Against all odds, casino vote in doubt
In the gambling world, the house always wins.
In the case of a bid to build a billion dollar casino in East Boston, the house is Suffolk Downs and its well-wired investors. Until recently, it was also Caesars Entertainment, and its bloviating CEO Gary Loveman. And it’s the mayor and the House speaker, a political one-two punch that seemed to give Suffolk the inside track for the Boston area casino license — and then some. Add to this Murderers’ Row of heavy hitters nearly $2 million spent to win over a few thousand Eastie residents, an 86-to-1 spending advantage over casino opponents to which David vs.Goliath comparisons somehow feel inadequate, and it might have been reasonable to ask, why even bother to take a vote?
But with the polls set to open in less than 24 hours, the casino referendum, in which only East Boston voters will have a say, looks like a toss-up. A Suffolk University poll shows the measure passing by five points, 47-42, while a MassINC Polling Group survey for WBUR showed the question losing by a similar, slim margin, 46-42.
No one could have imagined. But no one foresaw the 11th-hour collapse of the Suffolk partnership with Caesars, which pulled out of the project when it became clear that the state gambling commission had serious questions about business dealings that allegedly connected the casino giant to Russian mobsters. And perhaps no one imagined the degree of opposition from East Boston residents, who have had to come to terms with an international airport, but view a casino not as a nirvana of jobs and economic growth but another monstrous project threatening the livability of their neighborhood.
But Nucci has become a steady voice of doubt about a casino in his East Boston neighborhood, no doubt much to the chagrin of Tom Menino and Bobby DeLeo. Last month, Nucci wrote, “the wheels are rapidly coming off” the casino plan, and he declared that any vote in favor of the project would be “meaningless” because it isn’t even known who the casino operator would be. This morning, he has an election preview, in which he encourages Boston residents to get out and vote tomorrow. He especially encourages his East Boston neighbors to head to the polls, whether in favor or opposed to a casino. But it doesn’t take too much imagination to see what he thinks of the plan. “Either East Boston (where I live) will remain the neighborhood it is today, or be completely transformed into a ‘casino town’ by the mega-casino development Suffolk Downs (and an unknown casino partner due to Caesars’ last-minute disqualification) has planned.”
Nucci’s steady anti-casino pronouncements may be the clearest sign yet of the waning clout of the city’s soon-to-be former mayor, and of fact that opposition to an Eastie casino isn’t confined to a group of religious and neighborhood activists but extends into the heart of East Boston’s old guard.
Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal making it harder for state and municipal workers to qualify for retirement health benefits draws an angry crowd, the Salem News reports.
A group of citizens opposed to a Beverly shopping plaza say Rep. Jerry Parisella has a conflict of interest in pushing the proposal because he worked for the law firm representing the plaza’s developer until October 18, the Salem News reports.
Westport Town Meeting will consider placing term limits on all multi-member boards, elected and appointed, and barring Finance Committee members from serving on any other committee.
The head of the Springfield NAACP criticizes Mohegan Sun for failing to respond to the organization’s request for information on its plans for hiring minority workers should it win the license for a casino in Palmer. Meanwhile, MGM Springfield, the other contender for a western Mass license, works out a partnership agreement with Six Flags New England.
Mitt Romney says Obamacare will be the undoing of President Obama’s second term and says the national health care reform is nothing like what he did in Massachusetts despite the president’s comparisons. The Christian Science Monitor’s report is here. The Globe account is here .
A second poll finds Marty Walsh with a slight lead over John Connolly in the Boston mayor race, WBUR reports . Joe Battenfeld compares Connolly’s campaign to Martha Coakley ’s, while Howie Carr piles on . Peter Gelzinis calls Walsh a natural successor to Ray Flynn and Tom Menino , while Margery Eagan says Connolly is only one who has laid out an “out-of-the box” vision on the most important issue — improving the city’s schools.
US Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorses Daniel Rivera over incumbent William Lantigua in the race for mayor in Lawrence. US Rep. Niki Tsongas endorsed Rivera earlier, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
The Brockton Enterprise endorses challenger Bill Carpenter over incumbent Mayor Linda Balzotti . In Fall River, the Herald News tosses its support behind Mayor Will Flanagan for a third term, overlooking its own recent reporting of his association with a local businessman with alleged ties to the Rhode Island mob.
Chris Christie, “the anti-Cruz,” appears well on his way to victory in New Jersey and likely becomes the frontrunner for the GOP nod in 2016 and leader of the anti-tea party faction if he does.
The New York Times looks at the influx of super PAC money from the Koch brothers into a municipal race in Iowa . CommonWealth previously examined the arrival of super PAC spending in Boston ’s mayoral race.
Good stuff really, really cheap: No-frills liquidator Building 19 filed for bankruptcy on Friday and plans to sell everything off and close its doors.
The Wall Street Journal traces $66 billion in bank housing settlement payments.
A real estate deal gone bad is partly responsible for the failure of a Worcester charter school, the Telegram & Gazette reports.
Boston tries to prepare families for its significantly revamped student assignment system .
Colorado votes on a $1 billion education spending proposal.
Blue-collar workers are more likely to be exposed to cigarette smoke on the job than are other workers.
A ruling by the highest court in Virginia holds that tolls are not taxes and that the state’s transportation agency can legally convert roads into toll roads using public private partnerships, Governing reports.
The new owner of the Salem Harbor Station power plant signs a $200 million contract with General Electric to replace the existing coal-burning equipment with gas-burning equipment, the Gloucester Times reports.
Colorado takes tentative steps toward an anti-fracking referendum.
The Cape Cod Times lays off 12 in the newsroom as its new owner begins trimming expenses.
The Beat the Press panel ponders the value of newspaper endorsements.
Author Gish Jen’s ruminations on the Red Sox World Series win in the Globe stirs up WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan.A new Knight Foundation study examines the sustainability of nonprofit journalism, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.
Bill Keller, writing in the New York Times, says it’s a golden age of news.