Rolling the Dice

Rolling the Dice

Coverage of casino licensing and the gambling referendum

Suffolk down but not out

Boston lost a protracted, petty-looking battle to bring a proposed Everett casino into its orbit earlier this year. Now, with Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s former casino dance partner Suffolk Downs rebuffed by East Boston voters and eyeing a massive gambling facility just across the city line in Revere, Boston faces the prospect of re-running the same cross-border obstruction play it ran in Everett, but actually having to make it stick this time around.

The Suffolk Downs horse track straddles the Boston-Revere line. The track’s developers had initially contemplated building the vast majority of its proposed gambling facility on the Boston side of the line. The bulk of the site’s acreage lies in Boston. Its access road, parking lots, and track grandstands all sit in Boston. The casino plan that Suffolk Downs has been pushing for the past two years would have seen casino construction, along with traffic and parking infrastructure improvements, occurring chiefly in Boston. That’s all out the window now, after East Boston voters rejected the Suffolk Downs casino proposal by a 12-point margin. 

Suffolk Downs and Revere officials now plan to charge ahead with an effort to rejigger plans and  propose a casino solely on the Revere side of the horse track’s Boston-Revere property. “I’m not issuing 350 pink slips and telling the horsemen they can never come back before we have exhausted all of our options,” Suffolk COO Chip Tuttle tells the Globe today. Tuttle and his partners are now scrambling to reposition their proposed casino within the Revere portion of their property, and to renegotiate the host community agreement Revere voters approved last week.

Relocating a Suffolk Downs casino to Revere would mean turning the site’s previous plans upside-down. The Revere side of the track houses its back entrance, a parking lot for jockeys, and acres of horse stables. Suffolk’s old casino plans had these facilities remaining largely untouched, except for the addition of some surface parking lots; now, Suffolk and Revere are talking about uprooting the track’s horse racing operations, moving them over to Boston, and cramming acres of parking, hotel space and gaming floors onto a sliver of the track’s real estate along Route 145.

Suffolk Downs is troublesome for Boston because, even though the track spans two cities, it operates as a single entity. So what happens on the Revere side of the line greatly impacts the Boston side. Under the old deal, Suffolk had proposed sinking millions into surrounding road improvements, especially outside the track’s main entrance on Route 1A. The fate of those improvements is now up in the air — as is the question of how a Revere-only casino would handle traffic and parking. Wouldn’t new roadways and parking lots and horse racing stables, located in Boston but servicing a casino building in Revere, at least violate the spirit of last week’s East Boston referendum?

These are the arguments Menino tried to make earlier this year, when he tried to bully Steve Wynn out of town. A tiny sliver of Wynn’s Everett site lies in Boston, as does the main road running past Wynn’s property. Menino, a Suffolk Downs partisan, based his argument on the fact that Wynn’s customers would use Boston roads to access the Everett casino. He tried to argue that since Wynn was proposing to tidy up all of the post-industrial wasteland his casino would rise above, including the real estate in Boston, Wynn should have to negotiate a host community mitigation pact with Boston.

Menino’s claims were laughed down, largely because they were seen as a ploy to give Suffolk Downs leverage over the competition in Everett. Now, however, the prospect of Suffolk Downs trying to leverage infrastructure improvements in Boston in service of a casino across the city line is very real. If he wanted to, Menino could make a plausible argument that a Revere-only casino couldn’t realistically operate without leveraging Boston land, and that East Boston’s referendum last week shouldn’t allow such work to happen. The question is whether, after Menino’s episode with Wynn, anyone would listen.

 

–PAUL MCMORROW

      

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Former state representative Paul Kujawski, who was hired to raise money for a new library in Webster, fails to bring in even a nickel, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Marshfield’s effort to halt implementation of the controversial new federal flood maps has cleared the first hurdle as FEMA officials accepted the town’s appeals and delayed its final determination of the maps for at least 60 days.

Marlborough considers a local options meals tax, which would raise about $75,000.

John Nucci argues that, with a casino behind it, East Boston is free to focus on waterfront development.

 

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The New Republic says income inequality could become the hot issue of the next presidential race. If that happens, Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare is … Elizabeth Warren. Warren is also striking terror into the hearts of Wall Street bankers and corporate executives, Politico reports. A pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC is already raising and spending money, ahead of the 2016 election.

Architect Daniel Libeskind argues that if New York could find consensus in the battles over the World Trade Center site, Washington should be able to find common ground, too.  

In a refrain that will sound familiar in Boston, New York mayor-elect Bill de Blasio says that while he’s a friend of labor, he can’t afford to pay all his friends well. New York magazine rounds up de Blasio’s looming headaches.  

CASINOS 

The MetroWest Daily News supports a casino in Milford.  

ELECTIONS  

Lawrence mayor William Lantigua, in a speech at a Spanish-language radio station, calls for a recount of his unofficial 57-vote loss to Daniel Rivera, the Eagle-Tribune reports.  

Communities of color were the key to Marty Walsh’s victory in the Boston mayoral race, CommonWealth reports. Boston magazine maps Boston’s mayoral contest.

Alarmed by the flood of unrestricted — and undisclosed — independent PAC expenditures in the Boston mayor’s race, Secretary of State Bill Galvin and several lawmakers plan to file legislation that would require rapid disclosure of donors by such groups.  

The Globe op-ed page weighs the significance of last week’s mayoral race. CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow says it’s the arrival in municipal races of super PACs, which helped fuel Marty Walsh’s win. Farah Stockman takes stock of the pluses and minuses of Walsh’s labor identity; Carpenters Union head Mark Erlich focuses on the pluses, and offers a scolding to columnists and editorial writers who opined otherwise. 

Attorney General Martha Coakley, now a candidate for governor who is facing scrutiny over her handling of campaign finance matters, was the subject of a potential Federal Election Commission investigation three years ago, the Globe reports.  

Independent gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk pays a visit to the Gloucester Times. CommonWealth writes about Falchuk and his independent rival, Jeffrey McCormick. Herald columnist Hillary Chabot tells Charlie Baker to take it easy with the regular-guy schtick.  

BUSINESS/ECONOMY  

Though 250,000 Massachusetts residents remain unemployed, the Globe reports that the state’s restaurant industry is suffering from a shortage of skilled food-service workers.  

After just 17 seasons at Turner Field, the Atlanta Braves are moving to Cobb County with what appears to be a hefty infusion of cash from the county, Governing reports. At Grantland, Atlanta native Rembert Browne paints the Braves’ flight as a symptom of the city’s residential segregation: “One of the defining traits of Atlanta is the way in which people, places, and things run away from each other. One of the most sprawling cities in the world achieves that honor, yes, because there are no geographical boundaries to stop growth, but also because people will go to great lengths to not live among undesirables.”  

The upside to the Amazon-US Postal Service partnership is also its downside.  

RELIGION  

Echoing recent calls by Pope Francis, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley says the Catholic Church need to reassert its focus on the plight of the poor, which often seems to take a back seat to the “culture war” over abortion and gay rights. 

EDUCATION  

Fall River building officials discovered an original occupancy certificate for the city’s Talbot Middle School that shows the official capacity far beyond what school officials have been using for years.  

Lawrence schools partner with enrichment programs, such as the Boys and Girls Club, to extend the school year by about 200 to 300 hours, the Eagle-Tribune reports.  

A growing cadre of educators and software developers say video games can be a useful tool in teaching young students science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  

HEALTH CARE    

State health care exchange websites share the woes of their federal counterpart.    

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT    

Hingham officials are concerned about an increase in fire risks in the town forest from dead trees killed by a microscopic insect that is infesting woodlands around the state.    

Middleboro selectmen will go to court to try to stop NStar from clear-cutting a swath of land along transmission lines from Carver to Bridgewater that conservation officials say threaten an endangered turtle species.

 

Darwin rolls the dice

Now that the dust is settling, you have to wonder when it comes to casino permits: What the heck do we need a Gaming Commission for?

There’s a sort of Darwinian process of natural selection going on in the decision to site casinos in Massachusetts, and it appears voters are the ones taking the bull by the horns. Out west – both in Massachusetts and in Nevada – MGM officials and stockholders must be thanking their lucky stars. By default, they are the sole survivor after Palmer voters said thanks but no thanks to Mohegan Sun, which was angling to build a resort casino in that the small town between Worcester and Springfield. Mohegan officials said they would ask for a recount and, quel  suprise, they say something was amiss with voting machines.

