Rolling the Dice

Rolling the Dice

Coverage of casino licensing and the gambling referendum

New poll contradicts earlier casino survey

New poll contradicts earlier casino survey

Finds support for gambling establishments is strong

Two recent Massachusetts polls on casino gambling produced very different results, but the difference may have more to do with the population being surveyed than any actual change in attitude.

A new telephone poll conducted by the Western New England University Polling Institute indicates that 59 percent of Massachusetts adults support establishing casinos in Massachusetts while 34 percent are opposed. Among registered voters, the split was much the same. The margins mirrored results from earlier surveys by the polling institute dating back to 2009.

The strong support for casinos seemed to undercut an earlier poll conducted last month for WBUR by the MassINC Polling Institute that indicated public backing for casinos was slipping rapidly. The MassINC survey of likely voters suggested a once-large margin of support for casinos had slipped to 46 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed, a 3-point difference that falls within the poll’s margin of error.

Public attitudes on casinos are being watched closely as opponents are hoping to win approval from the Supreme Judicial Court to place a measure on the November ballot that would repeal the state’s gaming law.

Tim Vercellotti, director of the Western New England University Polling Institute, said he believes the difference in the poll results is due primarily to the audience being targeted. His survey targeted adults and registered voters, while the MassINC poll targeted a more narrow universe of voters who say they are likely to vote in the fall.

“We’re looking at two different groups and that’s why we see these different numbers,” Vercellotti said.

Vercellotti said he’s long been suspicious that support for casino gambling is broad but not very deep in Massachusetts. He said one question on his survey seemed to confirm that. He asked respondents to rate how important casino gambling was to them personally. Those who said it was “somewhat important” or “not very important” favored casino gambling by fairly wide margins. But those who said casino gambling was “very important” to them opposed casino gambling by a margin of 57-40 percent.

“Among voters who view this issue as very important to them personally, opposition to casinos is much higher and support is much lower compared to the entire sample,” Vercellotti said. “These individuals may be more motivated to organize and get out the vote if the casino question appears on the ballot in the fall.”

But Vercellotti also cautioned that, in a referendum campaign, the casinos themselves may throw a lot of money into the race and sway voters with their advertising. He concluded that the poll results should not be viewed as a prediction of how voters might respond to a ballot question on gambling.

The MassINC Polling Group is a subsidiary of MassINC, a nonprofit think tank that publishes CommonWealth magazine.

State seeks more data on Revere casino impact

State seeks more data on Revere casino impact

Mohegan Sun insists project timetable intact

State officials are ordering Mohegan Sun to provide more information on the environmental impact of its proposed casino in Revere, but casino officials insist preparation of the new report will not delay the project’s permitting and construction timetable.

Mohegan Sun took over the Suffolk Downs casino proposal last year after the earlier operator, Caesar’s Entertainment, was jettisoned and the location of the casino was moved from an East Boston portion of the racetrack to a section in Revere. Mohegan Sun argued to state officials that a new environmental review of the project was unnecessary and the old review for the East Boston site could simply be updated.

But Richard Sullivan, the state secretary for energy and environmental affairs, turned down Mohegan Sun’s request and ordered the casino operator to prepare a so-called supplemental draft environmental impact report.

“Given the scope and potential environmental impacts of the project, and based on the content of the comments received, I am declining the request,” Sullivan wrote in his opinion, which was issued on Friday.

It’s unclear whether Sullivan’s opinion will significantly delay the Mohegan Sun casino project. Environmental impact reports can take anywhere from a few months to a year to complete, but Sullivan’s opinion indicated the scope of his final review of the project could be limited if the supplemental report he just ordered is sufficiently thorough.

Gary Luderitz, vice president of development at Mohegan Sun, said Sullivan’s decision, called a certificate, “keeps the Mohegan Sun project on track to meet or exceed the permitting and construction timetable detailed in our submissions with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The certificate lays out a scope of further review that is finite, easily understood, and complete. It acknowledges that the transportation aspects of the project largely mirror the prior project and looks for future details already largely completed by our development team.“

In the increasingly bitter rivalry between Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts for the eastern Massachusetts casino license, Mohegan Sun officials have repeatedly suggested their project is much further along in the environmental approval process than the Wynn project in Everett. Wynn is seeking to build a casino on a heavily polluted stretch of land formerly occupied by a Monsanto chemical plant.

Mohegan Sun officials have suggested that their project will be up and running – and delivering tax revenue from gambling to the state – much faster than the Wynn project. That claim has become one of Mohegan Sun’s chief arguments in favor of its proposal. Wynn is also seeking state approval of its environmental impact report.

In his decision, Sullivan said Mohegan Sun needs to provide further analysis in a variety of areas, including traffic impacts on the Ted Williams, Sumner, and Callahan tunnels. He also said Mohegan Sun needs to analyze the casino project’s impact on wetlands and the local flood plain.

Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, said a final environmental impact report will be needed to move ahead with any casino project, but she said a casino license could be awarded conditionally with a requirement that all environmental clearances and permits are obtained.

“The commission will take into consideration construction and permitting timelines as part of their overall evaluation and analysis of the proposals. This does not appear to be something that would delay a commission license decision,” Driscoll said in an email. “It may, however, be something that would delay the permitting process for a licensee. “

The commission is currently expected to name the winning eastern Massachusetts casino licensee in June.

Plainville and racing get the nod

A divided Massachusetts Gaming Commission, won over by the possibility of simultaneously creating new gambling jobs and preserving existing jobs at the Plainridge harness racing track, approved a slots parlor for Plainville.

Three commission members backed the Penn National Gaming proposal for Plainville and two, including chairman Stephen Crosby, supported the Cordish Cos. project in Leominster. A third Raynham Park proposal received no support.

Penn National plans to build a $225 million facility at the race track featuring 1,250 slot machines as well as restaurants and bars. The investment will also keep harness racing alive at Plainridge, with the season set to start in April.

Saving the race track was a key factor among commission members backing Plainville. Commissioner Enrique Zuniga said the roughly 100 racing jobs were important. “If our decision was to result in the track closing, there would be a number of people out of work that day,” he said.

The decision suggests horse racing could also play a role in the competition between Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts for a casino license in eastern Massachusetts. Mohegan Sun’s proposal calls for the construction of a casino in Revere adjacent to the Suffolk Downs horse track. The Wynn project would be a standalone facility in Everett.

The Plainville slots parlor is expected to fully open by the end of June 2015, but Penn National officials hope to open on a partial basis with 500 slots within six months. Penn National will pay a $25 million licensing fee to the state and a 40 percent tax on gambling revenues.

–BRUCE MOHL    

BEACON HILL

The outside consultant brought in to fix the state’s Health Connector website said it may not be fixed by June and one option might be to scrap the whole thing and start over.

A Herald editorial backs House Speaker Robert DeLeo‘s push to throw the brakes on the state’s medical marijuana licensing efforts.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Martin Walsh says he is reviewing a deal struck by his predecessor giving the Red Sox the authority to shut down Van Ness Street during events at Fenway Park, CommonWealth reports. The Herald piles on, as does the Globe, which is owned by Red Sox owner John Henry.

The Globe urges Walsh not to follow his predecessor’s habit of wasting public money to boost his own political standing by plastering his name on everything in sight, but fears it might already be a lost cause.

The new-fangled administration of Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone is looking a lot like the old backroom-dealing Somerville when it comes to releasing public records.

