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

What’s next for the casino?

The attention this morning is right where Middleborough casino supporters want it: on Glenn Marshall. After all, the tribal leader is gone now, so learning that his long list of misdeeds also includes a cocaine conviction and falsely claiming to have been a police officer (as reported by the Boston Globe, which got the only interview) doesn’t really matter.

I do enjoy the Cape Cod Times’ reference to Marshall’s protean ethnicity (“He always talked about being Portuguese,” a high-school classmate tells George Brennan). But that’s tame stuff compared to a post written recently by the “Great Gladfly,” Peter Kenney, who spoke with Amelia Bingham, an 84-year-old elder in the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. Kenney, who says Marshall had an earlier incarnation as “a Cape Verdean activist,” wrote:

Bingham say she remembers Marshall when he was in school with her children, “He wasn’t an Indian then. He used to tease my kids and bully them because they were Wampanoags. He was a mean kid and he is a mean adult.”

Given that Marshall is no longer the issue, what’s next? In the Boston Herald, reporter Scott Van Voorhis gets at a key point that needs to be explored in the days ahead: Marshall’s role as a mere tool of the moneyed interests that are calling the shots. Van Voorhis only scratches a bit at the surface, but he’s picked the right place to scratch.

And here’s the best part: This is all tied up with Jack Abramoff, the superlobbyist now in prison, who dealt with Indian tribes on gaming matters across the country. Kenney wrote about it in January 2006, but was pretty much ignored at the time. It won’t be now. Even if the tie-in proves to be tenuous, it would behoove state officials to look very, very carefully at this.

A final observation. In reading the coverage since yesterday morning, I haven’t found one solitary reference in the mainstream media to Peter Kenney’s work. Is it really that difficult to credit a blogger? He had a good chunk of the story out there last Monday, and reporters are still working off his leads.

Yes, the media had to do their own reporting and verify everything. But it seems to me that Kenney is a crucial part of this story, and he should have gotten a mention.

Update: Good piece by David Kibbe in The Standard-Times on the political fallout.

Right now, casino supporters are insisting that Marshall’s implosion doesn’t matter, and opponents are hoping they’re wrong. I realize that predictions are cheap, but I think the casino plans are now going to crumble very quickly. We are going to learn more — much more — in the days and weeks to come.

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  1. Harry

    “Marshall’s role as a mere tool of the moneyed interests that are calling the shots…”It’s all about the money, Dan.A cigar store Indian like Marshall (with extensive help from high powered and well funded lobbyist, Jack Abramoff) runs the huge bureaucratic gauntlet to get his little band recognized as a sovereign nation by the Great White Father in Washington. You don’t suppose that gambling gaming interests also funded Jack, do you? Next the cigar store Indian uses his newly-granted sovereignty to go into partnership with Jack’s deep-pocketed backers. Then the partners massage local citizens (and media) and promise oodles of new government revenue that will enable them to achieve their burning ambition to lower taxes while doing good. Developers acknowledge that this enterprise will need careful regulation by the Commonwealth, with a “nudge nudge, wink wink” to Beacon Hill. Regulation means a new opportunity for patronage. Think Massport, think BCCA. And reluctant legislators are further seduced. All these benefits are promoted expertly with no downside mentioned except for a few gambling addicts, who would lose their money out of state anyway, and will have to be take care of regardless. The taboo subject of the obscene demographic makeup of gamblers is another outright lie. Casino patrons will mostly be well-to-do folks from the Boston suburbs out for an occasional night of fun. Who could oppose such a great plan? Only moral prudes like the Catholic bishops and a few wacko fundamentalists! Is that who you want to keep company with, Deval?Dan, you’re old enough to remember that when it was proposed the Massachusetts State lottery was going to fund vast improvements in higher education, right? Same story. Different day.

  2. Rick in Duxbury

    Dan,”protean ethnicity”! Another reason I love this blog, I always learn something. (It will be tough for me to slide that one into a conversation at Stop&Shop, however!)

  3. Anonymous

    Are not the journos ignoring bloggers in general and Kenney in particular just whistling past the graveyard? Better that they encourage a proven source than they feel threatened. Lack of collegiality bespeaks insecurity with one’s own capabilities. Won’t all this stuff just end up on the web anyhow, with immutable dates of posting?

