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

A $2 million reward (II)

The Globe reports that the Mashpee Wampanoags have acquired an option to purchase another 205 acres in order to build a casino in Middleborough.

Not to pick on Christine Wallgren, who’s done some good work on this story. But telling us that the sellers are “the Gates family” tells us nothing. As previously reported by the Enterprise of Brockton, we’re talking about Middleborough Police Lt. Bruce Gates and his two siblings, and they stand to make as much as $2 million from the land deal.

Bruce Gates was in charge of security at that fiasco of a town meeting where voters approved a deal with the Wampanoags, then turned around and rejected the casino itself. The latter vote is non-binding, but it’s a good indication of how townspeople really feel.

Gates has said he got nowhere near a ballot box that day, and I believe him. But it was his police who reportedly barred anti-casino pamphlets from the meeting while allowing casino supporters to enter wearing pro-casino T-shirts and caps.

The Enterprise promises more tomorrow.

Wednesday morning update: Wallgren gets it right in today’s Globe, and notes that the secretary of state’s office is reviewing complaints filed about Gates’ alleged conflict of interest.

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  1. Anonymous

    DanI am sure you will correct me ( keep in mind I like you as a person but dont like your political sway) and i read all your stuff on the original vote ( albeit quickly and while drinking wine) the 1st vote in middleboro had more people? right? the second vote was taken after people left. Do i have this backwards, to me the forst vote is the true indication of how people felt ( more people increase the statistical significance and powers the data to show a true difference) the second vote had less people, meaning less statistical power, where do i have this wrong? thanks for a great blog, where else would i go with my right wing neo con rantings!

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 10:08: The two articles were about two different things. The first was only on the deal. Town officials told voters over and over that they should vote “yes” on the deal whether they supported the casino or not because there was no way of stopping it. Naturally, people voted yes.The second article was an advisory question on whether people want a casino at all. They voted no.It’s true that more people voted on the first question than the second. However, the second question drew the second-largest number of votes in the history of Middleborough’s town meeting. And, as I said, it was a different question and a different issue.Both votes are absolutely valid. Your comments about statistical significance are irrelevant, because these were not opinion polls — they were actual, official votes.

  3. O-FISH-L

    Sadly, your post and its headline [A $2 million reward (II)] would be unfit for even the sleaziest of tabloids. A police officer never ceases to be a citizen. There is no vow of poverty in the police oath. Cops have all of the same rights as you and me, including the right to buy property and later sell it for a profit. For non-cops who do this, there is widespread admiration, how-to books and even a popular TV show, “Flip this House”. Yet when a small-town cop has owned a one-third stake in a piece of land since 1992, and 15 years later Wampanoags come along and want to buy it, there is nothing but ridicule and suspicion aimed at the otherwise lucky police officer. Why? Because by virtue of his rank, he technically supervised other detail officers who allowed pro-casino forces to wear pro-casino clothing but refused to allow anti-casino folks to pass out flyers. Is that all you have on Lt. Gates, Dan? No police guns to the head of Wampanoags or voters? No embezzlement? No extorion? No threats? Nowhere near the ballot boxes? Only the mere failure of other cops to tell some folks to take off their clothing? Please. There’s apparent indifference on this from the State Ethics Commission which investigates public employee conflicts of interest, and from the US Atty’s Office which investigates police corrution. Even the Globe takes a pass on casting aspersions on the officer, but still Media Nation is all agog. 315 years and 55 miles from the Salem witch trials to the proposed Indian casino at Middleboro, yet in some ways so eerily close.

  4. Chris

    I would like to give ALL the voters credit for actually thinking with their own minds, and if one was for the deal, it seems quite plausible that they voted yes and didn’t bother to continue to endure the hot humid weather to vote on a non binding issue. If one was against the deal, they would most likely stay and voice their opinion in non binding vote after being defeated on the binding one, just so their voices could be heard.Maybe if you gave ALL the voters credit for thinking on their own, you might see this too.

  5. Marc

    Thanks for keeping the Globe on their toes! My name is Marc Larocque and I really enjoy your writing. You seem like a really good guy. (You’re response was endearing to a simple “How ya’ doin?”). I’m a work-study in the School of Journalism and hope to have you as a teacher someday.I hope you don’t judge my journalism style by this message or it’s flagrant flattery. But thanks anyway!

  6. Anonymous

    o-fish, if “that’s all Dan has” on Mr. Gates actions on that day, that’s enough for an investigation by the State Ethics Commission. “…municipal employees may not act in their official position on any matter affecting the financial interest of themselves, their family or their businesses.” See this link: is also the appearance of a conflict of interest, also illegal.

  7. Anonymous

    Oafish, was that supposed to be parody, or are you really a precocious 9th grader? The Salem tie -in was hilarious!

  8. Local Editor

    Dan,Chris Wallgren’s article in today’s paper does explain who Gates is and his conflict of interest.

