Rolling the Dice

Rolling the Dice

Coverage of casino licensing and the gambling referendum

All over before the casino vote in Springfield

History did not repeat itself. With visions of dollars to city coffers dancing in their heads, Springfield voters weren’t about to chuck away MGM International’s $800 million casino opportunity.The MGM agreement got Springfielders’ seal of approval in Tuesday’s referendum campaign, 58 percent to 42 percent.  

MGM Springfield President Bill Hornbuckle called the outcome a “landslide;” Mayor Domenic Sarno argued that the vote brings “fiscal stability,” even though that prospect would only be possible if the Massachusetts Gaming Commission gives Springfield the go-ahead for the western Massachusetts license. Palmer and West Springfield are also in contention.

Only about a quarter of the city’s 98,000 registered voters were motivated enough about the issue to go to the polls, a dismal turnout considering how much a casino would reshape the city.

Twice in the mid-1990s Springfield rejected casinos. The difference today? MGM had tons of money to spread around. Citizens Against Casino Gaming, the local anti-casino group, only had a pittance by comparison, some of it out of the pockets of its chairman, Michael Kogut. So it was not difficult for a multinational corporation to out hustle the locals by sponsoring the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, bringing in top-drawer entertainers for concerts, saturating the airwaves, and passing out limitless swag to help secure a “yes” vote. MGM spent $1 million on its “Yes for Springfield” referendum campaign alone.

MGM had the firm and vocal support of Sarno. Citizens Against Casino Gaming had no comparable local noteworthy to galvanize voters. Former attorney general Scott Harshbarger, a vocal casino opponent, did not cut it. Now in his 80s, popular former mayor Charlie Ryan, who helped lead the 1990s anti-casino fight, did not dive into the fray this time around.  Nor did the Catholic Church, which also was a potent force during those earlier “no” campaign drives.

Neither Sarno nor MGM would debate casino opponents before the Tuesday’s vote. Casino supporters relentlessly accentuated the positives: cash payments to the city, 3,000 permanent jobs, and a downtown renaissance. The arguments against casinos — increased crime, gambling addiction, and the dubious casino experiences of communities like Atlantic City, Detroit, and Bethlehem never got any traction in Springfield. Even questions raised about MGM’s payments to the city based on a lower value than the casino’s actual worth generated little interest.

Despite the defeat, Springfield’s anti-casino group will keep calm and carry on. Kogut vowed to continue to investigate the city’s dealings with MGM and delve further into the legality of the mayor appearing in pro-MGM ads paid for by the casino behemoth.

                                                                                                                                                    –GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

Title insurance is a little understood and lightly regulated product that is making big money for lawyers and insurers in Massachusetts, CommonWealth reports.

Norfolk Sheriff Michael Bellotti is eyeing a run for state treasurer now that the current occupant, Steve Grossman, has announced his intention to run for governor.

Scot Lehigh looks for Gov. Deval Patrick — and finds him riding proudly on a high horse.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Former Chelsea housing authority chief Michael McLaughlin faces sentencing today in federal court, and the Globe says a new report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development on questionable spending practices could figure (and not in a good way for McLaughlin) in today’s sentencing.

Eastern Bank is launching an ad campaign focusing on what’s good about Lawrence, a city with an image problem, the Eagle-Tribune reports. “Sometimes the best business opportunities are found where others have looked away,” the ad says.

Eighty of 105 Massachusetts retirement authorities receive failing grades on their efforts to cover their pension obligations in a Pioneer Institute data analysis, the Globe reports.

Adrian Walker accuses Newton Mayor Setti Warren of trying to process to death a plan for nine studio apartments for former homeless people in his tony burg.

The Legislature passes a home rule petition allowing Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt to  hire new police and fire chiefs without going through Civil Service, the Salem News reports.

Norfolk County DA Michael Morrissey is injured in a car crash in Milton, NECN reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Democrats and Republicans reached a compromise — or both caved in, depending upon your point of view — to avoid the “nuclear option” in the Senate that would have strictly curtailed the use of filibusters. NPR (via WBUR) explains why.  Here is the Globe account.

President Obama has formed a White House task force to explore ways to expand national service programs to help meet the administration’s policy priorities such as helping failing schools and improving the environment.

The Globe devotes a lot of real estate and time to detailing Obama’s every move in his last three Vineyard vacations as the hyping of the First Family’s August return to the island begins in earnest.

Ed Markey is sworn in as the state’s junior US senator. To mark the occasion, the Globe has a front-page story raising questions about a call Markey made to UMass president Robert Caret to help inform his decision in awarding a $240,000 federal lobbying contract from the university.

ELECTIONS

The new style of campaigning goes back to the future with an emphasis on grassroots organizing, CommonWealth reports.

Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld reports on a new Suffolk University/Herald poll that shows City Councilor John Connolly and Rep.  Martin Walsh leading the pack of candidates in the Boston mayor’s race. Even though it’s only mid-August, Suffolk pollster David Paleologos sees three tiers of candidates forming. Boston magazine’s David Bernstein says such talk of tiers is “nonsense.” Suffolk honcho John Nucci says it’s still early.

James Aloisi, writing in CommonWealth, fits the crowded Boston mayoral race into an historical context.

US Rep. John Tierney just won reelection last year, but already two Democrats say they will challenge him and Richard Tisei strongly hints he will run again, the Salem News reports.

The 4-3 vote by the Salem School Committee on ending the longer school year experiment at the Saltonstall School could play a big role in the next election for school committee members, the Salem News reports.

Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice president, says she will wage a primary challenge to  Wyoming’s Republican senator, Mike Enzi, NPR reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

CommonWealth interviews Nicole Fichera, the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Innovation District manager.

Anti-tax jihadist Grover Norquist pens an oped for American Spectator railing against Congress’s impending vote to allow states to levy a sales tax on products sold over the Internet, using Maine-based L.L. Bean as his example.

Greater Boston takes a look at the city’s Seaport District where tech companies see opportunities for growth for themselves as well as the neighborhood.

North Carolina, which many see as a Bay State rival for attracting and retaining businesses, has voted to cut taxes and reform the system in order to make it more business-friendly and boost its economy.

South Dennis considers the pros and cons of a Lowe’s home improvement store.

EDUCATION

Massachusetts education commissioner Mitchell Chester and Pioneer Institute director Jim Stergios square-off in this CommmonWealth  Argument & Counterpoint on the proposed new Common Core State Standards.

Rhode Island passes a first-of-its-kind law allowing Smithfield the ability to charge Bryant University for police, fire, and emergency response services, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Three investigations are looking into possible misspending of funds in purchasing equipment and supplies for Boston School Department athletic programs.

The Fall River School Committee rejected a proposal to open an “innovation academy” that would help put the city’s students on a track to get into and succeed in college beginning with the seventh grade.

HEALTH CARE

Boston has mostly good results in a health savings experiment, WBUR reports. But the Globe suggests costs are likely to rise. Individuals in New York buying health insurance on their own will see their cost fall 50 percent, the Times reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

New England’s power grid operator urges customers to conserve energy during the heat wave, the Associated Press reports (via WBUR).

A technical glitch kept Fairhaven’s two turbines running at night over the weekend in violation of a Board of Health order to shut down between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. because of noise.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A former employee at a Bank of America branch in Reading pleads not guilty to stealing $2.1 million from 31 investors and friends, the Lowell Sun reports.

The Patriot Ledger editorial page is urging lawmakers to pass a bill that would stop charging 17-year-olds as adults.

