The Next Battle for Progressives

Welcome to BMG :-) - promoted by Bob_Neer

Hi all, new to Blue Mass Group! I just wanted to use my first blog post to talk about a huge upcoming issue that has serious repercussions here in Boston. As we saw on November 8th, the face of Boston is changing in a very progressive way, and we need to ride the huge gains we made to prevent casinos and all of their social negatives from coming to Boston.

Casino gaming will not be the silver bullet that brings jobs back to Massachusetts. I believe our community needs long term and sustainable jobs and not short term construction jobs. The social consequences outweigh the slight economic boost that casinos will provide.  This site clearly outlines the negative impacts casinos will have on our community: I urge everyone to check it out and get informed about how little a voice the residents of Boston have in putting casinos in our community.

One part of the bill that needs to be adjusted is the provision that limits the rights of citizens in large cities, likes Boston, to vote on the bill. All signs point to a casino going into Suffolk Downs so only the residents of East Boston would be allowed to vote on the casino issue. Yet the negative impacts of casinos will affect all residents of Charlestown, the North End, South Boston, and other neighborhoods. I believe we should all have a say.

Our local officials have already weighed in on this issue: State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz was quoted in the Dorchester Reporter: “These consequences will affect all municipal residents, not just those within a few blocks’ radius of the casino. It’s only fair that all affected residents have an equal say in whether or not the positive impacts of a casino outweigh the economic and social costs to their cities.” All Bostonians have to have a say in whether or not our city has a casino.

In the last election, the voices of Progressive residents came out in droves to support their candidates. Yes casinos will provide jobs, but not the long term sustainable jobs this city needs. This is only a short term fix. We should all have the opportunity to speak out against the social plight that is coming to this city. The Boston City Council has the opportunity to vote to collectively allow the residents of Boston to vote on this important issue. Whether you are for or against casinos, I believe that we should all have a voice on this measure. Please contact your Boston City Councilors and urge them to allow all of us the right to speak out against casinos!!

Call or e-mail YOUR City Councilor-

At-Large Councilors

Ayanna Pressley

Stephen Murphy

Felix Arroyo

John Connolly

District Councilors-

Salvatore LaMattina- East Boston, North End, and Charlestown

Bill Linehan- South End, South Boston, and Chinatown

Charles C. Yancey- Mattapan and Dorchester

Robert Consalvo- Hyde Park and Roslindale

Matt O’Malley- West Roxbury and JP

Tito Jackson- Dorchester, South End, and Roxbury

Michael P. Ross- Back Bay, Mission Hill, and Beacon Hill

Mark Ciommo-Allston and Brighton


11 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. These people don't live in Boston

    Mostly suburban progressives here

  2. Why just Boston?

    Not too familiar with the process you are mentioning, but if there is a referendum, why only Boston? If it is at Suffolk Downs, why not also the citizens of Revere, Chelsea, Winthrop, etc etc. I mean, parts of Peabody and Marblehead are closer to Suffolk Downs than some parts of Boston, like Reedville. These communities would seem to as effected, if not more so, by the casino developments than many parts of Boston.

    • Because that's how local issues are decided

      When somebody proposes to build something in a specific city or town, it is that city or town which engages in a process. Think: zoning. That isn’t to say that Revere, Chelsea, Winthrop etc. don’t have an interest… of course they do. However, it is a rare government agency or forum which allows for multiple jurisdictions to interact well. Generally, it’s a city/town, a county, a planning district (eg MAPC), a state.

      • For Boston and other cities with more than 125,000 people

        The casino law restricts the voting pro or con to the ward where the casino would be located. An applicant for a casino license must:

        have received a certified and binding vote on a ballot question at an election in the host community in favor of such license; provided…if the gaming establishment is proposed to be located in a city with a population of at least 125,000 residents as enumerated by the most recent enumerated federal census, “host community” shall mean the ward in which the gaming establishment is to be located

        Secretary of State Galvin has warned that this restriction might be subject to a court challenge. Unlike the City Council vote, which would appear to be merely advisory (but still worth pursuing), a court challenge could have some teeth.

      • i get the normal zoning process

        but was wondering about the specifics related to the casino bill (TY hester).

        I really don’t think there is much precedent to the idea that all of Boston should be allowed to vote on a development project, even one as big as a casino at Suffolk downs.

        In Boston, development concerns are vetted at the local, neighborhood level, not city wide.
        For instance, Harvard’s expansion into Allston, its 50 year insitutional master plan, includes 9-10 million square feet of development (more than the casino plans) on over 330 acres of land (Suffolk Downs is only 163 acres). I never heard anyone say that the entire city should have a say about that.

        Was there ever a discussion of getting Boston-wide input to relocating the Patriots stadium to Southie? (pretty sure Southie was the only neighborhood to have a real say).

