Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

In a 2007 auction presided over by Middleboro Town Manager Jack Healey, the gavel dropped on a selling price of $1,765,000 for 120 acres of land that went to casino developer Herb Strather. This amounts to $14,708 per acre.

This past week, it was revealed that two separate casino promoters have offered $20,000,000 for 81 acres abutting the Narragansett Indians tribal land in Charlestown. This amounts to $246,913 per acre.

If Middleboro had negotiated this same amount per acre for the casino project land, it would total $29,629,560 - which might have come close to helping to mitigate the impact of Jack Healey's lifetime pension.

It is impossible for me to think about Former Middleboro Town Manager Jack Healey without being reminded of Barney Frank or Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. Three mumbling, unlikely leaders of men.

How is it that, in the decades since Nixon lost a debate for failure to tan, and in our own era of botox and bleached teeth, these Elmer Fudd warriors found not only acceptance, but success?

I would learn that, decades ago, Healey was blowing into Middleboro just as I was packing my bags and leaving it for good. In 2007, as I was returning to follow the casino chronicles, Healey was emptying his desk and planning for his retirement party. I'd somehow managed to miss Jack's entire career as Middleboro's man-in-charge, and yet, the repercussions of one of his last acts would rock the entire region, polarize the the State, and thrust me personally into a battle I could never have imagined.

Back then some folks considered Jack a hero. They shook his hand, offering both admiration and gratitude for his magnanimous parting gift of an Indian casino. For these people Jack had personally opened the heavens and caused it to rain shiny new firetrucks.

For others Jack was a villain. Back room meetings, suspiciously timed auctions, and that memo which began, "Casino anyone?"

According to this Commonwealth Magazine article by Sean Murphy,

...the casino developers were already in discussions with Healey and other town officials, and that the talks had predated the auction.

Despite soulful denials of participating in any monkey business, Healey's obvious behind-the-scenes machinations didn't exactly foster trust with some residents. And certainly not with me.

Locals seemed delighted to share gossip about Jack Healey which revealed a creativity for self-enrichment. But I never got the time to become familiar with this side of Jack because after dropping the casino bomb on all of us, Healey banked his plane into the clouds and disappeared. Or, as my friend Frank prefers, "went on the lam."

In fact, after his retirement gala, Healey sitings became rarer than red bellied cooters and were sources of much speculation and intrigue.

Until recently. Chatter places an increasingly visible Jack Healey at Town Hall these days. And, not long ago, the Board of Selectmen appointed him as their alternate liaison to SRPEDD because Mr. Spataro, the official liaison from the Board had such a poor record of making the meetings.

But this begs the question - why Jack Healey? Why do some people still seem to trust him to be Middleboro's go-to guy? It seems to me that the last thing Middleboro would want to do, especially in this economy, is to let Jack Healey stick his finger into any more pies.

Because remember, after dropping that casino bomb Jack crashed the plane then jettisoned the cockpit wearing a golden parachute.

Not only was his salary for his last year on the job $142,500, but he'll now collect a pension of $102,700 per year for the rest of his life and an additional $15,000 per year for health care - all courtesy of the good folks of Middleboro. Go shake his hand.

In that same Commonwealth Magazine article, Healey attempts to justify a casino: 2007 began, Healey painted a dire picture of the state of affairs in Middleborough. Residents would have to pay higher property taxes or accept deep cuts in basic services. Police, firefighter, and teacher layoffs were certain. The town was on the ledge, ready to jump. As Healey told a regional section of the Boston Sunday Globe in January, “There are no more rabbits to pull out of the hat.”
Well, hadn't Healey killed a few of those 'wabbits' himself with his exorbitant pension? How many people do you know who have lifetime pensions? Pensions larger than most people's salaries? And hadn't he successfully dug Middleboro into a bigger rabbit hole by not fully considering the value of the land, or a mega casino's eventual costs and impacts to the town - issues which would have certainly become apparent with less attempts at secrecy and more public input.

So I ask you, does Middleboro really need more of Jack Healey and his peculiar and expensive form of influence? And will he really be protecting the town's interest at SRPEDD - or just sitting at the table quietly cooking up creative ways to parlay this new role into a private revenue stream? Isn't this assignment sort of like asking a former Enron executive to audit your company's books?

