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.


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