The damage and mess from Irene we awake to tomorrow morning may cause us to rethink where and how we build near the shore and along overflowing rivers. Utility trucks will move in to restore services, insurance companies will swarm the area to make estimates and start the process of bringing back normalcy to the storm ravaged Commonwealth.
Lest we be too distracted and relieved that the damages and tragic losses weren't worse, a new storm is brewing and when this one passes through there will be no way to fix its damage to Cape Cod, the Islands and Southeastern part of Massachusetts. And the cause of this storm won't be global warming or unavoidable confluences of tropical depressions. The cause of this damage wreaking is simple - greed, ignorance and corruption. Lobbyists fueled by overseas investors and slot machine companies have stuffed campaign cash into the pockets of Governor Deval Patrick, Senator Therese Murray and others in the legislature who see fit to legislate a no-bid, non-competitive special carve out for a casino which will operate outside of any state rules or controls and in the words of tribal leader Cedric Cromwell "crush the competition" by paying no taxes or fees.
Following Hurricane Cedric we will have no recourse, no recovery, no rebuilding. The estimated billions of dollars Massachusetts residents spend in a Wampanoag casino will not flow back into state coffers but head overseas tax-free to Malaysian gambling giant Genting's bank accounts. Tribal leaders like Cedric will continue to pocket six figure salaries, but the tribe will simply sink further into debt.
All because Governor Patrick and Greg Bialecki say Indian gaming is an inevitability and because Mashpee Wampanoag chair Cedric Cromwell asserts his 12,000 year ancestral right to open a casino. Neither claim is true. No tribe has opened a new casino with new land in trust without the support of the state in which they operate. While many of those states now (California and Minnesota for example) wish they hadn't approved such deals, the Wampanoags could never open a casino without the complicity of the Massachusetts Governor and legislature.
Why would they delay jobs we could have today? The Wampanoag still have to get federal laws changed and stand in a very, very long line while overcoming administrative hurdles required by the Department of Interior not just to take lands into trust but to then secure federal licenses required for creating a casino complex.
The language of the Governor's special interest bill before the legislatures DOES NOT say the Wampanoag's only have a year to accomplish this unlikely scenario at which time the bidding will be open to competition for a Region C casino. The language, probably written by someone like Wampanoag lobbyist Bill Delahunt, only says after one year if the appointed commissions determines that the tribe will not get land in trust can they open up the region. This language makes it open for the commission to allow the Wampanoag any number of years to continue to lobby and push for land in trust legislation and permissions as long as they believe the "may someday" get land in trust and permission to open a casino.
Why the special treatment for a group which will pay no taxes and remove local controls over zoning and law enforcement? The state of Rhode Island is already preparing to fight the Wampanoag casino because their governor knows he can use federal rules requiring Indian casino's proposals must demonstrate no negative economic impact on other existing jobs or industries in the region. So Rhode Island will be fighting to block Indian gaming in Southeastern Massachusetts, localities and other developers are already threatening lawsuits. Hurricane Cedric's damage will be felt here for years, long after Governor Patrick is gone but sitting on a nice bank account filled with special interest campaign cash.