Friday, May 21, 2010

Flanagan’s Folly

It wasn't supposed to go this way. The way it was supposed to go was the Mayor would ride in on his white horse and announce that instead of waiting 20 years for the realization of the BioPark, the Mayor would announce a deal to sell the land for an Indian Casino. The land sale would result in millions of dollars for the cash strapped city, the construction was equal 1000's of jobs and the resort would mean even more jobs and the type that would immediately put Fall River citizens back to work! Flanagan would then iron out the details to relocate the BioPark elsewhere in the city, after all UMass wants to be in Fall River, the city could have its cake and eat it too. Flanagan would be heralded as the most brilliant Mayor in Fall River history and the city would be renamed in his honor.

Somehow things haven't gone that smoothly. The meeting for the Redevelopment Authority vote turned into an hours long bitch session that had several city councilors and most of our local delegation expressing concern and reservations. UMass also expressed concerns about this change in plans and while Flanagan and Co. originally tried to downplay this, the University released their letter to the public. Suddenly the BioPark looks like a brass ring free for all with New Bedford rolling out the red carpet.

So now Will is running around telling everyone we can have both and urging everyone, especially some anxious city councilors to give this a chance. But the reality is Will has nobody to blame but himself. While Mayor Flanagan feels that a casino will be Fall River's salvation he has done nothing to include the city council, the local delegation or the people of Fall River in the developments that have been taking place. When the Mayor announced that he had signed an agreement with the Wampanoag tribe, nobody seemed to know any of the details! How much money would this mean for the city? What was the purchase price for the land? How much additional money would the city get? Instead the Mayor, who's been in office for less than 6 months, seems to feel that we should risk 10 years worth of development on the BioPark solely on his judgment. Really, I find that pretty damn arrogant. I know somebody is going to say that Will was elected to lead, elected to make decisions and while that's true the city is not his own real life Sim City to play with. You don't casually change 10 years worth of planning without bring everyone into the conversation. The Mayor says that he believes 70% of the people support this and now a poll seems to back this up, but hold on one second. Well I'm not surprised that people support this. Fall River does need the jobs and the revenue. However, when some idiot from the plumber's union says he's for casinos, he's not thinking of our long term goals and he's not thinking about any of the negative impacts. All he's thinking about is putting his members to work. That's admirable and all, but it's not how decisions should be made. I wonder when this 'poll' took place did they ask specifically if Fall River citizens were willing to risk the BioPark for a casino? Did they mention that a casino in Fall River would face several hurdles and may never become a reality? I doubt it.

Now it looks like Mayor Flanagan feels we can make this all work out if we shift the BioPark to Freetown. What?? 10 years worth of work and we're just going to give it away to Freetown? I know its right next door, but I don't think a Freetown BioPark does much to enhance OUR reputation. Well at least we'll be putting Fall River people to work. However, Speaker DeLeo was just stating that while Fall River would be in a running for a casino that's no guarantee it would get one. He also felt the decision was probably 2-3 years down the road. Such a long time frame would certainly not be of much help to Fall River. Not only would we not see any job creation during that time but with the retirement of Joan Menard, we would also be losing the one member of our local delegation who has been actively pushing for a Fall River casino.

Lefty's View: Fall River needs money and it needs jobs and that's what Mayor Flanagan is trying to deliver. Perhaps I should be applauding him, but I can't. There is so much uncertainty to his casino proposal, so many hurdles to overcome. IF the legislature reverts the 'no casino' clause, if, the casino bill passes, if Fall River gets picked as one of the locations. What happens if, one of those ifs doesn't happen? I suppose the Mayor feels that the reward is worth the gamble. I just wish he understood that most of the time when you gamble, you lose.

*The Ojornal has a really great article on all of the 'casino events', well worth a read!


Anonymous said...

will the biopark pay property tax? If so won't Fall River miss out on that revnue???

sunshine's grandaughter said...

I think it's a very freshman decision. I'm also sick of the Mayor and his union comments... come on this is more then votes, this is our lives, you promise the police union, fire union and construction unions more jobs and expect thier votes, give me a break. Proceed with the Casino and I'll put $50 down we loose both. Slow and steady wins the race, we want the Biopark at the Biopark site end of story.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, but I think it misses the mark by placing a lot of the blame solely on Flanagan.

If anything, this is a Flanagan-Fiola-Menard folly.

Mark Belanger said...

Good luck with that imaginary casino guys. Here in Middleboro we've been reaping the benefits of imaginary Mashpee Wampanoag casinos for three long years. And by "benefits" I mean a town that's been ripped apart and all sensible planning ignored.

Anonymous said...

If the biopark goes to Freetown, it will still be reliant upon water from the city. The casino will also pay for water and sewer fees.

Anonymous said...

water and sewer fees, big deal.

Anonymous said...

