Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Double or Nothing

It's supposed to be great, the potential for approximately 13,000 jobs encompassing every skill level and guaranteeing a better brighter Fall River. This is what the Mayor, Ken Fiola, Joan Menard and others are trying to sell us that Fall River can have both a resort casino AND a BioPark!

OH GOODY! This is it Fall River has finally hit the jackpot! Or has it?

Don't book your reservations for that destination-resort just yet! Before this 'shovel-ready' (Boy do I have a double meaning for that!) project can get underway the legislature will have to vote to allow a casino on the BioPark land, since the language of the land transfer back in 2002 specifically forbids it. NO PROBLEM we're told, except some of those voting are going to be interested in getting a casino in THEIR districts, so wouldn't voting against this be a great way to nip a Fall River casino in the butt? And let's not forget that a bill legalizing casinos hasn't even passed yet, and if and when it does the Governor has already suggested that potential sites would have to be vetted for suitability. If that didn't complicate things enough the folks at UMD are starting to express some displeasure at Fall River's sudden change of heart and while publically stating they want to work with Fall River, they've expressed little interest in any proposed alternatives for the BioPark. Meanwhile as Flanagan and crew try to keep UMD on the back burner long enough to make this gambling thing happen New Bedford's Mayor Lang steps in says 'hey, if Fall River doesn't want a BioPark New Bedford would be proud to step in'. Of course Kenny Fiola expressed some polite displeasure over New Bedford potentially hurting what we're trying to develop but isn't that what we're doing to New Bedford by pushing for a competing casino proposal?

Suddenly, Will, Kenny, and Joan look like circus performers trying to keep all the plates spinning on poles without having any of them fall of.

Now if all the above didn't get the plates wobbling enough for you, the word from Boston is if a casino is going to be built instead of a biopark, well then those developers should have to pay the bill for all the infrastructure work that the state was planning to do for the biopark. I can only imagine the Wampanoag's were less than thrilled with the idea of paying out the estimated 35 Million dollars. And speaking of less than thrilled, a meeting on Monday had the majority of the city delegation and a bulk of our city councilors speak out against the casino proposal. And now 4 councilors have signed a resolution in opposition to siting a casino "at the land dedicated for the creation of the SouthCoast BioPark."

CRASH

Despite all the cheery talk the reality is a casino is no sure thing and pursuing it puts the BioPark (which was a sure thing) at serious risk. Despite all the assurances it's starting to look like that instead of getting both, we're going to have to pick one or the other, and if we're not careful we may get nothing at all.

10 comments:

skoorey said...

I was at the meeting on Monday, and stayed for 3 and a half hours. I was really surprised that so many pols were against the casino. It was heartening.

I had a big issue with the veracity of Fiola and Torres. Their talk about the wonders of the financial backers was completely disputed by a resident who had done her homework. She showed how the casino in Niagra, NY had actually made the living conditions and poverty worse there. That a study shows that where there is a casino, the incidents of violence against women has gone up 25%. That we would be funding our city's shortfall by exploiting the poor.

A simple voice of the people, not representing any organization, spoke truth to power.

Her name is Rebeca O'Neil. My new hero.

Anonymous said...

That meeting was on fall river government tv if you did not attend the meeting or watch it you should watch the replay.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lefty,

How many Baby Birthing Bimbos from Fall River have the job skills to land a position in the BioPark. Pray for the casino so there will be plenty of jobs in the house cleaning and food service industry.

Anonymous said...

you better have a passport ready that says you are tribal

Anonymous said...

Biopark = the economic development equivalent of staying in school, getting credentials, showing up at work every day, and having a successful career. There's some hard work up front, but it pays off.

Casino = watching TV in your bathrobe all day and playing the lottery.

CaveatEmptor said...

Let's not forget that creating a BioPark is just making land available for development for a desired purpose. We all need to step back and look at the big picture without rose colored glasses. If you build it, they will not necessarily come. In this economy, the notion that there are 8,000 jobs out there that are being stunted because Fall River has not built a BioPark is ludicrous. And that number is equally ridiculous - seriously, 8,000 jobs? Let's be realistic, and that means 500 to 2000 jobs, with the city having to fight tooth and nail for them.

This isn't a diatribe against a BioPark - I think the city can have both, but will probably lose out to somewhere else that has planned better (ahem, do I need to mention the new courthouse?). The development of a BioPark is a good idea that is just being trumpeted with pie-in-the sky (unquestioned) estimates by the very people that just put Fall River's proverbial foot in its mouth by playing its cards before it should have (Joan, Boob/Wonderboy, and Kenny the useless idiot).

QED

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to imply that the Biopark is the answer to all of Fall River's problems. But (just because of the nature of the development) it's a better investment.

Affordable, dedicated biomanufacturing space actually IS a magnet for biomedical and biotech firms; they tend to go where that kind of specialized space is, and they go where there are clusters of other firms. And if biotech firms don't fill the space, it's adaptable to other uses, and other companies are more likely to co-locate in such a setting than they would be with, say, a casino.

Also, the biopark would open up the opportunity to partner with universities, receive grant funding, etc. And the professional, high-wage jobs that it would bring (although I agree with you that 8,000 is a high number)will give our kids an incentive to stay in school and achieve good grades, as well as a way to stay here after college.

The casino (which isn't a sure thing either, but has already resulted in a potential loss of up to $50 million, including loss of the state grant and the reimbursement to the state for the work on 24) will just bring low-paying jobs and a lot of problems.

My point was that the biopark is harder to put together, more moving parts, more complex, etc, but worth it in the end.

What would you rather have Fall River known for: a casino or a high-tech complex?

Anonymous said...

The idea of striving to secure both entities is admirable...

the idea of blindly bulldozing the years of planning, funding, agreements,and trust, for the pie-in-the-sky, fevered hype of this sucker's bet...is pure stupidity.

"Showing off is the fool's idea of glory."
Bruce Lee

Anonymous said...

Wampanoag pursue affordable housingText Size: A | A | A
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March 12, 2010
MASHPEE — The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe's housing commission is moving forward with plans for a 51-unit affordable housing development off Meetinghouse Road.

The tribe is currently conducting a search for an affordable housing consultant, housing department director Alice Lopez said.

The consultant will help the tribe apply for grants and complete the permitting process needed to break ground.

The need for affordable housing among tribe members is "major," Lopez said.

Applications from consultants are being accepted through the end of the month, when a volunteer committee will make a hiring decision.

Anonymous said...

for Ric Oliveira who wants to know why the tribe PR does not return calls:

Tribe settles suit with ex-
employee
January 27, 2010
MASHPEE — The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has settled a lawsuit brought by a former employee, according to court records.

In a suit filed in a Florida court last year, Gayle Andrews claimed the tribe owed her $400,000 in back pay and expenses. Andrews handled press inquiries and internal communication for tribal leaders,

On Monday, Andrews and the tribe notified the court of their joint desire to dismiss the case, records show. The terms of the settlement are not public.

When reached by phone yesterday, Andrews declined to comment on the agreement. Her attorney, Karen Gievers, Wampanoag Tribal Council chairman Cedric Cromwell and his attorney, Rex Ware, did not return calls seeking comment