Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Casinos: A Real Winning Idea

Of course, it's a winning idea if you want to sack a trio of Selectmen.

MIDDLEBOROUGH -- An effort to recall three Middleborough selectmen has taken off in recent days, fueled by outrage over plans to bring a casino to town and over other financial controversies.Jessie Powell, the organizer of the recall drive, said she has collected more than 1,200 voter signatures to force a recall election in September aimed at three selectmen -- Chairwoman Marsha Brunelle, and Selectmen Wayne Perkins and Steven Spataro.

The stated reason for the recall is "fiscal mismanagement," but Powell says voter anxiety over a casino proposed in the town by the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian tribe has increased support for her signature drive. A draft agreement between the town and the tribe calling for a $1 billion casino stunned many here when it became public this month. It would be the first casino in the state.

1,200 signatures in a town of less than 20,000! There have probably been elections in Middleborough with less voters. Let's hope politicians around the state take notice, too - that's a lot of angry constituents. Maybe all these casinos aren't quite the panacea they were cracked up to be, after all?

Here's the bottom line: If Massachusetts either accepts the Middleborough plan or allows Cahill's plan, we're in for a boat load of fun - and I'm not talking about Lynn's Horizon's Edge (trust me, you want to click on that link - and turn the volume up). So, if these things pass, be sure to have fun at the corny casino near you. Best of all, you won't have to drive very far.


joe said...

Living in Middleboro, allow me to share some facts that aren't really brought up.

Middleboro had a 2 million dollar budget recall, they plan on laying off a lot of teachers, and they have an unmanned fire station where 495 and 44 meet at a rotary because they couldn't afford firefighters.

Frankly, the town needs the money. However, I'm with the people who want to hold out for 20-30 million a year rather than 10. I think the casino could afford it.

Ryan Adams said...

Joe, my town has a 1.8 million dollar deficit this year, so I'm right with you on "needing the money." However, as has been indicated, casinos don't really make state/town/whatever any money at all. In exchange for the casino, a lot (if not most) of your restaurants and points of interest will go under - same with a lot of the ones in the area. If they go under, so does the taxes they pay toward the state. Suddenly, the state has less income to give out to towns for aid.

NJ, Penn, Conn and Georgia all thought adding casinos would be a panacea and solve most, if not all, budget woes. They were all in the same spot as Massachusetts.

If you want to fix your town's financial woes, we need to target the real problem: health care. DiMasi's health care plan - to turn over local plans to the state plans - would save your town hundreds of thousands a year. Obviously, that won't go far enough and I really only think a single-payer system could cure these costs. However, other measures can help too, like Deval's municipal partnership act (which would mean additional hundreds of thousands for Middleboro) as well as further restructing of state spending.

joe said...

Actually, part of the agreement with the Casino is they will pay local businesses for any money they lose as a result of the Casino moving in. I think if they strike the right deal with the Wamps, this could be the one to really help this town out.

Ryan Adams said...

How will they value the lost business?

Most businesses aren't actually worth very much, except for the livelihood they provide the owners and small employee base. If you judge value based on business value, it may not be much. If you judge it over the earnings that person would gain over the course of their lifetimes - and the value of the store - it would be worth quite a bit more.

Furthermore, who's deciding what the value is? Obviously, you can't trust the people who own the stores. You can't trust the casino either. So, are they going to open some sort of independent commission? And how would that be funded?

The reason I bring up these points is that if you really think the casino is going to give a damn about the local businesses, you're wrong. There are so many ways they can get out of it. Quite simply, the casino may be so big that they wouldn't even notice it - or the people crying foul.

Ryan Adams said...

One other thing to consider is the fact that far more than Middleboro is going to be effected. What about busineses and towns surrounding Middleboro?

That's why you can't look at this from within the context of your town. Maybe it would be a boon to you town, even, but is that okay if it destroys all the neighboring communities? Is it okay if it hurts all of Massachusetts, with the exception of your town?

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