Gambling IS going to be approved by the state legislature....once in conference committee, they will add one or two more "regional" casino's along with the 4 "racinos" with slots...taunton is almost gaurenteed to be one of the racino's and folks in RI are reacting to this liklihood by FREAKING OUT!.. lol.
Wheteher or not FR gets a casino, there will be more than two ....Frankly, I think they will get one of them, and they need it to employ a whole bunch of people that are not qualified to do much else, either by prior work history and/or education attainment. But we know these people can be very hard working folks, so this will HELP lower the unemployment rate and provide many with a living.

We should also be able to provide support of the Bio-Tech Park as well....but these jobs will NOT employ scads of Fall River citizens, at least not at first. Over time, while the Park expands and the industry itself grows, more and more FR citizens will be qualified for position across the board. Until then, we need the casino to employ that portion of the workforce not qualified to work other than the type of service jobs (maid service, maintenance, repair, physical grounds upkeep, some trades on an ongoing basis, drink and food servers, front desk, reservations, casino servers, dealers) that will be plentiful and available. And don't forget the buildingb trades jobs that will be required for the initial build out of ther casino, as well as the continuing construction build out as long as the facility remains profitable, as has occurred with casino's in CT.

Mark Belanger said...

Having looked at this for a long time now, I'm not convinced the net economic effect is positive. By the time you lose existing jobs in the regional economy, pay for regulatory overhead, and pay for social costs - I haven't seen anything that shows us to be in the black.

MA has not done a cost/benefit analysis - just a benefit analysis. NH on the other hand just did a thorough look at the ups and downs. They saw pluses and minuses and, I think, called for more economic study really quantify the effect.

Lefty said...

I'm sorry but "Welcome to the Freetown BioPark - water and sewer courtesy of Fall River" really doesn't have much of a ring to it.

I will also ask again how many venues are too many? 2 or more in Mass? Plus racinos? Plus what exists in RI and CT and what RI may add? At what point do you have too much supply for demand? And then what??!

It Said said...

If the biopark is the solution that has been claimed for nearly a decade, where the hell is it?

Consider this--why would any bio firm want to locate here when Harvard and MIT pretty much would also want the same thing? If you're a bio tech firm, are you going to hitch your wagon to a commuter school in the middle of nowhere, or are you going to go with the better brand?

And will somebody knock it off with this "PHD to GED" nonsense as far as whatever jobs are going to be created? About half the people in Fall River don't possess a GED to begin with--and any PHDs would take one look around here and run..

So--what sort of jobs do you want in Fall River--no LNG, no Strip Club, no casino... with the Commonwealth's highest unemployment rate right now, getting all choosey is not a strategy worth having..

Does this city really have 20 years to wait for the rollout of whatever this biopark is supposed to be? Does it?

What happened to the Arts Overlay District? Were not "The Arts" supposed to save us all? How many jobs has THAT created lately?

"That takes time to develop, give it more time"

Fall River is about out of time..


Anonymous said...

It Said,

First, the city and the state had to agree on a land swap to create the BioPark.

Then, the BioPark needed infrastructure improvements. Sewer and water pipes don't expand magically.

Now, Riggenbach Road is being extended to connect with the new Route 24 interchange.

With all the progress that had occurred, the state decided to fund the $17 million to build the UMass Dartmouth biotech facility.

If you watched Rob Mellion's input before the Redevelopment Authority, he listed biotech companies already in Fall River. Also, Mayor Lang in New Bedford is advocating for the BioPark too, and he names biotech companies already in New Bedford too.

According to DeLeo, the application and vetting process for the casino can take 2 or 3 years alone. Then you have to add the time to build the casino and three hotels. Even the best scenario for Fall River still depends on many IFs such as the elimination of the deed restriction.

A lesson this city apparently hasn't learned from Quaker Fabrics is about having one business employing thousands of people. If we get a casino and it fails in 20 years, that will be thousands of people laid off all at once.

At least with the biopark, if one company fails, the damage is limited to that company.

It Said said...

Bob De Leo is blowing smoke, because he wants a racino in his case you arent paying attention, we're vetting a Supreme Court Justice in under 3 this 2 to 3 year figure is a smokescreen.

I watched Mellion's performance, which was fine..compared to Nick Crist, who might one day learn how to read.

What they don't tell you is--how many Fall River or New Bedford residents actually work at these firms..I'd bet its a relative handfull.

Oh btw, the biopark won't even roll out till 2012--that's how long it will take to build the pair of off ramps..think Fall River can still wait a couple of years for this to all materalize?

I'm all for BOTH Projects..but let's be realistic here..we have a better chance of getting LNG, which I think will be up and running in five years or less.

Anonymous said...

How is DeLeo's desire for a racino in his district relevant to the vetting process for the resort casino?

Glad you mentioned LNG, that approval/vetting process has been going on for at least 6 years now, which makes DeLeo's 2 year estimate at least plausible