MEDIA

A Rolling Stone profile of Dzhohkar Tsarnev with a cover photo of the accused bomber is already spiking controversy.

Red Sox principal owner John Henry tours the Globe and his associates visit Telegram & Gazette properties in Worcester as part of a New York Times sales process, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Front-page stories in the New York Times quote male sources 3.4 times more than female sources, Poynter reports.

Mashpee get Washington backing

There are two ways of looking at the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s long slog toward a tribal casino in Taunton. In the tribe’s view, they’re inching toward their federal approvals, renegotiating their gambling compact with the state, and winning over local support. They’re doing everything they’re supposed to do to secure the casino that will pay off the massive debts they’ve incurred getting to this point. But with every piece of good news the tribe trumpets, there’s a nagging question hanging in the background: How, exactly, does the tribe open a casino that’s still federally illegal? There’s still no answer to that question — at least, not one backstopped by American case law, rather than a centuries-old agreement between the Mashpee and crazy King George III. Until there is, every inch of progress the Mashpee make just brings them closer to an inevitable roadblock.

The Mashpee announced today that the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has given its initial blessing to the 146 acres in Taunton the Mashpee tribe wants to turn into a tribal casino. The bureau ruled that the Taunton property qualifies for taking as a gambling reservation. The next steps will be messier, though. Although the bureau and the Department of the Interior have been reviewing reservation cases — pushing paperwork up the pipeline — they’re prevented from taking the land for a tribal reservation by a 2009 Supreme Court case.

The 2009 Carcieri case said Congress only allowed Interior to create sovereign land for tribes that were federally recognized by 1934. The Mashpee got their federal recognition in 2007. Interior has continued laying the groundwork for tribal land takings in the aftermath of the case, but its trial balloon for getting around the decision, in which it created a sovereign gambling reservation for a tribe in Washington state, drew an immediate lawsuit from a neighboring tribe, and from local officials. The Washington state lawsuit will drag on for years. It’s unclear whether Interior will await a decision out west, or whether the agency is intent on making a second test case out of the Mashpee’s Taunton casino; what is clear is that the tribe’s two possible outcomes are either a lengthy wait for a decision out of the Washington case, or a protracted lawsuit of their own.

What the movement within the Bureau of Indian Affairs does do, however, is give the state gambling commission a reason to keep southeastern Massachusetts clear of competition for the Mashpee. The state’s gambling law gives the tribe first shot at a casino license in the region, but allows the commission to put a commercial casino license out to bid if it determines that the tribe is facing a dead end on the federal side. The commission nearly pulled the plug on the Mashpee’s long, expensive casino quest in December, but relented and gave the tribe a short extension to show some progress on its federal approvals. The tribe now has the appearance of momentum at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, making it more difficult for the state gaming commission to put the region’s casino out to bid. What’s still not clear, though, is how progress with the Bureau of Indian Affairs solves the tribe’s problem with the Supreme Court.

–PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

Rep. Marty Walsh of Dorchester, on behalf of local Democrat Joyce Linehan, is filing legislation to make “Roadrunner” the official rock song of the Commonwealth, the Globe reports. In case you’ve never heard it before, catch the song by The Modern Lovers here. It could be just us, but this nomination may be controversial.

State Rep. Shauna O’Connell of Taunton says she meant no offense when she posted a picture on Facebook of a snowman wearing a Confederate flag bikini top in the midst of Black History Month.

In case you were without power Sunday, Keller@Large had House Speaker Robert DeLeo talking about the upcoming session, including the fairly static leadership team he announced last week.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Lawrence city councilor takes pictures of a city contractor plowing the driveway of the three-unit condo complex where Mayor William Lantigua lives, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

A gun rights group sues the police chiefs in Peabody and Danvers for placing restrictions on gun licenses, the Salem News reports. The Worcester police chief is also sued, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Some Boston residents aren’t happy at all with the state of snow removal. Mayor Tom Menino apologizes for the slow pace of snow plowing in the city, where some streets remained impassable days after the big storm. Menino blames private plow contractors. (The two words all mayors most fear being raised in this context: Michael Bilandic.)

CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow traces the transformation taking place on the Chelsea waterfront.

Somerville residents ask for denser development on the Assembly Square parcel that IKEA abandoned.

RELIGION

The National Review Symposium takes a look at the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI, including an offering from the Rev. Roger Landry, pastor of St. Bernadette’s Parish in Fall River. The American Spectator says Benedict was the reluctant pope, serving out of duty, not ambition.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Local immigrant advocates say they expect an increase in demand for English and financial skills classes as well as other services if Congress passes the proposed path to citizenship.

ELECTIONS

The battle for union support is joined, as Steve Lynch and Ed Markey work hard to win labor backing in their Democratic primary showdown for US Senate.

Gabriel Gomez, a little known but deep-pocketed Cohasset businessman, plans to kick-off his campaign for the Republican US Senate nomination by putting out a press release and Web video today, the Globe reports. Gomez has the backing of some high-level former aides to Mitt Romney, including lobbyist Ron Kaufman. Here is Gomez’s YouTube video announcement.

Middleboro selectmen are opposed to combining the town election with the special primary to fill John Kerry’s former Senate seat.

CASINOS

Once looking like a sure bet for the Eastern Massachusetts casino license, Suffolk Downs now has some serious competition, the Globe reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Attorney General Martha Coakley pushes for the ouster of federal housing regulator Ed DeMarco, whom she calls “a roadblock to our progress” in anti-foreclosure efforts. CommonWealth’s Spring 2012 issue detailed Coakley’s housing activism.

EDUCATION

New England Academy, a private high school for special education students, is planning to build a new campus in Beverly, the Salem News reports. Most of the school’s students come from public school districts, which pay tuition of $50,000 a year.

A robotics testing facility opens at UMass Lowell, WBUR reports.

HEALTH CARE
Researchers asked hospitals across the country what they would charge for a hip replacement and found that many hospitals had difficulty answering and those that did gave wildly different prices, ranging from $11,000 to nearly $126,000.

TRANSPORTATION

Sen. Thomas McGee says new transportation funding is needed to keep the economy moving, the Item reports.

Ridership on the MBTA’s three commuter rail lines south of Boston has fallen dramatically for four straight years and local officials say high fares and parking fees are the main cause. The officials are calling on the T to lower both the fares and the fees for the short term to see if ridership improves.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A Cape wildlife shelter is dealing with a passel of puffins and other birds blown off course by the blizzard.

MEDIA

The New York Times restricts the work-arounds that allowed readers to circumvent its pay wall, New York reports.

Mountain Dew rolls out a juice-like breakfast drink, Time reports.

Casino deadline

The casino competition in Massachusetts gets real today. Would-be developers have until 5 pm Tuesday to apply for a casino license and submit a non-refundable $400,000 deposit. The deadline, which comes nearly a year after Massachusetts legalized casino gambling, marks the end of an extended period of  quiet wrangling, maneuvering, lobbying and posturing, and the beginning of the bruising final push toward the state’s four gambling licenses.

The competition has rounded into shape over the past week. Western Massachusetts, the least populated of the state’s three casino regions, is also the scene of the most crowded competition for a license. That fact likely says less about the appeal of Springfield and Palmer as gambling destinations than it says about the way lawmakers wired the other two regions for Boston and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Large casino firms Penn National, MGM Resorts and Hard Rock International are all chasing a license around Springfield, while the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, owners of the Mohegan Sun tribal casino in Connecticut, are guarding their flank by bidding on a license for Palmer.

