Friday, August 29, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

A couple weeks ago, the Kravitz's mixed a little business with pleasure by taking our first ever family vacation. Five whole days in New York City.

But, as it turned out, my much-longed-for vacation quickly became an endurance test. Day after day, hour by hour I was required to cajole, beg and bribe the kids to leave Nintendos and hotel air-conditioning behind - merely for the opportunity to plod alongside me on hot crowded sidewalks, to endure mysterious and frightening world-class cuisine, and to spend long arduous hours discovering infintely tiresome museums, greenscapes, architecture and works of art.

So on our last day, I gave them a break. I took them to New York's version of Disney World - Times Square.

Toys-R-Us, Applebees, Ripley's, and a two and a half hour ride on the top deck of a tour bus salvaged what was left of my sanity and put smiles on my children's exhusted little faces. And heck, after the room-service pizza arrived for dinner, I think they decided that New York was an OK place after all.

Then, upon returning home to Bridgewater, I learned that my Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road blog had set off yet another gigabyte busting Topix tantrum, that the Governor's over-priced, rubber stamped "independent" casino-gambling study had been released and that I had over two hundred e-mails, a full answering machine, and my laundry list of meetings to attend, issues to address, and important deadlines to meet - all related to my anti-casino involvment - and my actual laundry - was still there waiting for me.

With the suitcase still unpacked, I dove back in. I answered the e-mails, read through the backlog of casino-related articles, blogged, and spent all day Friday pretty much like a shut-in, trying to get a newsletter out.

And then something made me realize - I was tired.

I was really tired. Somewhere along the line, casino fighting had become my full-time job. In addition to my full time job as a mom. In addtion to my now part-time job as a web designer.

So I did something pretty unusual for me. I stopped opening my e-mail.

Tomorrow it will be two weeks.

On my first e-mail free night, as Abner and I were enjoying some Chinese takeout by the firepit in the backyard, I tried to decide whether I felt guilty or gloriously unfettered by ignoring the inbox. A little of both, I decided.

I leaned back in the adirondack chair and took a deep breath of fresh night air. I'd decided to take the night off, too. It felt good not to have to get in the car and drive to a stuffy meeting in someone else's town for a change. How many meetings had I gone to? I can't even count. How often had I juggled kids and meals and schedules and homework and sports and blogging just so that I could get to a meeting.

And I hate sitting in on meetings. I still have a coffee mug from back in my corporate days which reads, "Meetings - the practical alternative to work."

Meetings... Last year an old friend from my bygone Middleboro days asked me to come to a meeting about the casino the Mashpee Wampanoags wanted to build in Middleboro. I admit, I was concerned, but I also remember thinking how it was going to be a nice warm night that night - just like this one. And the last thing I wanted to do was leave home to go sit in some stuffy room in another town.

Then I Googled some information on casinos. Hmmm. OK. I decided I'd go to the freaking meeting - but just to one - so I could feel like I'd made the effort. Besides, I figured, after all the things I'd read about these mega casinos, there was no way they'd let them build one in Middleboro...

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Mostly because it always seemed like there was something more that I could do to help. And I wanted to help.

"Um, I was wondering... would you like any help with the web site? I'm a web designer..."

And there were other ways. Writing editorials, slapping a bumper sticker on my car, putting a sign in the yard, attending more and more meetings, volunteering, holding signs, showing up and showing support, speaking up and speaking out. Designing, reading, researching, writing. Getting things printed, getting things signed, getting things done. There were always ways to help.

But after all those miles, after all the firestorms and urgency and drama, after all those nights getting home to find the kids already in bed, after so many long hours at the computer, after all the general meetings, CRAC meetings, selectman's meetings, board meetings, Casino Free Mass meetings, Task Force meetings, conferences, forums, hearings, fundraisers, rallies, and all the other places I felt I needed to be, and which always seemed to be in someone else's town, and after my Bataan death march of a vacation, I was sorely in need of a break.

