A Wynn-lose situation

If you lie down with dogs, you might end up with fleas. So goes the old saw, versions of which have been variously attributed to everyone from Ben Franklin to the Roman rhetorician Seneca.

In today’s context, the dog is the state’s startup casino sector, an industry that has historically not been unfamiliar ground for less than stand-up players. Those now scratching at flea bites include pretty much everyone in the state connected to Steve Wynn’s casino now rising in Everett, beginning with the state gambling commission that invited him in.

Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal detailed years of alleged sexual misconduct by Wynn, the CEO of Wynn Resorts. The incidents include a $7.5 million payment to a manicurist at Wynn’s Las Vegas casino who, the story said, was pressured into sex by the casino billionaire.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which was charged with thoroughly investigating the background of applicants for the casino licenses it awarded, is now faced with answering the question, in its chairman’s words, “what the hell happened here?”

That was the unvarnished take yesterday from Steve Crosby, chairing a short meeting of the five-member commission at which he and other members vowed to quickly look into the allegations against Wynn and decide what to do about the license based on their findings.

The commission has wide latitude to revisit the awarding of a license to a company based on very broad grounds related to the “integrity, honesty, good character, and reputation” of its principals.

The $7.5 million settlement was not disclosed to investigators for the commission who vetted Wynn’s application, with the commission’s top investigator saying on Wednesday that “steps were taken to keep it from the public domain.”

“So in other words, there was a cover-up,” writes the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld.

The commission could revoke the license outright. But it also seems to be looking to see how the Wynn corporate board of directors, which has launched its own investigation, deals with the issue. Steve Wynn could be removed as CEO, but his name is still poised to shine atop the glittery new casino, writes the Globe’s Nestor Ramos.

While everyone talks a good game amidst the burgeoning #metoo movement, allowing Wynn’s name to remain on the casino would, Ramos writes, “send a very different message, particularly to survivors of abuse and victims of harassment. ‘We care,’ it would say, ‘but not enough to actually do anything about it.’” Ramos says the state must do whatever it takes, including revoking the Wynn license if necessary, to remove Wynn and his name from the project.

There is also all that Steve Wynn money that has been sloshing around Republican Party coffers. Gov. Charlie Baker called the allegations against Wynn “appalling” and said, if they are true, that Steve Wynn should be deemed unsuitable to hold a casino license in Massachusetts. The Republican Governors Association said it would return $100,000 Wynn has donated over the last three years.

But the Wall Street Journal has also reported on an earlier $2 million donation Wynn made to the RGA in 2014, the same day the governors’ group donated $1.1 million to Baker’s campaign. The paper says that was followed eight days later by another $1.1 million from the RGA to the Baker effort. The paper says RGA staff talked about using the Wynn money to help Baker, but Wynn and the RGA have denied that.

The flea infestation could also reach a once rising star in the constellation of women shaking up the old boys network in Massachusetts politics. Just a week ago, Linda Dorcena Forry announced she was resigning from the state Senate for a job as vice president of diversity and community relations at Suffolk Construction. Suffolk happens to be the contractor building Wynn’s $2.4 billion Everett gambling palace.

Pols who trade public office for fixer jobs in the private sector always run the risk of eventually having to run interference for projects they might have been raising questions about in their former role. For Forry, that risk emerged with lightning speed, as the Wall Street Journal story broke the day after her announcement. Forry has to be desperately hoping for a resolution that doesn’t leave her in the position of having to smooth the way for construction of a giant casino whose facade will be emblazoned with the name of the latest powerful man accused of being a serial sexual predator.

Only a week ago, everyone in the state seemed to be crowing about Steve Wynn’s project. Today, lots of people are itching for a fast resolution that removes him — and his name — from the local landscape.

–MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

The Group Insurance Commission executive director takes the fall for the rollout of  a controversial savings initiative, but the bold proposal itself survives questioning from senators largely unscathed. (CommonWealth) Shirley Leung says it looks the state’s ever popular governor will skate away from taking a big hit over the unpopular GIC move, which was made by a board largely made up of his appointees. (Boston Globe)

State Rep. Tackey Chan of Quincy has filed a bill to break up the term “Asian” on government forms into more specific ethnic areas for data collection but many of those who oppose it say it amounts to the first step of a government registry. (Patriot Ledger)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The head of the Massachusetts School Building Authority told a Lowell Sun editorial board that the decision last summer to delay a vote on approving money for the new Lowell high school, a move that allowed opponents of the planned site to gather support to move it back downtown, ended up protecting taxpayers.

