Are casino odds slipping?
The state’s casino law, though not even three years old, is starting to look a little like an old sweater. Start pulling at that loose thread and it’s not clear where the unraveling will stop.
The latest one doing the tugging is Marty Walsh. Boston’s freshly-minted new mayor is holding up the awarding of the Eastern Massachusetts casino license — and apparently annoying gambling commission chairman Steve Crosby in the process — by declaring that Boston should be considered a “host community” for the proposed casinos in Revere and Everett, both of which would sit right at Boston’s doorstep. Walsh’s move has prompted the commission to push back the scheduled June designation of a casino licensee by at least a couple of months.
Walsh has based his move on something of a legal loophole: Lawyers for the city maintain that the casino law does not actually empower the casino commission to determine “host community” status and so Boston, they say, has the right to unilaterally give itself that designation based on the tremendous impacts a Revere or Everett casino would have on Boston street traffic and the reliance of the projects on the city’s airport, rail station, tunnels, and other transportation infrastructure. If Boston wins the argument, it could lead to ballot questions on a casino in the city neighborhood adjacent to the casino site (Charlestown in the case of the Everett proposal; East Boston for the Revere scheme). East Boston already voted down a casino once, and many think Charlestown residents would do the same.
Regardless of the legal outcome, Walsh has exposed an inconvenient truth: There is something absurdly arbitrary about the idea that a casino perched right on the border of those cities and Boston would have an inordinately greater impact on Everett and Revere than on the neighboring sections or Boston or, for that matter, areas of Cambridge or Somerville or other nearby communities.
Writing in Sunday’s Globe (and this gets to the further pulling on the sweater thread), Tom Keane says that Walsh’s argument leads directly to the bigger question that some casino opponents are now trying to pose: Since casinos will, in fact, affect the entire state in one way or another, shouldn’t everyone get to have a say in such a momentous decision?
If the repeal question makes it to the ballot, casino opponents will be underdogs in the face of the millions that casino honchos will pour into a campaign to keep their gambling palaces afloat. But with a recent WBUR/MassINC Polling Group survey showing a striking drop in statewide support for casinos, the odds against repeal are not nearly as long as those facing the busloads of seniors who arrive at casinos every day ready to squander a chunk of a Social Security check on a jackpot dream.
Bridgewater State Hospital , which has vowed over the last decade to reduce its use of restraints and isolation restrictions for mentally ill patients, has actually increased both in recent years, the Globe reported yesterday.
Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera faces one of the first major challenges of his administration. As he attempts to consolidate city agencies in leased space, the city is being sued by the Lawrence School Department’s landlord who is accusing the mayor of orchestrating a “bag job” with the leasing process, the Eagle-Tribune reports. CommonWealth reported on the school department landlord, Carmine DiAdamo, and his brewing fight with the city early last month.
Pittsfield needs to reconsider its Proposition 2-½ levy limit in order to create a stabilization fund.
A Springfield nightclub owner takes exception to Mayor Domenic Sarno’s complaints about rising street violence.
Boston’s pursuit of host community status is delaying the award of a casino license in eastern Massachusetts and putting the state budget in a hole, the Associated Press reports.
Mohegan Sun’s Connecticut casino may be losing some ground to competitors, but the tribe isn’t feeling the pinch because of its expansion into other states, the Associated Press reports.
President Obama is preparing to sign an executive order requiring government contractors to turn over information breaking down by race and gender how much pay employees are receiving, NPR reports.
New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait looks at the racial politics surrounding the Obama presidency.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel banters with The New Republic.
Snohomish County officials in Washington state apparently knew that the hillside in Oso where the massive mudslide occurred was unstable. They considered buying out property owners but did not and allowed new homes to be built.
The New York Times rounds up cities’ (long-shot) efforts to reduce income inequality.
Democratic governors are largely cool to legalizing marijuana.
A presidential campaign by former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who says he’ll make his decision by the end of the year, would force US Sen. Marco Rubio to either defer his own run or go up against his political mentor. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has the Democratic field on ice.
Kimberly Atkins argues that Charlie Baker‘s biggest hurdle will be overcoming his own party — something he has Mitt Romney to thank for.
More venture capital deals were struck last year for firms growing in Boston than Cambridge.
Keller@Large makes a rather tortured argument in defense of David Ortiz’s selfie with President Obama that the White House is the biggest exploiter of the president’s image.
A state regulation requiring Marion officials to sign a regulatory agreement for a Habitat for Humanity home is complicating the project after selectmen refused to sign the agreement.
Saugus expects to spend $50,000 this school year transporting students of homeless families living in area hotels. The students can either attend Saugus schools or schools in their district or origin, the Item reports.
Massachusetts school districts are giving a trial run to a new assessment test that is given online and that could replace the MCAS.
Brockton officials are seeking to cash in on being a host community to the approved medical marijuana dispensary in the city.
With heroin overdoses on the rise, Boston may close the city’s only public methadone clinic, shifting responsibility to private providers for dispensing the drug used to treat opiate addiction.
Marriage is heart-healthy, apparently, as a new study shows both married men and women are less likely to suffer heart or blood vessel problems than single, divorced, or widowed people.
Business is blooming for a Sandwich business owner who sells marijuana seeds to people who want to grow their own for medical purposes.
Boston’s Hubway bike sharing program is profitable and expanding — more than can be said for similar programs in some cities.
Worcester expects to save $600,000 over three years on its electricity bills by signing a contract with a New Jersey energy company, the Telegram & Gazette reports.
A bill before the House would accelerate repairs of the state’s 21,000 miles of aging underground gas lines and set uniform standards for materials and replacements.
The Cape Cod Times applauds the effort to reduce plastic bag usage in the region.
Jail has apparently not kept Jared Remy from further trouble, as the accused killer now faces an assault charge in connection with an incident at the Middlesex County Jail in Cambridge where he is being held.
Whitey Bulger is trying to help an inmate who has served more than 32 years for murder he says he didn’t commit.
Ezra Klein offers up a fascinating essay on why politics makes us stupid. The New York Times examines the wonderful content management system at Vox, where Klein now works. New York explains the explainer-heavy Vox.PASSINGS
Mickey Rooney is dead at 93.