Hey here's a thought, there was a Mr. Cederholm on the Casino Resort Advisory Committee (CRAC) who he seemed to understand roads and highways and infrastructure. And I recall a Mr. Cassady, sitting behind me at the BIA hearings, who demonstrated more than a passing knowledge of the roadways around the casino project. And I am aquainted with a certain Mr. Solimini, a civic-minded engineer who has been involved with the regional commuter rail expansion meetings.

So, there you have three qualified, community-minded folks who might be able to fill Spataro's empty chair, and probably others too - none of whom who have personally soaked the town of Middleboro for millions of dollars.

But, if you just can't resist that silver tongue and those Hollywood good looks, you might just want to get out your checkbook now.


Anonymous said...

Guess it's hard for a wannabee Czar to give up a wannabee empire.

Good article, Gladys

Anonymous said...

Since you brought "him" up. Ran into an old friend from Wareham the other day. Yes, Wareham is still laughing,(even harder now), at "Middleboro's Folly" - Jack Healey.

Again you have put together another element of the "human" factor that has been played out in Middleboro's proposed casino debacle.

Glady's, "your the greatest"

Anonymous said...

$14,OOO an acre.the auction ever so boldly advertised for the world to hear (for what 2days?)in the Middleboro Gazette.How is that good stewardship? Man,I'd love to pick up some acres for that price.
Shame upon the selectmen and Healey forever.

Anonymous said...

This Casino crap was in the making for years before the auction and it involves more people than Jack Healey. No, I'm not a rocket scientist.

Anonymous said...

Wayne Perkins doesn't have clean hands.

Anonymous said...

How did Herb Strater learn about Middleboro?

Did Dennis Whittlesly whisper in his ear?

Gladys Kravitz said...

Dear Anon. 10-19-08 1:41,

Also from the Commonwealth Magazine article quoted in this blog post:

After the April land auction, Healey and the town’s board of selectmen, meeting in secret, got down to negotiating an agreement with the Mashpee Wampanoag and their backers. Middleborough, meanwhile, divided into pro- and anti-casino sides for what would be an emotional debate.

Looking back at old Selectmen's meeting minutes - Mr. Perkins does seem oddly resolute about the casino project early on - especially considering his 2003 refusal to consider the Aquinnah proposal.

Anon. 10-19-08 1:09,

The answer to your question is another question - how did Herb Strather know about the Mashpee Wampanoag? The Answer: The best gamblers go after the best inside information. And the best reservation shoppers find the best places to shop.

Or, in our case, the Aquinnah/Harvard study lead the way straight to cranberry country.


Anonymous said...

There's a Special Town Meeting on Oct 20. How many who didn't like the secrecy of the casino issue will attend? If you don't like things, maybe you should change them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gladys,

As much as some would like to see an end to the anger over the way town officials acted last summer (07), it's important to remember their actions and hold them accountable so history doesn't repeat itself.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 4:42 pm

It is is foolish of you to imply that attending town meetings will ensure that the BoS does not participate in back door meetings.
If you have a good reason for stating so, I'd like to hear your logical explanation of how that would be.

Maybe you slept through 2007? Many people in Middleboro did not like what was happening, and they made a tremendous effort to change things; hence the recall election. This was no small feat by the people who initiated the process which led to that election. To ignore that effort does them an injustice.

Mark Belanger said...

I heard somewhere - and I don't know if this is true - that Strather and Marshall were army buddies.

Again - I don't know if that is true or not.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:12 AM
As the one who is generally faulted or credited with the Recall Election depending on your perspective, I felt the need to comment. (Although many others were involved in circulating the Petitions, subsequent targeting has proven that their anonymity was reasonable.)
Nothing that occurred in 2007 was inconsistent with the previous conduct of the Middleboro BOS.
I was among those 20 or so residents who attended the BOS meeting and attempted to prevent the Precinct St property from being auctioned. Mrs. Brunelle gavelled us to silence saying 'we're not going to discuss land,' and Wayne Perkins indicated that the town was NOT in the real estate business.
My intent is not to hijack Glady's post, but merely support the consensus that if you pay attention, ask questions, inform yourselves about how town govt. is supposed to work, attend ATM/STM and maybe even volunteer for a committee that interests you, that's what makes town govt. work.
And the more you watch and pay attention and attend meeting, the more you see that needs to change.
I have submitted public records requests and discovered that there are no public records for things that were discussed at public meetings and much else. I had the audacity to post the town accountant's contract that is public record and caused hysteria in some quarters. IMO, all town employees' contracts should be posted on the town web site, along with the vehicle use policy, the WasteManagement contract, periodic departmental reports and much else.
I have blogged extensively about the failure of Town officials to conduct any nominal research when considering the candidates for town manager. This is the day of the internet and a google search would have enlightened the 2 selectmen who would have voted for D'Agostino of the lawsuit. Those 2 Selectmen were Pat Rogers and Steve Spataro, both of whom have internet access and are savvy enough to accomplish such a search.
(I have linked to TalkMansfield on my blog, a discussion forum that contains some of the court documents, depositions and other information. While I appreciate that Mansfield is anxious to rid themselves of their town manager, was this the leadership we needed in a long term relationship?)
The nemasket forum offers an ideal venue for sharing ideas, asking questions, or posting criticism.
I can only re-affirm what has been said elsewhere. If you want to change things, get involved.

