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 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.