I have to admit that I tuned in a bit late and had to leave before it was over but it certainly didn't seem like the friendliest of meetings.
I was sure that Ken Fiola was the winner of meeting's "Most Arrogant Person Award" but I'm told by a friend that I missed Attorney Torres fine effort that may have bested that of Mr. Fiola! Well I'm just going to have to watch the rebroadcast. I will say that while I found Councilor Pereira a bit heated at times, that Fiola was really, really arrogant and immature. And Ken if you're reading this and you're upset by it, remember the truth hurts. The reality is not everyone in this city is in favor of a casino. Oh, I have no doubts that if it were brought to a general vote the majority would vote for it. But you know what? Those of us who are in the minority still get to have our say too and that means bringing our concerns to our elected officials. So when Linda, or any official brings up concerns it's not for Fiola to just dismiss them. If I were a citizen of the North End, I'd be insulted that Fiola couldn't take the time to intelligently and maturely answer the concerns she brought up. Now speaking of concerns here are a few that raised a red flag for me. (Keep in mind, I didn't tape the meeting and this is all from memory.)
1. Councilor Poulin is told that although the legislature and the Governor have both included provisions to remove the land restrictions on the 300 acres that because neither has been signed into law the restriction is still in place. HOWEVER, if the land is put into trust by the Wampanoags the belief is the restriction would become moot because the land would now be part of an Indian nation.
2. Councilor Pereira asks if the land is taken into trust if it could then be used for additional landfill space. She is told no and one of the reasons cited is because there is a restriction on the land so it can't be used that way.
So now explain to me how one restriction is moot by the land being accepted into trust but the other isn't. THIS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME.
3. When Fiola is asked what impact a resort casino may have on local business he responds it will probably help because people will now have jobs to go to restaurants and shops.
That doesn't seem to fit with what I've read that states the exact opposite that casinos hurt local business by siphoning away money that may have been spent there and even employees.
4. Apparently the tribe does not want to purchase the land with a reverter clause in place but we're reassured that the land will only be sold for use as a casino.
Ok, the problem is once the land is in trust what safeguards do we have to make sure that a casino is built there? I can't help but think of Middleboro's 500 acre site, sitting there vacant with the tribe trying to put it into trust that the town obviously hoped would serve as an economic engine. I also can't help but think that Fall River's 300 acre parcel is really the only large scale developable parcel we have. If we make any mistakes on how we hand this there are no do-overs.