South Coast casino fears
For years, South Coast politicians were the lonely voices in the gambling wilderness. Even when legislative leadership stood solidly against legalizing casinos in Massachusetts, politicians from the state’s southeastern region would reliably push the issue, arguing that the area was in desperate need of large-scale investment, and casinos were as good a bet as anything else. They flirted with the state’s two federally recognized Indian tribes, and they pushed casino legalization to no avail.
Now, however, as the state prepares to hand out three casino licenses, South Coast lawmakers are fearing that they’re about to be left behind by an industry they’ve spent years chasing.
Yesterday’s State House hearing on the recently-signed compact between the state and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was dominated by concerns about the tribe’s ability to actually deliver on their planned Taunton casino. The tribe, which had previously chased casino deals in Middleborough and Fall River, must put its Taunton land into federal trust before it can open a tribal casino. However, a 2009 Supreme Court ruling held that the federal government can’t legally take land into trust for tribes that, like the Mashpee, were recognized after 1934.
The tribe and Gov. Deval Patrick’s office are now looking for ways around the Supreme Court. That’s of little comfort to South Coast lawmakers, who had initially opposed any carve-out for the Mashpee, and are now sandwiched between an inevitable-looking Caesars complex in East Boston, and a legally murky Mashpee casino in Taunton. Yesterday, New Bedford Rep. Robert Koczera said he feared the Mashpee casino could turn into a legal “Pandora’s box” that would keep the region out of the casino rush, and advocated for putting the Mashpee on a two-year land-in-trust clock. House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who ushered casinos through the Legislature, offered this lukewarm vote of confidence on the Mashpee: “How long a period of time the Indian tribe is going to be able to address this issue of the land in trust? Who knows?”
Cowan also argued that the tribal compact puts the South Coast first in line for a casino, ahead of commercial bidders. Of course, that take assumes the tribal development doesn’t run into any legal roadblocks.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo again denies that he’s a target in the ongoing federal probe of patronage at the Probation Department, after the Globe reported that prosecutors were probing whether DeLeo won the speakership by trading Probation jobs for votes. “I can tell you that any member who would testify there was any agreement that, if they voted for me, they’d get a job down the road in Probation is being untruthful,” DeLeo said yesterday.
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The Obama campaign ham-handedly lifts a pro-government riff from Elizabeth Warren.
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Writing in the Globe, Paul McMorrow argues for making parking garages less valuable through better mass transit, allowing them to then be torn down and redeveloped.
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Sen. Fred Berry, in a Salem News op-ed, supports special legislation for converting the coal-fired Salem power plant to natural gas.
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Alec Baldwin runs into opposition to his plans to place a 120-foot wind turbine at his Hamptons home.
In the latest edition of Animal Kingdom, there is a 12-foot python on the loose in Plymouth, an apparent escaped housepet.
The Berkshire Eagle hails a Supreme Judicial Court decision that will require criminal defendants to prove that they cannot afford an attorney before they receive a court-appointed lawyer.
Buffalo News Editor Margaret Sullivan is named public editor of the New York Times.
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Former SJC Chief Justice Margaret Marshall talks about the court’s historic gay marriage decision, her life under apartheid, and her retirement on Greater Boston.Red Sox senior advisor Bill James defends Joe Paterno, setting off a firestorm. Broadside’s Jim Braude discusses the controversy with Northeastern University Athletic Director Peter Roby.
Rep. Alice Peisch, a Wellesley Democrat, proposes a shield law for journalists.