Two takes on Boston casino deal

Marty Walsh blinked. Or maybe he scored big.

How you view the news of an impending casino mitigation deal between Boston and Mohegan Sun depends on which account you read this morning.

The Globe reports that Walsh has agreed to a pact with Mohegan over its proposed Revere casino that will provide some money to Boston to offset the casino impacts, but will not allow East Boston residents to vote, in a binding referendum, on the casino planned for the neighborhood’s doorstep.

In a position that has been met, to put it gently, with considerable skepticism, Walsh has been arguing that Boston qualifies as a “host community” to proposed casinos in Revere and Everett, despite the fact that the city wouldn’t actually host either gambling hall. In May, the state casino commission rejected Boston’s claim, ruling that the city should negotiate with both developers for mitigation as a “surrounding community.”

Walsh made noises about suing for the right to have East Boston residents vote on the Revere casino and Charlestown residents to weigh in on an Everett gambling site, but the Globe’s Mark Arsenault reports that the administration deemed that course “too risky.” A loss in court could have left Boston with nothing.

If the Globe account gives the feel that a Boston bluff that has been called, the Herald story has a very different flavor. The paper trumpets the deal, calling it a “jackpot for Boston” as well as for Mohegan, which the paper says has won the upperhand in the Boston-area casino competition through its agreement with the city.

Unlike the Globe story, which says hard numbers were unavailable and leaves it at that, the Herald takes a stab at teasing the rough contours of the pact, reporting that Walsh administration sources say the agreement will be — except for real estate tax revenue –“on par” with the host community deal former mayor Tom Menino had struck for $52 million a year. That makes it sound like a big score for Walsh. The paper also suggests the agreement with Mohegan tilts the odds in its favor in the showdown between Mohegan and Wynn Resorts for the Boston area license.

Boston and Wynn have not reached a deal on surrounding community benefits, and their respective proposals are due to be submitted to an arbitrator by Thursday. UMass Dartmouth gambling researcher Clyde Barrow tells the Herald that the gambling commission is likely to look more favorably on a deal worked out between a casino company and surrounding communities than one that went to arbitration.

Whether he’s right, like lots of things in the casino saga, is probably anybody’s guess.

MICHAEL JONAS

 

BEACON HILL

Federal District Court Judge William Young continues to be skeptical about the case against former Probation commissioner John O’Brien and two of his top aides, CommonWealth reports. The Globe says prosecutors are now using the words quid pro quo to describe the relationship between House Speaker Robert DeLeo and O’Brien.

Interviews with two former judges on the Supreme Judicial Court suggest the justices were in the dark about patronage problems at the Probation Department, an indication that Robert Mulligan, the chief justice for administration and management, never took his concerns to them.

Lawmakers weigh parole for juveniles sentenced to life sentences, the Associated Press reports.

The House will shortly take up gun control legislation, the Associated Press reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A school custodian died and 13 other people were treated for what officials said appears to have been exposure to hazardous chemicals from an unknown source at a Plymouth elementary school on Monday.

Tom Keane writes that Marty Walsh is having trouble with his proposal for late-night bar closings as a way to help spur Boston’s growth and vitality because… Boston has grown and become so vibrant.

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera fires the city’s acting chief engineer, Andrew Wall, for failing to win state certification. The Eagle-Tribune notes Wall oversaw a no-bid paving project last summer ordered by former mayor William Lantigua.

The Boston Herald looks into the acquisition by the Red Sox of the rights to Yawkey Way and Lansdowne Street and finds the deal neither open nor transparent.

Vandals tag the Lynn landmark High Rock Tower, the Item reports.

Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk and the City Council tangle over the mayor’s authority to issue leases without City Council oversight, the Gloucester Times reports.

Longtime Boston fire chief Joseph Finn will become the city’s new fire commissioner, WBUR reports. Kevin Cullen hearts Finn. Big time.

Paul McMorrow says Marty Walsh is exercising some welcomed mayoral muscle in a tussle with state transportation officials over development in Lower Allston.

CASINOS

The anti-casino mayor of Somerville and the city manager of Chelsea are not happy with the Wynn Resorts mitigation agreements imposed on them by arbitrators, CommonWealth reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Can you believe it? President Obama has quietly offered his support to Elizabeth Warren if she runs for president, the New York Post reports.

ELECTIONS

Martha Coakley , in a meeting at the Lowell Sun, says her primary reason for running for governor is to spur economic growth throughout the state.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

In an op-ed for U.S. News & World Report, Sen Elizabeth Warren proposes using the US Postal Service to provide basic banking services in low-income areas where the average family spends about 10 percent of its income — the same as they spend on food — for check-cashing fees and interest at nonbank financial services.

Taylor Swift offers insights on the music industry, but Vox says she’s got it all wrong.

EDUCATION

The Obama administration launches an initiative to improve the quality of teachers in districts serving low-income students. Meanwhile, the US Department of Education rethinks how it measures success in educating students. Massachusetts gets a nod as the state “meets requirements,” the highest possible ranking.

An Emory law professor argues in Reason that “while public teacher tenure and seniority may be bad ideas,” the recent Vergara court decision in California that jettisons them is likely to be overturned on appeal.  

HEALTH CARE

Paul Levy chronicles the financial “death spiral” facing the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, which is facing competition from nearby lower-cost hospitals.

The widow of an Acton veteran talks with Greater Boston about the embattled Veterans Administration sending her husband a letter for a doctor’s appointment to treat his brain cancer two years after his death.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Hurricane Arthur may have hit the state with a glancing blow but the torrential rains overwhelmed sewage treatment facilities along the coast, shutting down beaches and shellfish areas contaminated with bacteria.

The US Conference of Mayors scraps its support for a cap and trade approach to greenhouse gas emissions, Governing reports.

A headline not likely to warm hearts in the White House: “How the Obama Administration Is Keeping Big Coal Alive.”

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Former Big Dig boss James Kerasiotes is charged with filing false tax returns, the Boston Herald reports.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

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