Salem was disrupted by a water main break which, just as it was being repaired, was followed by another burst pipe. (Salem News)

Rockport police, who have resisted carrying Narcan because of their collective bargaining agreement, will soon be trained and equipped with the overdose-reversing drug, making it the last police department on Cape Ann to carry the drug. (Gloucester Times)

The Southbridge Town Council voted to file suit against drug manufacturers in the wake of 13 reported opioid deaths in the town in 2015 and 2016. The council also voted to approve a ban on all recreational marijuana businesses. (Telegram and Gazette)

Salem reduces the suspension of the Tavern in the Square bar from 30 days tro seven days. (Salem News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL/SPACE

FBI Director Christopher Wray clashed with President Trump over the White House’s planned release of a highly partisan memo from Republican congressmen that questions the integrity of the nation’s intelligence community using cherry-picked classified information. (New York Times)

Trump tweets that he garnered the highest viewership for a State of the Union speech of all time. Shockingly, this turns out to be not true. (Vox)

Dante Ramos says Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan is mostly smoke and mirrors. (Boston Globe)

Jeet Heer says Trump is proving to be a great communicator because he is himself a “low-information voter,” which gives him a knack for reaching other such voters. (The New Republic)

A chartered Amtrak train carrying GOP lawmakers from Washington to an annual retreat in West Virginia slammed into a garbage truck in Virginia, killing one of the truck’s passengers but leaving most of the congressmen unscathed or with minor injuries. (Washington Post)

The Justice Department has dismissed all charges against US Sen. Robert Menendez, whose first trial on corruption ended in a hung jury, and will allow the New Jersey Democrat to seek reelection without the specter of a second trial looming over him. (New York Times)

An amateur radio astronomer has discovered the signal from a satellite that NASA had lost contact with 12 years ago. (Washington Post)

ELECTIONS

Boston-area bigfoot pols like Mayor Marty Walsh seem likely to circle the wagons around US Rep. Michael Capuano in his Democratic primary showdown with Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who announced this week she will run against him. (Boston Herald)

After messing with the US presidential election in 2016, Vladimir Putin probably has no reason not to keep at in the coming 2018 races, writes Globe tech reporter Hiawatha Bray.

A Herald editorial pans the idea floated by Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell of letting non-citizens vote in Boston municipal elections.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Despite a strong labor market and positive economic indicators, the Federal Reserve opted not to raise its benchmark interest rate at the final meeting of outgoing Chairman Janet Yellen. (U.S. News & World Report)

Globe columnist Joan Vennochi, fearless in taking powerful pols down a notch when she thinks they deserve it, this times goes after regional sports deity Tom Brady, saying of a recent flap that erupted on sports talk radio that if Tom Terrific didn’t want anyone commenting on his 5-year-old daughter he should have left her out of his self-promotional documentary, “Tom vs Time.”

EDUCATION

Advocates are concerned that President Trump didn’t mention rebuilding the nation’s deteriorating public school buildings when he spoke about infrastructure during his State of the Union address. (U.S. News & World Report)

A problem-plagued Roxbury alternative high school is placed on probation by Boston school superintendent Tommy Chang. (Boston Globe)

MIT plans a big university-wide initiative on artificial intelligence. (Boston Globe)

Interim UMass Boston chancellor Barry Mills says he’s come up with way to fix the collapsing campus garage at roughly half the cost previously estimated for the project. (Boston Globe)

An arbitrator upheld Stoughton school administrators’ authority to reprimand a teacher for discussing with her class a student’s suspension for putting a swastika on the high school wall. (The Enterprise)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A Lexington startup will look to tap growing fears of nuclear war by marketing drugs to treat radiation sickness. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

An anonymous donor gave $2,500 to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy for the right to name a tagged shark “Mueller.” The non-profit research center has seen its donations rise in the wake of a report that President Trump told a woman he was allegedly having an affair with that he fears sharks and would never donate to a cause that helps the predators. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission said it could yank the Wynn Resorts license, and its suitability investigation will focus initially on the $7.5 million payment Steve Wynn made and did not disclose. The payment reportedly went to a manicurist he pressured to have sex. (CommonWealth)

Cannabis capitalists find a way to turn a profit selling pot by “gifting” the drug. (Associated Press)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A pharmacist with the now-closed New England Compounding Center in Framingham was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for his role in the distribution of tainted steroids that triggered a deadly meningitis outbreak in 2012 that killed nearly 80 people. (MetroWest Daily News)

The police chief in Adams refuted some of the claims made by a black man who was pulled over by police who were searching for three suspects allegedly involved in a shooting. (Berkshire Eagle)

A Wenham investment advisor will plead guilty to swindling three clients, including a well-known Manchester philanthropist who was giving his wealth to regional charities through the account the advisor was managing and stealing from. (Gloucester Times)

The state will assume the cost of guarding Essex County’s costliest inmate. (Eagle-Tribune)

MEDIA

The editor of a chain of Western Massachusetts newspapers said he was fired for advocating for pay equity for women employees, though some women at the papers say he was not actually a champion of their cause. (Boston Globe)