Gladys Kravitz said...


Let me guess... Adam told you Marshall and Strather served in the army together?

Actually, Marshall was in the Marines, from August of 1969 to February of 1970. His service in Vietnam began in October of 1969.

The only thing I can find regarding Strather's early life is that he was attending Wayne County Community College in 1970.

But, even if they served in the military together - what better reason for Strather to pick up the phone in the late '90's and say something like, "Hey Glenn! It's me, you're old army buddy Herb, how 'ya donin'? Hey that's great - oh and by the way, didn't you once tell me you belonged to some Tribe in Massachusetts? Really? That's funny, because I have this plan that could make us both some money..."

You know, something like that. But wait - wasn't Marshall still Cape Verdean back in those days.

Oh it's so hard to tell...


Anonymous said...

To Middleboro Review:

While I appreciate the explanation, my issue with the comment was how flip it was in regards to people complaining and not doing anything about it. I was merely pointing out that people are working towards change in our community. Your explanation only served to make my point, although as your comment was directed to me, I'm not sure that was your intention.

I feel that attending the Town Meeting is a start, but a citizen's job doesn't end there, and is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the change that's needed.

While I appreciate the effort you make on my behalf (as a citizen of Middleboro) I also have to say, I appreciate theblogfathers even more so because they inform the public of the issues, and give us the resources to wage our own battles, or to be involved in the solution.

Once again, I salute the bloggers; Bumpkin, Gladys, the "Chick" and Carl. The fight continues due to your diligence.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Dear Anon 4:40,

I'm blushing! Thank you so much for the vote of confidence!

I just wanted to let you know, however that Middleboro Review has been blogging, educating and informing the citizens of Middleboro almost as long as I have, but with way more posts under her belt. And I'm not sure anyone in the history of the town has ever been as personally responsible for so many registered voters.

MR's focus may not be a casino, (though she is anti-casino) but she nevertheless always keeps her eye on the monkey business at town hall and reports it back in a no-holds-barred fashion, always offering alternatives and insights. For her courage she has been beat up by her critics far more than anyone should.

Middleboro Review is a tremendous resource for your town and she is a true blogfather in spirit.

Props, MR!


Carl said...

I thank you MR as well and the rest of the blogfathers. But, mostly the faithful and like minded readers who keep the fires burning.

This whole thing started with bad government. Sometimes it takes a few minutemen & women to start a revolution and make things change. The first one began with King George and a tax on bad tea. Here, we have "king" Jack and an IGA on casino gambling. Foreign investors trying to make there way with us using the Mashpee as pawns for their gain. As far as we are concerned, it must end with Kerzner and Wolman's puppets run out of town.

Anonymous said...

I think all of you that have worked for the better of the community in any capacity sould be commended!

For those that started and worked tiredlessy on the recall, that was successful in getting the amount of signatures needed, I have great respect for all of you! But, have to agree with Anonymous 10/20 @4:40pm, all that involvement and look where we are today, the same BOS, maybe one different name, but as they say, "same church, different pew" and this with two selectman's races. Yes, we had two chances to change, one more than usual, and did Middleboro change? NO! it didn't.
Let's see with a third election for a selectman's seat comming up if this "change" all of you, (me included), keep repeating, will go again for the third time un-heeded.
I hope it finally takes, it didn't the last two times. I sometimes just have to think, Middleboro gets what it deseves, but I live here and want my town to be better, so I will try to keep moving on by "keeping involved"

Trying hard not to get discouraged and just plain move out!!!!

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 10:23 am

Your comment reminded me of something my grandfather used to say:

I'm not impressed by how hard you worked, but by how much you accomplished.

