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

“Little time for debate”

The best description in the traditional media of the Middleborough town meeting that approved the casino-gambling deal appears in an editorial today in The Enterprise of Brockton. The whole thing is a must-read (linked moved; now fixed), but check this out:

This is a decision that will affect the state for generations. It will alter many lives, change the economy of the Bay State, create new issues and have many consequences. It is not a decision to be made lightly or hastily, so no one should hold Patrick to his previous promise to make a decision this week.

This rational approach is in sharp contrast to what has happened in Middleboro in recent months where residents reluctantly voted to support a casino, to be built by the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian tribe (or more accurately, their billionaire backers). There was little time for debate and reflection on how it would affect the town and the region, especially since there was always the subtle threat that if Middleboro didn’t make up its mind — and fast — the Indians would take their slot machines elsewhere.

To which I would add this: The “subtle threat” was not so much that the Indians would take their slot machines elsewhere, but that they would build them in Middleborough whether residents liked it or not. That’s why people were told to vote “yes” on the deal even if they opposed the casino itself. That’s why they turned right around after the first vote and voted “no” on an advisory question asking whether they wanted to see a casino built in town.

The editorial urges Gov. Deval Patrick to take his time on making a decision (apparently he needs no such urging), and concludes: “This may be the most important decision you ever make as governor. Don’t let anyone from any quarter put pressure on you. Do what is best for the long-term welfare of the people of Massachusetts.”

Look at what we’re dealing with now. A tribal chairman, Glenn Marshall, who left in disgrace. The entire tribal leadership facing a recall election. Three of Middleborough’s five selectmen facing a recall election. (The other two, including the chief casino enabler, Adam Bond, escaped only because they were elected too recently.) Two of the investors with dubious legal records. A mysterious meeting with the ethically challenged state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson.

Just walk away, governor. You don’t need this.

My standard disclosure.

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  1. Rick in Duxbury

    Today’s weekend WSJ includes an interview by Taranto with Congressman Bobby Jindal on the Katrina reconstruction and governing a state that is losing population. Interestingly, while Louisiana has long been known for corruption, they did pass some term limits legislation and some measures to (theoretically) slow down gambling influences. Without term limits and some of the political circuit breakers they have in LA, can you imagine what MA would be like with legalized casinos? How sad would it be if we ended looking to THEM as a model of probity?

  2. Anonymous

    Let’s continue the path we have been on in Massachusetts. We tax everyone and everything. Our night life shuts at 1AM. We cant afford school buses for kids in Randolph but at least they can go to the MFA or the Symphony! City kids would rather shoot each other than go to school. We have roadways and bridges that are falling apart. But at least we can tell visitors that we have Harvard and MIT. This state peddles lottery tickets at every street corner offerring games that are not fun or exciting, just give the state your money and watch it go away. Why would you want to change anything here in Massachusetts? Isnt it already perfect? The people that are leaving this state in droves just dont understand. Only if they visited the public gardens they would understand that Massachusetts has it all!( that is if you are a intellecutal snob). The Boston Globe and people like Dan know what is best for you. Having a drink after 2AM or seeing a show in a casino, hanging with friends, god forbid making some new friends is out of the question. There is so much more important business here in Mass to take care of. We need to focus on building new tolls and more high cost luxury condos. People have a right to have fun.We can control ourselves and dont need you to tell us what we can and cannot do. When you micro-mange things you get places like Boston where nothing ever gets done.

  3. bostonph

    Anon5:49 said… Let’s continue the path we have been on in Massachusetts. We tax everyone and everything. Not to ruin a Jacoby quality rant, but having just traveled through Michigan, Minnesota, and Illinois, we have lower sales and income tax then all three. Michigan and Illinois even tax clothing. And all three states have Casino gambling. If you want “freedom,” Minnesota even has concealed carry laws and regressive taxation. They were Gov. Pawlenty’s top priorities.

  4. Anonymous

    Opening a casino is the way to get things done?Also – casinos are not about having a drink, seeing a show, and having some fun (all of which you can already more or less do here). Casinos are about getting gambling addicts in the door and taking them for all they’re worth.

  5. Middleboro resident

    Dan,Thank you so much for speaking (writing) about this whole casino mess. Please keep writing. Hopefully, it will stop falling on deaf ears.Middleboro resident

  6. Don (no longer) Fluffy

    Why don’t we send General Custer in, and resolve the whole thing?

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