Gaming Commission, Walsh square off over writing style

Agency says city's lawsuit is too long and 'unintelligible'

THE MASSACHUSETTS GAMING COMMISSION and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh are scheduled to square off in court on Thursday on what is in many respects is a writing dispute.

The Gaming Commission is asking a judge to throw out a sprawling lawsuit filed by Boston because the city’s filing fails to make “a short and plain statement of the claim” as required by the rules that govern civil cases.

The commission’s attorneys say Walsh’s complaint is 153 pages long, comes with 84 exhibits running more than 3,700 pages, and weighs nearly 10 pounds. “It is a conglomeration of allegations made unintelligible by its volume, morass of irrelevancies, lack of clarity, and its incorporation-by-reference information overload,” the commission’s six-page brief states.

The city’s attorneys say the Gaming Commission’s legal argument is a “red herring.” Nevertheless, they  add in their brief that the Boston court filing is “written in simple, concise, and direct sentences….It is also highly organized and structured, setting forth detailed allegations supporting all 10 claims.”

It seems highly unlikely a judge would throw out the city’s lawsuit just because it is too long, but several officials in the Walsh camp privately say they are nervous about the hearing, which also is likely to feature arguments on the taking of witness depositions and other procedural matters.

Walsh filed his original 74-page complaint against the Gaming Commission in January and then expanded it dramatically in May. He alleges the commission awarded a license to Wynn Resorts to build a $1.7 billion casino in Everett through a “corrupt process,” which is then described in detail, often with bold, declarative statements about the hidden motivations of Wynn and Gaming Commission officials.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

For example, Boston’s court filing says Wynn knew ahead of time that two convicted felons had been owners of the land the casino developer eventually purchased in Everett, a charge Wynn denies. A couple paragraphs later, however, the legal brief suggests Wynn could have easily determined the ownership history of the land. “Wynn, however, chose to remain willfully blind about the true ownership,” the brief says.

The mayor’s motives in battling the Gaming Commission and Wynn are unclear. Aides say he has soured on gambling after voting for it earlier as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and no longer wants a casino in eastern Massachusetts. Yet at times he sounds like he is willing to negotiate some sort of financial deal with Wynn. On Tuesday, he met with Boston Globe editors and reporters and told them he would not relent until Charlestown residents are allowed to vote on whether they want the casino in Everett or not.