Which also dovetails with something I am forever saying: Work smarter not harder.

Now my grandfather's comment might, at first glance, be a little bit harsh to the people who have worked so hard towards change in this community. But the intent is something that needs to be recognized, because there is no amount of hard work that is a good substitue for results.

So here we are Middleboro, despite the best efforts of some very good people, nothing has changed! Yes, they've worked hard, and although they might be winning most of the battles, they are losing the war.

Or I should say, WE are losing the war, because this effects us all. And trust me when I say, there are many things that we, as responsible citizens, should be doing better in order to make our government accountable.

So I know this wasn't the intent of Glady's blog, but as usual, she is the catalyst of productive dialog by good citizens who all want the same thing.

Who has a idea of what we, as citizens, could be doing that will precipitate the change that has eluded us for the past year? I don't want to be regaled with tales of what has been done, but I'd like to hear new ideas for what more we could do.

With or without results, we are still tasked with trying.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Dear Anon. 4:33 and EVERYBODY ELSE,

I am happy to be a 'catalyst' for productive dialogue!!!!!!!!

(Love that phrase!)

In fact, as far as I'm concerned, the post is only half the effort. The other half is the commentary - and that's up to you.

I would love to think my blogging has lead to talking which will lead to CHANGE!


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately we are still not working hard enough! I attended the special town meeting last night which ended up being cancelled for lack of a quorum. Everyone needs to attend the meeting which has been rescheduled for next Monday. We need to remind the BOS that we are still watching them!!!


Anonymous said...

Why aren't some of you folks posing these questions and addressing these issues on nemasket? Just woondering.

Anonymous said...

Hey, anon, tell me how and who is 'working hard' to change the town when 93 voters attended STM. Those of you who complain and whine about the good old boys or always the same names appearing on committees, tell me where you were last night, please.
Jack Healey, Wayne Perkins, Lincoln Andrews, Neil Rosenthal, Bob Sullivan, School Superintendent, the Finance Committee, the BOS, and so many of the "usual crowd" that you condemn were there last night. Where were you?
Inconvenience youselves and get involved before the next casino type issue comes around and you again whine about town government.
You got stuck with a casino because you weren't paying attention and you still haven't learned. Get off your couches and participate!
You get the government you deserve, but force me to endure it.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Dear Anon. 10:24,

I don't live in Middleboro, but I feel her pain.

People there don't feel they have any effect on local government. Whenever they make an effort, Oak Point, Unions, Flying Monkeys and the Old Guard shut people out.

People feel their voices are muted by the sounds of busses, thugs and the all powerful gavel.

And that's just the way some of the people you listed like it - or else they'd be the ones going door to door getting people to vote. They'd be the one's hiring a web designer to fix the web site.

But nevermind. When the financial situation gets bad enough in Middleboro, trust me (I'm from Bridgewater), you'll fill that room.


carverchick said...

What is wrong with this picture?

Do I get three guesses?

Gladys, once again you drag out of the closet and into the public eye the dirty little questions that no one dare ask - or answer, for that matter. But by laying it all out on the table for everyone to look at, you get people talking...or in this case, commenting. Nice job!

You really are a catalyst - in more ways than one!

Gladys Kravitz said...

Well, thanks SuperChick!

I like to think this old gal and her binoculars are still good for something!


Anonymous said...

Gladys, on another post, one of the commenters suggested that M'boro was filled with "Useful Idiots" - a town of naive elected officials, apathetic voters, and a blindly following electorate willing to accept the questionable wisdom of their leaders. After blogging for more than a year, if the best the town can offer is 93 voters at a town meeting, ...........

Anonymous said...

Would that be the same Mr. Cederholm whose wife is on the school commitee? Might that be the school commitee that couldnt wait to endorse the casino before the agrement was signed and refused to consider any potential mitigation, like for instance how many new students? That couldnt be the same school commitee that has presided over the failing schools could it? Might that be the same school commitee that couldnt bother to attend the court hearings of the child who was tortured? Not even the superintendent bothered to attend the defendents hearings. Great school system. Great superintendant. Wasnt he the swim coach? And might that be the same original CRAC commitee that unanimously allowed itself to be led by the all knowing Fact Finder? (At least the Fact Finder was at the town meeting on monday unlike the vast majority of voters.)

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:59

There is no reason we aren't posting anyplace else, other than Glady's blog always seems to attract civic minded people. We come here because we enjoy her writing and "conversation" always leads us to other concerning issues.

