Steve Wynn, poor rich guy

Egomaniacal casino billionaires do not generally make for the most sympathetic figures.  But Boston officials are doing their best to make you root for Steve Wynn in the casino showdown heating up between his proposed Everett gambling complex and the one Mayor Tom Menino is determined to see built at Suffolk Downs in East Boston.

Ever since Wynn first floated the idea of a casino at a former Monsanto chemical company site in Everett, hard by the Mystic River, city officials in Boston have hinted that they might argue the development nicks the Everett-Boston border, giving Boston a say in the project as a “host community” under the 2011 state gambling law. That would include the right to reject any proposal outright, something Menino would seem all too eager to do in order to clear the way for Suffolk Downs to the be sole Boston proposal on the table.

In yesterday’s Globe, Mark Arsenault reports that the Menino administration appears to be following through on the threat. He writes that the mayor’s Host Community Advisory Committee sent a letter on July 11 to a local consultant working for Wynn saying that discussions with Wynn officials and environmental filings Wynn has made with the state “lead us to the conclusion that Boston would appear to be a host community to the proposed Wynn resort.”  Boston officials made a similar claim, the Globe reports, in a letter to Richard Sullivan, the state’s energy and environmental affairs secretary.

In June, Everett voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot question endorsing the casino proposal, and Wynn fired back last week at the threats from Boston officials. “Our company comes to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts expecting fairness and transparency, and we fail to understand Mayor Menino’s continued efforts to frustrate a project that has the power to transform the city of Everett, bringing economic opportunity that has eluded it for decades,” Wynn said in a statement.

There is no honor among thieves. And as Wynn surely knows, the same is generally holds among casino operators and, by extension in this case, their municipal allies salivating at casino dollar signs. The scramble for casino licenses tends to bring out the worst in everyone, and so Wynn is undoubtedly only on the receiving end this time of the sort of hardball tactics he has also employed when it suited his aims. Fairplay is generally a foreign concept in the cutthroat world of the casino business.

The technical argument Boston is putting forth — that some road, landscaping, or harbor improvements related to an Everett casino could cross the municipal boundary and qualify Boston as a host community — seem tenuous at best. But Menino evidently can’t stand the idea that the gambling commission could decide to approve the one Eastern Massachusetts casino license for somewhere other than Boston, so he’s trying not to leave anything to chance.

                                                                                                                                                                –MICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

This could be a tough week for Gov. Deval Patrick as the Legislature prepares to override his budget and transportation funding vetoes. Patrick vetoed the funding bill on Friday. The Herald uses the gas tax vote as a springboard to criticize lawmakers’ per diem collections.

Police unions and municipalities tussle over the Quinn Bill, the education benefit for police officers.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Bob Unger, the editor of the New Bedford Standard-Times, asks in an editorial whether the country has made any real progress in race relations.

Gloucester wins a $400,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to catalogue environmental problems at harbor properties, the Gloucester Times reports.

Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella tours a Maryland casino as he considers whether to support a $200 million slots parlor.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

In a bizarre op-ed column in Sunday’s Globe, Alex Beam pulverizes US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, calling her a “feckless demagogue,” before suggesting that he actually believes perhaps only about half of what he’s just written. Keller @ Large also takes aim at Warren over her stand on student loan rates.

Chicago’s bond rating is downgraded due to its pension problems and failure to raise taxes, Governing reports.

The Wall Street Journal traces Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s path from Detroit bankruptcy opponent to proponent. The city’s retirees are up in arms over plans to cut pension payments.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Globe’s Casey Ross reports that developers appear to be rushing proposals into the pipeline before the change in leadership in Boston City Hall with all its attendant uncertainties.

EDUCATION

The state receiver overseeing the Lawrence public schools and the union representing teachers are at loggerheads, with the union filing its third unfair labor complaint against the receiver and the receiver implementing work rules resisted by the union. CommonWealth took an in-depth look at the turnaround plan for Lawrence last fall.

State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester issues a warning to the Salem Community Charter School, but school officials say they are making progress with their program targeting dropouts, the Salem News reports.

Mary Grassa O’Neill, the superintendent of schools for the Boston Archdiocese, is stepping down after five years on the job, the Associated Press reports (via WBUR).

A Boston middle school principal’s memo meant to inspire her staff plagiarized a magazine column.

TRANSPORTATION

The Globe looks at the growing ride-sharing business in Boston.

Regional transit authorities like the one on Cape Cod are anxious to have some finality on forward funding as Gov. Patrick and the Legislature continue to do battle over transportation finances. The Berkshire Eagle argues that the toll issue must be addressed at some point.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

To thwart shark attacks, the Australians have come up with what they hope is a “shark-proof wetsuit.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

This morning’s court session in the Whitey Bulger trial has featured more f-bombs and out-of-order outbursts. As part of WBUR’s coverage of the trial, David Boeri examines the life of the alleged gangster’s brother, William, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate. The Globe’s Michael Levenson wrote yesterday about William Bulger’s conspicuous absence at the trial proceedings.

MEDIA

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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