The situation is more unsettled in the Boston region, which stretches from Worcester to Boston Harbor to the New Hampshire border. The region looked like it was drawn to give Suffolk Downs an inside shot at the state’s most lucrative license, but that calculus has been upended by the late entrance of a pair of competitors. The Globe reports today that Chicago gambling firm Rush Street Gaming will apply for a license in the Boston region without having nailed down a casino location yet. And then there’s Everett. Steve Wynn, broomed out of Foxborough by a wave of anti-casino protests, has found a more welcoming reception in the riverfront industrial city.

You know Wynn is for real when Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who became a gambling supporter once his friend Joe O’Donnell became part of the Suffolk Downs deal, starts shooting thinly-veiled threats across the Mystic River at Wynn. Last week, he noted that “ I own part of the Everett piece,” and that “to get into the piece, you have to go through my property.” Aha. “They never spoke to me.” Hizzoner also added: “Heh heh. Ha ha ha ha ha. Hahaah.” He later insisted that “I was being a little wise,” and wasn’t really threatening to derail the Las Vegas developer’s Everett deal. What he didn’t do was clarify how being an elected municipal head makes Route 99, a state road running from Charlestown to Everett, “my property.”

Developer David Nunes, who has been chasing a casino site in Milford for years, has repeatedly vowed that he’ll be in the mix as well, but he has yet to produce a $400,000 check, or to name his financial partners.

Also of note: In addition to being the deadline for getting in line for a gambling license, Tuesday is the deadline for casino developers and other Beacon Hill power players to report their final 2012 lobbying expenses to the secretary of state’s office. So by the end of the day, we’ll know both who’s for real in the casino game, and how much it cost to get there. 

                                                                                    –PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

Governing gives a lot of the credit for the state’s high credit rating — its highest ever — to Jay Gonzalez, who just left as secretary of administration and finance.

Joe Battenfeld gets a preview of Tim Murray’s pre-election reinvention. It’s heavy on family and Deval Patrick, and light on Mike McLaughlin.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Fall River Housing Authority voted to appoint state Rep. David Sullivan to the $115,000 executive director post over the objections of one longtime member who called Sullivan “the least qualified and most politically connected” candidate.

City Councilor Steve Murphy showed why he’s much more old-school than New Boston with the fast-gavel reappointment of his former council crony Maureen Feeney as Boston’s city clerk.

Saugus Selectman Stephen Horlick walks on assault charges after his alleged victim refuses to testify and leaves court with him, the Item reports.

After five years of wrangling, Newburyport defeats a measure designed to protect historic homes from demolition.

INTERNET POLITICS/ACTIVISM

The Globe looks at the “insatiable curiosity and omnipresent cause” that drove Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide on Friday. The paper also examines the debate that Swartz’s prosecution by federal officials in Boston has prompted. Kevin Cullen rips federal prosecutors for their overzealous pursuit of felony charges against Swartz. WBUR’s David Boeri  reports US Attorney Carmen Ortiz is under fire. Yesterday’s Download had this run-down of the reporting and commentary then available on Swartz’s death, including a statement by his family and a poignant post by his mentor, Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Harvard Law School.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

New York is poised to become the first state to pass gun control legislation since Newtown, the Albany Times-Union reports. The bill focuses heavily on mental health issues. The White House is readying its own national gun control push, and is willing to use executive orders if it runs into static in Congress.

President Obama dares debt ceiling hawks to do what they will to the hostage they’ve taken. Economist Alan Blinder argues that the debt ceiling standoff is far scarier than the fiscal cliff.

Another George Bush, this time George P. Bush, is raising money for a run for office in Texas, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Sen. Marco Rubio presses Republicans on immigration.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Americans are drinking more water and wine, and far less soda and cheap beer.

EDUCATION

Everett principal Erick Naumann comes under fire for producing a video for students in which he plays the part of the Terminator, NECN reports.

Journalism classes go online and attract massive audiences, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.

CREDO, the Stanford University research center whose earlier work is often touted by charter school critics, releases another report showing charters outperforming their district school counterparts, this time in Michigan.

HEALTH CARE

Metro West colleges explain what they are doing to stem the spread of flu among students returning from break.

Hingham officials are eyeing a moratorium on permitting medical marijuana dispensaries until they can craft regulations governing the pot stores.

TRANSPORTATION

CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow looks at the politics behind Gov. Deval Patrick’s roll-out of a transportation plan that calls for $1 billion a year in new spending — but doesn’t pinpoint where the money should come from. The Globe account of Patrick’s plan is here. The plan includes  $1.8 billion for the South Coast Rail project, a proposal Patrick calls “non-negotiable.” State representatives in the Berkshires comment on Patrick’s transportation plan. The Berkshire Eagle gives it a thumbs up. Legislative leaders are noncommittal.

JetBlue may be coming to Worcester Regional Airport

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Walden Pond is as good a place as any to see the effects of climate change, Time reports.

A Scituate couple suing the town’s Board of Health over a nearby wind turbine had earlier signed a confidential agreement and was paid $20,000 not to contest the turbine when it was first proposed.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Several civil rights groups are asking Attorney General Martha Coakley to open an investigation into the shooting death of a New Bedford teen last May by city police, claiming the death was a result of “aggressive” and “forceful” actions by police.

A New York woman is sentenced to two years in prison for sending threats and white powder to Coakley and Scott Brown.

MEDIA

The Atlantic pulls a Scientology advertorial that drew a lot of criticism from Salon (“reads like North Korean propaganda”) and Gawker (“bizarre, blatant Scientology propaganda”). The controversy erupts on the eve of the publication of an investigative book on Scientology by New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright.

CNET editors awarded their best of the Consumer Electronics Show award to the Dish Network’s Hopper set-top box, but then had to backtrack when corporate parent CBS said it was in litigation with Dish over the box’s ability to skip past commercials automatically. CNET’s editor explains what happened here. CNET reporter Greg Sandoval quits, Romanesko reports. Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s report.

Romanesko posts a belt-tightening memo from Chazy Dowaliby, the editor of GateHouse Media’s Patriot Ledger and Enterprise, but notes that while GateHouse won’t be buying their reporters coffee, the company does have the money to pay an $800,000 bonus to CEO Michael Reed.

Lance Armstrong gears up for the big I-used-performance-enhancing-drugs confessional with Oprah, NPR (via WBUR) reports. The Wall Street Journal looks inside Armstrong’s decision to quit denying his drug use.

Bedbugs overrun the offices of the Wall Street Journal.

This Sunday or, if the Patriots win, two weeks later on Super Bowl Sunday will be the final game after 36 years for Gil Santos, the only voice most fans have ever heard call a Pats game on radio.

Women — can’t win without ’em

Everyone seems to be going after the women’s vote. But nobody, it appears, knows exactly what the “women’s vote” is except that they want it and it’s key to being elected.  Women, after all, have consistently turned out in larger numbers than men for the presidential election since 1980.

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are aggressively pursuing, pleading, and pandering to either close or widen the gender gap. Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren have honed their pitches to focus on women’s issues and who is better equipped to carry the agenda, someone like Brown who has lived with women all his life, or someone like Warren, who has been a woman all her life.

While the gender gap has been around and talked about for some time, it’s getting a lot of play in the wake of Romney’s head-scratching comment that after he was elected, he had “binders full of women” to pore over to fill administration posts. Less noticed in his answer about equality and opportunity was his statement that his chief of staff was a woman who did not want to work late because she wanted to go home to make dinner for her family. Both the New York Times and Vice President Joe Biden mocked that one, and you can bet it will pick up steam in the coming weeks. The Times’ Gail Collins takes on the binders.