In September, West Springfield voters rebuked Hard Rock in its effort to bring roulette tables to their city. Springfield voters had no such qualms back in May when they gave a resounding okay to MGM, and now their foresight has paid off. The application deadline in that region is closed and it would take a miracle – or some federal investigation – for MGM to lose out.

The so-called Region A herd is also winnowing. Milford voters will go the polls on November 19, but given what happened in East Boston and Palmer, a thumbs up is no longer a foregone conclusion. Steve Wynn and his Everett plan looks like they are in the catbird seat for now. Though Revere and Suffolk Downs officials are exploring developing a casino that would sit only on the Revere side of the racetrack property after the East Boston slapdown, Gaming Commission jefe Steve Crosby says that’s a reach.

Clyde Barrow, the UMass Dartmouth professor and go-to guy for casino backers, says the process in Massachusetts is “on the verge of being a mess.” He also points out the one monkey wrench in the works is applicants for the three standing proposals have yet to be found suitable by the Gaming Commission and if they aren’t, it’s quite possible there will be no casino in Massachusetts for a few years.

But, keep in mind, the Gaming Commission found Caesars had questions about the company’s suitability for the Suffolk Downs proposal and a few days later, word came that the company is under investigation by the feds and they dropped out. So, maybe in the end, the process is working the way it’s supposed to.

 

–JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

In an editorial , the Boston Herald says the Legislature, not the Ethics Commission, should decide whether a Dan Wolf exemption is warranted.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Somerset officials confirmed the town is facing an $11 million and growing unfunded retirement liability but dismissed residents’ concerns, saying many other communities have bigger gaps.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Democratic senators press the White House over health care enrollment woes. Meanwhile, The Bay State Banner calls the conservative furor on Obamacare a “ backdoor attack on the poor, ” white and black.

US Rep. Steve Lynch told South Shore residents he’s confident Congress will make some changes and offer relief to homeowners affected by the controversial new flood insurance regulations and flood zone maps.

ELECTIONS

Boston mayor-elect Marty Walsh basks in the glow of victory on the day after. He plans to announce transition team members tomorrow. Minority voters were key to the Dorchester state rep’s victory. Peter Gelzinis writes that all eyes are now on John Barros , Felix Arroyo and Charlotte Golar Richie .

Time declares: Unions are back . “Have unions turned to municipal elections as a means of flexing their aging muscles?” asks Tufts University professor Jeffrey Berry.

Vice President Joe Biden calls Natick resident Marty Walsh to congratulate him on being elected mayor of Boston. In fairness to Biden, New York magazine notes that one out of every four Boston residents is named Marty Walsh. And then there’s this guy .

With Daniel Rivera’s margin of victory over incumbent William Lantigua in the Lawrence mayoral election only 60 votes, attention is now focusing on some 54 ballots set aside because of some problems with them and the absentee ballots still coming in, the Eagle-Tribune reports. The styles of the two candidates couldn’t be any different, according to the E-T . Rivera holds a press conference outside and fields all questions. Lantigua lets his lawyer do the talking while he personally talks to only a few Spanish-language media outlets.

Former state senator Warren Tolman is jumping into the race for attorney general, State House News reports.

Three women, all first-time candidates, win seats on the Salem City Council, the Salem News reports.

Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is running for governor, talks “patent trolling” at a Boston startup, WBUR reports.

Amesbury ’s mayoral election — decided by an 8-vote margin that later shrunk to 2 votes — heads for a recount .

Chris Christie ’s big win in New Jersey , combined with Ken Cuccinelli ’s loss in Virginia , has the GOP debating an electoral path forward. Robert Sullivan offers some grounds for caution before coronating Christieas the 2016 GOP presidential nominee.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Facebook is back where it all began and House Speaker Robert DeLeo is doing a victory lap.

Natick-based Karyopharm , a biotech company aiming to develop treatments for cancer and other diseases, became the ninth Massachusetts company to go public this year , finishing up modestly on its first day of trading.

The CIA pays AT&T to snoop on its call data.

Microsoft has winnowed the list of potential CEOs with just one outsider believed to be on the short list.

EDUCATION

In the face of strong protest from students, teachers, and parents, interim Boston school superintendent John McDonough backed off plans he had floated to shuffle school locations to accommodate an expected bulge in elementary school enrollment.

Voters in Colorado reject a $1 billion tax package to fund education initiatives, Governing reports.

HEALTH CARE

The New Republic ’s Jonathan Cohn explains why some people will pay more and get less under Obamacare .

Victor Davis Hanson wonders in the National Review if two terms are too much for the presidency.

TRANSPORTATION

Gov. Deval Patrick goes to Metro West and discusses some improvements to the Mass Pike as well as bigger projects like South Coast Rail and the Silver Line and Green Line extensions, leading the The MetroWest Daily News to ask when regional transportation equity is going to come to the region.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Sen. Elizabeth Warren discusses how the federal government is failing on gun control.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled a police officer’s opinion on whether someone is too impaired to drive is not admissible in drunken driving cases .

Central American immigrants in New Bedford met with the mayor and police to tell stories of what they say is an increase in racist attacks on their community.

Against all odds, casino vote in doubt

In the gambling world, the house always wins.

In the case of a bid to build a billion dollar casino in East Boston, the house is Suffolk Downs and its well-wired investors. Until recently, it was also Caesars Entertainment, and its bloviating CEO Gary Loveman. And it’s the mayor and the House speaker, a political one-two punch that seemed to give Suffolk the inside track for the Boston area casino license — and then some. Add to this Murderers’ Row of heavy hitters nearly $2 million spent to win over a few thousand Eastie residents, an 86-to-1 spending advantage over casino opponents to which David vs.Goliath comparisons somehow feel inadequate, and it might have been reasonable to ask, why even bother to take a vote?

But with the polls set to open in less than 24 hours, the casino referendum, in which only East Boston voters will have a say, looks like a toss-up. A Suffolk University poll shows the measure passing by five points, 47-42, while a MassINC Polling Group survey for WBUR showed the question losing by a similar, slim margin, 46-42.

No one could have imagined. But no one foresaw the 11th-hour collapse of the Suffolk partnership with Caesars, which pulled out of the project when it became clear that the state gambling commission had serious questions about business dealings that allegedly connected the casino giant to Russian mobsters. And perhaps no one imagined the degree of opposition from East Boston residents, who have had to come to terms with an international airport, but  view a casino not as a nirvana of jobs and economic growth but another monstrous project threatening the livability of their neighborhood.

Nowhere has that Eastie ambivalence come through louder than in the pieces John Nucci has penned for the Boston Herald. Nucci, a one-time Boston city councilor who now works as a Suffolk University vice president for government relations, has been writing regular columns about the mayor’s race. They have often read like the bland nuggets of conventional wisdom one might expect from someone whose job is to schmooze City Hall and other powerbrokers, not get anyone’s nose out of joint with sharp jabs.

But Nucci has become a steady voice of doubt about a casino in his East Boston neighborhood, no doubt much to the chagrin of Tom Menino and Bobby DeLeo. Last month, Nucci wrote, “the wheels are rapidly coming off” the casino plan, and he declared that any vote in favor of the project would be “meaningless” because it isn’t even known who the casino operator would be.  This morning, he has an election preview, in which he encourages Boston residents to get out and vote tomorrow. He especially encourages his East Boston neighbors to head to the polls, whether in favor or opposed to a casino. But it doesn’t take too much imagination to see what he thinks of the plan. “Either East Boston (where I live) will remain the neighborhood it is today, or be completely transformed into a ‘casino town’ by  the mega-casino development Suffolk Downs (and an unknown casino partner due to Caesars’ last-minute disqualification) has planned.”

Nucci’s steady anti-casino pronouncements may be the clearest sign yet of the waning clout of the city’s soon-to-be former mayor, and of fact that opposition to an Eastie casino isn’t confined to a group of religious and neighborhood activists but extends into the heart of East Boston’s old guard.

 

–MICHAEL JONAS

     

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal making it harder for state and municipal workers to qualify for retirement health benefits draws an angry crowd, the Salem News reports.

A group of citizens opposed to a Beverly shopping plaza say Rep. Jerry Parisella has a conflict of interest in pushing the proposal because he worked for the law firm representing the plaza’s developer until October 18, the Salem News reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Veolia, which runs school bus service in Boston, said it has fired two workers in connection with a strike last month that stranded students, NECN reports.