Except for the blogs and blogging. Blogs really are a lifeline. I experience major withdrawl symptoms if I can't get to the blogs. Where else can you have other people tackle hundreds of articles, regulations, court cases, meetings, experiences and web sites, then squeeze them all down for you into a few easy-to-understand paragraphs, complete with links, video, graphics and a sense of humor. In fact, I've learned so much by trying to be a good blogger that once I was able to fire off a lengthy bullet list to a TV news reporter, complete with links, explaining why Kofi Jones was wrong (again) about Indian casinos, in the hopes that his evening news report wouldn't be as grossly misinformed and inaccurate as his late night report was the day before. It wasn't.

And blogs can be great motivators too - and motivation is an important aspect of any battle. And I speak from experience when I say that fighting casinos is a brutal battlefield.

But out by the firepit two weeks later, I am still feeling unmotivated to open my e-mail. Out here it's easy to ignore a request for help. And It's easy to imagine that someone else will take care of things that need to get done. It's easy to imagine a world without urgency, or a life that doesn't revolve around the latest crisis in the casino world. I try to imagine what it would be like blogging about something else for a change. Like movies, or being a mom. I tell myself I'll go to the beach, to the spa, that I'll get back in shape. I think, wouldn't it be nice if meetings on hot summer nights could be held outdoors where you could sip a margarita and sit under the stars?

I wonder what would have happened if I'd never gone to someone else's town last year to attend that meeting. I try to think of the good things that have happened because I did. I tell myself that maybe I've made a difference. I marvel at the richness of the experiences I've had, of the new skills I've aquired, of the fine people I've met. But then I realize, I also would have been spared a lot of bad experiences, a boatload of frustration, and certain unsavory egos, actions and agendas.

Oh well. It'll make a good book someday.

I don't know when I'll go back to the e-mail. The kids went back to school today, so it's possible that, eventually, all this blissful quiet will entice me back to the fray. Who knows. But I'm sure I will.

In the meantime, I'm confident that somewhere out there, vicious bloodbaths are still being raged on message boards, that Team Bond is making plans for a casino grand opening, that the media will persevere in their relentless efforts to misinform the public, that the the banner of inevitability continues being hoisted on high, and that breaking news is continuing to break all around.

Just not around me.

Abner tells me what I would have earned at his company for the work I've done this past year fighting casinos. It is a ridiculously high figure and it makes me laugh. There's no money in being an activist. I look down at my old red sequined ballet flats - worn, battered, and faded. I'd just be happy with a little more shoe leather.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Horse Flies

When I go for a walk on a hot steamy day, it's only a matter of time before I'm set upon by a horse fly. He'll spin around my head, seemingly inexhaustible, being annoying as hell, avoiding my attempts to swat him, and sometimes taking a piece of flesh before he gets bored and buzzes off somewhere else.

A horse fly can follow you for up to a quarter mile. And chances are - not long after he finally leaves you alone, another one will take his place.

You can't get rid of the horse flies. They're relentless. And they're just as happy feasting on a pile of dog poop as they are taking a bite out of you.

Now, apparently there has been a recent war of words on a Topix message board. Before that there was a war of words on a web site. Before that there was a war of words on a forum. And before that there was a war of words in the comment sections of blogs.

See a pattern here?

Some people are just like horse flies. And you can't argue about things like quality of life with people only motivated by greed, ego or other dark forces. It's pointless.

But not pointless is the need people have to talk about this issue and vent their feelings about it. And that's fine. This country is a democracy and it was built and still exists on the premise of disagreement. Of argument. And... of tolerance. And there's a great place for that at

Now sure, the moderator there requires your e-mail address and keeps track of your IP, and is going to shut you off if you have too much of yourself. And that's all due to a little thing called 'accountability' that some other sites could really make use of. And it's a responsible thing to do and a small price to pay for the sacrifice the moderator has to make by policing the site and keeping things from getting out of hand. Because, a lot of people start acting like little children (and horse flies) when they're sitting at the computer.

Personally I'm not a fan of forums. Back in the early days I was, but these days forums seem to start out good, then invariably, someone with an issue and a lot of time on their hands comes along and hijacks it - ruining a good thing for everybody else. The same open nature that makes them so inviting and provocative - seems to be the same thing that can so easily turn into a dogfight.