But many of Romney’s former Massachusetts aides came to his defense. Former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey defends his hiring of women as governor, the Herald reports. Interestingly, as CommonWealth reports in the new fall issue, Healey was excluded from the Monday meetings Romney held with legislative leaders, a sharp departure from past practice.

The Romney team also began running ads targeting women. In one, a former Obama supporter says she lost her hope and no longer sees the president as the candidate he promised to be. And Romney campaign aides are counting on women being more focused on jobs and the economy than on abortion, contraception, and other social issues.

On the trail after the debate, Obama, whose one-time formidable lead among women has been virtually eliminated in the last few weeks, picked up on his theme of equality, touting his signing of the Paycheck Fairness Act as his first presidential accomplishment. And he’s not hiding the fact he has two daughters, a stark comparison to the Romneys’ five sons.

Closer to home, Brown is turning to his wife, former television reporter Gail Huff, and his daughters to bring the fight to Warren. A new ad has Huff huffing about Warren’s personal attacks while important issues get shunted aside. No mention of Brown’s hammering Warren over her Native American heritage claim or her legal work, but then, why would there be?
Warren, meantime, has amped up her standing as a woman and for women. Her new ad highlights Brown’s votes on the Lily Ledbetter Act for paycheck fairness and his votes against  the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and his co-sponsoring the Blunt Amendment that would restrict contraception coverage. She also brought in Sandra Fluke, the former Georgetown University law student who was pilloried by conservatives for speaking out about contraception, for some campaign appearances. But the events brought out some problems of their own for Warren and her supporters, who think all women should be behind the Harvard professor.

Lost in all this, apparently, are men, especially white men. While their votes are pretty much taken for granted, it appears they need a little more coddling and cuddling than women when it comes to courting their votes. A study after the 2008 election found that men who voted for John McCain had a drop in testosterone and self-esteem, while male Obama supporters had a spike in testosterone. Women on either side showed no similar change, indicating they were okay with their choice regardless of if they won or lost. Men are just more insecure. You’d think someone would notice.

                                                                                                                       –JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer interviews Steve Crosby, the head of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, who says he is disappointed at the lack of competition for a casino in eastern Massachusetts but keeps the faith on a tribe casino in southeastern Massachusetts. Casino rumbling strikes Foxborough again, as the Kraft Group submits a zoning proposal that looks awfully similar to the one that preceded its recent dance with Steve Wynn.

The Norfolk County prosecutor with ties to Annie Dookhan steps down, NECN reports.  
The Cape Cod Times account is here.

The Globe details the history of the two families joined by a marriage that gave rise to New England Compounding Center, the pharmacy company at the center of the national fungal meningitis outbreak.

A lack of staff at the Registry of Motor Vehicles has caused officials to halt license suspension hearings at the Fall River branch, forcing people to go to Brockton or Boston for their appeals.

A bill allotting a beer and wine liquor license for a grocery store in Rockport reaches the governor’s desk, the Gloucester Times reports.

MASSCreative, which lobbies for the arts, has launched an effort to get the word out about Berkshires arts programs.

The state auditor’s office issues findings that MassHealth does not have adequate oversight of its guidelines.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The new Republican member of the Lawrence Licensing Board registered as a Republican only days before he applied for the job, which may be a violation of state law, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren asks for support for a package of Proposition 2½  overrides that will come before voters next year.

A special town meeting in Framingham passes two anti-blight measures.

Greg Selkoe says he’s talking to dark horse candidates who might challenge Boston Mayor Tom Menino. The Herald reports that Suffolk DA Dan Conley, state rep/union boss Marty Walsh, and city councilors Mike Ross and John Connolly all like the sound of an open seat, but none of them want a piece of Hizzoner.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn offers a thoughtful consideration of the blue state/red state divide that goes well beyond the usual cable talk show blather.

Student loan debt continues to climb.

ELECTION 2012

Karl Rove concedes that Obama won this week’s debate, and then goes on to do his usual Rove-y thing in his regular Wall Street Journal column. Phil Gramm tries running with Romney’s theories about government dependency and the victimized 47 percent; the column belongs in a binder labeled “Not Helping.” The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, who filed a long piece on the racial politics of the Obama presidency last month, takes up Tagg Romney’s comment about wanting to “take a swing” at Obama during the debate: “It’s worth trying to imagine any black man associated with a credible black candidate for the presidency, joking about beating down the incumbent president of the United States.”

The Washington Post examines what Romney learned from his 1994 US Senate battle with Ted Kennedy.

At a campaign stop in Taunton yesterday, Sen. Scott Brown accused Elizabeth Warren of using paid actors in her commercials about asbestos victims — then later apologized after the wife of one victim who died called his allegation “offensive.” One of the women depicted in Brown’s recent women for Brown ad turns out to be a Warren supporter who was apparently telling the Senator why she wouldn’t vote for him, but looked so pleasant doing it that she ended up in a GOP commercial anyway.

The Globe breaks down the Senate candidates’ views on tax policy (they differ sharply, in case you’ve been in a coma).

The mudslinging continues in the Sixth, with US Rep. John Tierney and Republican Richard Tisei slamming each other at a North Andover debate, the Eagle-Tribune reports. US Rep. Niki Tsongas says her opponent, Jon Golnik, would be “irrelevant” in Washington.

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, state reps Linda Dorcena Forry and Jeffrey Sanchez, and Boston city councillors Felix Arroyo and Tito Jackson are stumping around the country  for President Obama.

Larry King, the former CNN talk show host, will moderate a “4th” presidential debate featuring third  party candidates, including Jill Stein of Lexington, the Green Party candidate. The forum will be live-streamed.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg creates a super PAC to back candidates who support same-sex marriage, tougher gun laws, and overhauling schools, the New York Times reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

MassINC’s Gateway Cities Institute is formally launched at the State House, WWLP reports.

WBUR’s On Point examines the rise of the super rich.

Housing construction surges.

Secretary of State Bill Galvin alleges that Putnam Investments sold housing securities to clients while betting against them.

EDUCATION

Milton is placing a cap on enrollment in its popular French immersion program in the school system starting with next year’s first graders because of the state’s English mandates.

A 17-year-old student at Marshfield High School is accused of threatening fellow students through social media, NECN reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Growing wind turbine opposition is forcing states and municipalities to be more careful about where they locate the facilities, Governing reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The National Lawyers Guild and American Civil Liberties Union charge that the Boston Police Department has been improperly spying on anti-war demonstrators, the Globe reports.

MEDIA

Newsweek plans to go all-digital and abandon its 80-year-old glossy print magazine by the end of the year.

Casino could redevelop Springfield

MGM, proprietor of such upscale resorts as the Bellagio and the Luxor in Las Vegas, is making a run for the Western Massachusetts casino license. The company today will unveil plans for what amounts to a massive redevelopment of three downtown Springfield city blocks. Plans will include gambling facilities, an “entertainment district” featuring restaurants, performance space, and shops, and even apartment units for young professionals working in the new facilities. MGM is one of four companies thought to be vying for the license.

Before any shovels hit the ground, however, the city must resolve some kinks in its proposal process. MGM has not yet made the $400,000 deposit required to submit a proposal, and there has been some dispute in Springfield about the process for bringing proposals to the state’s gaming commission. Springfield’s mayor, Domenic Sarno, has indicated that he will choose which of the casino proposals to put before voters. If voters approve the plan he selected, it will then go to before state’s gaming commission.

