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

Neighbors reject Taunton casino plan by 2-1 margin

As you may have heard, Taunton voters overwhelmingly approved a tribal casino in a nonbinding referendum on Saturday. But that’s not even close to the whole story.

Residents who live closest to the proposed casino voted even more overwhelmingly against it. According to Cape Cod Times reporter George Brennan, the city voted  7,693 in favor and 4,571 opposed — but “in the two East Taunton precincts where the Mashpee Wampanoag casino is planned, voters rejected it by nearly a 2-1 margin.”

In the Taunton Gazette, reporter Christopher Nichols posts the numbers:

Ward 4 — which contains most of East Taunton — voted against the casino proposal with 755 in favor and 1,332 opposed. Voters closest to the proposed casino site in Ward 4 Precinct B voted against the proposal, 678-350.

Yet, with regard to Boston’s two daily newspapers, we’re already seeing a repeat of 2007. That’s when the big news was that Middleborough had voted in favor of a deal the selectmen had cut with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to build a casino in that town (big news!), and then turned around and took a decisive but nonbinding vote against the casino itself (shhhh … pay no attention).

The proposed Middleborough casino eventually fell apart, but town officials are still hoping there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Alice Elwell of the Brockton Enterprise has the latest.

So what happened with the Taunton vote? On Sunday, the Globe’s Mark Arsenault reported on Taunton’s vote in favor of the casino — but made no mention of the results in East Taunton. The Herald did better, publishing Brennan’s Cape Cod Times story (Herald publisher Pat Purcell runs several of Rupert Murdoch’s regional papers, including the Times). But today, the Herald offers a follow-up by Chris Cassidy and Laurel Sweet that omits the vote of the opposition in East Taunton.

Arsenault, in his Globe story, closes by noting that Taunton is a long way from actually hosting a tribal casino. Because of a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Carcieri v. Salazar, the Mashpee won’t be able to build a tribal casino in Taunton without an act of Congress. Good luck with that.

The Taunton vote demonstrates, once again, that no one wants to live next to a casino. Nor should they have to.

A final casino note: Former Boston mayor Ray Flynn turned out on Saturday to lend his support to East Boston residents opposed to a casino that’s been proposed for Suffolk Downs.

Given that the East Boston plan is already being portrayed as a done deal, it will be pretty interesting to see how a battle between Boston’s former and current mayors (Tom Menino supports the proposal) will play out.

Photo (cc) by s_falkow and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.


Running along the Salem Beverly Waterway Canal


The Newseum caves in on reporters’ access


  1. Steven Underwood

    I am not currently in this part of the state and do not have an opinion one way or another on this specific proposal.

    However, in reading this article, it would appear the opinion is that certain votes should count for more than others do? NIMBY reactions will always cause those most affected to not want it near them. That is why there is a town wide vote, so that what the majority in the town decides can be acted upon. If it can be shown that it is not in the best interest of the town as a whole, and the vote still goes against you, then your side was not very persuasive in their arguments.

    Neighbors will usually have other ways to fight proposals like zoning regulations, etc.

    My neighborhood has a trash transfer business nearby and they wanted to start processing hazardous waste on site. We had federal EPA regulation on our side to squash that proposal.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steven: The proper term for casinos is NIABY: Not in Anyone’s Back Yard. Not a matter of building it here instead of there. We don’t need casinos, period. We have to get rid of our trash, but we don’t have to enable casino gambling.

  2. Neil Sagan

    “(Herald publisher Pat Purcell runs several of Rupert Murdoch’s regional papers, including the Times).”

    Which papers in New England are Rupert Murdoch owned, and which ones does Pat Purcell run?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Neil: Pretty sure it’s just the Cape Cod Times and the New Bedford Standard-Times. Here’s what was announced when he was hired. I guess that would include the weekly Middleboro Gazette, too.

  3. C. E. Stead

    DK – I knew it was also the Barnstable Patriot, but I went to look when I saw it was 15 papers – here’s a link. (Not sure about the Nantucket paper – think that was sold recently?)

    What strikes me is that pretty much ALL the local news outlets in the surrounding towns are ‘supervised’ by the Herald. Wonder if that is reflected in local coverage?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @C.E.: Yes. Meant to say Cape Cod and New Bedford are the only dailies in Massachusetts. There are a bunch of weeklies, too. Weird that Murdoch has held onto them.

  4. C. E. Stead

    DK – Barnstable County is the third ‘oldest’ county in the nation, second only to two in FL. The median age in Bristol is higher than much of the rest of the state as well.

    Old people buy and read newspapers. Uncle Rupert doesn’t miss many tricks.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @C.E.: Don’t give him too much credit. These papers were forgotten parts of Dow Jones, and he just sort of inherited them. He tried to sell a few years ago, and no one wanted them — at least not at the price he was charging. Put all of Murdoch’s community papers together, and their annual earnings probably equal a minute’s worth of profit on “American Idol.”

  5. James Harvey

    Dan, though NIABY is your opinion of casinos, that’s clearly not how the majority of Taunton voters feel.

  6. Mike Rice

    Casinos are built on losers how nice, although casinos do offer one stop shopping so to speak – eat, drink, lose your shirt along with taking home a STD for those who are prone to messing around. Sweet.

  7. Joseph Rice

    While there may certainly be a NIMBY aspect here, it is a situation where those closest suffer most, yet even those on the far side also benefit from the (presumed) financial benefits without any inconvenience.

    So how about this: Adjust the tax assessments according to proximity; the closer your residence is to the casino, the less you pay in property taxes.

    This would also provide an incentive for those in favor of the casino to move even closer to it.

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