The Salem City Council gives itself a raise by voting to boost the salary of Mayor Kim Driscoll from $100,000 to $120,000, the Salem News reports.

The “poop Nazi” wants to use DNA testing to track down people who fail to clean up after their dogs in Ipswich, the Salem News reports.

New Haven , Connecticut, experiments with a gift card for downtown shopping, eating, and parking, Governing reports.

CASINOS

Local opponents of Plainville‘s slots parlor plan to fight the development in court. The losing developer in the slots license fight blames an apparent desire to save horse racing jobs.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Members of Congress accepted $3.7 million in free travel last year and took family members along 40 percent of the time, USA Today reports.

Nonprofit advocates criticized a tax plan by the House Ways and Means chairman that would limit deductions for charitable donations to anything in excess of 2 percent of income.

A New York Times editorial talks up the benefits of a higher minimum wage to businesses.

ELECTIONS

Greater Boston looks at the rightward shift of the Massachusetts GOP platform and whether it will hurt Republican candidates in the fall.

Mitt Romney and Chris Christie drop into Boston and raise $1 million for the Republican Governors Association.

Martha Coakley and Steve Grossman get set to tussle over online gambling.

Anonymous Republicans tell the Herald they’re worried about the pace of Charlie Baker‘s fundraising efforts, while Putnam Investments boss Bob Reynolds tells Baker to lighten up.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A national nonprofit has picked Quincy to participate in a study that will select 30 liquor retailers to monitor in a program aimed at reducing alcohol sales to minors.

ARTS/CULTURE

Malcolm Rogers , who has shepherded Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts through a period of massive growth, announced he will retire as soon as a replacement director can be selected.

EDUCATION

With Lynn and other communities facing financial penalties for the way they calculate spending on schools, state lawmakers are studying the formula to see if a compromise can be found, the Item reports.

Despite more than 2,000 students at the struggling New Bedford High School, only 15 parents showed up at a meeting to discuss proposed turnaround plans.

The Berkshire Eagle bemoans the mounting costs of public education in the face of dwindling resources.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio rescinds some of Michael Bloomberg‘s charter school awards, but the politics behind the moves are messy.

HEALTH CARE

WBUR’s CommonHealth blog does the numbers on the backlog at the Connector.

Stop cheering the great drop in childhood obesity, a problem that may not even exist, and if it does, is one that we have no idea what its causes are or what might explain its decrease, writes Paul Campos in The New Republic.

TRANSPORTATION

Harbor officials said replacing the aging swing bridge between New Bedford and Fairhaven with a new span that can accommodate large vessels is a key to the maritime future of the Whaling City.

The MBTA‘s effort to raise $20 million by selling station naming rights falls flat.

Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Carl Levin talk up natural gas-powered cars in a Wall Street Journal op-ed column.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

State officials move in to deal with skyrocketing flood insurance premiums.

We know it’s a bit of a dog-bites-man story, but check off another good year for utility honcho Tom May.

A major natural gas player takes a $20 billion write-down, driven by the strength of wind and solar power in Europe.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

West Bridgewater selectmen fired a police officer after an investigation prompted by complaints from the attorney general’s office determined he allegedly lied about his military service and falsely denied he assisted a woman in getting a restraining order.

Hingham police pulled a Rockland man over for speeding but he said he had a good reason for rushing — he showed the cop a $50,000 winning instant ticket he had just hit on and he was heading to Braintree to cash it in. No word if police scratched the speeding ticket.

Boston University party people are sitting in jail after throwing one too many raucous events in Allston.

MEDIA

CommonWealth offers a little context for those reports by the Globe and the Herald on the rise of six-figure salaries in state government.

Revere-Everett casino scuffle on tap, but action moves to SJC

As Revere casino supporters salivate over the their victory, the Bay State casino wars shift from the ballot box to the courtroom. The showdown with Everett over the eastern Massachusetts license gets second billing to the fight over a possible ballot question that would put a full scale repeal before Bay State voters in November.

Attorney General Martha Coakley ruled against a ballot question filed by the Repeal the Casino Deal coalition last year citing the infringement on the private property rights of the casino developers.

But the anti-casino group received an injunction from the Supreme Judicial Court and continued to collect signatures for their ballot question after justices agreed to hear the case. The signature drive gathered more than 70,000 names, more than enough to vault over the 68,911 signature threshold, and move the question onto the November 2014 ballot.

Repeal the Casino Deal continues to develop its high court arguments, but some outlines of its possible legal strategies are clear. The group believes that it should be allowed to “pursue its constitutional right” to place a ballot question before voters. One anti-casino leader, Steve Abdow, of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, noted that that a ballot question that repealed greyhound racing, a long established form of gaming, went forward with voters approving a ban in 2008.

Casino supporters also have a compelling argument to make about gaming and voter intent. The high court battle spurred Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno to join a group of 10 citizens to press the argument that a ballot question would nullify Springfield voters’ approval of MGM International’s casino plan. With Revere and Everett registering their strong support for casinos, those cities may hop on the nullification bandwagon, too.

Opponents have a tough road ahead. The casino industry has a near-bottomless reservoir of cash available to deploy the best legal team that money can buy. Repeal the Casino Deal is actively soliciting donations. Moreover, Kathleen Conley Norbut, a western Massachusetts casino opponent, recently told the Valley Advocate that a number of attorneys interested in their case have had to beg off due to their firms’ ties with casino clients.

The battle over casinos moves to the John Adams Courthouse in May. The state’s highest court could deliver a decision by July.

–GABRIELLE GURLEY    

BEACON HILL

The Patrick administration and key lawmakers are pushing legislation that would pave the way for the importation of Canadian hydroelectricity to help replace power lost as existing plants are retired, CommonWealth reports.

More details emerge about the nonprofit entity headed by former congressman Bill Delahunt that was awarded three lucrative licenses to sell medical marijuana, including the fact that the firm plans to award 50 percent of its revenue to a management firm Delahunt also controls. An expert in nonprofit management issues tells the Globe such an arrangement is “laughable” and “completely excessive.”

Shirley Leung talks to John Polanowicz, the state’s secretary of health and human services, who has the unenviable task of trying to put lipstick on what looks like a pretty porky process of awarding the licenses — with state officials assuring that the real vetting is only now beginning and that firms have only been provisionally selected.

Former state senator — and federal inmate — Dianne Wilkerson is back and reflects (sort of) on what landed her in prison.

State Rep. John Keenan of Salem plans to step down after a decade in office; he has no immediate plans but denies he has a job lined up with Footprint Power, the company building a natural gas-fired power plant in town, the Salem News reports.

The MBTA pension fund may release more information after all.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

With the town of Andover sitting on $1 million in free cash, Selectman Dan Kowalski calls for using the money to cut taxes, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch is questioned on his rush to award a new contract to the city’s ambulance provider, the Sun reports.

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu plans to start her crusade at today’s council meeting to revamp the city’s permitting and licensing regulations, a centerpiece of her campaign last fall.

CASINOS

John Nucci writes that although the Suffolk casino appears to have “more lives than a barrel of cats,” the facility still faces big hurdles. The Wall Street Journal‘s report is here.

Proposed slots facilities in Plainville and Leominster seem to have an edge over Raynham Park as the decision nears, the Associated Press reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Time offers 10 takeaways on a new national survey of American attitudes about LGBT issues. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney joins what Rush Limbaugh calls a bullying effort by “the homosexual lobby” in Arizona.