Who needs it? I'm busy fighting casinos. I don't go to web sites or forums or blogs where people write disparaging comments about me and others, or are irresponsible enough to drag my children into their sick fantasy world of name calling and misrepresentation, of imagined slights and manufactured indignation.

Every night, for a year now, someone with the same anonymous IP crawls over my blog looking for some turn of phrase or graphic they can contort into mud to fling at me from. For a year now.

And I'm still here.

But I think it's important to say that I appreciate it when other people have exposed the words and actions of these people, as Carverchick has so artfully and wonderfully done, by demonstrating the differences not only in the reasons why we fight, but in the way that we do. I also greatly appreciate the support I have personally received when I've been the victim of one attack or another.

Some people may think it's unproductive to take the time to point out and condemn the actions of people who resort to childish name calling, but I assure you, for those of us publicly putting ourselves out there every day, day after day, these demonstrations of support are essential not only to our spirit, but to the spirit of the movement as well.

So, always, keep supporting the cause and each other, but please, stop trying to argue with horse flies. Because you can't.

Just keep right on walking.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Maybe There's a Reason...

... that it's still only 50 cents.

Despite living in Bridgewater, I subscribe to the Middleboro Gazette. Even before the casino issue, I was in Middleboro a lot. My kids participated in sports there. I've always enjoyed reading the historical column. And hey, it's where I grew up. But the Gazette wasn't exactly a place I'd turn to for hard-hitting investigative news.

In fact, right before the whole casino issue came up, I remember cutting out a little article about - I'm not kidding - a dog complaint. And it sort of summed up small-town life for me.

But the reason I liked that particular article so much was that the author had managed to get a funny little zinger in at the end. And you know I just love that sort of thing.

And just a few weeks ago I clipped out an editorial by Gazette editor Jane Lopes entitled "Offering Lessons in How to Win Friends and Influence People" in which she took my favorite selectman to task for - well basically for being a hypocritical nepotistic jerk. (Those are my words, not Jane's.)

At the moment I'm looking forward to reading my friend and fellow blogger, the Belicose Bumpkin's new column in the Gazette, though I hope he won't shy away from the casino issue and I won't hold my breath for reading anything that casts Adam Bond in a negative light.

Which is too bad. Because more people ought to be talking about him.

Here in in Bridgewater we had our own homegrown goofball on the Board of Selectman. And he wasn't fond of criticism, either. In fact, he pulled a Marsha Brunelle and put the kibosh on a long standing local tradition of public forum. One of his fellow selectman, who shall remain nameless, in converstation with me, actually referred to him as "useless".

Personally, I thought he was worse than useless. Those in leadership roles, even minor ones, who don't lead, who don't listen or who don't care, end up causing more harm than good. But they hardly ever notice

Anyway, in Bridgewater, people started to talk about this guy. Sharing their stories, experiences and outrage. The papers began printing their editorials. Citizens groups were formed. New candidates appeared on the horizon and, despite being the incumbent and very well-funded, he was voted out of office and replaced with a much more serious, way less goofbally sort of a guy. So, miracles can happen.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of how the media has covered the casino issue. Not all media - the Cape Cod Times and the Standard Times have both done a pretty decent job. But let's just say this - when I go to say, a Regional Task Force meeting, I take a lot of notes. And then I send them out to a handful of people I know who have an interest in such things but couldn't attend the meeting. And, invariably, my stuff is more detailed and in-depth. At the last Task Force meeting the only thing to come out of it in the media was that the Task Force couldn't make a quorum, meaning that people were losing interest, which we should take to mean no one cares, everyone loves casinos, gambling is good blah blah blah.

But at the same meeting I was able to get about fourteen other pretty interesting bullet items and witness that, despite being quorum-free, there were still an awful lot of folks, representing a lot of people living in other towns, actually in the room. And that some of the people who orignally signed up to go be on the task force have left office, and that some have other committments on the day of the week the Task Force meets and that, um yeah, it's summer. And much, much more...

And then there's Middleboro.