An executive for Ameristar, another license contender that purchased a $16 million land parcel off Interstate 291, told the Springfield Republican that he thinks the mayor has an “extreme” amount of power over the process. Ameristar would prefer to see Springfield send multiple casino proposals to the gaming commission.

Sarno, who has resolved to keep the process transparent, is nevertheless meeting privately with each of the proposed casino operators. The mayor told CBS 3 in Springfield he thinks the meetings will show “who are the contenders, and who are the pretenders.”

Those looking for analysis of the process won’t find it in the editorial pages of the Springfield Republican, which has recused itself from editorializing on the casino debate. The paper’s publisher, George Arwady, is in talks with a company looking to purchase land owned by the Republican to bid on the Western Massachusetts license. As this presents a conflict of interest for the paper, it will not pen any editorials on the issue but will continue to provide coverage in its news pages. The turn of events, however, robs the city of an important voice as transparency and balance of power issues creep into a process that could substantially alter Springfield’s future.

                                                                                                                                   –CHRISTINA PRIGNANO

BEACON HILL

The state Board of Bar Overseers has scheduled a series of hearings following the November elections to look into the law practice of state Rep. Daniel Webster of Pembroke, who is accused of mishandling clients’ funds.

Restaurateurs oppose the return of the happy hour, State House News reports (via CommonWealth).

Lowell teens continue to push for a bill to lower the city’s voting age to 17, hoping it will pass during informal sessions on Beacon Hill, the Lowell Sun reports.

Massport has doubled the fees it receives from South Boston landlords over the past four years.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The former leaders of the Tewksbury Recreation Center are facing charges of mishandling and mismanaging funds, the Lowell Sun reports.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council votes to make Natick Center a cultural district, the MetroWest Daily News reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Hybrid pension plans are attracting more states and cities, Governing reports.

Keller@Large calls out US Rep. Todd Akin, a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, as “a fake conservative” for his comments about women and abortion.

ELECTION 2012

US Sen. Scott Brown opens slight 49-44 lead over Elizabeth Warren in a poll released by Public Policy Polling, State House News reports (via Lowell Sun). The poll shows Brown has been successful in his attempts to distance himself from his party.

Mitt Romney has amassed a huge campaign war chest advantage over President Obama as the presidential campaign heads toward the post-Labor Day final stretch. Romney remains within striking distance of Obama, as respondents to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll doubt the president’s handling of the econom. Voters’ disappointment with Obama is still outweighed by their personal distaste for Romney, though. Former Obama economic aide Austan Goolsbee dumps on Romney’s tax plan. A New York Times report finds that math is no friend of Romney’s critique of Medicare cuts, either; John McDonough, who worked with Romney on Massachusetts health care reform, accuses the former governor of deliberate distortion.

The furor over the remarks of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin has put a spotlight on a move by the Republican Party platform committee Tuesday to approve a plank opposing abortion in all circumstances, including rape, incest, and life-threatening danger to the mother from a continued pregnancy. A New York Times editorial says the GOP platform shows the party “has moved so far to the right that the extreme is now mainstream.” That’s not enough, so the Times also calls the party platform “mean-spirited and intolerant.” Maureen Dowd marvels at the notion that “women have the superpower to repel rape sperm.”

Here’s how Akin — who’s not going anywhere — takes after Jake and Elwood Blues. Akin does battle with the English language.

The Springfield Republican praises the Brown-Warren pact to reject third party ads as a “model” for other campaigns.

CASINOS

Boston Mayor Tom Menino says he wants a Suffolk Downs casino developer to go all-in at once, not build out in two phases as Caesars Entertainment honcho Gary Loveman has suggested. Meanwhile, Suffolk Downs officials outline a $40 million traffic improvement plan for the proposed gambling facility, the Item reports.

States are cracking down on gambling parlors masquerading as Internet cafes, the Wall Street Journal reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A Brockton convenience store owner is shutting down his “roll your own” cigarette machine after an injunction barring a federal law from levying a $25,000 manufacturers’ fee was lifted.

EDUCATION

The state Department of Labor Relations will consider a request from Boston Mayor Tom Menino to appoint a fact-finder to help push forward stalled contract talks with the Boston Teachers Union.

College students today are increasingly choosing majors based on job prospects and not personal interests, finds a new book.

HEALTH CARE

The dropoff in circumcision rates is expected to result in an increase in medical costs, NPR reports (via WBUR).

TRANSPORTATION

About 50 Essex boaters received moorings after waiting four to five years rather than the 12 years they had expected, the Gloucester Times reports. CommonWealth reported on the state’s mooring mess in its Summer 2011 issue.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Footprint Power executives outline their plans to replace the existing coal-fired power plant in Salem with a quick-start, gas-fired plant occupying just half the site. They also pledge to maintain the existing annual property tax bill on the property of $4.75 million, the Salem News reports.

A federal appeals court strikes down an EPA rule clamping down on coal plants.

A group formed to issue recommendations for mitigating the effects of Falmouth wind turbines isn’t going to meet its deadline, the Cape Cod Times reports.

In response to a lawsuit by two environmental groups, the EPA argues that wastewater management problems on the Cape are not the responsibility of the federal agency but of state and local authorities.

PUBLIC SAFETY

State bomb squad members removed several hundred pounds of heavy-duty fireworks from a jetty in Cohasset that were reportedly to be set off to mark the wedding of a local resident who owns an $8.5 million home nearby.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

An attorney, Boy Scout leader, and substitute teacher in Whitinsville is facing child pornography charges, NECN reports.

Boston police shot and killed a man following a traffic stop in the South End. Police say he was shot after refusing to drop a gun he was pointing at officers.

Charles Jayne, who is serving a life sentence without parole for kidnapping and murdering 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley in 1997, is seeking to legally change his name to Manasseh-Invictus Auric Thutmose V. because of his involvement in the Wiccan religion.

Bad choice: A thief in Lowell breaks into a car belonging to a police officer, and ends up getting arrested, the Lowell Sun reports.

MEDIA

TMZ reports that Prince Harry put his own crown jewels — and everything else as well — on display in Las Vegas.

The  Nieman Journalism Lab looks inside PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter.

ABC plans to go head-to-head against Jay Leno and David Letterman with Jimmy Kimmel, the New York Times reports.

South Coast casino fears

For years, South Coast politicians were the lonely voices in the gambling wilderness. Even when legislative leadership stood solidly against legalizing casinos in Massachusetts, politicians from the state’s southeastern region would reliably push the issue, arguing that the area was in desperate need of large-scale investment, and casinos were as good a bet as anything else. They flirted with the state’s two federally recognized Indian tribes, and they pushed casino legalization to no avail.

Now, however, as the state prepares to hand out three casino licenses, South Coast lawmakers are fearing that they’re about to be left behind by an industry they’ve spent years chasing.

Yesterday’s State House hearing on the recently-signed compact between the state and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was dominated by concerns about the tribe’s ability to actually deliver on their planned Taunton casino. The tribe, which had previously chased casino deals in Middleborough and Fall River, must put its Taunton land into federal trust before it can open a tribal casino. However, a 2009 Supreme Court ruling held that the federal government can’t legally take land into trust for tribes that, like the Mashpee, were recognized after 1934.

The tribe and Gov. Deval Patrick’s office are now looking for ways around the Supreme Court. That’s of little comfort to South Coast lawmakers, who had initially opposed any carve-out for the Mashpee, and are now sandwiched between an inevitable-looking Caesars complex in East Boston, and a legally murky Mashpee casino in Taunton. Yesterday, New Bedford Rep. Robert Koczera said he feared the Mashpee casino could turn into a legal “Pandora’s box” that would keep the region out of the casino rush, and advocated for putting the Mashpee on a two-year land-in-trust clock. House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who ushered casinos through the Legislature, offered this lukewarm vote of confidence on the Mashpee: “How long a period of time the Indian tribe is going to be able to address this issue of the land in trust? Who knows?”

