Mayor's Fight vs Slots Parlor Gets Decided Tomorrow in Revere Special Election

Monday, October 17, 2016

To force the City of Revere to hold a special election solely on the question of building a slots parlor in the community, the wholesomely named Revere Jobs and Education Committee had to collect the signatures of at least 4,808 certified local voters.  This it had no trouble doing.

The committee, of course, had the dough to hire as many signature gatherers as were needed to fill up those petition forms.  This was no movement driven by volunteers with a few hours for a cause every other Saturday. It was a campaign with a capital "C," as run by well compensated professionals from the persuasion industry.
Not having witnessed them in action, I don’t know if the signature gatherers told their prospects, the good people of Revere, that the election would cost the city, and hence its taxpayers, in the vicinity of $50,000.  I kind of doubt it.

So, tomorrow, we shall see in Revere an election where voters are to be asked just one question.   In essence that question is:
Do you want the company that secures a possible state license for a second slots parlor in Massachusetts to be the one that wants to build it on a site of at least four acres and including lands fronting on both Revere Beach Parkway/Winthrop Parkway and Pratt Court?  

The folks bankrolling the Revere Jobs and Education Committee happen to have under agreement a property that fits that description exactly, the old Lee Trailer Park, near the Suffolk Downs racetrack.
Revere election officials have written the following summary of the ballot question:

“A YES VOTE requires that any future slot parlor license awarded in the City of Revere must be located on a site that is at least four acres in size and fronts Revere Beach Parkway/Winthrop Parkway and Pratt Court.  No slot parlor license is currently available from the state, but the measure would be possible if there is a change in state law or if a license from an existing operation is returned to the state.
“A NO VOTE subjects any possible future location of a slot parlor in Revere to the City’s zoning ordinance, rather than requiring that the location be on a site that fronts Revere Beach Parkway/Winthrop Parkway and Pratt Court.”

If the Revere Jobs and Education Committee wins tomorrow’s referendum, the people it is working with will be able to circumvent the local zoning process in the event that: (a) voters statewide approve Question 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot, which would allow the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to issue one additional slots parlor license, and (b) those people apply for and are granted that additional license.
[A victory for a slots parlor in the Revere election tomorrow and a victory for Question 1 on Nov. 8 will not guarantee that there will be a second Massachusetts slots parlor, nor that that second parlor will be in Revere.  We're still in the warm-up phase here.]

The main reason the Revere Jobs and Education Committee engineered the Oct. 18 special election was to give a boost to Question 1 on Nov. 8, the idea being that, if Revere voters support its particular plan for a slots parlor near Suffolk Downs, voters across Massachusetts will be more disposed to voting Yes on 1 because they will reason that, if the people in the community where the slots parlor is most likely to go want it there, who am I to stand in their way?
The mayor of Revere, Brian Arrigo, and a host of other local elected officials, are dead set against the project to replace the trailer park with a large hotel containing a slots parlor. They fought hard against the petition drive to put the issue before local voters.

“The fly-by-night ‘proposal’ to build a slot parlor on Revere Beach Parkway would not be beneficial to the city, and in fact could undermine the progress Revere has made toward reinventing its image,” Arrigo has said.
Arrigo has netted this out right. Revere is well positioned to grow economically and does not need a slots parlor in order to, as he describes it, “build a sustainable local economy; strengthen its tight-knit neighborhoods; and provide top-notch, efficient city services.”

This doesn’t mean Arrigo et al. will be able to stop the Revere Jobs and Education Committee in tomorrow’s special election.  There’s a real good chance, I'd say, that Revere voters will approve the question, meaning an out-of-town political operation -- as many have done before them -- will have skillfully exploited the state’s initiative petition process, a mechanism added to the Massachusetts constitution in 1918 to give citizens a direct route to enact new laws. 
It was a marriage made in heaven when that political operation met a local electorate made comfortable with the idea of casino gambling by the multi-year (unsuccessful) effort to bring a casino to Suffolk Downs.  Ironically, the ownership of Suffolk Downs has come out strongly against a slots parlor at the old Lee Trailer Park. 

No comments:

Post a Comment