The Atlantic digs into California‘s water wars.

ELECTIONS

The indigestion Charlie Baker is feeling this morning is the result of reading his own party’s platform. Meanwhile, Baker,who once vehemently opposed the South Coast commuter rail line, tells a New Bedford Standard Times editorial board that he’s now open to the $2.2 billion project.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk touts himself as pragmatic and progressive, the Lowell Sun reports.

The 2014 midterm elections will star Bill Clinton, because obviously.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A draft report from the commission exploring a Boston bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics calls the idea feasible but also says the city would face a “monumental task” in pulling off the feat.

Honey Dew Donuts will open a cafe at the new Quincy YMCA but with one concession to the health-conscious facility — there won’t be any donuts on the menu.

More single-family homes were sold last month than in any other January in the last seven years but real estate agents say the market is being held back by a lack of inventory. The growth of home prices nationally begins to slow.

HEALTH CARE

At least 185 people have died of heroin overdoses in Massachusetts since November, according to State Police, and that count does not include Boston, Worcester, and Springfield, the state’s three largest cities. Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey wants federal regulators to approve Narcan, the fast-acting treatment to reverse drug overdoses, for over-the-counter sales to make it more available to drug users and their families and friends.

Worcester charts a course to better health for its residents, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Framingham officials expand their measles warning, WBUR reports.

We’re not alone: Maryland fires the company hired to create the state’s online health exchange, Governing reports.

TRANSPORTATION

State transportation officials want to build a second Sagamore Bridge — possibly with tolls — leading on to the Cape to ease traffic bottlenecks, NECN reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Prosecutors and the defense team in the federal corruption trial of former Probation commissioner John O’Brien submit lists of some of the big name public officials they could call as witnesses. CommonWealth has the filings here and here.

The State Fire Marshal and Middleboro fire chief are outraged over a plea deal given to a Middleboro man charged with arson in at least three fires that will result in a prison sentence of less than three years offered by the judge rather than the eight to 10 years sought by prosecutors.

Bristol County jail officials are investigating a fight between former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and another inmate.

MEDIA

An author who landed a book deal based on his Goldman Sachs elevator gossip Twitter account will still publish, despite revelations this week that he never actually worked at Goldman.

Losing your shirt – and your home – at the casino

It’s a well-known truism in the casino world that the house always wins. Less well known is the fact that sometimes, apparently, what the house wins is your house.

On Sunday, the Globe’s Mark Arsenault had a revealing look at the hardball tactics used by both Connecticut casinos to collect casino debts, measures that sometimes include placing liens on the homes of casino patrons who have been extended credit by the gambling outfits.

Arsenault reports that Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, both in the hunt for a Massachusetts license, have placed dozens of liens on homes since the early 2000s, including one that Mohegan, which nows wants to develop a casino on the Revere side of the Suffolk Downs racetrack property, placed on a the home of an elderly resident there who had racked up a combined debt of $66,000 to the two Connecticut gambling halls. In 2006, Louis Cutler had virtually no assets or income other than the modest Revere cape where he lived, when Mohegan Sun won a court judgment to put a lien on his home for $30,600 in gambling debt plus interest. A year later, Foxwoods got in on the action, adding a lien of its own for $36,000.

A number of experts the Globe talked to called it highly unusual for casinos to look to attach liens to homes to collect debts. Foxwoods declined to comment. A representative of Mohegan defended the casino, saying Cutler had “significant assets” at the time he was extended the credit line. The spokesman also said he had lines of credit at “numerous other gaming facilities across the country.”

Now it’s easy to see how a situation in which a gambler had multiple lines of credit at different casinos could spin a little out of hand. The problem, of course, is that casinos aren’t exactly in the business of providing prudent financial planning advice. With studies suggesting problem gamblers account for anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of casino revenue, the casino business model is, in fact, built on imprudence and poor decision-making.

Putting liens on gamblers’ homes may be not be standard casino practice. What’s damaging about the story is that it underlines the more general point that what is standard practice is for casinos to devise ways to get players to overextend themselves. That includes sophisticated design of slot machines intended to get gamblers to — in the industry’s argot — “play to extinction.”

In 2007, the Globe reports, Cutler filed for bankruptcy protection, which saved his house. He died three years later at age 84.

–MICHAEL JONAS  

BEACON HILL

Senate President Therese Murray, who would have had to relinquish her post atop the Senate next March because of term-limit rules, announced that she will not seek reelection this fall and will leave office at the end of the current session next January. The story was first reported in her local paper, the Old Colony Memorial. Republican state Rep. Vinny DeMacedo of Plymouth immediately threw his hat in the ring.

The Department of Children and Families office in Leominster may have failed two other children in addition to Jeremiah Oliver, the Telegram & Gazette reports. The Globe reports that the department ranks very poorly on national comparisons of state child protection agencies, but it’s also hard to make direct comparisons because of differences in what states measure.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Stretches of asphalt on 16 streets in Lawrence are breaking up, in part because the repaving was done too late in the season on orders from the former mayor, William Lantigua, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The Wareham town administrator says the town will face “staggering cuts” in personnel and services if the new budget is passed without increased revenues.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The New York Times casts the fight over the federal minimum wage as a case study in Washington power politics.

ELECTIONS

Democrats caucused in communities across the state over the weekend, beginning the process of selecting delegates for the party’s state convention in June. Sunday’s Globe says businessman Joe Avellone showed some strength in Worcester. This morning the paper reports on a Sunday Cambridge caucus where Attorney General Martha Coakley supporters grabbed 8 of 10 delegate slots, with backers of Cambridge resident Juliette Kayyem getting the other two. State party leaders say no candidate had a breakout performance at the caucuses.

State Rep. Hank Naughton is bowing out of the Democratic race for attorney general.  

Massachusetts Republicans have a tough road ahead, according to The Berkshire Eagle.

With Sen. Marco Rubio’s popularity waning among conservatives because of his support for immigration reform and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stuck in traffic issues, polls are showing there’s no clear cut leading GOP candidates to run for president.

The Republican establishment pushes back hard against primary challenges from the party’s right.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Michael Sam , a University of Missouri defensive end and top NFL prospect, comes out as gay, the New York Times reports.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, topped the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of the 50 biggest donors last year, the youngest couple ever to lead the list.

Federal antitrust officials say they’ll likely oppose a takeover of T-Mobile by Sprint.

A West Bridgewater cemetery is installing columbariums — structures that can hold up to 800 urns for cremated remains — in islands throughout the burial grounds for “drive-by” visitations so family and friends can pay their respects to loved ones without getting out of their cars.

More Americans are quitting their jobs, an indication they believe they’re optimistic about finding employment elsewhere.

TRANSPORTATION

Stonehill College political science professor Peter Ubertaccio has a smart take on South Coast rail, arguing that Charlie Baker offers a thoughtful and nuanced response on an issue where his Democratic counterparts are resorting to some time-honored pandering.

Worcester Regional Transit Authority buses are running in Northbridge and Grafton but few riders are on them, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Keller@Large goes off on his seasonal rant over drivers who don’t remove snow from their cars, which can be a hazard to them and others should it come flying off at the wrong time.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Nearly 400 people turned out over the weekend for a protest outside the proposed natural gas plant in Salem. The proposed plant would replace a much dirtier coal plant, but the crowd opposes any new fossil fuel power plants, the Salem News reports.