Westport Town Meeting will consider placing term limits on all multi-member boards, elected and appointed, and barring Finance Committee members from serving on any other committee.

CASINOS

 

The head of the Springfield NAACP criticizes Mohegan Sun for failing to respond to the organization’s request for information on its plans for hiring minority workers should it win the license for a casino in Palmer. Meanwhile, MGM Springfield, the other contender for a western Mass license, works out a partnership agreement with Six Flags New England.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Mitt Romney says Obamacare will be the undoing of President Obama’s second term and says the national health care reform is nothing like what he did in Massachusetts despite the president’s comparisons. The Christian Science Monitor’s report is here. The Globe account is here .

ELECTIONS

A second poll finds Marty Walsh with a slight lead over John Connolly in the Boston mayor race, WBUR reports . Joe Battenfeld compares Connolly’s campaign to Martha Coakley ’s, while Howie Carr piles on . Peter Gelzinis calls Walsh a natural successor to Ray Flynn and Tom Menino , while Margery Eagan says Connolly is only one who has laid out an “out-of-the box” vision on the most important issue — improving the city’s schools.

US Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorses Daniel Rivera over incumbent William Lantigua in the race for mayor in Lawrence. US Rep. Niki Tsongas endorsed Rivera earlier, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The Brockton Enterprise endorses challenger Bill Carpenter over incumbent Mayor Linda Balzotti . In Fall River, the Herald News tosses its support behind Mayor Will Flanagan for a third term, overlooking its own recent reporting of his association with a local businessman with alleged ties to the Rhode Island mob.

Chris Christie, “the anti-Cruz,” appears well on his way to victory in New Jersey and likely becomes the frontrunner for the GOP nod in 2016 and leader of the anti-tea party faction if he does.

The New York Times looks at the influx of super PAC money from the Koch brothers into a municipal race in Iowa . CommonWealth previously examined the arrival of super PAC spending in Boston ’s mayoral race.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Good stuff really, really cheap: No-frills liquidator Building 19 filed for bankruptcy on Friday and plans to sell everything off and close its doors.

The Wall Street Journal traces $66 billion in bank housing settlement payments.

EDUCATION

A real estate deal gone bad is partly responsible for the failure of a Worcester charter school, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Boston tries to prepare families for its significantly revamped student assignment system .

Colorado votes on a $1 billion education spending proposal.

HEALTH CARE

Blue-collar workers are more likely to be exposed to cigarette smoke on the job than are other workers.

TRANSPORTATION

A ruling by the highest court in Virginia holds that tolls are not taxes and that the state’s transportation agency can legally convert roads into toll roads using public private partnerships, Governing reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The new owner of the Salem Harbor Station power plant signs a $200 million contract with General Electric to replace the existing coal-burning equipment with gas-burning equipment, the Gloucester Times reports.

Colorado takes tentative steps toward an anti-fracking referendum.

MEDIA

The Cape Cod Times lays off 12 in the newsroom as its new owner begins trimming expenses.

The Beat the Press panel ponders the value of newspaper endorsements.

Author Gish Jen’s ruminations on the Red Sox World Series win in the Globe stirs up WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan.

A new Knight Foundation study examines the sustainability of nonprofit journalism, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.

Bill Keller, writing in the New York Times, says it’s a golden age of news.

Rendering unto Caesars

Suffolk Downs entered the Massachusetts casino sweepstakes dripping with inevitability . It was the bidder that had the backing of Boston’s mayor. It was the track the House speaker used to hang around as a kid. The combination of gerrymandered-looking casino region boundaries and a special exemption from the state casino law’s municipal referendum requirement all but cleared the field for Suffolk.

Now, with just two weeks left before Election Day, The Suffolk Downs casino bid looks as vulnerable as it’s ever been.

East Boston casino opponents staged a show of force yesterday, with local religious leaders likening the casino business to “ravenous wolves.” They rallied in the wake of Friday’s blockbuster news that Caesars Entertainment , the would-be operator of East Boston’s casino, was withdrawing from the Suffolks Downs casino proposal. “It shows you there’s something sinister … about this whole process,” one of the rally’s organizers, Pedro Morales , told the Globe . “It’s not opinion. There’s evidence now, clear evidence, that this deal had something unsavory about it.”

According to multiple reports, Caesars exited the Suffolk casino deal after state investigators raised tough questions about a partner Caesars had a licensing deal with in a Las Vegas casino. The firm in question allegedly has ties to the Russian mob. State gambling officials made no official determination about whether Caesars could be a partner in a Massachusetts casino, but the static over the company’s background check caused Suffolk Downs’s developers to throw Caesars overboard .

The Globe also reports that, in addition to the possible financial relationship with the mob, Massachusetts regulators also raised questions about a $127 million gambling binge — allegedly fueled by alcohol and pills — that occurred in Caesars-operated Las Vegas casinos in 2007. New Jersey gambling regulators fined Caesars $225,000 for failing to stop that binge earlier this year.

Earlier, Massachusetts regulators disqualified the owners of the Plainridge Racecourse from bidding, after discovering that the track’s former boss had been routinely withdrawing cash from the facility’s money room. Steve Wynn , who’s eyeing a casino in Everett , appears concerned that his Macau operations — the subject of civil lawsuits and federal investigations , but no formal complaints — could cause him headaches with local regulators.

Caesars CEO Gary Loveman shot his way out of his home state, telling Bloomberg Businessweek, “It’s going to be very hard for anyone to pass” the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s background checks. He added to the Globe , “It’s going to be very difficult for sophisticated, multi-jurisdictional operators to tolerate the environment this commission has created.” But Loveman’s statements are belied by the fact that several would-be gaming operators, including Raynham Park , Mohegan Sun , the Cordish Companies , and Penn National , have already passed the same background check that Loveman’s firm stumbled over.

Loveman’s former dance partners at Suffolk Downs are now left scrambling to find a new operating partner, two weeks ahead of their November 5 referendum date. “Now they have to find a new operator of the casino and they have to do it in record time,” Mayor Tom Menino told WBUR yesterday. Suffolk COO Chip Tuttle added, “The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is clearly setting rigorous standards here, we have no problem with that. We have always been ready to meet those standards and earn a license.”

Still, Tuttle’s firm is left with a major perception problem. If it can’t find a new casino operator in the next two weeks, Suffolk will be asking voters to approve a gambling facility without knowing who will be running it. And if they can sign up a new partner over the next several days, Suffolk will be peppered with complaints from casino opponents that, given the way Caesars unraveled, the neighborhood needs more than a few days to vet the new team. In today’s Herald , John Nucci argues that November’s East Boston casino referendum has been rendered “meaningless,” and that there’s “nobody in the driver’s seat of this careening chariot, and the vote is right around the corner.” As Loveman himself said last year , in happier times: “This is not something for the faint-hearted.”

–PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL  

A bill to increase penalties for animal abuse, triggered in part by the recent “Puppy Doe” case, would set up a registry for convicted animal abusers and require shelters, breeders and pet stores to check with the registry before giving anyone a pet.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston city officials say approval of an arbitrator’s award to the police patrol officers’ union could imperil a program that targets crime in the most troubled city neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Telegram & Gazette columnist Clive McFarlane says buying an expensive gunshot detection system in Worcester isn’t what the community needs.

Fall River city councilors are upset with Mayor Will Flanagan after the EPA issued a report citing at least four violations at the city’s water department’s filtration plant.

CASINOS

The MetroWest Daily News advises voters to think long and hard about the pros and cons of siting a casino in Milford .

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s director of research and problem gaming goes to New Hampshire to appear before a legislative panel charged with recommending regulations for possible casinos.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Good luck with that: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says there will be no more government shutdowns . Be careful what you wish for: Republicans may lose the House if they play for another shutdown next year . Herald columnist Kimberly Atkins compares the Tea Party to a flesh-eating bacteria.

Republicans seek a middle ground on gay rights.

It’s unclear whether the federal government will meet its target of 7 million applications in six months, but so far 476,000 applications for Obamacare have been filed.

In an editorial, the Richmond Times-Dispatch explains why it wouldn’t endorse any of the candidates running for governor in Virginia.

Gay couples start getting married in New Jersey, with Senator-elect and Newark Mayor Cory Booker officiating at many of the first ceremonites, NJ.com reports . The ceremonies went off with a minimal amount of heckling .  