Here is a video I posted after a selectman's meeting earlier this year, which I've always felt has been particularly undervalued.

Ok, let's break this down. Here's the guy who helped draft an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Wampanoags. He has boasted of it on his web site. He is a professional attorney, schooled, versed, and earning a living from the minutae and implications of language. He also helped shove this agreement down residents throat's by giving them five whole days to read and absorb it. And yet, somehow he can't remember selling off Middleboro's then 338 year soverienty in good old section 22 B. So, is he stupid? Maybe he doesn't just doesn't care. Or maybe he's lying. And that's what it comes down to. You be the judge. But none of it's good.

Now, I'm not sure how many Topix message board posts have been devoted to the concept of honesty, but it's a lot. No, actually it's excessive. Hell ... it's grotesque.

But I do know that when a public official and attorney, at a public meeting, being filmed on cable and then broadcast into homes in two different towns, is brushing off and completely mis-construing a certain section of a certain document that a lot of other towns seem to be easily able to comprehend, hey - that's NEWS.

But perhaps that's the sort of thing that would cost an additional 25 cents.
Still for free!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Whose Yard Sale is it, Anyway?

I have no idea if the controversy over whether the Town of Lakeville will grant permission for the go-ahead of an anti-casino fundraising yard sale on town property has been resolved or not, but I'd like to weigh in anyway.

Last year, I tried to find some space to hold an anti-casino meeting in Bridgewater - no small task considering our library and senior center were on life support and closed most of the time.

So, I had a nice conversation with some people from a local church and turns out they had a super meeting room we could use. As a formality, though, they'd have to check and get back to me. Well, upon doing so, apparently someone had expressed concerns that my group was 'POLITICAL" - and eventually my request was denied.

Yikes. To quote an old aquaintance, "if you can't count on the church to be a moral compass... what are you left with??"

Um... well, there's always Kerzner International...

Folks, being anti-casino isn't synomomous with 'political'. And a Political Action Committee is just the entry-level designation an organization gets before it figures out how to become a "Non-Profit". The truth is, I've fought this battle alongside liberal atheists and conservative Christians. I've sat at the table with Democrats, Republicans and everything in between and on either side. Pro-union non-union, and anti-union. Men and women. College students and senior citizens. And I've seen eye-to-eye on this one issue with some people I have no blessed hope of seeing eye to eye on anything else in this world.

Because being anti-casino is about not wanting an increase in crime, taxes, addiction, broken families, bankruptcy, divorce, spousal abuse, child abuse and suicide. It's about wanting to protect our environment. It's about wanting appropriate economic development. It's about quality of life. It's about not dumbing down our local, state or national standards in the name of a quick economic fix that will turn into a long-term regional Rockland Industries nightmare down the road for our kids and grandkids to deal with.

So, is that the definition of political, or is it the definition of pro-community?

Now, I'm sorry if the term "anti-casino" isn't all warm and fuzzy and doesn't come with a sash, badges or an annual cookie drive. I'm sorry if it doesn't sound all safe and comfortable. But sometimes, really important, really necessary things don't come in pretty packages. (Though, gosh darn it, you know I've been trying to keep things cute with the Yorkies and spaniels.)

What if the anti-smoking movement had never been able to raise money for education campaigns and legal challenges? What if their efforts continued to be demonized and out-spent by huge corporations and towns and states kept allowing smoking to go on in hospitals, schools, and other public buildings because, well, the whole movement didn't come stamped with a big happy face? What if public officials had continued to allow the marketing of an industry to stand in the way of doing the right thing?

How many people would we still be losing every year to smoking-related health issues?

And, in an other public property conflict of interest controversy taking place in my town, a small group of people are trying to get the high school to allow them to have a table at the annual high school career day event. The group, which is NOT an anti-war group, and which, in fact is partly comprised of former combat veterans, wants to share factual information about what embarking on a potential military career could mean for students. When I first heard of this group, I was skeptical. I wasn't sure they belonged at a career-fair. But since I'll have a child in high school next year, I looked into it.

