The Wynn-Walsh soap opera
Wynn Resorts and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh have become the lead players in a tawdry soap opera that somehow manages to keep spinning off in new and strange directions.
The early plot lines now seem fairly quaint. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission last September awarded Wynn Resorts a license to build a $1.7 billion hotel and casino in Everett over the objections of Boston, Somerville, and Revere. During that process, Boston was classified as a surrounding community to the casino, which meant Charlestown residents wouldn’t be allowed to vote on whether they wanted it next door or not.
Walsh took umbrage at the Gaming Commission’s decision and in January sued the agency. The mayor expanded his lawsuit in May, filing a 153-page complaint that reads like a screenplay from a Jason Bourne film, complete with scheming regulators, criminal masterminds, and illegal land deals. Walsh is also refusing to issue permits Wynn needs to improve the roads around his casino; he even ordered his staffers not to attend meetings organized by the Baker administration to find a long-term solution to congestion in Sullivan Square.
But Walsh is what Hollywood calls a complex character. Even as he battles Wynn on all fronts, no one really knows his end game. He voted for casino gambling as a state lawmaker, but aides say he no longer wants a casino in eastern Massachusetts, perhaps because he is worried about people losing their life savings to slot machines or just feels the economy doesn’t need a casino jump-start anymore. Some say his fight against the Wynn casino is all about standing up for Charlestown. Others say he wants Wynn to pony up more money for the city — he even mentioned a specific figure of $150 million to revamp Sullivan Square.
Even more amazing, Wynn Resorts was delivering its attorney’s letter to the mayor even as the president of its Everett operation was going on TV to explain the casino company’s plan to come up with the $150 million the mayor wants to fix Sullivan Square. “It takes two partners to work together and collaborate,” said a straight-faced Robert DeSalvio, president of Wynn Resorts Everett.
One local attorney said the chances of Wynn winning a defamation suit against the mayor are slim to none, but the casino company’s letter signals that the two sides are now in an all-out war. It’s great news for all the political fixers working for the two sides and good news for Mohegan Sun, the Connecticut casino operator who lost out to Wynn in the race for the eastern Massachusetts casino license and whose take would fall if a Wynn casino were to open. For the rest of us, it’s great political theater that shows no signs of ending any time soon.
A Boston Globe editorial praises Attorney General Maura Healey for putting some teeth in the state’s Public Records Law.
The National Association of Government Employees is suing the Baker administration, arguing that a group of state workers were unfairly excluded from an early retirement incentive plan. (Boston Globe)
Lynn Classical High School becomes the set for Central Intelligence, a movie being shot in Massachusetts featuring actors Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart. (Daily Item)
Aquinnah selectmen have issued a cease and desist order interrupting the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head’s plan to turn an unfinished community center into a bingo hall. (Cape Cod Times)
Boston 2024 is counting on $1.5 billion from domestic sponsorships, a record number. (Boston Globe)
Boston Business Journal reports on the coordination between Boston 2024 and Mayor Martin Walsh’s office.
Greater Boston discusses the fight over the Confederate flag in light of recent polling that showed the majority of Americans view it as a piece of Southern tradition rather than a racist symbol.
New Hampshire bans the sale of synthetic drugs, which are typically sold as incense. But critics say the wording of the law is so flawed that rye bread might be covered. (Eagle-Tribune)
Tired of waiting for the federal government to act, eight states, seven of them headed by Republican governors, pushed for higher gasoline or other taxes to make infrastructure improvements. (Governing)
WBUR profiles US Rep. Seth Moulton, a newcomer to Congress.
The increasing support for Sen. Bernie Sanders among Iowa voters is making Hillary Clinton‘s campaign jittery. (New York Times)
The first cargo ship carrying turbine parts from overseas arrived at the newly opened Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford, marking a milestone for the renovated pier that state and local officials eye as a key to jumpstarting the city’s waterfront economy. (Standard-Times)
A company headed by former state senator Brian Lees seeks permission to use warehouse space in Worcester to grow marijuana. (Telegram & Gazette)
Members of the Lowell School Committee are upset about a picture in a middle school yearbook showing a group of students holding posters urging the committee to do its job, an apparent reference to stalled contract negotiations with teachers. (The Sun)
Joan Vennochi says Boston University professor Saida Grundy teaches a lesson about free (and offensive) speech. (Boston Globe)
The Enterprise has a farewell interview with Dana Mohler-Faria, who is stepping down as president of Bridgewater State University after 13 years.
Globe columnist Kevin Cullen marvels at the turnaround at the Trotter School in Boston.
A private high school run by a British company for international students is planning to move from its temporary site in Newton to a new facility in Braintree by next year. (Patriot Ledger)
Natick and Framingham want the MBTA to quiet down the trains that sound horns along the Framingham/Worcester line. (MetroWest Daily News)
How much natural gas does New England need? Attorney General Maura Healey intends to find out. (MassLive)
The New York Times reports on Boston’s White Mountain, the snow pile that is defying predictions.
The Attorney General’s office is taking over the investigation of the deadly police shooting of a Brockton man and allegations of using excessive force on his stepson because of a conflict of interest in the Plymouth District Attorney’s office, where prosecutors know the officers involved. (The Enterprise) Last year, CommonWealth examined investigations of deadly force in the state and found the attorney general’s office had not previously stepped in despite the constant presence of conflicts of interest in district attorney’s offices.
A new study finds that 95 percent of the elected state and local prosecutors in the country are white, including 79 percent who are white males despite making up just 31 percent of the nation’s population. (New York Times)
Three Lawrence men are charged with trafficking in heroin and cocaine. The men lived in the apartment above Mirta Rivera, who was killed by a rifle shot fired through her ceiling while she was sleeping. (Eagle-Tribune)
Bill Cosby, in a 2005 deposition, admits to obtaining quaaludes with the notion of giving the pills to women he wanted to have sex with. (Associated Press)
Records of a regional law enforcement association suggest the state’s SWAT units are increasingly being used for minor drug-related arrests. The records of the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, which went to court to get them. (Associated Press)
Attorney General Maura Healey raises concerns about website pages geared toward prostitutes that have become hunting grounds for criminals. Healey is speaking out in the wake of the murder of a woman at a Burlington hotel who advertised on Backpage.com. (Boston Herald)
Frontline kills a documentary by Lowell Bergman on gambling in Macao, reportedly because of fears of litigation brought by Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, who own casinos in the Chinese special administrative region. (Wynn is also threatening to sue Boston Mayor Marty Walsh — see above)
The women’s World Cup final, which the Americans won 5-2, was the most-watched soccer telecast in US history. (Time)
The Los Angeles Times adds a reporter to cover Black Twitter. (Poynter)“Minions” climb atop the Los Angeles Times masthead, the first time the newspaper has allowed its logo to be used for a movie ad. (LA Observed)
Legendary Producer Jerry Weintraub dies at 77. (Variety)