Signs of spring and climate change: Right whales are beginning to return — earlier than they have in years past.

RELIGION

Cardinal Sean O’Malley , Pope Francis’s closest confidant among US cardinals, tells the Globe the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church may have softened his tone toward some hot-button issues but those expecting changes in doctrine regarding contraception, abortion, or homosexuality are likely to be disappointed.

MEDIA

New York Times columnist and former editor Bill Keller is leaving to work at the Marshall Project, a nonprofit startup focusing on the nation’s criminal justice system, the Times reports.

Beat the Press ponders whether Fox News is giving Scott Brown a platform to campaign for the New Hampshire Senate seat without declaring his candidacy.

The mother of one of the two “distressed babies” blamed for benefits cuts at AOL fires back at the company’s CEO in a Slate essay.

Fall River goes all in – again

The last time a casino deal blew up on Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, he shrugged it off as the cost of rolling the dice. Flanagan’s gambling had nearly blown up a large biotech deal in town and angered the governor’s office, and Flanagan had no casino to show for his efforts, but none of it mattered, he said. Flanagan told CommonWealth that the casino sweepstakes couldn’t be won from the sidelines, and that his failed bid to land a tribal casino for the city didn’t mean Fall River’s casino pursuit was over. Tuesday, Flanagan will sidle up to the table again, and again try to land a casino for his city. And this time, he’ll be competing against his last would-be casino partner.

The State House News Service reported Monday that Flanagan and Foxwoods had sealed an agreement to try developing a $750 million gambling facility in the city. The partnership will be unveiled at a City Hall press conference today.

Flanagan and the casino operator have agreed on the outlines of a casino development, which would include a 140,000-square-foot gambling floor, a 350-room hotel, several shops and restaurants, and convention space. “We are ready to go,” Flanagan told the Herald News. There’s only one wrinkle in the city’s readiness, Flanagan added: “We just need a site.” According to the Globe’s Mark Arsenault, Flanagan and Foxwoods have given themselves one month to find between 30 and 70 acres capable of hosting their proposed casino.

This is a rebound relationship for both parties.

Foxwoods lost a November referendum in Milford on a $1 billion casino proposal, and then saw its Connecticut rival Mohegan Sun swoop in and take control of the bid to develop Suffolk Downs in Revere. Foxwoods is still eligible to bid on another casino license because it passed its state background check late last year.

Fall River, meanwhile, launched a failed bid three years ago to host a tribal casino. Flanagan brought the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to town from Middleborough, where the tribe had been trying to build a federally sanctioned tribal casino. Fall River’s dance with the Mashpee ended amid a flurry of legal challenges, and Flanagan fell back on the original plan for the land he’d tried to sell the Mashpee — a biotech park anchored by UMass Dartmouth.

With his new Foxwoods partnership, Flanagan now finds himself maneuvering against his onetime Mashpee partners. The tribe settled on a Taunton site for its proposed casino after its Fall River deal fell apart. The Mashpee are currently trying to have their Taunton property recognized as a federal casino reservation, but face several legal hurdles. Southeastern Massachusetts is on a slower permitting track than the state’s other two casino regions, as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission weighs whether to award a commercial license in the region, or throw in with the Mashpee tribe’s Taunton bid.

–PAUL MCMORROW    

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick says the problems facing the Department of Children and Families in the wake of the Jeremiah Oliver case are “not systemic,” CommonWealth reports.

The sordid saga of Suffolk County’s register of probate continues.

Alarmed by a spate of fires destroying historic landmarks in New Bedford, a preservation group has teamed up with area legislators to push a bill that would give a 50 percent tax credit to organizations that install fire suppression systems in historic buildings.

A federal judge throws cold water on former Probation Department chief John O’Brien’s main line of defense, saying, “It’s not a defense to say all state government is corrupt. We’re not going to put the entire state’s hiring process on trial… There’s a culture of violence in the city, but that doesn’t give you a license to shoot someone.”

A Herald editorial calls embattled state Rep. Carlos Henriquez “stupid and arrogant.”

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A spate of January murders has Boston on edge about a surge in gang-fueled gun violence. Mayor Marty Walsh vows action, but CommonWealth asked last week whether the city and its new police commissioner really have a real strategy for addressing gun violence.

A grassroots effort has sprouted to keep the USS Salem in Quincy, after the MBTA announced it will not fix the damaged commuter boat wharfit owns where the former Navy ship is docked because the costs are too high.

The Tyngsboro Board of Selectmen vote 3-2 to allow a pub to hire performers dressed in bikinis and Speedos, the Sun reports.

A movement is underway to allow towns on the Cape to vote on whether they want to continue working with the Cape Cod Commission regional planning agency.

Dartmouth residents turned out at a public hearing to oppose a move to change to a mayor-town council system of government, with many saying the current structure of selectmen-Town Meeting would work fine with a few tweaks.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

State of the Union ? Not, in fact, so horribly, awfully bad, says a Globe editorial. Still, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds widespread unease.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan measure to delay the implementation of new flood insurance maps and rates that caused sticker shock for homeowners in coastal communities but House Speaker John Boehner remains opposed to the bill.

House Republican leaders agree on the outlines of an immigration reform package that could lead to legal status — but not citizenship — for 11 million.

ELECTIONS

Street repaving was seen by many as the key to former Lawrence mayor William Lantigua’sreelection strategy. Now it appears that he authorized a New York company to do nearly $300,000 of paving work beyond the $85,000 in its contract. Daniel Rivera, who defeated Lantigua in the race for mayor, is refusing to pay the overrun, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

A Republican businessman from Wellesley is jumping into the race for treasurer, the Associated Press reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Venture capitalist Tom Perkins retracted his use of the term kristallnacht to describe what’s happening to the 1 percent in America, but he stands by the point he was trying to make that there are parallels between the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany and the way rich people are being treated in the United States. Paul Krugman thinks Perkins is missing the correct historical parallel — the backlash of “organized money” against FDR.

Back to the future: Shoemaking start-ups are sprouting in the Boston area, once a center of the shoe industry.

San Francisco tries to ease its longstanding housing supply crunch.

EDUCATION

The dropout rate at public high schools across the state falls to its lowest level in three decades, but it went up at English High School in Lynn, the Item reports. Boston, Lawrence, and Springfield saw sharp decreases in dropouts, the Globe reports.

HEALTH CARE

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health plans to award $40 million in grants for community programs to prevent chronic illnesses, the Associated Press reports.

To deal with obesity, Lima, Ohio, outfitted an old bus as a traveling supermarket bringing fresh vegetables to areas where it’s easier to buy alcohol than it is to buy an apple, Governing reports.

TRANSPORTATION

Keller@Large thinks political leaders who get chauffeured around lose touch with the real world and should think about taking the wheel themselves on occasion.

Garrett Quinn argues that using the Olympics as an excuse to fix the MBTA is a monumentally stupid idea, and that the only dumber idea is not fixing the T at all.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Brayton Point coal plant will close in 2017, after all, despite the request from ISO-New England that the owners delay their plans to shutter the facility. CommonWealth previously detailed the plant’s rapid fall, and the uncertainty surrounding what happens next at the plant.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Court documents indicate high school student Philip Chism admitted killing Colleen Ritzer, his teacher in Danvers, NECN reports.

The Marine Corps announced it will seek to retry Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins of Plymouthfor the murder of a retired Iraqi police officer even though Hutchins’s conviction has been overturned twice on appeals.