Boy did I get an eyeful. Among other things, did you know that the 2002 No-Child Left Behind Act makes federal funding available to school districts upon the release of student names, adresses and phone numbers to the U.S. Department of Defense? Sure, parents can opt-out of this intrusion into their child's privacy, but I for one never knew any of this - because it's buried on page 70 of the school handbook.

Now, I'm not anti-military - far from it - but I have seen how recruiters offer monetary incentives to entice people from economically depressed backgrounds, and how they've often failed to provide those benefits - after the recruit is already signed up and sworn in. And I've seen how, so often. we've failed our veterans after they've put their lives on the line to protect our liberties - including freedom of speech. So, if these kids are going to fight for us, shouldn't we at least give them a fighting chance to know all the facts - and not just walk away with a slick marketing brochure and a hard sell?

And if State governments want to balance budgets off the backs of slot machine patrons, shouldn't those patrons know that the machines are rigged.

What, exactly, is the problem with hearing the truth?

And as far as equal time goes - I remember when the entire board of selectmen in Middleboro wore these little pro-casino 'casino-friend' pins during public meetings throughout last year's three ring circus. These meetings were taped and pumped into homes in Middleboro and Lakeville. Was legal counsel consulted before donning the pins? In May of last year, Mashpee Wampanoag chief Glenn Marshall was allowed the stage at the Nichols Middle School - a public school. Marshall, it was later discovered, had lied to congress and done time in prison for rape. The only time, last summer, that residents got to hear from a gambling addiction expert - they had to go on private property to do it. And our own Governor just spent a decent chunk of public change to hire a gaming company which has worked for Kerzner International to tell him an Indian casino would be a good idea.

So, how come public politicians can promote their private agendas while private citizens who just try to tell the truth are accused of having a political agenda?

The only political thing about it are the many politicians - local and State - who seem so intent on keeping the truth about casinos away from the public.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bonfire of the Vanities

In case you missed it, in the comment section of my previous post, a poster related some of the disparaging remarks they've received when someone finds out they are from Middleboro:

...I travel around the state, when I pull out my license to confirm payment for a purchase, just about every time there is a comment made about the casino "town" and it is not in the best light. Sometimes it's been, "glad it's in YOUR town", "what are you people crazy?," "I have a family member in CT. that lived near (insert either casino), they had to move" OR "they wanted to but the property values dropped so low they couldn't sell to move" This goes on & on, even from people who like to gamble! DON'T WANT IT IN THIER TOWN/CITY! I now say, call my BOS & tell them what you said to me! I am against it, they are for it!! This is why I have becomed embarrased by my address! One person even had the rudness to say to me, "stupid people," & they didn't even know what side I was on.

Being from Bridgewater, I have been spared this sort of thing. But I feel bad for the people who have had to listen to it. Middleboro is a nice place. I'm not just saying that because I was born there.

Before flying monkeys took over town hall, I used to really enjoy going to restaurants, shopping at antique stores, taking my kids to sporting events and exploring parks and other outdoor areas in Middleboro. And, I admit I got a bit teary eyed when I saw what an amazing job the town did renovating the building I used to call Junior High.

But the thing is - it's a universal phenomenon - ask people if they'd like casinos to come to Massachusetts, and a lot of them will say, "sure!" But ask them in they'd want a casino in their own town, and you get a different answer. I even recall a speaker from Mass Taxpayers who'd traveled around the state asking these same two questions, and no matter what kind of town he was in, up-scale, rural, working-class, urban, suburban - it didn't matter - invariably he received the same lopsided answer.

So, I guess people just find it hard to understand why Middleboro seems so stoked about a casino in their own backyard. But, then, they only know what they read in the papers and see on the news. And, after last year's Town Meeting from Hell, the Globe only added fuel to the fire with it's headline, Middleborough goes all in.

Now sure, Middleboro didn't go "all in" - we all know that - but the rest of the State still hasn't gotten the memo. Nor have they heard about all the shenanigans that went on leading up to the meeting. And I bet they can't imagine in their wildest dreams that after the land sale, the Middleboro Board of Selectman were busy dissecting the finer points of dog complaints instead of researching potential casino impacts, or reading up on IGRA.

