what you didn't know about the no land in trust or the powers to be in MIddleboro? Where was your nose Gladys

Gladys Kravitz said...


Mark Belanger said...

Shortly after the Middleboro casino story broke, I was at the Whitten meeting with Jacquie and Terry in May of 2007(I think). Whitten told us that in his opinion we should just sign a deal. We rocked that joint. The place was mobbed with pissed of anti's. I left feeling very energized and determined to fight it all the way to the bitter end. In short order we found out that there was indeed a good chance that we could beat it.

I was very disappointed in Middleboro - how quickly everybody rolled over and accepted defeat without even putting up a fight. I would have been happier to see Middleboro fight and get no money than cave in and get millions.

But it all worked out in the end. It's just a pity that the thing wasn't handled in a more deliberate fashion so that all the insanity could have been avoided.

Gladys Kravitz said...

I was at the same meeting. My take away was that it was pretty clearly divided between pros and anti's. I thought that was weird.

I thought there'd be more people in a small town kinda upset that a casino was aggressively pushing it's way into their lives. Not to mention a Tribe from Cape Cod wanting to take a chunk of the town for a sovereign nation.

That feeling... of witnessing mass (often eager) willingness to go along, and later to discover that much of it was self-serving, and the lengths people were willing to go for it... yuk.

What a sad chapter. Except, of course, for those of us who questioned it, stood up to it, and fought it. And for those of us who are still standing up to it (and we are all over this country) that is the best take-way of all.

Carl said...

All I can do is smile.

Anonymous said...

Gladys and Mark,
This is the day I have been waiting for since 2007. Many thanks to of you both as well as Jacqui, Jessie, Carl, Rich, Frank, Bob, Kim and many more members of Casinofacts for your efforts to stop this disaster.

I was also at that meeting with Whitten as well as many others. That day I was so disappointed in my representatives and in many of my friends and neighbors .
. This project ripped our town apart and caused many solutions to problems to be put on hold while the casino sucked all the air from the town government.

Today it is truly over. Now maybe we can heal the town and get back to working for a better Middleboro.

Just my opinion. I could be wrong.;)


Anonymous said...

There's a tribe out there somewhere,that nobody's heard of, with historical ties to everywhere, meeting with someone, planning to f*ck up someones town somewhere else.I can't stand how the media is still giving "tribes" lip service. Tribes and investors are like weeds...you think they're gone and they spring up somewhere else. I've shit out any respect for native americans. The mashpee wamps. can thank themselves for that. Neon feathers?

Mark Belanger said...

NoCasino - I think Middleboro has made great strides in putting the casino behind us.

Remember Jack Healey supported Allin. I'm backing Jack for a G&E run. There will always be some casino stain but by and large things have gotten a lot better. I still see the occasional knucklehead that wants to define every issue and person though a casino lens but those people are few and decreasing in numbers.

Gladys Kravitz said...


I understand your anger at the Tribe. I too look at Native Americans differently than I did 5 years ago. But I've learned that the sovereignty process is also a double edged sword for tribe members. And it's lead to a lot of conflict that most people don't know anything about. I know there are Tribe members who don't want a casino. But you will never hear from them because of a.) their leadership, and b.) the media.

For the last few years I've experienced almost crippling anger at our elected officials - the result of studying them up close in their natural habitat. Greedy, narcissistic, self-serving, stupid, and spineless. But I take heart in the knowledge that there are some amazing, absolutely courageous intelligent ones, too. So it's them we should support, and vote out the rest.

And Mark, this issue will forever be a measure of character for me. Someone who makes a shady land deal that tears the town in two, then takes off for a couple years, is always going to be up to something.

Anonymous said...

We are all aware of the negative things that have happened because of this but there are positives as well.
I personally met some amazing people through this process. I have a completly different set of friends than I ever thought I would have. This issue woke a lot of people up and Middleboro is a better place today because of that.
What happened in Middleboro was atrocious! But we have come through this as a better Toen and a better place to live and raise our families.
That is something to be grateful for.