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Media Nation friend Donna Halper tried to post this, and for some reason couldn’t get it to take. I post it as a favor to her. — DKSo here is another “teachable moment” and I hope Romanesko and others pick this conversation up and spread it nationally. Once again, we have somebody who lied about their resume being unmasked… but first, the so-called mainstream media unquestioningly ran the guy’sresume, and his now discredited assertions, for months.I was always taught “if your mother says she loves you, check it out.” That is, as I tell my students at Emerson, even if you personally like somebody or think you know all about them, it never hurts to fact-check some of their claims. There are people who have been exaggerating their credentials for years, and back in the old days, it was much harder to check. These days, there is no excuse (other than the fear of seeming like a curmudgeon). I’d rather be perceived as a curmudgeon and find out the truth, instead of being seen as yet another stenographer.The bloggers are reminding us that we used to do a lot more investigating, and that fact-checking used to be a lot more important. These days, we seem to want to be there FIRST, and I can understand that in our competitive universe. But how does it help our credibility if in being first, our reporting turns out to be inaccurate?I don’t wanna return this conversation to politics, but I have repeatedly seen people like Dick Cheney stop a reporter in his or her tracks just by accusing them of being un-patriotic or saying a certain question was “inappropriate”. I have seen various politicians, including the president, stop the discussion and not permit follow-up questions– do we need their permission to follow up???I’d especially like to see mainstream journalists doing more skeptical reporting of what the “official spokesperson” is saying. For days, many in the media accepted whatever Bob Murray said about the mining disaster in Utah, and again it was a blogger (Arianna Huffington) and our old friend Keith Olbermann, along with several progressive talk hosts, who tried to question Murray’s claims and noted his record of many safety violations. But in general, days went by without any serious questioniong of Murray’s statements. He was quote-worthy, and he was in a tough situation. So we waited. And we waited. And as a result, it took days for a more “nuanced” version of events to emerge. I’m not sure that’s a good thing necessarily.It might take a bit more time to do some investigating and it might not always be easy, nor would we be popular for asking seemingly nice people tough questions. But in the end, it would keep the public more informed, and offer them both sides of the issue. And isn’t that part of what journalists are supposed to be doing?

  5. Don (no longer) Fluffy

    So, that’s what’s wrong with the casinos around here — no scandal. I wonder if I’m an Indian. My high school was called the Indians, and it was on Iroquois Drive. Hmmm. The first time I went fishing it was on Potawatomee (unedited spelling) Bayou. Double hmmm. To quote an unreliable source, “Casinos suck.”

  6. Reuben from Plympton

    To the point Donna Halper is making, I’d dearly love to see some research on the position of Scott Ferson, who is generally referred to as “spokeperson for the tribe.”Today’s article in the Herald refers to Ferson as “spokesman for the investment group, Trading Cove Mashpee.” Sean Murphy writes in the Globe on 6/7 the “agreement between the Mohegan tribe and the Kerzner-Wolman group avoided the congressional limit on profits by fragmenting the business deal into components.”I wish I could source this, but I recall an article on Cape Cod Online earlier in the year probing Ferson’s connection with the tribe but he would not retail the nature of his contract–as in whether or not it was with the tribe, but admitted his paycheck came from the casino backers.Of course, we know Scott Ferson is a lobbyist for Liberty Square Group. He as worked for Ted Kennedy and was spokesman for the Tim Murray campaign, among others.I chafe whenever I see Ferson referred to as “spokesman for the tribe,” because in truth it seems he is spokesman for an investment group which the tribe is party to, and this is certainly not the same thing as speaking for the tribe.Amelia Bingham writes in a 5/24 posting on “As far as I know, Mr. Ferson has not discussed his interviews with the tribe, and he has not been a regular attendant at tribal meetings. In fact, the Tribal Council chairman does not feel that it is necessary for him to attend such meetings. My question is, what are his responsibilities to our tribe? So how is Scott Ferson recognized as the Mashpee Wampanoag spokesman? He was not nominated nor voted by our Tribal Council to be our legal spokesman. So who hired him?”When we read in the papers that we are purchasing land in Middleboro, knowing that we do not have funds for such a large investment, it is a surprise to us and embarrassing to see the picture of a totally strange man on the front page signing documents for purchase of land that we did not know about, claiming the purchase as approved by the tribe.”Mr. Ferson states that the tribe is negotiating with the selectmen and the town of Middleboro without our knowledge, obviously representing someone else and using our tribal name. Perhaps Mr. Strather and Glenn Marshall consider themselves as the tribe, and we don’t know it until we read about it in the papers.”Middleboro, your mother loves you dearly.

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