ELECTIONS

The Boston mayoral candidates keep scrambling for endorsements — even though the benefits of such backing are unclear. US Rep. Michael Capuano throws in with Marty Walsh .

Maura Healey , a top aide to Attorney General Martha Coakley, jumps into the race to replace her boss, the Associated Press reports (via WBUR).

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Lynn officials urge a developer not to put a Dollar Store on Andrew Street, the Item reports .

Donations to the 400 largest charities in the country grew by just 4 percent last year and forecasts for this year project a decrease of 1 percent.

An Illinois court strikes down a state law requiring Internet retailers to pay sales tax, increasing the chances that the US Supreme Court will weigh in on the issue, Governing reports .

Diners flock to the Hilltop Steak House in Saugus on the last night before it closes, the Item reports .

JP Morgan will pay $13 billion to settle some claims related to housing bubble-era mortgage bonds. The Wall Street Journal editorial page is not pleased .

EDUCATION

MetroWest school districts  grapple with the possible uses and abuses of social media.

HEALTH CARE

More parents are failing to vaccinate their kids, and the problem is particularly acute on the Cape . 

As part of its ongoing series on Lyme disease, the Globe looks into the unregulated world of Lyme disease testing.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Opponents of two town-owned wind turbines in Falmouth got a boost when a Superior Court judge ruled they had a “likelihood of success” in their legal battle to shut down the turbines.

MEDIA

The Beat the Press panel revisits their discussion on the controversy over billionaire conservative financier David Koch ’s presence on the WGBH board of trustees and determines they were right in the first place to defend his inclusion despite the criticism they received.

Quality news is suddenly attractive to tech entrepreneurs, the New York Times reports .

Mike Tyson pens an essay about his Brooklyn youth for New York magazine. 

On a mission from God in East Boston

Another front line has opened up in the battle over an East Boston casino: Multifaith coalitions.

Friends of East Boston, a group of neighborhood ministers, announced their campaign against the Suffolk Downs/Caesar Entertainment plan to bring a $1 billion casino to the Suffolk Downs racetrack. Their message: “Because we believe God has something better for East Boston than a casino.”

At first glance, a coalition of neighborhood churches and other supporters doesn’t look to stand a chance against the might of casino developers. But the clergy is digging deep into the moral well of David versus Goliath symbolism to wage their uphill battle against cold hard cash.

Elsewhere in Massachusetts, faith groups have tried and failed in their campaigns against casinos. The Council of Churches of Western Massachusetts, like their East Boston brethren, had zero dollars in their effort to defeat the MGM Springfield casino proposal. Their campaign never gained any real traction. Springfield voters approved the casino plan 58 percent to 42 percent. The Council has moved onto working with MGM to mitigate the social consequences of problem gambling.

But the East Boston clergy have one element that the western group lacked, the backing of the local Catholic leaders. In Springfield, the Catholic Church, which sold a former rectory to MGM investor and Springfield businessman Paul Picknelly, pretty much stayed on the sidelines. Springfield casino opponents believe that they would have fared better with more active, public backing from Catholic leaders. The city defeated casino pushes in the mid-1990s on the strength of vigorous opposition from energized Catholic-led groups.

Catholic leaders are engaged in the Eastie group fighting the casino.  In a Boston Globe video, Rev. Thomas Domurat of the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, noted that the group’s opposition is rooted in concerns about gambling addictions, especially in a neighborhood of moderate- and low-income residents.

Certainly, some residents in an area that is also predominately Latino and heavily immigrant will take church leaders’ arguments on board.  “I don’t like,” an East Boston businesswoman Juvenita Alvarado told WBUR. “I don’t like. Because if my church says no good here, I say, too, no good for here.”

Many of the churches involved in Friends of East Boston have predominately Latino congregations. Churches play crucial social roles in many such communities and clergy will have the ear of their congregations at least once a week, if not more.

While it is difficult to gauge the impact of a faith-backed opposition effort, what is quantifiable is that the support for an East Boston casino is narrow, at least further afield in Boston. A recent WBUR/MassINC Polling Group survey of likely Boston mayoral preliminary voters showed 47 percent of respondents supported a casino; 44 percent were opposed.

It remains to be seen whether a social justice message will trump the job creation and other economic talking points that casino developers pitch.  East Boston, and East Boston only, votes on the Suffolk Downs casino proposal on November 5.

                                                                                                                                                      –GABRIELLE GURLEY

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The number of homeless families is starting to spike in Danvers again, rising from 112 to 142, the Salem News reports.

The federal government is offering Scituate or Cohasset the offshore Minot Light for free, saying the Coast Guard would continue to maintain and operate the light and foghorn while the town that takes it would be responsible for the structure’s maintenance.

The Somerset police chief, who had been on medical leave following a heated confrontation with the town administrator and a selectman, said he was cleared to return to work just after the town administrator rescinded an order changing work reporting requirements that triggered the confrontation.

Former Inspector General Greg Sullivan says Boston based its handover of Yawkey Way to the Red Sox on outdated real estate values.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

There’s no end in sight to the government shutdown, as both parties in Washington spent the day playing to public opinion, Time reports. With Social Security offices shut down, Lynn residents were angry, the Item reports. In central Massachusetts, the shutdown affected Social Security, IRS, and flood control work, the Telegram & Gazette reports. A Red Cross food pantry is worried that federal funding will dry up, NECN reports. Health exchanges open in every state, Governing reports. Not all government websites have gone down. The shutdown blocks kids with cancer from clinical trials, ABC News reports. Vets stormed DC’s closed World War II memorial and gain entrance. National Review points out that the late Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill was the master of the government shutdown to win policy concessions. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has a rundown on what the shutdown means to nonprofits.

Folks in Maryland are busy buying guns before a new gun law takes effect, Governing reports.

ELECTIONS

Boston mayoral candidate John Connolly says he will vote against the police contract in the City Council, WBUR reports. Jeff Jacoby says Marty Walsh was for binding arbitration before he was against it. Charlotte Golar Richie says she will endorse Connolly or Walsh within the next few days, NECN reports.

James Aloisi, in his CommonWealth series on historic Boston mayoral races of the past, reports on John Collins and his stunning upset of John E. Powers.

Mac Bell, who is running for mayor in Gloucester, shows up at a fundraiser for the incumbent, Carolyn Kirk, who asks him to leave, the Gloucester Times reports.

Two unopposed incumbents in New Bedford — a ward councilor and a School Committee member — have drawn the most donations of all city election candidates so far, according to the Standard Times.

The New York Times profiles Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Don Chiofaro heads back to the drawing board on redevelopment the Harbor Garage.

Google is facing wiretapping allegations for scanning users’ email.

EDUCATION

While they wait for their future school to be rehabbed, students and teachers at the Lowell Collegiate Charter School move into a modular building behind a church, the Sun reports.

Harvard’s $30.8 billion endowment took a hit last year but it’s still tops among colleges and universities in the nation and dwarfs all others, including MIT, which ranks fifth with a $10.1 billion endowment.

HEALTH CARE

The Globe reports that it could be a long wait for compensation for those who suffered injuries from tainted drugs produced by Framingham-based New England Compounding Center.

Can a billboard campaign in Mattapan combat the public health scourge of urban violence?

Paul Levy posts some of the key findings and summarizes the numbers from the ongoing two-day hearing at UMass Boston on health care cost trends.

Americans really want health insurance, creating problems for new federal insurance exchanges.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

At the corruption trial of Lawrence police officer P.J. Lopez, the owner of a towing company says he gave the officer cars at reduced rates and a free snow plow in return for extra towing jobs, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

One Brockton city councilor wants officials to map areas where there’s a high incidence of crime and share that with residents as one way to deal with the spate of violent crimes plaguing the City of Champions.

MEDIA

Bob Cousy, a total team player to the end, shares bittersweet memories of his late wife with the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.  The Celtics player’s story has struck a chord with readers on the Web.

Northwestern University’s prestigious journalism program  is wondering whether its internship program should pay students a salary, ProPublica reports.

West Springfield rocks casino world

Never underestimate the threat of traffic nightmares to doom an $800 million economic development project. West Springfield voters said no in a Big E way to Hard Rock International’s plan to open a casino on the site of the Eastern States Exposition – rejecting the plan 55 percent to 45 percent.