        The same is true for the proposed development of a level 4 bio-germ facility at BU, which would potentially house pandemic viruses like Ebola, small pox, and the plague. All of Boston was never brought in to that discussion – just the neighborhoods in the immediate area.

  3. No one can deny that the impact of a casino will affect many neighborhoods of the City of Boston. Why can’t all residents of the city be afforded the opportunity to vote on this measure? The entire taxpayer base of the city of Boston will have to bear the financial burden of changes to transportation, public safety and social programs resulting from casinos. The Boston City Council should allow all the taxpayers of Boston to have a voice.

    Suffolk Downs owns and occupies land in two cities, Revere and Boston. If you believe the press releases from the ownership from Suffolk Downs and Mayor Menino, it is a fait accompli that a casino will be sited and approved on the land that is currently owned by Suffolk Downs. I believe that this is nothing more than political spin designed to lull opponents to sleep and just get used to the idea of a casino in East Boston and Revere. It is my contention that it is too early to give up hope of having a voice at the table.

    • Why?

      The lobbyists didn’t want that and the big-time politicians who pushed this, especially the Speaker, didn’t want that. Their pet project — Suffolk Downs — would be at a much greater risk if the entire city of Boston had to vote for it, instead of a tiny sliver.

      RyansTake   @   Wed 30 Nov 1:54 AM
      • I think the other side to the coin is

        why, when there is no historical precedent for a citywide vote on a major development in Boston, would there be one now. And i think the primary reason why many want this vote, is not because they believe that every resident of the city should have that right to vote, but rather that it would give a last ditch chance to stop the casinos.

        Rather than trying to make the argument of “I believe that we should all have a voice on this measure” I think it would be more honest to say “this is our last chance to stop casinos”.

        If you are going to stick with the altruistic “we should all have a voice”, then you have to be able to answer: Why now, when there have been bigger projects with greater impact in Boston with no mention of a need for “we should all have a voice”. And secondly, why is your “we” just Boston? If everyone affected deserves to have a voice, then why not every community within 12 miles of Suffolk Downs (which is roughly the distance between Suffolk Downs and Hyde Park). The website you mention is run by someone from Winthrop. But your plan still disenfranchises him.

        If you just say “we want a vote in Boston because we think it is the last viable chance to stop casinos” the argument would make alot more sense and would be easier to get behind (at least IMHO).

  4. I'm with you on all but one thing

    I don’t like it when it becomes an us-vs.-them thing. Construction workers have been hit harder than most in this Great Recession, with unemployment at upwards of 50% at some points, so those jobs are indeed very important. They just shouldn’t be anywhere near the only factor when it comes time to decide the worth of the project. We should be looking to help the construction industry, just as we’re looking to grow jobs in any other numbers of industries, but it should be done through investing in our infrastructure and ensuring that any needless red tape goes away, so building is easier.

    When it comes to a casino — in answering the question of why they’re not worth it, even with construction jobs at stake — the damage it does just isn’t worth it. Local businesses and communities will be devestated. The money it would rob from the state’s lottery, all of which goes to cities or towns, and lost sales taxes of other local businesses, will mean that ultimately *no* net revenue is gained, and quite likely we’ll be at a net loss, once the casinos are up and running.

    It’s certainly not worth the added costs to state and local governments from those problems in the community, be it people who lose jobs from local businesses going under and looking to the state for help, or those who develop problem gambling and rob or embezzle tens or hundreds of thousands from their neighbor or job or church or union. In those cases, not only do the people, businesses and organizations lose out, but the state does, too.

    Dealing with the criminal, mental and health costs will be enormously expensive, from unemployment for those who lose local jobs to the expense of criminal investigations and and $50k/year prison sentence costs, to the fact that we lose thousands of productive members of society, contributing tax dollars, and instead end up with people who develop serious addictions and end up a burden on everyone else, who will come out of prison at risk of a relapse and having trouble finding a job. It doesn’t take very many people before we’re talking about tens of millions of dollars.

    Long term, starting around 5 years after construction is finished and these suckers open, we’ll quickly start to see these casinos are no where near worth it, but it will almost certainly be too late then. The best hope is a ballot question and ensuring that people understand the consequences that will occur for their own communities if these open up, but there’s legitimate questions over whether or not we can even have a ballot question on it, though I suspect we can.

    The great hope now has to be in ensuring that any proposed casino faces enormous local opposition and finds itself unable to gain local passage. If a few casinos are proposed and fail, I think we’ll see a shift in the momentum and a situation in which big casino companies may be afraid to try again so soon, given the great expense of finding a sight, getting the plans and putting money in the right politicians’ pockets — I mean “campaign warchests” — to make it happen. If we can stop a few, we may just build the local momentum to coalesce a large enough grassroots group to go back to Beacon Hill and repeal the stinker.

    RyansTake   @   Wed 30 Nov 2:13 AM

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