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

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

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

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

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leader, Steve Abdow, of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, noted that that a ballot question that repealed greyhound racing, a long established form of gaming, went forward with voters approving a ban in 2008.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

The MBTA pension fund may release more information after all.


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

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

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


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

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


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

The Atlantic digs into California‘s water wars.


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Framingham officials expand their measles warning, WBUR reports.

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


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


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

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

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


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