Barnstable police solve an oyster poaching case.

MEDIA

Jerry Remy says he will return to broadcast Red Sox games this coming season; he had stepped down last season after his son was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, the Associated Press reports. The RemDog joined WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan to discuss his decision and listening to him is far different than reading about it.

Hundreds gather for Chet Curtis’s funeral, NECN reports.

The Wall Street Journal wonders aloud about the economics behind the online news boom.

PASSINGS

Pete Seeger , an icon of American song and social change, has died at 94. The Atlantic argues that Seeger should be remembered less for his political beliefs than for “the countless selfless acts he took in honor of those beliefs.”

Revere-only casino insults E. Boston

Community is once again being dealt bad hand

I’ve been supporting the community activists in East Boston who are working mightily to oppose the proposed Suffolk Downs casino. These activists are not simply saying “no” to the casino – they are also advancing a positive, forward-looking vision for the site and their community, one that focuses on attracting 21st century jobs to a sustainable development site. My support for their efforts has nothing to do with my personal views about gambling – I’m rather agnostic about that. My support has everything to do with my view that the process surrounding gaming on this site has been rigged, that the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box is being ignored or given short shrift, and that the people of East Boston are once again being dealt a bad hand by those who would put profit before people.

In the 1960s and 1970s, East Boston was challenged by a series of transportation planning decisions that threatened to snuff out the vitality and the viability of the close-knit middle class neighborhood. The construction of the Callahan tunnel, the Route 1A viaduct, and the expansion of Logan Airport were carried out with little consideration of the community’s quality of life. Entire streets were demolished and obliterated from the map, and the burdens of noise and air pollution and traffic congestion had a negative impact on the desirability of the community as a residential neighborhood. East Boston endured much, but it fought back.

East Boston’s fate was thought to have been sealed by the brutal forces of mid-20th century transportation planning, but the people took their future into their own hands. A group of citizen activists had their fill of transportation “progress” and famously put an end to the era of demolition and displacement when mothers pushed baby carriages into the middle of Maverick Street to stop a parade of dump trucks from disrupting their peace and endangering their safety. Massport was forced to find a less intrusive way to expand its footprint when the mothers refused to leave, and the Mayor (Kevin White) stood shoulder to shoulder with them.

It’s been a long time since the Maverick Street mothers took to the streets. In the intervening years, the community has developed a rapprochement of sorts with Massport, and has focused on developing itself as an affordable, transit-oriented neighborhood with great public parks and stunning harbor views. The result has been the resurgence of East Boston – one of the city’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods, boasting two of the city’s most beautiful passive and active parks, and one of the most important urban wetland resources in Massachusetts. East Boston took its future into its own hands, and did more than survive – it succeeded, and in many ways it is a model of what a multi-ethnic mixed income urban environment ought to be.

This progress is being directly jeopardized by the prospect of a casino at Suffolk Downs. What’s worse, when East Boston voters resoundingly voted against the casino, the immediate response (of doubtful legality) was to fashion an electoral bait-and-switch by offering a supposedly “Revere-only” casino site. The Revere-only proposal is an insult to East Boston’s intelligence, not simply because such an outcome is not practically feasible (unless the owners are prepared to accept a perpetual restriction on the use of their East Boston land for non-casino uses), but also because it proposes to relocate horse stables and highways on the East Boston side of the site. Imagine that you are the mayor of Boston, and you have a 100-acre, largely undeveloped site in your city that is two minutes away from an international airport and adjacent to two MBTA stations and an urban wetland. And the owner tells you he wants to use the land for horse stables and a roadway system to feed into another city. You might throw that person out of your office, or at least question his sanity. But that is exactly what Suffolk Downs is proposing to do on this site.

The Suffolk Downs proposal currently before the Gaming Commission would have devastating transportation impacts on East Boston, the city, and the region. It would make the Ted Williams tunnel and the approaches to it significantly more congested and less functional. It would turn many streets in East Boston into mini-highways, diminishing pedestrian safety and convenience, making local traffic even more challenging, driving up local auto insurance rates, and driving down property values. No mitigation package will ever make East Boston residents whole for those additional auto insurance costs or for the loss in their property values.

Suffolk Downs proposes spending less than $50 million on transportation improvements, including a flyover in Boston that would be an eyesore and would not solve the current traffic congestion problem. Moreover, there is no enforceable private sector commitment to pay for costly maintenance of this infrastructure over time. It would require the state and the city to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on transportation improvements to the highway, roadway, and transit systems, and it would trigger a transportation maintenance bill that would be a drain on other more pressing needs throughout the Commonwealth. There is currently not one nickel in any current or proposed state transportation plan for any of these improvements or maintenance costs – what other projects in other regions of the state will have to be put on hold to pay for this?

The good news is that East Boston has developed its own positive vision for the site – one that could be a win-win for all parties. The citizen-driven statement of “Overarching Principles for Development in East Boston” approaches its task as “driven by a commitment to work with public sector officials, community members, private sector developers, and investors to ensure this critical and unique site is developed sustainably and in a way that enhances quality of life, job creation, and return on investment.” The five principles are: (1) job creation – 21st century jobs that enable East Boston residents to share in the opportunity of a broad spectrum of jobs, (2) community inclusion & transparency, (3) environmental impact – a commitment to an ecologically sustainable development at Suffolk Downs is easily accessible by public transport, promotes public health and safety, and improves the overall quality of life for residents in bordering neighborhoods, (4) transit-oriented development, and (5) economic feasibility – acknowledgement that the private sector is entitled to profit from its development, fulfilling a viable market opportunity that will ultimately drive local economic growth and encourage local investment.

This is a positive and forward looking platform for development in East Boston and the Suffolk Downs site. There is no question that the uses currently proposed for the Boston portion of the site make no sense for either the public or private sector interests.

Some casino advocates argue that the owners of Suffolk Downs are entitled to do whatever they want with the land they own, but that is 19th century thinking. In our times, appropriate public regulation of land use and development is neither novel nor controversial. What’s more, the Suffolk Downs site is valuable and strategic in large part because of massive public investments – investments in the transit stations, the airport, and the current roadway system. The public interest – East Boston’s and the region’s – requires that the private sector and the public sector work with impacted citizens to find solutions that everyone can accept as fair and forward looking. There can be an outcome that everyone can embrace, but that outcome will only be reached once the ill-advised casino proposal is finally rejected (either by the Gaming Commission or by a court, or by the people at the ballot box if the proposed initiative repeal is given a green light).

East Boston residents have a long and rich history of fighting for their survival, and insisting on a future that is bright, optimistic, and uplifting. They took their future into their own hands once before, and they are doing it again. That’s why I’m on their side.

Jim Aloisi is a former state secretary of transportation. His most recent book is The Vidal Lecture.

Up in smoke?

It’s kind of hard to say there’s a chasm between voters and politicians in deciding what’s best for the state, given that the voters put these folks into office and continue to pull the lever for them. But you have to wonder if anyone’s listening to the other side when you look at the disparity between how the two groups regard gambling and marijuana.

The state’s elected officiate has been behind the casino law, after a few years of hesitancy, as a way to pad public coffers and create jobs. But voters weren’t asked what they wanted until the law was passed and the question of casinos in their midst went to the locals. The result has been a wave of rejections that has left the fledgling Massachusetts casino industry hanging by a thread. And opponents yesterday declared they have collected 90,000 signatures to place a referendum on next year’s ballot to repeal the casino statute completely.