The tribe pushed back strongly, saying any mandated deadline for the tribe to put land into federal trust would be a “deal breaker.” Mo Cowan, Patrick’s chief of staff, warned the Legislature not to amend the compact, lest lawmakers risk blowing the July 31 deadline they attached to the compact.

Cowan also argued that the tribal compact puts the South Coast first in line for a casino, ahead of commercial bidders. Of course, that take assumes the tribal development doesn’t run into any legal roadblocks. 

                                                                                                                                            –PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

House Speaker Robert DeLeo again denies that he’s a target in the ongoing federal probe of patronage at the Probation Department, after the Globe reported that prosecutors were probing whether DeLeo won the speakership by trading Probation jobs for votes. “I can tell you that any member who would testify there was any agreement that, if they voted for me, they’d get a job down the road in Probation is being untruthful,” DeLeo said yesterday.

Gov. Deval Patrick tells the Herald the paper is not entitled to the parking records of lawmakers. The newspaper has appealed the decision to Secretary of State William Galvin, who has been studying the issue for three months. Long delays on public records appeals are common, according to a story in CommonWealth.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The state Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of a Hingham man whose request to build a pier in the back of his oceanfront home was denied by the town’s Conservation Commission one day after the 21-day period required by law.

Newbury selectmen explore opening a solar installation on town land.

CASINOS

Springfield residents tussle over casino siting at a local hearing.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The New York Times explores the close ties between Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and a financially struggling company that runs halfway houses.

ELECTION 2012

The Salem News analyzes the fundraising of US Rep. John Tierney and his Republican challenger Richard Tisei.

US Rep. William Keating is leading the field for the new 9th congressional district in fundraising with nearly four times as much cash on hand as his nearest competitor.

Both Mitt Romney and President Obama are raising significant amounts of money abroad. Obama has so far outraised Romney in donations from Americans living abroad, the Globe reports. The two candidates continue to throw wild punches at each other. Slate argues that, so far, the Obama campaign is winning ugly. Swing state voters show a sudden curiosity about Bain Capital. David Bernstein breaks down Romney’s missing Bain years for Al Sharpton. The Wall Street Journal wonders aloud about Obama’s chances with wealthy-ish suburban whites.

BlueMassGroup takes a victory lap for the Democrats’ widely ridiculed 2002 challenge to Mitt Romney’s residency, which turned out to provide the basis for some of the Globe’s recent reporting on when Romney left Bain.

The Obama campaign ham-handedly lifts a pro-government riff from Elizabeth Warren.

Speculation continues to run rampant about Romney’s possible running mate. The Globe focuses on Bobby Jindal.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Union-only contracts: Good policy or good politics? The Eagle-Tribune answers the question.

Google’s Marissa Meyer, pregnant with her first child, is named CEO of Yahoo, Dealbook reports.

Advertising on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter isn’t giving retailers the return on their dollars that business hope.

Lobsters are being caught in abundance this season, driving prices down and making it difficult for fishermen to make money, the Globe reports.

Writing in the Globe, Paul McMorrow argues for making parking garages less valuable through better mass transit, allowing them to then be torn down and redeveloped.

EDUCATION

Two new innovation schools are being proposed for the embattled New Bedford school system.

HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts General Hospital took the top spot in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the nation’s top hospitals. Brigham and Women’s Hospital also made it into the top 10, ranked 9th overall.

Massachusetts becomes the last state to legalize drug coupons, but only for certain types of drugs, WBUR’s Commonhealth blog reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Sen. Fred Berry, in a Salem News op-ed, supports special legislation for converting the coal-fired Salem power plant to natural gas.

Twelve of 14 protesters arrested in May at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth refused an offer from the judge to have their cases dropped if they paid a $100 fine.

Alec Baldwin runs into opposition to his plans to place a 120-foot wind turbine at his Hamptons home.

In the latest edition of Animal Kingdom, there is a 12-foot python on the loose in Plymouth, an apparent escaped housepet.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The Berkshire Eagle hails a Supreme Judicial Court decision that will require criminal defendants to prove that they cannot afford an attorney before they receive a court-appointed lawyer.

MEDIA

Buffalo News Editor Margaret Sullivan is named public editor of the New York Times.

The Banyan Project, a venture started by a former New York Times editor and others, is eyeing Haverhill as the site of one of its online news cooperatives.

Former SJC Chief Justice Margaret Marshall talks about the court’s historic gay marriage decision, her life under apartheid, and her retirement on Greater Boston.

Red Sox senior advisor Bill James defends Joe Paterno, setting off a firestorm. Broadside’s Jim Braude discusses the controversy with Northeastern University Athletic Director Peter Roby.

Rep. Alice Peisch, a Wellesley Democrat, proposes a shield law for journalists.

Tribe and tribulation for Indian gaming

Since Gov. Deval Patrick signed a law authorizing casino gambling last year, a giant contradiction has been hanging over the race for the state’s three casino licenses. The law carves out a license for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in the state’s southeastern region, provided the Legislature and the state gaming commission are confident in the ability of the Mashpee to enter the federal regime governing tribal gaming. But thanks to a 2009 Supreme Court ruling, the federal government has no power to take title to land for a Mashpee gaming reservation. So even as the Mashpee proceed with plans to construct a casino complex in Taunton, absent an act of Congress, they’re heading toward a federal dead end.

An 8-1 Supreme Court ruling released yesterday underscores the Mashpee tribe’s tenuous position in the federal gaming bureaucracy. The court refused to toss out a lawsuit challenging a profitable tribal casino that opened in Michigan early last year. The Supreme Court challenge was litigated on narrow ground — whether the federal government and the Michigan tribe were immune from lawsuits, and whether a casino abutter has standing to challenge the federal land taking that created the casino.

Yesterday’s ruling allows a much more explosive lawsuit to proceed; that suit claims the federal interior secretary never had the ability to take title to the land the tribal casino operates on. That question goes to the heart of the Mashpee conundrum, since the Supreme Court has already ruled that Interior can only take land for tribes that the federal government recognized before 1934. Essentially, the court just allowed a lawsuit challenging powers the court has already said Interior doesn’t have.

And the Michigan tribe is on somewhat more solid footing than the Mashpee, since Interior’s Michigan land taking was made one month before the 2009 Supreme Court ruling that shut the door on most tribal land takings; the Mashpee, a tribe that received federal recognition in 2007, have been chasing gaming reservations in Fall River and Taunton with the full weight of that 2009 ruling hanging over them. And as the court said yesterday, it’s more than ready to hear any challenges to end-runs around it. 

                                                                                                                                                –PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

The Patrick administration unveils a new tax credit program designed to promote affordable housing in Gateway Cities, the Sun reports.

Pioneer Institute’s Steve Poftak, in an op-ed in the Fall River Herald News, wonders if a full-time Legislature is even necessary, given the lack of process and debate. It’s a question getting asked more often since CommonWealth’s story in our spring issue on the decline of hearings and roll-call votes on Beacon Hill.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua returns from a 10-day vacation to the Dominican Republic, taking heat for missing the Lawrence High School graduation, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch fires the city’s parking director, the Sun reports.

A Massachusetts Gaming Commission forum considers the impact of casinos on city and town services. The MetroWest Daily News report is here.

