Get used to it: casino sparks are flying

The fight over casinos in Massachusetts is becoming less of a metaphor every day.

Today’s Sun Chronicle reports on a dust-up between the Plainridge Racecourse, a harness racing track pursuing a slot machine license, and a Plainville resident who opposes gambling. The resident, Thomas Keen, said Monday that the track’s lawyers are threatening to sue him for defamation. Keen maintains an anti-gambling website and Facebook page. When another individual replied to a post about a robbery with the comment, “I wonder if they checked over at the racetrack. LOL,” Plainridge threatened to sue over defamatory remarks it deemed to be “objectionable, unprofessional and actionable.” Keen said he believes he’s being singled out by the track’s lawyers because of his opposition to the track’s slots bid. Plainridge executive Gary Piontkowski denies that charge. “This is America,” Piontkowski told the Sun Chronicle, but “to imply we’re seedy people or criminals” goes too far, he said.

The legal wrangling over a man’s Facebook page is the latest nasty episode to pop up as casino interests position themselves in pursuit of four state gambling licenses. Last week, a casino supporter in Foxborough was arrested after allegedly threatening the life of a town selectman. The selectman, who opposes a bid to build a Wynn casino on land across from Gillette Stadium, was allegedly told that if he didn’t soften his opposition, he was “a dead man.” The town of Foxborough was recently embroiled in a bitter standoff with the Kraft Group that many viewed as a proxy war over Kraft’s casino partnership with Wynn. The town of Middleborough found itself on the receiving end of a legal nastygram from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, in which the tribe’s lawyers accused Middleborough of interfering with its proposed casino development in Taunton.

What type of masochist would want to be refereeing these spitting matches? Sunday’s Globe magazine submitted its answer, in the form of a profile of state gambling commission chairman Steve Crosby. The author of the profile, CommonWealth contributing writer Phil Primack, noted that the chairman of New Hampshire’s gambling study commission had been “taken aback by the vehemence and occasional hyperbole of the casino debate,” and added that Crosby is already getting a taste of the heightened emotions gambling invites. “The intensity with which every word and action is scrutinized is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced,” Crosby said.

                                                                                                                            –PAUL MCMORROW


A bid by House Republicans to roll back the sales tax to five percent fails. Despite the House’s proposal to increase state education funding to municipalities, Gloucester officials still say they will come up short, the Gloucester Times reports. The House approves a measure requiring quasi-public authorities to post their budget books and salaries online.


A Fall River city councilor proposes to take land by eminent domain for preservation to prevent the Aquinnah tribe from building a casino there, the Fall River Herald News reports.

The head of Medford’s housing authority, Robert Covelle, is the focus of state and federal investigations involving allegations of favoritism in hiring and contracting, and charges that he retaliated against employees who raised questions about the practices.

Providence, like Boston, pushes nonprofit colleges and institutions to make more in-lieu-of-tax payments, NECN reports.

Boston police are investigating drugs that have disappeared from an evidence lockup.


Mexican immigration to the US slows as a result of the recession. Net migration may have even reversed.

Cambridge-Newton-Framingham is the most peaceful metro area in the US (with Peabody and Providence-Fall River-New Bedford coming in fifth and sixth), according to a new survey. Maine is the most peaceful state. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island also rank high.

The Detroit mayor’s budget would cut the city’s workforce by 25 percent and privatize some services, the Detroit Free Press reports.


WBUR reports that it couldn’t find one former student of Elizabeth Warren who had anything negative to say about her. Warren debuts her latest media offensive.

New Hampshire is emerging as a key battleground state in the presidential election, with President Obama and Mitt Romney both giving the Granite State lots of attention. Along those lines, Joe Battenfeld submits New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte as a potential Romney running mate. The suggestion comes as Romney auditions would-be running mate Sen. Marco Rubio.

“He has changed his position on virtually everything.” The words of an anti-Romney Democratic attack dog? No. That was former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who yesterday endorsed Romney, speaking about him just two months ago on Face the Nation, reports the Globe’s Glen Johnson.  

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll confirms what many have suspected — folks just don’t like Mitt Romney. However, the Journal wonders, does that matter?

House Speaker John Boehner sees a one-in-three chance his party will lose the House in November.


Massachusetts home sales jumped in March.

Looking for more housing to be built in Massachusetts? The answer, writes CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow in the Globe is still the same: fuhgettaboutit.


The Salem School Committee adopts a proposal that would spread poor children among elementary schools to avoid the concentration in a few schools that exists now, the Salem News reports.

The Berkshire Eagle argues that educators need to take a closer look at special education assignments after a new study revealed that disproportionate numbers of low-income students are being classified as requiring special education placements.

A new push for new charter schools in Boston.


Mayor Tom Menino challenges Boston to lose 1 million pounds, and talks about the effort with Emily Rooney on Greater Boston.


Massachusetts becomes the second state to offer special license plates for electric cars.


The Brockton Enterprise checks in on the progress of three solar power projects in Plympton.


A 26-year-old South Boston native is arraigned for the home-invasion murder in the close-knit neighborhood of a 67-year-old grandmother.

“Stand your ground” laws are being rethought all over the US and that’s a good thing, The MetroWest Daily News concludes.

California moves to revamp its prison system to save money, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Roger Clemens heads back to court.