Walsh cashes in his chips
Maybe it was the heady feeling of closing the deal to bring General Electric to town or perhaps the realization that he needed to cut his losses that pushed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to end his Tong War with casino mogul Steve Wynn.
It’s hard to say at this point what, exactly, Walsh got out of this agreement that he couldn’t have gotten months and millions of dollars ago. He did get a very nice Globe story as well as a glowing editorial from the paper that overlooked all the toxic comments and moves he made in the past and focused on his newfound ability to find common ground.
The deal will give Boston $2 million a year in mitigation payments, an increase of $400,000 over the initial compact ordered by the Gaming Commission. But on the flip side, the city has agreed to drop the commission’s mandate that Wynn be penalized as much as $20 million if it fails to meet certain traffic benchmarks in the already-congested Sullivan Square area. The deal also includes a “good faith effort” by Wynn to spend $20 million a year on purchases from local businesses over the life of the 15-year agreement.
Wynn will pay the city up to $1 million for legal services spent on negotiating the deal and presumably drop its libel suit targeting the Walsh administration. But what the deal doesn’t include is reimbursement for the millions the city spent on legal fees unsuccessfully challenging the proposed resort casino, money Walsh and city taxpayers will never see again. And perhaps that was his motivation.
But the deal does open the door for what many consider to be potentially the state’s most lucrative casino and start the engines on hundreds of construction jobs – which will warm the hearts of Walsh’s union supporters – and thousands of permanent jobs when the gambling emporium opens for business. Walsh could also see a little more green space in the tight Charlestown neighborhood with an agreement to reclaim a sludge plant, which will also reduce traffic in the area.
It’s a good question to ask what, exactly, helped Walsh change his tune. Certainly the court defeats left a mark. One unexplored area might be the recent decision by Wynn to award the $1 billion construction contract to Suffolk Construction, a major player in the city’s ongoing development. Suffolk boss John Fish was also the leading proponent of Boston’s failed bid for the 2024 Olympics, an effort that Walsh was for before he was against. Is there a chance Fish had a chat or two with Walsh about what the casino could mean for the city and its workers?
However you slice it, one of the most contentious battles over casinos has now been settled and it looks like the roulette wheels will spin sooner rather than later.
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The Senate unveils its version of the Public Records reform, limiting response time and granting legal fees, rather than making them optional like the House bill. (Metrowest Daily News)
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The House and Senate will appoint a conference committee to resolve differences over a criminal justice reform bill. (CommonWealth)
Lawmakers debating opioid legislation are trying to decide how to cap prescriptions for painkillers. (Eagle-Tribune)
A surge in gun licensing in the state continues. (Boston Globe)
Jaclyn Cashman frets that an unusual double shooting in Brookline could hurt sky-high real estate sales. (Boston Herald)
A city-sponsored Late Night Task Force is trying to dial up the fun in Boston. (Boston Herald)
The Boston Redevelopment Authority is sticking to its position that developer Don Chiofaro’s planned waterfront towers can go no higher than 600 feet. (Boston Globe)
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Facebook’s earnings well exceed expectations. (Time)
Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld says Suffolk University president Margaret McKenna and the university’s board of trustees are clashing.
The Boston School Committee hears from the two black Boston Latin School students who have raised alarms over the racial climate at the school. (Boston Herald)
A school committee investigation indicates former Essex Tech superintendent Dan O’Connell engaged in a widespread pattern of wrongdoing, including the collection of $89,000 in unauthorized pay and the use of employees to do work on his home. (Salem News)
The Massachusetts School Building Authority approves $72 million for a new Billerica High School. (The Sun)
Attorney General Maura Healey warns Gilead Scientific that it may be engaging in an unfair trade practice by charging $1,000 a pill for its Sovaldi hepatitis C treatment. (CommonWealth)
Weymouth officials have given approval to South Shore Hospital to move forward with expansion plans, adding a two-story ICU unit and converting the old ICU beds into in-patient care. (Patriot Ledger)
A Boston University researcher says chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the brain disorder associated with repeated hits to the head that can now be confirmed only at autopsy, will soon be able to be diagnosed in living patients. (Boston Herald)
Lyft settles a lawsuit that will allow its drivers to remain independent contractors. (Governing)
NOAA has announced an expanded habitat for the rare North Atlantic right whale that feed in Cape Cod Bay each spring. The expansion will not affect commercial fishing but will have an impact on gas and oil exploration as well as offshore wind turbine sitings. (Cape Cod Times)
The Department of Conservation and Recreation is planning a 10-year, $78 million makeover of Nantasket Beach in Hull, adding a boardwalk, a bike path, and rebuilding the beach including replacing sand that has been washed away. (Patriot Ledger)
Bourne selectmen have approved filing suit against the owner of a wind turbine project across the border in Plymouth. (Cape Cod Times)
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