The Eagle-Tribune, in an editorial, urges officials in Lawrence, Haverhill, and Methuen to tone down their cutting remarks about each other and their towns.

Cambridge mulls following New York’s lead in banning large sodas.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Thanks to a sharp dropoff in Hispanic immigration, Asians are now the largest immigrant group arriving in the US.

A WBUR poll conducted by the MassINC Polling Group indicates Angus King is far ahead in the race to replace Sen. Olympia Snowe in Maine.

ELECTION 2012

Things that make you go “hmmm”: An expert in Cherokee genealogy who is coming here to investigate Elizabeth Warren’s heritage has ties to a conservative blogger who has ties to Scott Brown’s campaign, reports Keller@Large. Peter Lucas, in this Sun column, takes another whack at Warren, calling her a cigar-store Indian. Warren is outspending Scott Brown, which is keeping the Massachusetts Senate race on track to be the most expensive Senate contest in the country. Brown says he’ll only debate Warren at UMass Boston if Victoria Kennedy stays neutral in the Senate race.

The National Review spotlights Ann Romney’s battle with multiple sclerosis and how that struggle makes the presidential campaign pale by comparison.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both spotlight efforts to turn Mitt Romney into a candidate who’s capable of talking to people without sounding like this, or this.

John Kerry will be spouting Mitt Romney talking points — as he plays the part of former Massachusetts governor in debate prep sessions with President Obama.

CHARITY

The annual “Giving USA” report found that charitable donations in 2011 grew by an anemic 0.9 percent. Via Chronicle of Philanthropy.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Should cities buy local? Governing asks.

CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow says in his weekly Globe column that Millennium Partners’s 600 foot tower — with 500 residential units — is a great fit for the Filene’s pit.  

More bad press for the Upper Crust, which has faced sanctions for exploiting workers at its pizza outlets.

EDUCATION

Terrence Gomes, the embattled president of Roxbury Community College, calls it quits.

HEALTH CARE

The Cape Cod Times supports a ban on bath salts, but wonders why the Legislature is taking so long to devise one.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A two-week lockout at Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth appears to be over, WBUR reports. Meanwhile, Attorney General Martha Coakley has filed an appeal in federal court of the 20-year license extension for Pilgrim, charging the NRC failed to do its due diligence in assessing safety threats to the 40-year-old plant.

Years of contentious debate between New Bedford and surrounding communities over the clean-up money for New Bedford Harbor came to an end yesterday with the awarding of the final $6.6 million in grants from an environmental trust fund set up for the remediation.

Boston is a recycling laggard, the Globe reports.

The Berkshire Eagle wants the federal EPA to get on with a cleanup plan for the Housatonic River.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Holbrook man was arrested in Brockton after police said he used stolen sausage links to attack and rob a man on a bike. Insert your own joke. We never sausage a thing.

Roger Clemens is acquitted of charges he lied to Congress.

MEDIA

The winners of the Knight News Challenge are announced, including one from Massachusetts offering a way to respond to natural disasters, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.

The Republican debuts its redesiged website.

Rhode Island rolls the dice

If the tensions in Massachusetts over casino legislation seemed high, it’s really nothing compared to the time Rhode Island is having trying to stem the impending financial calamity that will come with expanded Bay State gambling.

As it was becoming clear that Massachusetts would pass gambling legislation last year, Rhode Island lawmakers approved a referendum for this fall’s ballot authorizing expanded gambling in one of the state’s two slots parlors, Twin River in Lincoln. A separate question to allow a casino at Newport Grand was added earlier this year. The state’s General Assembly wrangled over tax rates for any new revenue generated by the games this week, suggesting confidence that the measures will pass despite the fact that voters defeated an expanded gambling question six years ago.

The Ocean State, still home to the second highest unemployment rate in the country, is dependent on the tax revenue that its slot parlors generate, which makes up the third largest source of state revenue. Ted Nesi at WPRI (NBC10) has some telling charts laying out Rhode Island’s increasing dependence on gambling revenue, with one showing that Rhode Island stands to lose hundreds of millions in the coming years due to competition from Massachusetts.

If Rhode Island’s measures pass, the state will likely see table games before Massachusetts, but once the resort-style destination casinos open in the Bay State, all bets are off as to how Rhode Island will fare.

Meanwhile, Maine this month opened New England’s sixth casino, fueling speculation that New Hampshire will soon follow suit with some sort of expanded gambling plan. Of the six New England states, only Vermont and New Hampshire still prohibit slots and casinos.

Casino industry experts said this week that Massachusetts’ “underserved” market can support three casinos and a slot parlor. But places such as Atlantic City and Foxwoods are struggling recently in part because of casino proliferation across the Northeast, and the phenomenon is just beginning here. 

                                                                                                                                            –CHRISTINA PRIGNANO

BEACON HILL

CommonWealth reports Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary is eyeing an $170 million project similar to Post Office Square that includes building a park over the Storrow Drive parking lot, constructing a 1,000-car underground garage, and possibly extending its offices over the Charles Street extension. The project would require the Legislature to approve a bill to lease the land back to Mass. Eye and Ear, which the hospital already leases in a sweetheart deal that was the focus of a previous CommonWealth story.

The Globe reports that Lt. Gov. Tim Murray was questioned under oath last week by state and federal investigators who are looking into the activities of disgraced former Chelsea Housing Authority chief Michael McLaughlin, a top Murray political supporter.

Advocates of an expanded bottle bill will have to wait another year as a legislative committee sends the measure to die in a study, CommonWealth reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Two troubled Lawrence bars are handed suspensions from the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, the Eagle Tribune reports.

A public school in Lunenberg is set to close after residents failed to approve a Proposition 2 ½ override that would have sent roughly $1 million to Lunenberg schools.

CASINOS

Secretary of State William Galvin tells Keller@Large limiting the vote on a Suffolk Downs casino to the East Boston neighborhood only may be unconstitutional. The chief rival to the Suffolk casino threatens to sue if Boston’s vote isn’t citywide.

In this week’s Back Story, Paul McMorrow explains how a New York scandal sheds light on differing Massachusetts rules for tribal, commercial casino operators.

ELECTION 2012

President Obama and Mitt Romney both gave speeches in Ohio on the economy, but any commonalities ended there.   

The American Spectator looks at Mitt Romney’s attempts to be Mr. Right.

Columnist Brian McGrory says enough already with Scott Brown’s substance-free campaign.  Meanwhile, a Globe news story suggests both Brown and Elizabeth Warren are failing to elevate the campaign debate to the full range of important issues that should be its focus.

Everyone is fixated on the Massachusetts Senate race, but The Republican says another race to watch is in Maine, where former governor Angus King, an independent, is running to replace Olympia Snowe.

Where did this bipartisan, moderate Jeb Bush come from?

FISHING

Sen. John Kerry inserted an amendment into a farm bill that would make commercial fishermen eligible for disaster relief loans.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The MetroWest Daily News laments the decline in summer jobs for teenagers.

EDUCATION

Teachers and school officials in Fall River have reached a tentative agreement on two new contracts, one that is retroactive but contains no raises, after nearly two years since the old one lapsed.

HEALTH CARE

The members of a conference committee that will reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the health payment reform bill were named yesterday, the Gloucester Times reports.

TRANSPORTATION

A new report finds that only one-third of riders in bikeshare programs are likely to wear helmets compared to more than 70 percent of commuters who ride private bikes for commuting.

The Salem News praises plans to mitigate traffic problems caused by opening a casino at Suffolk Downs, but also calls for more public transportation options from the North Shore into the city.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

New documents show that Federal Aviation Administration employees felt pressured to approve Cape Wind despite their reservations about the project.