In some ways, a similar storyline is emerging with the medical marijuana bill passed by voters last year by a nearly 2-1 margin. But, unlike gambling, it is the elected official side of the equation that is working to derail the facilities. Today is the deadline for those hoping for one of the 35 available marijuana dispensary licenses to file their Phase 2 application. The $30,000 application fee doesn’t seem to be a deterrent for the 158 qualified applicants, but the local official opposition does.

A number of towns, mainly through selectmen, town councils, and zoning boards, have placed moratoriums on siting dispensaries or cultivation facilities within their boundaries, icing applicants out of the first round.

Sometimes, it only takes a negative signal from a local leader to send would-be pot purveyors on their way. In New Bedford, the City Council rebutted Mayor Jon Mitchell’s opposition to a marijuana dispensary by unanimously sending a letter of support to the state citing the city voters’ 2-1 backing of last year’s referendum. But Mitchell’s stance has already led to one potential dispensary to pull out. A Boston group seeking to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Newton wants to site its cultivation facility in Swansea after meeting resistance on the Cape. But six other growers/sellers are looking at the Cape for their facilities.

You would think, though, that elected officials at all levels would take the temperature of their constituency before setting off on a path on any hot button issues such as gambling or drugs. A new study from Western New England University Polling Institute finds that 74 percent of adults statewide support medical marijuana, above the 63 to 37 margin of victory for the ballot question in 2012.  Back then, only two communities – Lawrence and Mendon – rejected the referendum, both by the margin of 51-49. In the Western New England poll, 61 percent of those surveyed said they’d be okay with a dispensary in their community.

So why the disconnect? It’s not like elected officials don’t know some of the people involved. Former congressman and one-time Norfolk district attorney William Delahunt is the latest to get into the medical pot business, becoming a partner in a group trying to site a dispensary in Plymouth. Former Senate minority leader Brian Lees is part of a nonprofit looking to get a license for a Springfield facility. And former state senator Stephen Buonoconti, now a lobbyist, is an officer in another group that won initial approval for a dispensary but has not decided whether to move forward or not.

So the dance goes on. What happens, though, when a question is on the ballot in 2016 that looks to fully legalize marijuana, and what if it’s passed by voters? Who will lead whom?

 

–JACK SULLIVAN

 

BEACON HILL

One of Gov. Deval Patrick’s judicial nominees is unlikely to win approval from the Governor’s Council because of his ties to the New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League and the group’s stance on the Armenian genocide , State House News reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Worcester City Manager Michael O’Brien plans to resign early next year along with many other key city officials, the Telegram & Gazette  reports. Could Tim Murray , the former lieutenant governor and now the head of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce, be interested?

Privatizing parking meters becomes the top issue in the Cincinnati mayor’s race, Governing reports .

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

A 2002 New Jersey law that mandated the sale of user-restricted firearms once the technology became available will soon kick in , and push traditional handguns out of the state.

The New York Times details the GOP’s anti-Obamacare game plan.

The highest court in the Dominican Republic has moved to strip citizenship from Dominicans born in Haiti; The move has sparked an international furor and members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation are among those who have written to the president of the country to protest the decision.

The conservative Weekly Standard says Ocean Grove, New Jersey, was denied federal assistance by the Obama administration in the wake of Hurricane Sandy because of its founding by Methodists that resulted in religiously based ordinances that includes a ban on gay marriage.

Republican US Rep. Trey Radel of Florida is taking a leave of absence from Congress to deal with his drug and alcohol addiction, which burst into the public view when he pled guilty to buying cocaine from an undercover police officer in Washington.

ELECTIONS

Independent gubernatorial runs by two businessmen could be bad news for presumed Republican nominee Charlie Baker, the Globe says. One of the hopefuls, venture capitalist Jeffrey McCormick, was an investor in a 2012 movie about American Indian lacrosse players that was a huge flop — but which reaped $1.4 in state film tax credits.

Even as an election recount is scheduled for this weekend, Daniel Rivera names 18 people to a mayoral transition team. The team includes Juan Gonzalez, a firefighter who also ran for mayor. Rivera leads Mayor William Lantigua by 58 votes heading into the recount, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Vennochi to Warren: Run, Liz, run.

UMass Lowell pollster Joshua Dyck defends surveys in the Boston mayoral race.

Baker calls Gov. Deval Patrick’s $9 million office renovation “over the top,” the Herald reports.

CASINOS

Despite a series of recent setbacks, Gov. Deval Patrick says the casino law is working as it should, the Associated Press reports. In an editorial about the Milford vote, The MetroWest Daily News, concurs.  So does the Herald’s editorial page. That praise presumably includes support for efforts by state and federal investigators to look into the land deal behind the proposed Wynn casino in Everett; they are zeroing in on the possible stake held by a Revere businessman with an extensive criminal record. The Herald previews a pair of tough background check hearings for Steve Wynn and MGM.

East Boston pols who were among the most enthusiastic backers of the Suffolk Downs casino plan are suddenly four-square opposed to the idea of a gambling hall there if it is built entirely on the Revere side of the property, an idea being floated following the plan’s rejection earlier this month by East Boston voters.

New Jersey is rolling out online gambling, allowing anyone in the state to go on the Internet to place a wager, Governing reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The iconic restaurant Christo’s in Brockton will close its doors December 31, almost a year after the death of legendary owner Christos Tsaganis, once dubbed the “Greek salad king” by former governor Michael Dukakis.

In the National Review, Kevin Williamson says the problem with raising the minimum wage isn’t so much forcing businesses to pay workers a livable wage; rather, he argues, the problem is the American public school system that turns out so many people whose labor is worth so little.

Dudley Square businessmen and women are looking to get a piece of the action in the neighborhood’s new municipal center.

CHARITIES

The Boston-based Barr Foundation, which is looking to raise its profile and impact nationally, has tapped James Canales, CEO of the James Irvine Foundation, to become its first president.

EDUCATION

The Boston school system releases the performance evaluation of its teachers, school by school, CommonWealth reports. The results show wide variation in ratings by individual schools.The Herald focuses on possible biases in the evaluations.

Salem State University says it plans to reopen a diner it acquired across from the central campus and have the university food service run it, the Salem News reports.

Gov. Deval Patrick is set to announce a $20 million state investment to modernize UMass Lowell’s school of engineering, the Sun reports.

Opinions are split at a hearing on adding charter schools in Lynn, with school superintendent Catherine Latham calling them “insidious and destructive,” the Item reports.

HEALTH CARE

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act, talks about its rocky start and what it bodes for the future. Gruber talked about the Romneycare precursor to the federal law, which he also helped design, in this 2007 Conversation in CommonWealth.

Children in 28 countries across the world take 90 seconds longer to run a mile than kids did 30 years ago, NPR reports.

TRANSPORTATION

Corporations that manage private highways and bridges are going bust.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Blooms of plankton, a critical link in the ocean food chain, were way down off the coast of northern New England this spring, mostly likely because of warming ocean temperatures, the Gloucester Times reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Federal agents arrest two men in Peabody who were allegedly doing surgeries to alter people’s fingertips, the Salem News reports.

A Wakefield child abuse suspect offers to under “physical castration” in exchange for a reduced sentence, but prosecutors aren’t interested, the Associated Press reports.