Mark Belanger said...

Gladys - I totally understand and support your point of view.

I've made the choice to work with my former adversaries if it serves my interests. I've also found that nothing is as black and white as I thought it was. Because of the changes we have made in town, and my own decision to move forward, I can walk into the BOS meeting room with zero stress or concern - in fact I usually have a pretty good time.

I made a decision long ago that I would never say "No" to a meeting, conversation, or discussion no matter who was asking. I had enough people say "No" to me when I was trying to inject sanity into the casino issue. There is literally no one from the bad old days that I can't have a discussion with. That was my coping method and I understand that it wouldn't be for everyone.

The casino woke up a whole generation of new people whose eyes are everywhere and fixing many things that were broken in town government. That is the bright side to the casino - though I wouldn't pretend that it was fun. It was hell.

One thing I am most proud of is helping to pass CPA. This will bring in millions of dollars to effect changes that will live on long after I'm gone.

It's been a wild ride, not for the faint of heart, and your mileage may vary.

A real tribal member said...

I am a member of the Mashpee tribe we just received letters from Cedric Cromwell to say that the amended petition is still on just waiting.Didn't the Town of Middleboro receive a letter from the BIA telling them the LIT was denied?The town of Mashpee did.

Gladys Kravitz said...

@Real Tribal Member, I don't know why Middleboro didn't get a notice if Mashpee did. That sounds really strange. It looks like the reporter tried to get a comment from two Middleboro officals, but was unsuccessful. If anyone knows why the Tribe and Mashpee got a heads up and not Middleboro, please fill us in. Thanks.

Now Mark, I'm happy that you can have zero stress and concern and sometimes have a pretty good time. But you should be aware that your actions have sometimes caused the opposite for me.

I for one was deeply hurt when you started legitimizing Adam Bond as if he weren't the despicable self-serving lying skeezeball that he is and started urging people to renegotiate the IGA. Now he's running for State Rep. I'm perfectly happy with Bond doing nice things for the town on his own, but he never does anything that isn't ultimately for himself. There is absolutely no way in hell that this guy should be in public office. I've seen the havoc that people with even just a little bit of power can wreak on the lives of others.

What I don't think you realize is that in your attempts never to say "no", you also managed to legitimize (at least in his mind) a certain psychopathic small businessman from Raynham, who made my life (and yours I suspect) a living effing hell for several years.

When people like Healey and Bond and various psychopaths do bad things, you often treat them as a kind adult might treat a wayward teenager, with a pat on the back and a second, third and fourth chance. But they're not wayward teenagers, they're grown-ass men, and sometimes people who do bad things ought not to hold office or get a slew of second chances or support.

And you're right about things not always being black and white. Because sometimes there IS a really good reason to give people another chance, and sometimes there's NOT. There are times when you should really just shut the door in someone's face.

So just realize that, sometimes, in your desire to 'move forward' you may be hurting the very people who were really there for you when you needed them.

Anonymous said...

Gladys- Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. It's good way to keep an eye on elected officials.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Yeah that whole 'enemies closer' thing sounds really good unless your enemy is a fantastically manipulative bastard who ends up getting some people to do exactly what he wants.

carverchick said...

Wonderful news!!!...but we all knew that this was the true inevitable end to that nightmare. You know what...it was your and Mark's blogs that really gave me hope...and a few good laughs too and I can thank casinofacts for leading me not only to your blogs, but inspired me to blog myself. Gladys, you taught me that I did have a voice and you and Mark showed me how to yell :)

I thank you both from the bottom of my heart. I also thank all of hard working dedicated individuals working behind the scences - without them we wouldn't have been as affective. Anyone and everyone who stood up and said NO to this casino should be proud of protecting our communities and our way of life.

I have said before that my silver lining in all of this is all the wonderful people I have met, any many I am honored to call friend.