The town is the first Bay State municipality to reject a casino host community agreement in a public referendum since lawmakers legalized casino gambling in two years ago. About 45 percent of registered voters went to the polls. Hard Rock spent more than $1 million in its failed campaign, but a small group of committed opponents and some very big negatives carried the day.

The location was always a dubious prospect. For 17 days every fall, the Big E, the largest agricultural fair in the Northeast, throws a wrench in the daily lives of folks on the “west side” as the town is known in the region. As one Yelper has pointed out, “you are sitting in traffic for a billion years.”  Translation: it can take an hour or more to make the five-mile trek from the Big E to Interstate 91. What becomes a bad memory for tourists is a major annual headache for locals.

Hard Rock could not allay the fears that experience conjures. Despite a $35 million commitment from the developers for road improvements, public transportation add-ons, and new parking, the perception of 365 days of traffic tie-ups fueled Tuesday’s “no” vote.

Environmental questions plagued the project. Two ponds and the Westfield River abut the site, raising concerns about threatened species like bald eagles that inhabit the wetlands. The casino officials showed little understanding of the very real possibility that conforming to state environmental regs could delay if not derail the plan. The minor controversy that ensued when the signs that identified the animals in the area suddenly disappeared also raised eyebrows.

The host community agreement put West Springfield at a significant disadvantage if the casino revenues did not live up to Hard Rock expectations. The agreement required the town to come back to the table to renegotiate community benefit and other fees Hard Rock paid if the casino experienced “any material changes in the competitive environment” that had an “adverse impact” on the company’s finances.

West Springfield’s departure from the casino scene promises to heat up the Western Massachusetts debate over whether an urban casino in Springfield is more or less preferable to a rural gaming facility in Palmer. MGM Resorts International, backer of the Springfield project, has the added challenge of persuading the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that Pansy Ho, the major investor in MGM Macau and the daughter of a Chinese casino owner with links to organized crime, is not a problem for the Bay State.

Springfield voters approved MGM’s agreement with the city in July. Palmer voters weigh in on the Mohegan Sun agreement in November. As for Hard Rock, company officials may scope out other opportunities in Massachusetts or elsewhere in New England.

                                                                                                                                 –GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

Let’s call the whole thing off: Gov. Deval Patrick now says he no longer supports the state’s software design services tax and will seek to replace it with another source of revenue, the State House News reports (via Gloucester Times). Patrick calls the tax “a serious blot on our reputation as an innovation center.”

A clerk magistrate reaches deep into the applicant pool to tap the daughter of an old friend — a member of the anachronistic governor’s council — for an assistant clerk’s position. Court administrator Harry Spence doesn’t like the smell of it. CommonWealth’s Jack Sullivan pulled back the covers on the business of lifetime clerk magistrate appointments in this 2011 story.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, a former federal prosecutor, is resisting zoning changes to allow a medical marijuana dispensary in the city that backers say could imperil state approval for the facility.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino pushes back against critics of an ambitious development and land-selling program, telling the Herald, “I took an oath” to serve four years, and “I’ll fulfill those four years.”

CASINOS

Raynham passed a host agreement yesterday for a slot parlor license at the town’s former dog racing track by an overwhelming 87 percent to 13 percent margin. Voters in Plainville approved a slots parlor at the harness racing track, while the company seeking to put a slots parlor in Millbury officially pulls the plug on the effort, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

A legislative committee voted to approve the compact hammered out between the Patrick administration and the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe for a Taunton casino, sending the measure to the full Legislature for a vote.

Boston’s Eastie-only casino vote isn’t yet a sure thing.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Colorado’s Senate president is ousted in a recall election that focused on his support of gun control measures, the Denver Post reports. The recall is a blow to Michael Bloomberg, who poured his PAC money into the race.

James Jay Carafano, a defense expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, says the Syria debacle could spell the end of Secretary of State John Kerry’s brief tenure.

Income inequality across the nation continues to grow, according to a new study.

The House GOP is back on its hard line, attempting to trade a debt limit vote for a major delay in Obamacare implementation.

ELECTIONS

The Herald endorses John Connolly and Dan Conley in Boston’s preliminary mayoral election. The paper also throws in a rare anti-endorsement of Marty Walsh, saying the state lawmaker and former union official “has given ample evidence that his loyalties remain with his union supporters, not city taxpayers.”

The 12 mayoral candidates met in Dorchester last night for a forum on issues of concern in the city’s minority community.

The Globe profiles Boston mayoral hopeful Rob Consalvo, who wears the “mini-me” label as a badge of honor.

Adrian Walker says John Barros is gaining traction.

Shirley Leung seems skeptical of Marty Walsh’s vow to be a tough negotiator with municipal unions as mayor, despite being labor’s candidate in the race.

Former governor’s councilor Carole Fiola of Fall River won the special election for the 6th Bristol House seat after a testy battle that included charges from the state GOP her husband’s position at a local economic development agency represented a conflict of interest.

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua and City Councilor Dan Rivera are running neck and neck in fundraising, with Lantigua receiving money from 29 city employees and also spending $1,050 for a recreational fishing trip in New Hampshire, the Eagle-Tribune reports. Lantigua attends the opening of the renovated Campagnone Common and the Eagle-Tribune profiles inventor James O’Donoghue, one of the other candidates in the mayor’s race.

Bill de Blasio wins the Democratic primary for mayor of New York, but it’s unclear whether he secured enough votes to avoid a runoff, the New York Times reports. New York magazine reports that de Blasio appears to have won at least one-third of the vote among every one of New York’s fractious ethnic groups. Anthony Weiner ends his spectacular run as a failed mayoral candidate by flipping off a reporter.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Princeton economist Alan Blinder argues that regulators are losing the battle to tamp down the financial excesses that cratered the economy five years ago.

HEALTH CARE

The path looks clear for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s acquisition of Jordan Hospital in Plymouth.

Milford casino no longer dark horse

Today’s Globe provides an update on Milford’s proposed Foxwoods casino. This is an unfortunate development for partisans of Steve Wynn and Suffolk Downs, because it’s a reminder that when the state Gaming Commission hands out its eastern Massachusetts casino license next year, the commission actually has a choice other than Everett or East Boston. And if neither East Boston nor Everett are inevitable, the whole calculus behind the politicking around the two urban casinos falls apart.

The Milford site, controlled by developer David Nunes, has long been a dark horse in the state’s casino sweepstakes. Just a year ago, the CEO of Caesars, the prospective operating partner at Suffolk, was swatting Milford away like an overactive puppy. Back then, Wynn didn’t have a workable casino site, and Nunes had land, but not a casino operator or a financing partner. Suffolk Downs had a sheen of inevitability around it. That sheen has worn off, mostly as Suffolk and Wynn, and their respective political patrons, have engaged in an increasingly heated war of words. The heat around Wynn versus Suffolk, which is really Wynn versus Boston’s Mayor for Life, has overshadowed anything happening way off in the woods off Interstate 495. But what’s happening in the Milford woods is as much a treat as any weirdly tanned billionaire could be.
 
While Menino tries to bludgeon Wynn with a spit of polluted land in Charlestown he just rediscovered, Nunes has been quietly putting together a legitimate casino bid in Milford. He secured Foxwoods as an investor and operator. And, the Globe reports today, he’s methodically moving toward securing a mitigation package with his host community — something Suffolk Downs still doesn’t have. Milford’s selectmen are milling over a draft mitigation package that would see the casino pay $18 million in annual property taxes, as well as make other one-time payments to the municipality. The agreement looks on track for an early November referendum, and a Town Meeting vote following closely behind.
 
Up until now, Suffolk Downs’ main selling point has been the inevitability of an urban casino landing either in or just outside Boston. Most of the candidates lining up to succeed Menino have jumped on board with Suffolk, even though not all have done so enthusiastically. The logic has been that, if it’s a race between Everett and East Boston, the facility might as well go in Eastie, because at least then, the city could get a piece of the financial action. Just one candidate, Bill Walczak, has come out against a Suffolk casino outright.
 
