To the surprise of no one the Redevelopment Authority voted 3-2 to sell 300 acres originally designated for a BioPark to the Mashpee Wampanoags to build a destination casino.
I know Fall River is full of casino supporters, so let's string up the banners and have a ticket tape parade down Main Street. Let's hear how this is going to mean jobs and prosperity for all. Hip Hip Hooray…
The agreement certainly is a good one…for the Wampanoags. They have covered themselves well. They can back out of the deal if gambling isn't legalized, if the land restriction isn't overturned, if Fall River isn't awarded a license, if the referendum vote to approve doesn't pass and pretty much any other risk they may have faced.
The meeting, much like the entire process so far seems to have been conducted in a great rush, full steam ahead, don't worry about the icebergs. Flanagan's three stooges all voted to cut short any discussion. Meanwhile the other 2 members wanted more public explanation of the contract. A sticking point for Chairman Kenney is the possibility that the Wampanoags could convert that land sovereign immunity land. He also noted that the city may need to make concessions depending on the tribe's legal status on environmental and labor issues. I assume that means if the land is under sovereign immunity we're going to have to negotiate for them to adhere to certain employment and environmental regulations that the tribe would be under no obligation to honor.
Mayor Flanagan weighed in afterwards stating that:
"When I sit down and negotiate a deal on our behalf," Flanagan said later, "I'm going to negotiate a deal in our best interests to create jobs, protect our legal interests and generate revenues."
Of course that likely means without the input of the city council, concerned citizens or any other concerned party.
This is a decision and a course of action that is going to change the face of this city forever. Why are we not exercising caution and taking the time to make sure we are getting this right? There are enough reasons to be concerned. Instead this administration has proceeded at a reckless pace while often keeping everyone including the city council in the dark.
Mayor Flanagan has certainly demonstrated an arrogant tendency to want to have things his own way. His remarks tonight seem to be a pretty good insight into his leadership style:
"It's important mayoral appointments and the mayor be on the same page to approve developments in the city,"
That's right it' s not important to appoint the best qualified or the those with a sincere interest in serving. No, it's important to appoint those who will agree with you and rubber stamp the agenda that you push forward.
Flanagan himself admits "this is a hotly debated issue", he just doesn't believe he should have to listen to that debate.