MEDIA

The New York Times is moving aggressively to replace Nate Silver, who took his statistical analysis work to ESPN and is expanding it there, the New Republic reports. David Leonhardt will write a column focused on data and polling, and former Globie Carolyn Ryan will replace Leonhardt as the paper’s Washington bureau chief, Politico reports.

A new social media app lets women anonymously review men who are their Facebook friends, the New York Times reports.

Another casino setback

Small town Massachusetts has spoken and it seems that many of them don’t want casinos. Milford, a MetroWest town of 25,000, soundly defeated a host community agreement with Crossroads Massachusetts, a casino development group led by Foxwoods Connecticut and Colorado real estate developer David Nunes.

 

The much-anticipated Milford vote deflates the state’s fledging casino quest. The turnout was extraordinary at nearly 60 percent, and the vote wasn’t even close: 6,361 to 3,480. Milford joins East Boston, West Springfield, and Palmer in rejecting resort casinos. Suburban locales in particular have become what the Boston Globe’s Mark Arsenault calls “the graveyard of casino dreams.”

Yet opposition to the Foxwoods plan in Milford had been particularly fierce and well-organized. In the days leading up to the vote, the battle only intensified. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission gave the Foxwoods plan conditional approval, subject to securing financing for the project.

Gaming commissioner Stephen Crosby raised questions about the independence of three-person management board that would have run the Bay State casino. All three of the prospective managers had links to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation that owns and operates the tribe’s financially troubled Connecticut flagship.

Which may be why late Sunday night Milford selectman Bill Buckley raised additional concerns about the financing agreement that Foxwoods had reached with Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc., a subsidiary of Penn National Gaming, that was announced shortly after the commission’s decision. The last-minute jockeying led to a war of words between Buckley and Nunes over the timing of the selectman’s protest.

Yet most voters were more likely swayed by qualify of life issues than the complexities of financing agreements. The “no” coalition was buoyed by fears about crime, traffic, and threats to the town’s New England character. Its pink granite quarries and factories helped Milford prosper in the early 20th century. However, unlike some other former mill towns in the Bay State, the community never hit rock-bottom when the factories closed.

Milford today is a solidly middle of the middle-class town (median income: $60,840) that is not starved for new investment. The national retail usual suspects — Lowe’s, Target, Petco, and the like — can be found on the aptly-named Fortune Boulevard. The town hosts a fair number of moderately priced hotels. So the prospect of millions in annual payments and infrastructure improvements was not enough to sway voters to think about casinos as a municipal revenue source.

If anything, the vote was a decisive triumph for what MetroWest Daily News/Milford Daily News opinion editor Rick Holmes called the “Old Milford”:

“Unlike a lot of suburbs, Milford has allowed apartments to be built and held on to its affordable housing. Young Milford residents don’t have to leave town to find homes they can afford. They can stay in the hometown they love, raising their own children in familiar neighborhoods. That’s one reason Milford’s working-class character has survived so well. Milford has never gone upscale. Its politics are dominated by long-established families and lunch-bucket issues. The newcomers don’t vote in town elections or pay attention to Town Meeting.”

Casino supporters may grumble, but there have been persistent doubts that a small state like Massachusetts could support three major casinos in a region that is becoming increasingly saturated with gaming facilities. Outside of tourist magnets like Boston and the Cape and the Islands, there have also been questions about whether small cities like Springfield and even smaller communities such as Milford would draw enough entertainment seekers to make a casino’s economics work.

What the Milford vote portends may depend on what the future holds for resort casino proposals already in play in Springfield, Everett, and possibly Revere. There is little doubt, however, that the town’s decisive rejection will give new energy to the anti-casino forces working on an uphill fight for a ballot question seeking a wholesale repeal of the casino law.

–GABRIELLE GURLEY  

BEACON HILL

The Senate votes to hike the minimum wage on July 1, 2014, from $8 to $9 and then keep raising it annually until it hits $11 in 2016, the State House News reports. House Speaker Robert DeLeo, however, throws some cold water on the raise.

The Herald editorializes against a plan by state Auditor Suzanne Bump to audit corporate tax breaks.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

New data show extreme disparities in education and income across the state, Masslive reports. Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish raised concerns about income inequality in a recent address.

A large crowd turns out at a Board of Selectmen’s meeting in Lunenburg to protest the decision to cancel the rest of the high school football season after a racial slur is found on one of the player’s homes, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Gov. Deval Patrick was expected this morning to announce the awarding of state funds for two new projects in Brockton, including a new $27.4 million science building at Massasoit Community College and a $4 million redesign of City Hall Plaza.

Rochester selectmen voted not to support an article at the Special Town Meeting to create a Community Preservation Act fund, saying taxpayers are already facing too many increases in the town budget.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

President Obama now says he will accept a piecemeal approach to immigration reform.

A Senate movement to curb filibusters of presidential appointments picks up steam.

Read Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s floor speech on the retirement crisis facing the country.

New York City launches a pilot project offering a special tax credit to help low-income, single adult workers with no children escape poverty, Governing reports.

The Globe‘s Brian MacQuarrie files this report from Dallas, as the nation prepares to mark this Friday the 50th anniversary of that day.

RELIGION

A Methodist minister in Pennsylvania says he expects to be defrocked after a tribunal found him guilty of violating church doctrine for officiating at his son’s same-sex marriage in Hull in 2006. The Rev. Frank Schaefer has 30 days to comply with the laws of the church’s Book of Discipline, which he says he cannot do in regards to gay marriage.

ELECTIONS

The Republican gubernatorial platform for 2014: lower state taxes and curbs on public-sector unions.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A battle is coming to a head between Tesla and the state’s auto dealers’ association, which wants to block the electric carmaker from selling directly to the public.

A draft of a state report laying out plans to improve and coordinate maritime facilities in five Massachusetts coastal cities says it could cost as much as $20 million to redevelop Fall River‘s waterfront for commercial, passenger, and visitor activities.

RIP, Blockbuster.

HEALTH CARE

Many of the people signing up for health insurance as part of Obamacare are discovering they are eligible for Medicaid, which could have an impact on state budgets, Governing reports.

The son of a Virginia state senator was given a mental health evaluation on Monday but released when no psychiatric bed could be found for him. He then stabbed his father multiple times and killed himself, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Environmental groups condemn state Rep. John Keenan’s bid to exempt a proposed natural gas power plant in Salem from regulatory appeals as a “sweetheart deal” and “poison pill,” the Salem News reports. But the Salem Alliance for the Environment writes a column in the Salem News arguing that the proposed natural gas plant is an integral part of a clean energy future as a backstop to wind and solar power. CommonWealth reported on the dispute last week, suggesting the battle is a fight over the state’s energy future.

The Buzzards Bay Coalition has dropped its appeal of the $366 million settlement the EPA agreed to to clean up New Bedford Harbor even though the advocates continue to insist it is woefully underfunded.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A former top prosecutor for :Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz has filed suit against Cruz and other supervisors. The ex-prosecutor claims he was fired after nearly 20 years in the office because he did not contribute to Cruz’s reelection campaign and questioned the office’s payments to informants.

Town Meeting voters in Essex approve the purchase of six tasers for police as an alternative to using firearms in confrontations with suspects, the Gloucester Times reports.

A man is arraigned in Wrentham on charges that he hit a man and a woman with his vehicle at a hotel on Route 1 and then dragged the woman under his truck for three miles to Gillette Stadium, NECN reports.