As Milford’s bid advances, though, the fault lines should begin shifting from an Everett versus Eastie showdown, to the question of whether one of the country’s most liberal cities wants to be anywhere near a casino at all. There’s ample evidence indicating that a casino, whether it’s near the Chelsea Creek or the Mystic River, would magnify the social and economic downside that comes with casino gambling. As CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas previously wrote, problem gamblers — those suffering from moderate or severe gambling addiction — represent a tiny sliver of the population living around a casino, but they’re responsible for 35 percent of casino revenues. The casino business model is addiction. And addiction follows proximity to a casino; the closer people live to a casino, the more likely they are to get addicted. So if a community sitting way off I-495 wants to get involved in this business, why would Boston want to stop them?

–PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

Common Cause urges the state Ethics Commission to revisit its decision barring Sen. Dan Wolf from holding office and owning a large chunk of Cape Air, the Associated Press reports (via WBUR). The state director of the National Federation of Independent Business is also calling for the Ethics Commission to rethink its ruling; he claims it will have a “chilling effect.”

Adam Reilly profiles Doug Rubin for Boston magazine. Reilly calls Rubin, who helped orchestrate the campaigns of Deval Patrick, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Kennedy III, “the closest thing Massachusetts Democrats have right now to an indispensable man.”
 
Unlocking State House secrets — for real.
 
MUNICIPAL MATTERS
 
CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow, in his weekly Globe column, details the pointless efforts by some Jamaica Plain residents to thwart a new residential development that they can’t really stop.
 
MIT students are about to launch HelmetHub, a business that will offer helmets for rent at kiosks next to bike rental locations in Boston, Governing reports.
 
Boston landlords aren’t happy with a new ordinance requiring them to register rental units with the city — and pay a fee for doing so.
 
State regulators suspend the liquor license of Club Passe-Temps in Lowell after the manager kicked investigators off the premises after they discovered devices often used in connection with illegal gaming activities, the Sun reports.
 
Leominster passes a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.
 
The Herald piggybacks off an Eagle Tribune story on Lawrence’s ineffectual redevelopment authority to call the city “Massachusetts’ own Detroit wannabe.” The editorial says the people of Lawrence deserve better than Mayor William Lantigua’s “mockery of governance.” 

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON
 
The alleged chemical weapons attack on Syrians just outside Damascus came in the middle of the night, and many of the victims never made it out of their beds, the New York Times reports. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the attack and the US is reportedly planning some sort of military response, the Washington Post reports.
 
Former Reagan aide Jeffrey Lord says Scott Brown and other GOP moderates have it wrong when they claim the late president wouldn’t fit in with today’s Republican conservatism.
 
NPR explores the flaws in the way the US government decides if someone is poor enough to qualify for federal benefits.
 
The Atlantic asks whether millennials can change politics if they’ve grown up hating politics.
 
Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg both can’t stand the direction the Supreme Court is headed in.
 
Scott Brown goes on a Twitter blocking bender.
 
ELECTIONS
 
The Boston mayoral candidates are split on whether the city should help fund the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, but not on whether the South Boston Postal Annex should be taken down to allow expansion of South Station, CommonWealth reports.
 
The Globe reports that mayoral hopefuls Mike Ross and Bill Walczak are out with their first TV ads.
 
A Quincy city councilor running for reelection wants his opponent to agree to forego lawn signs, saying voters are suffering from “election fatigue.”
 
Christine Quinn tries to Cory Booker the New York mayor’s race, swinging into action when supporters faint.
 
BUSINESS/ECONOMY
 
Liberty Mutual is cutting retirement benefits for its 38,000 employees — just after the retirement of former CEO Ted Kelly, who earned $200 million in over his last four years at the insurer.
 
Keller@Large says keep the penny, if only for the lessons the coin teaches.
 
EDUCATION
 
Children at four elementary schools in Salem will eat breakfast at their desks this year as part of a pilot program aimed at improving child learning, the Salem News reports.
 
The New Bedford schools superintendent and the city’s teachers’ union are at odds over a plan for extended days at two of the city’s failing schools.
 
The Braintree School Committee voted to bar out-of-towners from the annual homecoming dance next month.
 
The New York Times looks at the purposefully short career arc of charter school teachers.
 
HEALTH CARE
 
A Plymouth County man is the first person in the state this year to be diagnosed with West Nile virus.
 
Boston officials want to be able to inspect dispensaries approved to distribute “medical marijuana” in the city.
 
ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT
 
James Bride of Energy Tariff Experts details the cost to ratepayers of the state’s renewable energy programs in an article for CommonWealth.
 
Researchers say the increased acidification of the planet’s oceans could accelerate global warming as the seas lose their ability to cool off the atmosphere.
 
Forget sharks and tourists, seals are getting grief from fishermen for, wait for it, eating fish.
 
A sinkhole grows in Holyoke.
 
LEGAL AFFAIRS/CRIMINAL JUSTICE
 
Several court officers at Chelsea District Court are hurt after the brother of a murder victim goes on a rampage at the arraignment of the alleged killer, the Item reports.
 
An Australian record company has poked the bear by tangling with Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, an expert in Internet law and advocate for fewer restrictions on the use of copyrighted material. (More recently, Lessig has turned to the corrupting power of money in politics, a topic explored earlier this year in this Conversation interview in CommonWealth.)
 
MEDIA
 
US Rep. John Lewis, the veteran civil rights leader, conquers best-seller lists with his graphic novel debut, March, about his experiences in the fight for equal rights for African Americans.

The Onion offers an amusing take on why the Miley Cyrus raunch-fest played so prominently on CNN.

Tewksbury gives anti-casino push a nudge

Tewksbury gave the percolating casino gambling repeal movement some momentum this week. In what had become a raucous debate in the Merrimack Valley town, one featuring bar fights and disappearing lawn signs, anti-gaming forces prevailed at a special town meeting Tuesday night.

Residents voted down a zoning change that effectively killed a $200 million slots parlor proposal. More than 60 percent of the people who attended the meeting voted against the plan, which required a two-thirds majority for passage.

The Tewksbury vote marks the second defeat for Penn National Gaming in Massachusetts.  In Springfield, Mayor Domenic Sarno selected MGM Resorts International over Penn National to run its casino should the city get the nod from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Only one slots parlor can be built in the state under the gaming law. Slots proposals are also on the table in Raynham, Milbury, and Leominster.

The town’s slot opponents reeled in some well-known local names to help defeat the plan, including former state senator Sue Tucker of Andover and Rep. James Miceli who represents the town. Miceli voted to expand gaming, but has qualified that vote saying that gaming belongs in cities that need an economic jolt, not small towns.

The statewide anti-gambling group, Repeal the Casino Deal, can now point to two towns that have given thumbs down to lucrative gaming plans. Foxborough selectmen voted against a casino proposal in 2011. So passionate is the anti-casino fervor in that town that a selectman campaigning for re-election insisted that a Kraft Group official categorically declare that no stealth casino proposal is in the works.

The group’s earlier petition drive failed when Attorney General Martha Coakley ruled the proposal unconstitutional since  a law related to appropriations cannot be dialed back by referendum.

This time the attack is coming from a new direction. The current petition drive aims to place a question on the November 2014 ballot that would make games typically associated with casinos illegal in Massachusetts.

In addition to Tucker, Somerville Mayor (and potential gubernatorial candidate) Joe Curtatone, Kris Mineau, head of the Massachusetts Family Institute, Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, and Steve Abdow, a member of the Springfield anti-casino group, were among the 10 people who signed the petition. Petitions will be certified by September 4.

Then the real work would begin. If the attorney general approves the petition, Repeal the Casino Deal has to get over the signature-gathering hurdles to get to the ballot. If the question does prevail on that front, its proponents would have to hope for a titanic shift in voter sentiment. Most Bay State residents supported opening up the state to casino gambling.

                                                                                                                                                                  –GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

State Rep. John Keenan, often criticized for defending Salem’s existing coal plant and the natural gas plant proposed to replace it next year, puts solar panels on his roof, the Salem News reports.

Howie Carr talks up a Cato Institute study criticizing state aid to poor, unwed mothers.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, up for reelection, nominated 27 people to fill vacancies at agencies and commission, the Eagle-Tribune reports. The nominees include the mayor’s receptionist, the head of the firefighters union, a secretary in the city planning department, the son of the city’s personnel director, and the wife of the deputy police chief, who has been on paid leave since he was indicted on corruption charges.

The chairman of the Danvers Board of Selectmen discloses that both his wife and daughter are working for the school department, the Salem News reports.

Scituate selectmen rejected a proposal for a cell tower near an elementary school playground after parents expressed their concerns over health threats.

