By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Put those shovels down

The most complete story on what comes next for Middleborough is this one, which appears in the Cape Cod Times and The Standard-Times of New Bedford. Obviously there’s a long way to go before anyone breaks ground on a casino. Reporters Curt Brown and Don Cuddy write:

Despite the overwhelming vote in favor of a casino, [casino opponent Richard] Young said he feels the public expressed its true sentiments Saturday when it rejected a nonbinding question to approve casino gambling in town.

But only about half the voters were still at town meeting when the nonbinding question was decided.

True, but as I have already explained, that doesn’t negate the validity of the question. And half of nearly 4,000 is still a huge turnout for a town meeting. Sabutai comes through again in a comment on Blue Mass Group, placing in their proper perspective the “yes” vote on Article 2, to approve the agreement with the Wampanoags, and the “no” vote on Article 3, to reject the casino itself (bolds are his):

I realize there is an interest in spinning the votes on 2 and 3 to undercut questioning of the result. The media has embraced the spin of the town officials and the pro-casino side. Fact is, having some 1,500 people vote on a question is probably the second-highest total in Middleborough history. Given that the third article pre-dated the second and was submitted by petition, it’s interesting that it was relegated to “garbage time”. Again, the interests of the Tribe came before the interests of the citizen of Middleboro. I’m not expecting that the votes wouldn’t be close on those two articles considering how the town was divided, but they should at least be consistent. The fact that the votes were not indicated the failure of this meeting.

Speaking of spin embraced by the media, the Globe today still can’t bring itself to mention the “no” vote on Article 3. What is going on over there?

Finally, here is what, the anti-casino group, is saying about Saturday’s vote:

Middleboro says “Yes” and “No”

The article to enter into an agreement with with Tribe passed. The article about whether or not people wanted a casino did not pass. I think this is very telling on the effect of “vote yes or else”.

So Middleboro said “Yes” to an agreement(or else) and “No” to wanting a casino.

Now that the vote is over, we’ll be taking a few weeks to catch up on work, home, family and decide what the next steps will be.

I’m not going to stop posting on this, but I am going to turn it down to a slow simmer, and keep watching as the story unfolds.

Hilarious. A Media Nation reader passes along this e-mail from Stephen, a downtown lawyer: “So when is Middleboro going to change its name to John Kerry Ville? (We voted for the casino before we voted against it.)”

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  1. Anonymous

    Dan, My guess–and it’s just a guess–is that any reporter that looks at a town meeting article that is stamped “non-binding” and it slides way down that old inverted pyramid. However–and this is perhaps your point–the legislature may actually be paying more attention to the non-binding vote as a gauge of where its constituents stand. It happens a lot–petitions for special acts in small towns, forming municipal watershed districts, etc.–if the legislature doesn’t see solid backing from the town, it won’t sponsor a bill. Interesting issue to follow, though. Keep up the good work.

  2. Peter Porcupine

    Dan – if Q. 3 was made Q. 57, I could agree about the charactreization as ‘garbage time’. But really – #3 on a 3 article warrant? What SHOULD they have done, made it #1?People left because they knew it wasn’t binding. Take a look at the votes on town meeting warrants for impeaching Bush, or disobeying the Patriot Act. People start walking out to the parkig lot so they don’t have to wait for the traffic on those, too. A while ago, I read an article about how these goofy non-binging resolutions were just cheapening the fabric of town meeting, and causing confustion. It appears that chicken has come home to roost.

  3. Rich

    Your narrow-minded devotion to a pet cause is again preventing you from thinking.Your “conclusion” is bogus in the extreme, and if you spent 30 seconds thinking about it, you’d realize it. But apparently you’re unable to get past your bias about this whole thing to be able to accomplish that simple task.Your “conclusion” only holds if the people who left after the binding vote and before the non-binding vote were representative of voters overall. If, however, people in favor of a casino left after the binding vote was taken, then, no, you can’t necessarily hold up the non-binding results as some shining example of The True Will of The People(tm).

  4. man who's normally a wbur fan

    Dan – it’s not just the Globe, WBUR is guilty of it, too. I heard no mention of the “no to casinos in general” vote during the newscasts this morning, although I did hear about the “yes to this casino deal” vote.I was listening in the shower, admittedly…so it’s entirely possible I missed some part of the story, but I don’t think I did.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Rich: Do you think they should have just canceled Article 3? Said “the hell with it” and moved on? It was a valid advisory question properly voted on by the second-largest turnout in the history of Middleborough town meetings.I would love to see a poll of how many people supported the agreement as the best deal the town can get, but would still like to see the casino killed. There’s been a lot of anecdotal evidence to that effect, some of presented here.

  6. Rick in Duxbury

    At the risk of over-thinking this one, might the Globe have been more interested in protection of possible funding for their prodigious social agenda than in sensitivity to the good folks of Middleboro? (Unless they actually don’t read this blog. Highly unlikely.)

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Rick: I think you’re being paranoid, but let’s pretend for a moment that your paranoia is warranted. I think anyone who wants maximum tax income for the state is going to try to kill the Middleborough casino in order to help the state-run casino being promoted by Tim Cahill, and which Deval Patrick may very well endorse.

  8. Gladys Kravitz

    Hi Dan, I just found your blog today. I also grew up in Middleboro and now live just down the road. My blog is:www.gladyskravitz.blogspot.comIf nothing else, for all your hard work, please treat yourself to the blog entitled: Dogstock.Luv,Gladys

  9. Anonymous

    A side note: Why do some papers call it “Middleboro.” Isn’t it “Middleborough.” OK, that’s shorter for headline purposes, but it makes them appear cluefree. (Like “Foxboro.”)I know, it is complicated: It’s Attleboro and North Attleborough. But let’s try to get the facts right.

  10. Amusedbutinformedobserver

    The importance of the second Middleborough vote comes down to a simple matter of whether the town may ban casino gambling within its borders, or whether the licensing of casinos is purely a matter of satisfying state law. If the municipality doesn’t have or acquire the authority to grant or deny gaming licenses, then this Article 3 vote is irrelevant as well as non-binding.The next frontier would seem to be land-use, getting the changes to zoning by-laws, variances and special permits that would allow actual construction and such usually mundane areas in which the town does have control, such as granting of a common vitulator’s and liquor licenses. The enforceability of the provision of the intergovernmental agreement in which the town agrees to work with the tribe to obtain permits is another great unknown, since I doubt the Town Meeting doesn’t have the authority to order the granting of a liquor license, a common vitulator’s license, or a license to sell milk. The ability to enforce the agreement from the Wampanoag point of view may be simply the right to not make payments if it doesn’t get its permits; the tribe would seem to face a tough task finding a judge to order specific performance of the agreement if the political landscape changes enough so that the town’s limited authority to grant operating permits and its broad authority over land use issues throw a roadblock in the way of a casino.Looks like more political battles to come, especially in elections for selectmen and planning board and in appointments to such things as the zoning board of appeals. This one is far from over.

  11. Anonymous

    Amused, be informed that the archaic word in question is “victualer”, probably hanging in your favorite coffee shop.

  12. Local Editor

    Amused observer,I don’t think permitting is an issue. Once the property is put in trust as tribal land, the Wampanoags can pretty much do whatever they want. They aren’t subject to state or local law.Dan, I don’t think you can have Cahill’s casino and not the Indian casino. I’m pretty sure the Wampanoags are allowed to provide whatever sort of gaming the state allows.

  13. Dan Kennedy

    Local Editor: You don’t think Cahill and Patrick could squeeze the Middleborough casino to death? You may find out otherwise.

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