Boston Globe reporter Sean Murphy has a 7,000-word retrospective on the lessons of the proposed Middleborough casino in the forthcoming issue of CommonWealth Magazine.
The whole thing is worth reading, but to me, the best part comes near the end. Here is Murphy’s description of the July 28 town meeting at which an agreement negotiated by the selectmen with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe was put to a vote:
Moderator James Thomas kept the meeting under a tight rein. When the votes were counted, he announced that the casino agreement had passed, 2,387 to 1,335. A cheer went up. But there was a second item on the agenda, a nonbinding question to town residents. It asked a more basic question: Do you want a casino in Middleborough?
Thomas asked for a show of hands. Remarkably, the vote was overwhelming against a casino. Some chalked it up to proponents having left the football field after the binding vote on the selectmen’s casino deal was taken. What did they care once that deal had been validated? But others saw it as evidence that Middleborough residents really didn’t want a casino at all, but voted for the selectmen’s deal because, once the tribe and its bigfoot partners had scooped up the land, they felt painted into a corner.
Murphy closes with an anecdote about Ted Eayrs, a town assessor in Middleborough, who says he voted in favor of the agreement, but then turned around and voted “no” on the nonbinding question because, all things considered, he’d rather not see a casino come to town at all.
Indeed. Eayrs told me the same thing several months ago, saying he hoped the state would step in and kill the casino.
The second vote matters. I’m glad Murphy knows it, but I’d be even more glad if his newspaper would acknowledge it, too.
Disclosure #1: I write the “Mass.Media” feature for CommonWealth.
Disclosure #2: Just click here.