Fairhaven residents are bracing for a 24 percent hike in water and sewer rates after the Department of Revenue determined the town’s general fund was subsidizing the system in violation of state law mandating water and sewage departments be self-sufficient.

CASINOS

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria goes on NECN’s Broadside to talk about the casino competition between his city and Boston.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The NSA has the ability to monitor up to 75 percent of US internet traffic.

ELECTIONS

Boston mayoral candidate John Connelly gets an earful about his decision to accept a $500,000 pledge from Stand for Children. Paul McMorrow explored the issue in yesterday’s Download.

In their own words: Find out where the Boston mayoral candidates stand on an appointed, elected, or hybrid school committee. CommonWealth has the transcript.

The five Democrats running for Ed Markey’s old House seat sign a pledge designed to keep outsider advertising out of the race, the Associated Press reports (via WBUR).

Twitter doesn’t have pollsters running scared, writes Steve Koczela of the MassINC Polling Group.

The New York Times chews over the delicate path Chris Christie is treading, somewhere “between reasonable Americans and those in his party who believe that people should have the freedom to buy weapons but gays should not have the freedom to marry.”

The Times editorial page cheers the GOP’s apparent retreat from a threatened government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act.

At least two of the candidates for mayor in Brockton said social service agencies located downtown are hurting development, making the city a “dumping ground” for homeless people.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Boston Globe argues that Mayor Tom Menino isn’t making a great case for giving developers tax breaks for the Filene site.

EDUCATION

School enrollment around the state has dropped about 3 percent in the last decade with a few communities bucking the trend. Officials project another decline of about 30,000 more students by 2020.

The Swansea School Committee voted to allow home-schooled children to play on school sports teams and participate in other district extracurricular activities.

HEALTH CARE

An elderly Weymouth woman became the first person in the state to die this year from EEE and officials are trying to determine where she was infected. Hanover officials have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on outside activities until the first hard frost to kill mosquitoes.

TRANSPORTATION

State officials say their electronic tolling system will save an estimated 3,600 gallons of fuel per day, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signs into law a bill raising the speed limit on some interstates to 70 mph, the Chicago Tribune reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Federal officials have approved the sale of the coal-fired Brayton Point power plant in Somerset over objections by environmental groups.

A veteran environmental official in Ohio says he is being forced to resign by the governor after pressure from the coal industry, the Dayton Daily News reports.

Another environmentalist reacts to a CommonWealth report on the cost of renewable energy, noting that electric bills overall have been going down, not up.

Scientists tag a second great white shark in Cape waters.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The number of people charged with drug crimes based on evidence tested by Annie Dookhan rises to 40,000, State House News Service reports (via CommonWealth). Red Mass Group wonders if the Dookhan case puts a spotlight on the need to end the war on drugs, a question CommonWealth raised earlier this year in our look at the scandal.

A Boston Herald editorial rips Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan for her office’s unwillingness to hold Jared Remy, pending a dangerousness hearing. The paper damns Ryan by praising one of her predecessors, Tom Reilly. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe’s Adrian Walker calls for an independent review of the Jared Remy case.

Lottery fever

Most people probably don’t remember Candido Oliveira of Dorchester hit the Mega Millions jackpot two years ago. Or that Rosa DeLeon of Arlington and Reginald LeBlanc of Lexington, coworkers at the Costco store in Waltham, split the Powerball jackpot in December. The good fortune of Jimmy Freeman of Fall River, a retired civilian worker for the Navy, probably registers with few beyond his friends and neighbors after he collected the grand prize in Powerball in 2011.

All four winners were the latest Massachusetts bettors to reap megabucks from a random set of six numbers. Because they “only” won $25 million to $50 million, they got their picture in the paper next to a brief about their new-found riches. Where once the Lottery jingle that asked “What would you do with a million dollars?” triggered fantasies of tropical retirements, it seems that ticket-buying frenzies don’t kick in until jackpots hit the $300 million mark or more. Tonight’s Powerball jackpot of an estimated $425 million fits the bill.

Of note, neither the Boston Globe nor the Boston Herald have taken notice of the growing jackpot, with only the Herald running a wire story datelined out of Iowa. But when the numbers start to climb into that stratosphere, even the residents of towns such as Weston, Sherborn, and Cohasset, where per capita spending on Lottery is among the lowest in the state, begin to ramp up their purchases.

“I wish I had a better explanation, but when the game starts rolling the jackpots start growing. And when the numbers start to grow, people start to get excited,” Erica Palmisano, spokeswoman with the Maryland Lottery, told the Washington Times. “It used to be $100 million, now it’s $200 million or $300 million. That’s when people who aren’t regular players start to play.”

Part of the explanation is the price of a Powerball ticket doubling last year from $1 to $2, which has escalated the growth of the top prize much more quickly. Also, California got into the game last year, bringing the largest population in the country into the till.

But some observers say the recession and dreams of quick fixes have contributed to the growth of lotteries in general and big money games in particular. These observers say the games are preying on the desperation of those who can least afford it. Of the 15 largest big-money jackpot prizes in history, 11 of them have been claimed since the start of the recession in 2007. The three biggest prizes in lottery history have been claimed since the beginning of last year, including the mother of all prizes, a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot, a relative bargain at $1 compared with the Powerball ticket at twice the price.

But much of the fever – and jackpot fatigue — can be attributed to the brilliance of marketing and the ability to sell the media on just what a “jackpot” is. Tonight’s grand prize of $425 million is the number everyone focuses on but the odds are the winner will opt for the “cash option” and accept a check for  about $245 million minus taxes, roughly in the neighborhood of $170 million depending upon in which state it is won. Nice neighborhood but not the exclusive community many dream of when they see the numbers approaching a half-billion.

Since 2007, only one grand prize winner took the payout in annuities over a 29-year period. Of the remaining 94 jackpot winners in that span, 92 took the cash. One ticket from earlier this year is still pending and one prize in 2011 from a ticket sold in Georgia went unclaimed, wasting a perfectly good $70 million. Mega Millions, which offers a relatively higher cash option because of a different method of investing and payout, has similar claim numbers.

The bottom line, though, is whether it’s $170 million in your pocket immediately or a $425 million nest egg to count on in your golden years, few people will complain about the return on their $2 investment.

                                                                                                                                                         –JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

Two freshman legislators, Rep. Diane DiZoglio of Methuen and Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives of Newburyport, deny they flip-flopped on taxes by voting against the transportation funding plan initially yet voting to override Gov. Deval Patrick’s veto of the measure.

Business groups say they plan to seek repeal of the new computer services tax through a ballot question, the Associated Press reports (via WBUR). Information technology companies try to figure out what the new computer services tax applies to, the Salem News reports.

Anti-tax activists say they plan to mount a ballot challenge to a section of the new transportation funding law that allows the gas tax to rise with inflation, which the opponents are calling a forever tax, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

An organization representing minority police officers is calling for the resignation of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, saying minority officers are singled out for harsher disciplinary action under his rule and have a harder time gaining promotions.

While remote participation has been approved since 2011 for meetings of municipal boards in all the state’s cities and towns, fewer than 5 percent of communities have adopted policies to allow it.

Plymouth is the latest community to ban so-called sky lanterns. devices that burn fuel in a container attached to a paper balloon to fill it with hot air to create aerial light displays. Fire officials are concerned the devices could land on buildings or in wooded areas before all the fuel is spent.

Foxboro will spend $500,000 to buy out the contract of town manager Kevin Paicos.

Leominster city councilor Susan Chalifoux Zephir will challenge longtime mayor Dean Mazzarella.

CASINOS

Penn National Gaming offers more details about its proposed slots parlor in Tewksbury, which it is calling the Merrimack Valley Casino, the Eagle-Tribune reports. Doug Flutie says he would open a sports bar at the casino, the Lowell Sun reports.

Hopkinton officials say the Gaming Commission is redacting from its records all information about the backers of a proposed casino in Milford, the MetroWest Daily News reports.

The Sun Chronicle ponders the future of a Plainridge Racecourse without slot machines.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The Globe’s Matt Viser has a delicious look at the uneasy relationship between Elizabeth Warren and Larry Summers, who is back in the news as President Obama’s possible choice to run the Fed.