Let's face it. Most people just have no idea of what a bunch of goofballs you have running the town.

And yesterday, my friend and fellow blogger, Middleboro Review, alerted me to this frightening happenstance.

The rumor is, the man in the photo holding the Sacred Marshmallows and the Holy Fire Extinguisher of Antioch while attending a Native American religious ceremony wants to be the next Middleboro selectman.

Folks, please don't vote any more goofballs into office. Isn't it bad enough that people all over the rest of the State are dissing Middleboro about the casino business. Isn't it bad enough that when I do a podcast, at the mere mention of the name 'Adam Bond', two people from other parts of the State start cracking up.

Towns shouldn't have to come with a laugh track.

Stamp this thing out before it starts! Only YOU can prevent forest fires!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rhymes with Spectrum

It was killing me not to be able to blog about the recently released Spectrum Gaming Group report, which was commissioned by the Governor to tell him what he wanted to hear about Massachusetts' potential as a future gambling Mecca. Alas, I had other important things to do.

But, without reading the whole 300 pages, one thing about the report really stands out. Spectrum, the consulting group, lists on the front page of their web site, Kernzer International as one of their private clients.

The same company who's chairman is none other than billionaire bad boy and gambling visionary Sol Kernzer? The same developer behind South Africa's Sun City, Bahama's Atlantis, Connecticut's Mohegan Sun, and Rhode Island's ailing Twin Rivers?

The same guy who wants to put a Middleboro mega casino on the map?

Yes, that's the one.

So, how, exactly does this make Spectrum's report independent? Or balanced? And not just some 300 page roll of toilet paper?

It doesn't.

Spectrum has responded to criticism about it's clientele by claiming that most of it's clients are not casino developers but 'governments.' I'd like to point out that most of these "governments" are 'gaming' agencies for a variety of states and nations which already offer forms gambling - and collect revenue from it.

But aside from that, it can be no insignificant matter that a big Daddy Warbucks like Kerzner International must certainly be an extremely valuable client asset to a company which pays it's bills by dispensing gambling expertise.

Let's face it - they're not exactly Price Waterhouse.

Which brings me to another point - why Spectrum Gaming Group? Why not an independent consultant? Back when I was a corporate cubicle jockey, we had an endless stream of independent consultants coming in and analyzing this that or the other thing. Analyzing is what they did. They might go talk to a company specializing in something as part of their research, but on the whole, they were "independent". There were no special interests dangling the purse strings.

And the beauty of having had an independent consultant assess Massachusetts's gambling potential, is that just one of those people compiling the report might - because they aren't immersed in the 'Wonder of it all', the acceptance of gambling as gospel, and the goose that lays their golden nest egg - consider social costs and impacts of mega casinos to be worth giving some weight. That just because you can't quantify every variable, or distill it into a dollar sign, that it doesn't belong on the balance sheet.

People have a lot of trouble with those unquantifiable thingys. I've seen it up close as I watched last summer's Casino Gambling Impact Study Group (precursor to the Casino Resort Advisory Committee or CRAC) find itself unable to come up with an answer to social costs. So, they threw up their hands and declared it out of their league. Which was bad enough - but then their chairman went and gave Middleboro a big thumbs up on the project based on their study. Which no one was asking them for.

So, why doesn't anyone ever do a study on that sort of intangible stuff? Oh that's right - they did. But still, no one has been able to come up with a better answer as how to 'mitigate' gambling addiction and broken families other than throwing therapy at it, or a fairer way to compensate the victims of crime than pretending it doesn't matter. Except of course, to not build casinos. To take the longer, harder, better road of encouraging responsible economic development for our State. Change can be good. But good change changes things for the better. And good change doesn't require a mop-up later, or 'mitigation', or 'therapy'.

I don't have any hard feelings toward Spectrum Gaming Group. They did exactly the sort of report the Governor wanted, and it was what you'd expect from, well... a gaming group. But I'm terribly annoyed at the Governor for spending $189,000 on something the rest of the world is going to tear apart. Here in the boonies, Governor, we could use that kind of coin to keep a senior center afloat. Or a library open.