A court orders a Lawrence consulting firm called Pinnacle Financial to pay $240,000 in restitution and fines for violating an injunction barring predatory loan practices, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

MEDIA

Nate Silver announces a number of major hires as his FiveThirtyEight statistical analysis website with ESPN begins to take shape. It will focus on sports, politics, economics, science, and lifestyle issues, ESPN says.

Felix Salmon at Reuters offers a good, inside look at the changes taking place at Bloomberg News.

It’s back to WBUR for Christopher Lydon, 12 years after the erudite radio talker and station had an ugly divorce. Dan Kennedy welcomes him back.

Keller@Large says even though the Oxford Dictionary people declared “selfie” the word of the year, it didn’t feel that way around Boston in 2013.

And now for something completely different: Monty Python is getting back together for a reunion show.

Casino confusion on Vineyard

The Massachusetts casino hunt has turned upside-down, and then flipped upside-down again. The wild turns of fortune now have wild turns of their own. The Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe threw the state for a loop last week, announcing plans to open a federally-permitted gambling facility on their Martha’s Vineyard reservation soon. And this week, tribal voters threw those plans into disarray, voting out the tribal chairwoman who had been leading the charge to hastily construct a Vineyard gambling hall. The incoming tribal chairman rode a wave of discontent with the Vineyard casino push, but he hasn’t sworn off casinos altogether. So the only thing that’s certain is continued uncertainty.

The Aquinnah, based in a rural corner of Martha’s Vineyard, have long been at odds with state officials over casino gambling. Gov. Deval Patrick ’s administration believes the tribe signed away its gambling rights when it settled a land dispute with state and Gay Head officials in the 1980s. The tribe has long held that although it submitted some tribal lands to local zoning and inspectional codes in the 80s, it never forfeited its federal gambling rights. Federal tribal affairs officials, who take a dim view of local and state agreements that erode tribal sovereignty, have sided with the Aquinnah on gambling, informally, since the 1990s.

A recent legal letter from Washington reiterated this view; the Aquinnah chairwoman, Cheryl Andrews-Maltais , seized on it, and announced that the tribe would convert an unfinished Vineyard community center to a gambling hall within months. Because the tribe’s gambling facility would be built under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act , it would exist outside the jurisdiction and oversight of the state gaming commission, which is currently licensing three commercial casinos and a commercial slots parlor.

But just days after Andrews-Maltais’s announcement, the Aquinnah turned her out of office. In an election this week, Tobias Vanderhoop topped Andrews-Maltais, collecting nearly two-thirds of the vote. WBUR reported earlier that the Vineyard casino question was overshadowing the contest between Vanderhoop and Andrews-Maltais. Donald Widdiss, who preceded Andrews-Maltais as tribal chairman, told the Cape Cod Times today that the election had become a referendum on the idea of a Vineyard casino: “It was pretty simple. Tribe members are dissatisfied with what was happening,” he said. “They did something about it.” Widdiss added, “Our focus should be on the Vineyard without the idiocy of an island casino. It makes no sense.”

Vanderhoop has spoken cautiously about the tribe’s future with casinos. Last week, he told WBUR, “I am in favor of an appropriate gaming initiative for our people, but our people are the ones that have to define what is appropriate, and that discussion needs to really happen in a more in-depth way. People need to understand what the details are, how it would truly work, so that they can fully make a decision, an informed decision.” The Vineyard Gazette describes Vanderhoop as a supporter of casinos — the tribe has chased a casino in the New Bedford/Fall River area for years — but he’s far less enthusiastic about opening a gambling facility on the Vineyard. He told the Cape Cod Times last week that residents of the tribe’s Vineyard lands didn’t want to live next to a casino, that they “don’t necessarily see this as something that works for them.” That’s not an outright rejection of an island casino, but it’s also not a promise to open for business in time to greet the Memorial Day tourist crowd. But these days, with commercial casino proposals from Palmer to East Boston falling apart, it almost passes for certainty.

 

–PAUL MCMORROW

   

BEACON HILL

State Auditor Suzanne Bump told the Patriot Ledger editorial board she is seeking the power to review corporate tax returns to determine if those businesses are following the law in claiming state tax breaks and credits.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Dorchester Reporter editor Bill Forry recalls that Dorchester’s Edward Everett, regarded as the finest orator of his time, held forth for some two hours at Gettysburg, 150 years ago today, before Abraham Lincoln rose to deliver an address of just two minutes that has become enshrined in the national psyche, as it is on the walls of the memorial to the 16th president that sits at the end of the National Mall in Washington.

The daughter of JFK does a one-on-one interview with the son of former JFK aide and historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

ELECTIONS

No, no, no, and no again: Elizabeth Warren’s former national finance director says that she has no intention of running for president .

Chris Christie  argues for a bigger GOP big tent. Slate believes Christie’s biggest 2016 rival isn’t Marco Rubio or Rand Paul, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Frank Bruni  asks whether any political office is worth the family schism Liz Cheney has opened up.

Anatomy of a Really, Really, Really Bad Idea: Former Dukakis and Clinton aide Josh King does a 25-year-plus look back in Politico at the infamous tank ride by the former Massachusetts governor and its lessons and implications for all politicians, everywhere and forever.

CASINOS

Milford  votes today on a proposed casino run by a group of Foxwoods-led developers. The outcome could have a big ripple effect on the casino environment statewide.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The primary developer of the $1.6 billion overhaul of downtown Quincy says they have “paused” work just four months after breaking ground because construction costs in the Boston area have increased 37 percent and the company needs to recalibrate its investment. That evidently hasn’t stopped other development projects, however, as the Globe reports that a building boom has boosted construction employment in the region at a faster pace than nearly anywhere in the country.

Beverly leases waterfront land to the Black Cow restaurant for $30,000 a year, the Salem News reports.

A Walmart store in Ohio is taking up donations for its employees who cannot afford to buy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner .

JP Morgan reaches a $13 billion settlement with federal regulators.

CHARITIES   

A new global study finds that the bulk of charitable donations of $1 million or more came from American donors .

EDUCATION

Lunenburg High School cancels the rest of its football schedule, including a Thanksgiving Day game, as an investigation into a racial slur against one of the players continues, the Telegram & Gazette reports. Globe columnist Kevin Cullen wonders whether this is the best way to respond to morons.

The Braintree School Committee voted to end the three-year practice of sending letters to parents with their children’s height and weight , though school officials will continue to measure students and provide the information at the parents’ request.

HEALTH CARE

The Patrick administration says it won’t delay full implementation of Obamacare for a year, forcing 100,000 residents to scrap their current health plans, the State House News reports. Steven Syre explains why it was much smoother sledding for the implementation of Romneycare than Obamacare.

South Carolina saved more than $6 million over three months by refusing to reimburse Medicaid and private insurers for early birth deliveries scheduled for convenience, Governing reports.

TRANSPORTATION

Worcester residents urge the MBTA to do everything possible to trim the commuter rail time from Worcester to Framingham and then into Boston, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The state’s efforts to stem the demand side of prostitution through increased enforcement and penalties has been more talk than action , according to a review by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

State Police arrest one of the state’s most wanted Level 3 sex offenders in Beverly, the Salem News reports.

Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch names William Taylor, a 31-year department veteran, to head the Lowell Police Department, the Sun reports.

MEDIA

Dan Kennedy says GateHouse Media will fold some of its weaker weeklies while running more shared content in others, though no layoffs are imminent, he says.

Selfie is named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries, Time reports.