  9. Anonymous

    Ok, Dan, let’s admit that the chattering class will have little effect on whether or not Mass will have a casino. It will.The bigger problem, ie costlier and more delaying obstacle is the many adjoining towns that are demanding a say (or really, a piece of the cake)This an uphill battle against a well-financed efort with billions at stake (think of all the PAC contributions and local races) a ton of Historical baggage and Federal statutes. Either this deal is done maturely, or it is done with less input from the state and towns affected.So do you want a casino plus the money or you want a casino withOUT the money?Either way, you will owe the Chief an ap..a retraction. Police chief that is.N.PS: Allow me to update on a story you did a while back.Ahhhh…those wholesome sincere people that get so much postive press and the beautiful people that patronize them! Shop away! “Competition Stinks” Let’s play a bit of word association: (walmart, whole, foods, sheep, wolf, clothing) Emphasize SHEEP. Who knows maybe by the end of the day, we’ll end up with some great insider SECrets posted.

  10. O-FISH-L

    Anon 9:04 AM: You help make my point. “Municipal officials may not ‘act’ in their official position on any matter affecting the financial interest of themselves, their family or their businesses.” Is there any evidence that Lt. Gates performed any “act” on the matter? It was town meeting, NOT the police department who acted. It’s more than a quantum leap to say that by obeying a lawful order from his superiors [who knew he had a stake in nearby land] to help supervise police protection for all at town meeting, that he thereby used his official position to “act on” a matter affecting his financial interest. Especially when all of the available evidence suggests that the Lt. did nothing to influence the vote, but in fact tried to stay out of the way. —-Anon 9:55 AM: Grab a mirror. The freshman is easily identified as the one who resorts to name calling. As for the comparison to the witch trials, when opinion leaders stoke hysteria without any tangible evidence of wrongdoing, the results are usually regrettable. ‘Tis all.—-local editor 10:06 AM: Not to split hairs, but Christine Wallgren DOESN’T explain Lt. Gates’ conflict of interest, she merely explains what anti-casino forces hope is one and what town officials say isn’t one. In other words, Wallgren makes no determination. She simply reports that anti-casino forces, unable to win the key vote, degrade it as tainted. A-K-A:sour grapes*noun pluralEtymology: from the fable ascribed to Aesop of the fox who after finding himself unable to reach some grapes he had desired disparaged them as sour.*source: Merriam-Webster

  11. Anonymous

    Dan, as you were not AT the town meeting you really ought not repeatedly call it a “fiasco” and so forth. dozens of reporters were there and cameras were aplenty. pls offer substantiated proof of irregularities or make it clear that you are opining based on secondhand info bec. of your vested interests.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 7:08: There are many reasons the town meeting was a fiasco, all of which I’ve pointed out previously. The meeting never should have been held on a brutally hot day in the middle of the summer, thus keeping away the elderly and the sick. Children should not have been banned, thus keeping parents away. For that matter, the meeting shouldn’t have been held at all — it should have been a special election, giving folks all day to make it to the polls. Shall I go on?It was a fiasco on many levels.

  13. Dan Kennedy

    Oh, and one more thing. What “vested interests” do I have? Do explain.

  14. Anonymous

    This is Anon 9:04 and we’ll see where this investigation leads, o-fish-l. Remember “appearance” is also a problem.

  15. Steve

    I discussed the ballot vs town meeting issue with a former selectman of my town recently. He didn’t know for certain, but he thought state law might *require* a town meeting for this issue rather than a special election. Or perhaps that the town bylaws required one over the other.Does anyone know for certain?

  16. Dan Kennedy

    Steve: Frankly, it’s possible that the former selectman is right. But there was certainly no requirement that the meeting be held under the conditions that prevailed in Middleborough.

  17. Peter Porcupine

    Dan – in most open town meeting towns it is town meeting and not the board of selectmen who are the Ultimate Financial Authority. This is why you often see override votes being disregarded – even if they pass at the polls – because the vote failed at town meeting. Another example is collective bargaining – selectmen/manager can bargain with the police and fire unions, and reach an agreed upon compromise and contract. BUT – that contract must be ratified by town meeting, and if THEY vote it down, the negotiation and contract are nullified and negotiations must begin again. The selectmen have no authority to bind the town without town meeting approval, unless town meeting has specifically voted tham that power. Some boards cannot even acept gifts, but must wait for town meeting ratification to accept.In most (really, I think all) towns, the selectmen cannot call an election or place a matter on the ballot WITHOUT town meeting giving them the OK first.As far as meteorological argument goes – it if was in the winter, then the snow, ice and darkness would have been the complaint. A town meeting MUST be posted 45 days in advance – who could know if the were going to be hot, or in the 70’s like today?I’m STILL waiting for some bright reporter to call Middleboro Town Hall and ask if the people quoted kvetching about how they couldn’t attend the special town meeting in the Globe had actually attended the regular annual town meeting in the spring – those attendance sheets are public record.

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