ELECTIONS

CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas describes Charlotte Golar Richie as a barrier-breaking candidate of the status quo. Richie gets a shout out in a story in the Daily Beast about women Democrats who are attracting attention as they run for office across the nation. Richie attempts to capitalize on that attention, as she’s looking to New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles for campaign funds. Richie isn’t the only one: Out-of-town cash is king in the Boston mayor’s race, CommonWealth reports. Mayor Tom Menino begins his usual keep ‘em guessing game about a possible election endorsement, this time in the race to succeed him.

The Herald reports that 2010 gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker is gearing up for another run at the Corner Office. Joe Battenfeld suggests that Baker act more approachable and cut out the endless parade of outraged, content-less press conferences, but then urges Baker to run alongside Taunton Rep. (and EBT hawk) Shaunna O’Connell.

Recent elections highlight a shift in voting patterns in Boston, report Lawrence DiCara and James Sutherland in CommonWealth.

Easthampton’s mayor, Michael Tautznik, becomes the first Democratic to throw in for the state Senate seat opening up with the resignation of Westfield Republican Michael Knapik.

The New York Times reports that Senate hopeful Cory Booker founded a potentially lucrative Silicon Valley startup with investments from high-profile campaign donors like Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The SEC and Justice Department sue Bank of America over a soured 2008 housing bond deal.

The White House unveils its latest proposal for overhauling home mortgages.

The Brookings Institution’s William Galston decries a 40-year middle class losing streak in a Wall Street Journal op-ed column.

RELIGION

The Vatican denied an appeal from parishioners to overturn the decision to shutter the historic St. John the Baptist Church in New Bedford, the first Portuguese parish in North America.

EDUCATION

The University of Massachusetts is exploring locating a satellite campus in Springfield, CommonWealth reports.

A report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says about half of the $1 trillion student debt is not being repaid because borrowers struggle to make payments, with more than 7 million borrowers in default.

Salem State University is planning to build an 800-space parking garage on campus, the Salem News reports.

A Carver woman has filed suit against school officials there charging they’ve failed to stop the bullying of her son who she says has been targeted for harassment because he is Jewish.

HEALTH CARE

Obesity rates among low-income preschoolers have fallen slightly in recent years, providing some hope that the surge in obesity may have peaked.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 2012 was one of the warmest years on record, the Los Angeles Times reports.

New federal flood maps set to go into effect in the fall could trigger increases in flood insurance premiums by as much as 10 times the current cost in some coastal areas.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Jury deliberations start in the Whitey Bulger trial. Former State Police investigator Tom Foley tells Peter Gelzinis he’s afraid the trial did little to put to rest the real Bulger scandal — the ties between the mobster and the Boston FBI.

MEDIA

The PBS NewsHour will soon be coanchored by two women, the New York Times reports.

Media Matters raises concerns about plans by NBC and CNN to run a miniseries and documentary about Hillary Clinton.

Ken Doctor, writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab, offers an interesting and entertaining analysis of why the Washington Post sold to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Washington Post editor Marty Baron (who previously worked at the Globe) is optimistic about the sale of the Post, WBUR reports. The New York Times examines the prospects of Bezos bringing an innovation agenda to the Post. A Wall Street Journal editorial urges Bezos and new Globe owner John Henry to be active owners who shake up newsroom culture and reward skeptical coverage.

Steve Wynn, poor rich guy

Egomaniacal casino billionaires do not generally make for the most sympathetic figures.  But Boston officials are doing their best to make you root for Steve Wynn in the casino showdown heating up between his proposed Everett gambling complex and the one Mayor Tom Menino is determined to see built at Suffolk Downs in East Boston.

Ever since Wynn first floated the idea of a casino at a former Monsanto chemical company site in Everett, hard by the Mystic River, city officials in Boston have hinted that they might argue the development nicks the Everett-Boston border, giving Boston a say in the project as a “host community” under the 2011 state gambling law. That would include the right to reject any proposal outright, something Menino would seem all too eager to do in order to clear the way for Suffolk Downs to the be sole Boston proposal on the table.

In yesterday’s Globe, Mark Arsenault reports that the Menino administration appears to be following through on the threat. He writes that the mayor’s Host Community Advisory Committee sent a letter on July 11 to a local consultant working for Wynn saying that discussions with Wynn officials and environmental filings Wynn has made with the state “lead us to the conclusion that Boston would appear to be a host community to the proposed Wynn resort.”  Boston officials made a similar claim, the Globe reports, in a letter to Richard Sullivan, the state’s energy and environmental affairs secretary.

In June, Everett voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot question endorsing the casino proposal, and Wynn fired back last week at the threats from Boston officials. “Our company comes to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts expecting fairness and transparency, and we fail to understand Mayor Menino’s continued efforts to frustrate a project that has the power to transform the city of Everett, bringing economic opportunity that has eluded it for decades,” Wynn said in a statement.

There is no honor among thieves. And as Wynn surely knows, the same is generally holds among casino operators and, by extension in this case, their municipal allies salivating at casino dollar signs. The scramble for casino licenses tends to bring out the worst in everyone, and so Wynn is undoubtedly only on the receiving end this time of the sort of hardball tactics he has also employed when it suited his aims. Fairplay is generally a foreign concept in the cutthroat world of the casino business.

The technical argument Boston is putting forth — that some road, landscaping, or harbor improvements related to an Everett casino could cross the municipal boundary and qualify Boston as a host community — seem tenuous at best. But Menino evidently can’t stand the idea that the gambling commission could decide to approve the one Eastern Massachusetts casino license for somewhere other than Boston, so he’s trying not to leave anything to chance.

                                                                                                                                                                –MICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

This could be a tough week for Gov. Deval Patrick as the Legislature prepares to override his budget and transportation funding vetoes. Patrick vetoed the funding bill on Friday. The Herald uses the gas tax vote as a springboard to criticize lawmakers’ per diem collections.

Police unions and municipalities tussle over the Quinn Bill, the education benefit for police officers.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Bob Unger, the editor of the New Bedford Standard-Times, asks in an editorial whether the country has made any real progress in race relations.

Gloucester wins a $400,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to catalogue environmental problems at harbor properties, the Gloucester Times reports.

Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella tours a Maryland casino as he considers whether to support a $200 million slots parlor.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

In a bizarre op-ed column in Sunday’s Globe, Alex Beam pulverizes US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, calling her a “feckless demagogue,” before suggesting that he actually believes perhaps only about half of what he’s just written. Keller @ Large also takes aim at Warren over her stand on student loan rates.

Chicago’s bond rating is downgraded due to its pension problems and failure to raise taxes, Governing reports.

The Wall Street Journal traces Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s path from Detroit bankruptcy opponent to proponent. The city’s retirees are up in arms over plans to cut pension payments.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Globe’s Casey Ross reports that developers appear to be rushing proposals into the pipeline before the change in leadership in Boston City Hall with all its attendant uncertainties.

EDUCATION

The state receiver overseeing the Lawrence public schools and the union representing teachers are at loggerheads, with the union filing its third unfair labor complaint against the receiver and the receiver implementing work rules resisted by the union. CommonWealth took an in-depth look at the turnaround plan for Lawrence last fall.

State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester issues a warning to the Salem Community Charter School, but school officials say they are making progress with their program targeting dropouts, the Salem News reports.

Mary Grassa O’Neill, the superintendent of schools for the Boston Archdiocese, is stepping down after five years on the job, the Associated Press reports (via WBUR).

A Boston middle school principal’s memo meant to inspire her staff plagiarized a magazine column.

TRANSPORTATION

The Globe looks at the growing ride-sharing business in Boston.

Regional transit authorities like the one on Cape Cod are anxious to have some finality on forward funding as Gov. Patrick and the Legislature continue to do battle over transportation finances. The Berkshire Eagle argues that the toll issue must be addressed at some point.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

To thwart shark attacks, the Australians have come up with what they hope is a “shark-proof wetsuit.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

This morning’s court session in the Whitey Bulger trial has featured more f-bombs and out-of-order outbursts. As part of WBUR’s coverage of the trial, David Boeri examines the life of the alleged gangster’s brother, William, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate. The Globe’s Michael Levenson wrote yesterday about William Bulger’s conspicuous absence at the trial proceedings.

MEDIA

Talking Points Memo explains why Nate Silver is leaving the New York Times and going to work for ESPN. Politico details what ESPN and ABC offered Silver.

Eleanor Clift writes about the legacy of Helen Thomas, a relentless reporter with a softer side. Of course there was also that not-as-soft thing she had with Jews.