As for, good for her and her readership. But there is not one single person who should "corner the market" on thoughtful and provoking, conversation.

Besides, its not often we get to voice our concerns, or yes, even to just complain. We aren't allowed our say at BoS meetings, so its nice to voice our concerns without fear of being gaveled (spelling?) down....unless Gladys has a gavel we don't know about yet.

As far as the STM is concerned, a poor showing and yes, but when was the last time the town meeting had to be rescheduled because no enough people showed up? I don't think that says apathy. I think that is the people saying why would we waste our time with a political system that does not work for us?

I think people are on the right track. Maybe no one should show up next Monday night, either. Maybe we should boycott the meetings until the media gets ahold of this story, and then the citizens can make it clear to all concerned, we won't participate with an incompetant government. Maybe this is the only way we are going to get a message to the board.

Or maybe we should all just go to the meeting, and hope that someday, paying attention will be enough to bring about change.

I don't have the magic answer, but I think we have another opportunity here, and we shouldn't let it go by without taking advantage of it.

Kudos again, Gladys. Thank goodness you're here for us.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Dear Anon. 12:15,

I'm sorry if you think my blog, which is being written in Bridgewater and is focused on a casino is somehow responsible for a lackluster showing at a town meeting in Middleboro which had nothing to do about a casino. You give me to much credit.

and 12:45,

Once again, I am from Bridgewater and have no idea who is married to who on which committee nor whose second cousin twice removed voted to paint the Town Hall brown and teaches second grade at the Nichols school.

I just know that there was a Mr. Cederholm on the CRAC committee because I attended many of the early meetings, and that his, not his wife's, specialty was traffic and that he and the other two gentlemen I mention didn't personally drop a casino on Middleboro then disappear into the night only to slink back over a year later.

I hardly think this makes me somehow responsible for problems within the Middleboro school system. Once again, too much credit!

Anon. 8:59,

I do own a gavel - but it's covered in soft fuzzy pink faux fur with my name bedazzeled in rhinestones on the handle. Thanks! ;~)


Anonymous said...

Very interesting idea, boycott the Annual Town Meeting. Well, it's a change, maybe the kind of reverse thinking that is needed. This person might have hit on someting very different and unique and more importantly, media coverage!! How embarrassing for the BOS. We tried it the other way, involvement, involvemnet. Is it working NO. Let's do it!! What's the harm, nothing gets voted on, no money spent, we can "hold" up the stystem!!
That's it, I'm not going to the next one, and I'm talking to my friends & neighbors. NOW WE'LL BE NOTICED AND HEARD!! It's worth a shot, all this yapping about community involvement, sorry it's not working and hasn't for a long time, (in this town). Of course when money for dept's are an issue everyone of the town employees/dept.'s show up, (and with their families and friends), to vote, but that happens no matter how many other residents will show up. I still think this is a new way to go!! We need our reasons for not going, advertised!
Let's hit all bloggers web sites! Letters to the editor????

Anonymous said...

Vegas Val is off her meds again and ranting. Looks like Adam needs to apply the muzzle again. Adam, you seem to have a problem with this and it sure doesn't help your future.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:33AM, you already proved how successful boycotting town govt was. You got a casino to prove it. You sure showed them!

Anonymous said...

anon Oct22 7:33AM
As for, good for her and her readership.
Did nemasket have a sex change operation? If so, why the facial hair?

Gladys Kravitz said...

Dear Anon. 11:22,

Actually, no one got a casino. And no one will.

And Anon. 7:47,

Obviously Anon. 7:33 confused Middleboro Review with - two web sites devoted to Middleboro issues -which is the important thing, don't you think - not the two different people behind them. Go have some chamomille tea and relax.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Gladys.

I did confuse and Middleboro Review. No big deal really. I apolgize to both of them; I meant no offense.

And we didn't "get a casino" because we boycotted our local government. We were threatened with a casino because our BoS met with the tribe in private in order to ensure that the casino would be a done deal, which can only happen when there is little or no public resisitance.

Thank goodness we were smarter than that.

Anonymous said...

anon 3:32PM,
You got the government you deserved because you weren't watching and you weren't participating.
There was so much other stuff that Jack Healey and Wayne Perkins did in this town that would have and could have been stopped that would have made more money available for the schools and put the town in a better position.
The casino would have been a non-issue if more had been paying attention. And we need you now to continue to be involved and watching.