Middleboro Rolls the Dice!
ATTRIBUTION: French proverb.
It has occurred to Porcupine that he has been doing some of his most spirited writing on the sites of others. That is certainly true as Porcupine participates in the fray over the Wampanoag casino which may be in Middleboro. Porcupine has followed this story since Federal recognition was finally granted, as Porcupine blogged HERE in March of 2006.
Tomorrow, Middleboro will hold an extraordinary Town Meeting – and Porcupine adores town meeting as the ultimate expression of participatory democracy. The very thought of a meeting expected to be so large – perhaps 10,000 interested registered voters – that it must be held out of doors on an athletic field to accommodate the throngs is his idea of hog heaven. As Porcupine is not a Middleboro voter, he cannot participate, but has been content to argue the pros and cons, especially on the blog of Dan Kennedy called Media Nation.
Mr. Kennedy is a journalism professor at Northeastern University, public television pundit and fellow Blogger. He is also a former Middleboro resident, and decries the advent of a casino in these terms.
“Think about it. The Lottery is going to take a terrible hit if casino gambling comes to Massachusetts (which is why Cahill wants the state to grab a piece of the action). Traffic will become a nightmare throughout the region, but the Wampanoags propose only to upgrade roads in Middleborough. And, of course, the low-paid casino workers who would move to the area will put a strain on school systems throughout the region, not just in Middleborough.This is a disaster in the making. As Sabutai writes at Blue Mass Group: "I'm not sure if I'm naive to hope that the state government would not greenlight a massive project within a town where the residents offered a resounding 'no', but I'd hope that a 'no' on Saturday will end the debate in this town at least. New Bedford and Boston would looooove a casino. Wouldn't you rather work with people who want you?".
Kennedy is not alone in his lamenting. Treasurer Tim Cahill recently announced that in his august opinion, the $11 per year that Middleboro would get from the tribe as remediation money wasn’t NEARLY enough, and HE should be helping to make sure these rubes aren’t taken in by gambling slicksters. Boston Mayor Menino thinks the casino should be in Boston, as everything else connected with money is – Porcupine is of the opinion that the Mayor merely wants to unload a slightly used Hynes Convention Center on the tribe as a PERFECT casino venue – no, really it is!
And of course, His Excellency Deval Patrick has announced somewhat archly that the Town shouldn’t get ahead of itself, as the ultimate decision will be HIS, and he hasn’t read all his ‘briefing papers’ yet. Of course, he is wrong, as the tribe could operate bingo parlors tomorrow with or without the Governor’s permission. No, Patrick sees his responsibility as ensuring that a maximum cut be taken by the State, nor some mere Podunk town.
As Porcupine replied to Mr. Kennedy on his blog, “I've been listening to the anti-Middleboro casino forces, and I'm underwhelmed. Cape Cod is a virtual Foxwoods adjunct, with bus coaches leaving daily from the various senior ceters to CT. Somehow, this has become an entertainment of choice for the Greatest Generation, and we are exporting funds by the wheelbarrow load to out of state.
In listening to (WRKO "Business" reporter from the Boston Glob) Steve Bailey and Tom Menino wail (to say nothing of former New Bedford Rep. George Rogers!), what is KILLING them is that this is a rural deal that the corridors of power cannot completely control in their back rooms. REAL people! On a FOOTBALL field! In broad DAYLIGHT! HOW declasse!
You said it yourself, Dan - Cahill has no moral objection to gambling (as we might, as fellow former Scout leaders) - no, his concern is that BOSTON doesn't get a big enough share!Why not New Beige or Boston? Because the casino would be established under the Federal Indian Gaming Law, which requires such a facility be within 50 miles of tribal lands. That's WHY Middleboro was chosen for land purchase - conincidently, the purchase of that land by the tribe was what settled all the lawsuits against the Town of Mashpee by the tribe for encroachment, which allowed for the development of New Seabury (wanna give THAT back?).
Which brings me to a final point - the PURPOSE of the Indian Gaming Act is RECOMPENSE for all the broken treaties and money which the US owes the Native Americans. THAT is why, as Bailey puts it, a 'mere 1,400 people' who belong to the tribe get this lucrative benefit. It's to pay them back for stealing Boston from them in the first place. ”
All the hand wringing over timeliness, all the assurances of superior expertise – really, what the Bacon Hill denizens are really worried about is that the tribe and the town may come to a mutually beneficial and amicable agreement without their intercession. And what kind of precedent would THAT be?