The solar power industry is going strong thanks to a jump in installations.

NSTAR is taking criticism for its so-called “vegetation management program” that involves cutting down trees nearby high voltage power lines. Critics call the program overkill, reports WBUR.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Norton woman walking her dogs on New Year’s Eve who was shot by an off-duty state trooper mistaking her for a deer has filed suit against the officer, who is also now facing criminal charges from the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

Two Revere residents plead guilty to selling counterfeit MBTA passes worth millions of dollars, the Daily Item of Lynn reports.

MEDIA

On Greater Boston, investigative reporter Russ Baker talks about the selective release of classified documents regarding Watergate, the JFK assassination, 9/11, and others.

The Neiman Lab asks what will happen to New Orleans once the Times-Picayune stops publishing daily, and looks to a similar situation in Detroit. The impact of a community newspaper loss was examined in CommonWealth’s 15th anniversary issue.

Get used to it: casino sparks are flying

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                            –PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

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

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

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

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

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

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

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

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

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

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

ELECTION 2012

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

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

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

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

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

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Massachusetts home sales jumped in March.

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

EDUCATION

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

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

A new push for new charter schools in Boston.

HEALTH CARE

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

TRANSPORTATION

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

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

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

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

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

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

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

Roger Clemens heads back to court.

Brimfield casino site not worth the stakes

Can’t get there from here. MGM Resorts International finally threw in its hand and decided to walk away from a $600 million project to build a hilltop gambling mecca in the small western Massachusetts town of Brimfield.  The prospect of 3,000 jobs, a figure almost equal to the population of Brimfield itself, also vanished.

MGM said there were “too many complications.”

“The unique nature of MGM’s plans for an all-inclusive world-class resort on the Brimfield site, and our growing understanding of the needed scope for its infrastructure, simply do not allow us to pursue the comprehensive MGM resort originally envisioned here,” said William Hornbuckle, MGM’s chief marketing officer in a statement.

That infrastructure issues did in the project should come as no surprise.

The location seemed to be a puzzling pick for a casino from the start. Anyone who has tried to navigate Route 20 in the Sturbridge-Brimfield area during the Brimfield summer antique fairs, the largest outdoor antique shows in the US, knows the frustration of speeding off the Mass Pike only to begin a painful, bumper-to-bumper slog.

Route 20 did not faze the suits from Vegas. To mollify Brimfielders who were all too familiar with this traffic scourge, the company devised its own work-around: a casino-dedicated interchange off the Mass Pike that would take people directly to the “Rolling Hills Resort.” Price tag: about $30 million.

Then reality set in. Did you say new interchange? Bay State transportation officials required engineering studies and, in the Big Dig-scarred state, plans to fix any future problems. There were environmental concerns about wetlands as well. And those problems did not take into consideration whatever pound of flesh Federal Highway Administration and Brimfield officials planned to extract.

That MGM may have been having second thoughts was foreshadowed last month. The company had yet to come up with any concrete plans. One person associated with the project told The Boston Globe that the design and approval process would take anywhere from 12 to 18 months, a wildly optimistic timetable.

The proposed access road from the Mass Pike through the town of Warren also posed “jurisdictional issues” since it lies in the central-eastern Massachusetts casino region. All of this even before Brimfield residents weighed in on the project in a nonbinding vote that had been scheduled for May.

The failed MGM proposal will serve as a cautionary tale for casino developers trying to make headway in a state where construction projects are rarely as straightforward as they seem.

What appears to be a small bore concern, building an interchange from a highway to access a casino site, can pose obstacles of Olympian proportions once state and local officials, not to mention the feds, get into the mix. Rural areas will be particularly susceptible to these pressures, but cities and suburbs will also have to get a grip on what the construction, transportation, and environmental factors are, and what the realistic timelines associated with each of those areas really mean.

Brimfield’s loss may be neighboring Palmer’s gain. Mohegan Sun developers have expressed interest in a site there, and Palmer casino proponents have trumpeted their town’s virtues, including “access” and “infrastructure.” Exit 8 on the Mass Pike would take gamblers right into Palmer.

                                                                                                                            –GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation offers a plan to allow logging to return to state forests, the Lowell Sun reports.

Paid sick leave legislation gains backing on Beacon Hill. State Treasurer Steven Grossman says he supports the legislation (plus a proposal to raise the minimum wage), the State House News Service reports (via the Lowell Sun). CommonWealth reports on a rally and lobbying at the State House.

The Supreme Judicial Court says Gov. Deval Patrick must be present at meetings of the Governor’s Council in order for Lt. Gov. Tim Murray to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Massachusetts Convention Center Authority executive director James Rooney is still driving a vehicle home at night even though he was stripped of a subsidized car in his pay package last year, the Herald reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The number of people with licenses to carry a concealed handgun has been increasing on the South Shore, reports the Patriot Ledger.

More detailed plans for the proposed Aquinnah casino will be available to Fall River, Lakeville and Freetown officials this week, the New Bedford Standard Times reports.

Foxborough drops plans to try taking Kraft Group billboards.

Boston police union boss Tom Nee turns the screws on Commissioner Ed Davis.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Tough questioning yesterday from the Supreme Court’s conservative jurists have some wondering whether the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate will survive. Justice Anthony Kennedy teases both sides. The New York Times interviews insurance mandate holdouts in Massachusetts.

Michigan officials step in to bail out Detroit.

ELECTION 2012

Newt Gingrich scales back his campaign schedule and lays off a third of his full-time staff, Politico reports.

US Sen. Scott Brown has transferred from the Massachusetts Army National Guard to a unit in Maryland. He’ll be working in a top Guard office in the Pentagon, but Brown said he requested the move because media scrutiny made it hard to continue with his Massachusetts assignment.

Mitt Romney’s new San Diego home includes a two-story, four-car garage with a car elevator. The Atlantic explains car elevators to the 99 percent.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Frank McCourt, the former Boston businessman, is selling the Los Angeles Dodgers to an investment group that includes former basketball star Magic Johnson for $2 billion, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Patriot Ledger looks at the latest jobs numbers.

Massachusetts home sales had their best February in five years.

EDUCATION

The city of Boston and the Boston Teachers Union will seek a state mediator to help them negotiate a contract, Universal Hub reports.

The Globe reports that a lawyer in the DC office of Mintz Levin has become the go-to guy for college presidents as they negotiate contracts — and for universities seeking advice on the compensation package to offer presidents.

TRANSPORTATION

The Brockton Enterprise argues in an editorial that Massachusetts should adopt a seat belt law that would allow police to pull over anyone they see not wearing a seat belt. Current law only allows police to ticket motorists who have been pulled over for some other reason.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

New EPA rules regulating greenhouse gases appear to give a thumbs up to natural gas and a thumbs down to coal, Time reports.

A six-megawatt solar farm is coming to Dartmouth, the New Bedford Standard-Times reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A former investment broker from Beverly is ordered to pay more than $500,000 to a 9/11 widow for excessive trading of her holdings to boost his commissions, the Salem News reports.

Defense lawyers question how a Brockton man could have blown a .384 on a breathalyzer test last weekend, and still be alive.

MEDIA

The city of Boston pays $170,000 to a Boston attorney who alleged his civil rights were violated when police arrested him for using his cell phone to videotape a police arrest in 2007, WBUR reports. The Nieman Journalism Lab reports on the settlement and other similar cases involving Boston police.

Dan Kennedy reviews the Globe’s new e-paper.