And so, in the months to follow, as myself and others slog through Spectrum's 300 page report, keep in mind that the name Kerzner International, whose chairman wants to build an Indian Casino in Middleboro, shows up on the front page of their web site.

And could this, perhaps, be behind the reason that Spectrum's report differs from the advice of notorious commericial casino snake oil salesman Prof. Clyde Barrows in one major respect - by concluding that three casinos still make sense - but only if one of them is an Indian casino.

Hey, ya think?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why We Fight

First, I'd like to say thank you to all the folks who responded to my previous blog by explaining why they still fight a Middleboro casino. Their responses are truly inspiring!.

As for me, I can break down my reasons for remaining in the fight in the following ways:

Not separate. Not equal.
The initial discovery that there exist in the United States sovereign nations where our fellow Americans operate under separate laws and governments, with limited checks and balances, while enjoying benefits not available non-tribal members, left me shocked. It seemed to go against everything I had believed about our form of democracy. Additionally, that this sovereignty could be perverted for the benefit of billionaire investors who infect our communities with the virus of mega-casinos and leave us with a gambling culture, all in the effort to line their own pockets, is simply outrageous. And - even worse - was being told that all of this was somehow for our own good. Wrong.

What Process?
The only transparency to be found in the political process leading up to last years town meeting is that it was clearly flawed. Town government made up their minds early, sleep-walking through the countdown to July 28th, with visions of seven million sugar plums dancing in their heads. Where was the discussion? Where were the forums? The experts? What was the rush?

It was a circus, pure and simple - a frenzy of feathers, bullying and mis-information. And while Middleboro residents got to have their moment at the microphone, me and my friends in the surrounding communities are still waiting for ours. The whole process was undemocratic, unprofessional, and wrong.

The Myth of Inevitability.
To say that a casino is inevitable in Middleboro is a lie. Sadly, it's been a lie that's taken on a life of it's own. It's a lie which is perpetuated by lawyers and other's with something to gain from a casino. It's a lie which is used to convince people they can't fight - or win - a battle to keep their community casino-free. It's a lie. And it's wrong.

Lowered Expectations:
I believe in having high expectations for the place you call home. You should want the best for it, you have an investment in it and it's future. To 'settle' for a casino is like inviting crime, corruption and addiction to set up shop in your own neighborhood.

You can dress up gambling in any family-friendly way you want. You can market a 'resort-casino' as a sort of sanitized Disney world offering fun and amusement for all. You can plug your ears and close your eyes to true tales of addiction, crime and suffering. You can tell yourself your cut of the profits will make it all worthwhile. But a casino is still going to be one of the worst economic, cultural and civic investments you can make in your community. And to me, it's a huge disappointment to have watched so many people exhibit low expectations for their community and region. But perhaps if they'd had the opportunity to become better educated about what to expect, Middleboro residents might have felt differently about opening the door to a casino. But then, what would have been the point of rushing the town meeting?

A movement should have momentum.
I've tried to keep blogging, even during the quieter months, and even during the frantic months, because I think it demonstrates that the anti-casino movement is still there, still alive and still going strong. This commitment has always forced me to dig deeper, and to learn more than I believe I ever would have. And I share this information in what I feel is an often lighthearted way to inspire others to keep visiting my blog and to share the information with others - preferably in editorials to the local papers.

Blogging has also given me the confidence to correct misinformation I've seen in the media and from government sources. And the beauty is, all anti-casino bloggers have their own style - which invariably will appeal to different people. But more importantly, we all add up to a chorus of different people, from different communities all saying this is wrong!

Mean People Suck.
They stole our signs, yelled curses at our children, verbally harassed us at town meeting, vandalized our property, cyber-bullied us, threatened us with lawsuits and violence, tried to humiliate us, sent out mass mailings encouraging others to discredit our businesses, presented themselves as us on public forums, gaveled our voices, spread false rumors, and esentially attempted to intimidate us at every turn.

I do not want these people charting the course of our region's future. Not no way. Not no how.

And that's why I fight.