Everett Mayor Stands Firm as Local Paper Hits Him Hard on Steve Wynn

Friday, April 27, 2018

Poor Carlo DeMaria, the mayor of Everett, has been getting his brains beat in by one local newspaper for not publicly denouncing disgraced ex-casino mogul Steve Wynn and for standing behind The Wynn Corp. as it fights to keep its Eastern Massachusetts casino license.

On Thursday, April 12, the Everett Leader Herald ran an editorial on the front page under the headline, “Mayor Loath to Lose Wynn; Silence Would Have Been Golden.”  You could hear the thunder booming as you read it.
“That the mayor, who has younger children,” it said, “has not denounced Wynn and the sexual harassment culture that is pervasive in the business he founded and grew is a mistake, an oversight of mountainous proportion for a man who believes this city is his own and that he has the moral temperament and resolve to lead the way.”

One week later, on April 19, in a front-page commentary, the Leader Herald again could not contain its indignation.
“We have a mayor,” it cried, “who has yet to say one word about Steven Wynn’s appalling behavior – as the governor called it.

“The Attorney General has asked for the license to be stripped from Wynn Resorts.
“The Boston Globe has done the same.

“The Gaming Commission in the meanwhile is muddling along with an investigation that might have its results set for the public sometime in the summer.
“No need to rush.

“With (commission chairman) Crosby at the helm, anything is possible – even satisfying the mayor’s beg for Wynn Resorts to stay when nearly everyone thinking straight around here knows it is time for them to go.”
Mayor DeMaria has provoked such wrath because he dares to perceive something large at stake at this moment for his city and is proceeding cautiously so as not to harm Everett in the long run or have it lose any portion of the multiple, substantial benefits it has won in negotiations with the Wynn Corp. if the organization were forced to sell out and if the succeeding casino operator were able to abrogate some of Wynn’s commitments to the city.

“There’s a grander vision here than just a casino,” DeMaria said in a recent prepared statement.  “We are planning for a whole new district in the City of Everett that can generate a lot of great jobs.  The Wynn Corporation has demonstrated it can partner with us to fulfill that vision.”
Responding to reports that the corporation is exploring a sale of its unfinished casino on the site of an old Monsanto chemical factory in Everett, DeMaria continued, “I am deeply concerned that a new owner would not honor that vision and could have plans that fall far short of what we want to see happen – a complete transformation of an area that had been blighted, contaminated, and under-utilized before the Wynn development team arrived.”  

DeMaria concluded, “I am encouraged the commission has begun the process of removing Mr. Wynn as a qualifier and a participant in the gaming license.  I believe that anyone else (in the Wynn Corp.) who is found unsuitable as a result of their process should also be removed so we can move forward with this project.  This high-performing organization of 27,000 employees worldwide is the right partner for us, right now, and I want their work to continue on in Everett.”
I admire DeMaria for having the courage and loyalty to stand by this company at its lowest and weakest point when it would have been easier -- it would have been expedient -- to trash it all over the place.

Steve Wynn has been unmasked as a sex harasser, an exploiter and a victimizer of women.  He clearly lacks the moral fiber, the character, to run a publicly traded company and to hold a casino license from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 
It’s good that all the bad stuff about Steve Wynn the person is finally out, for all the world to see.  It is good and it is just that Wynn was forced to resign as president/CEO of the company and to divest himself of all shares he held in the company.  Those shares amounted to 12% of the company’s stock, meaning other parties owned an 88% majority stake in the company.  The Wynn Corp. is much bigger than one person, or several persons.

I don’t believe for a second that Carlo DeMaria believes Steve Wynn is an OK guy and that his bad treatment of women is an insignificant matter.
I was glad to see that, in his recent prepared statement, DeMaria mentioned the Wynn Corp.’s transformation of that “blighted, contaminated, under-utilized” site on the Mystic River, in the inner Boston Harbor.  It’s hard to see how any other company would have had the resources or the rationale to invest $30 million-plus in the massive environmental remediation required before a single piece of steel for the casino could be lifted into place.

As part of that clean-up, the toxic sediments along the Everett Mystic River/Boston Harbor waterfront have been removed and public access to that waterfront has been guaranteed.  Where once there was an off-limits, poisoned piece of shore, there will be a restored waterfront for the free enjoyment of the public.  That should count for something as the Gaming Commission wrestles with the issue of revoking the Wynn Corp. license.  

Zillow Looks at Boston Rents, with an Amazon HQ2 Here, and It Ain't Pretty

Boston is among the 20 finalist cities in the competition to become the second (after Seattle) headquarters city in the U.S. of Amazon.

The old Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston and Revere is widely seen as the best of the sites in and around Boston that have been put forward as potential locations for this headquarters facility, or “HQ2,” as it’s been labeled.
I grew up in a large family in Revere.  Even though I have not lived there for many years, when someone asks me where I’m from, I still say Revere because I have never been anything other, nor have I ever wanted to be anything other, than a Revere person.  I guess I’m like most folks in that regard: the place where we grow up remains forever special in our hearts and memories.  It holds an outsized place in our imaginations.

My love for Revere is possessive.  I don’t want anything bad to happen to it.  So I’m not happy Amazon may be what replaces Suffolk Downs.
Amazon’s talking about employing, ultimately, up to 50,000 persons at HQ2.  Previously, in this space, I have wondered how all those workers would get to work on time every day when the roads in the area are already often at capacity or over capacity.  Tens of thousands of motorists use the roads in that area, principally Route C-1 and Bennington Street, every day to get to and from Logan Airport.  I (and many others) have speculated that Amazon-at-Suffolk-Downs would drive the already high price of housing in Revere, East Boston and Winthrop to head-shaking heights. 

Ridiculously more costly housing would almost certainly squeeze middle-earning and low-earning working families out of those communities, changing them forever. Those are the families that made Revere, East Boston and Winthrop the good and distinctive places they are.  Once Amazon got established, they’d no longer be communities where immigrants could get a start.
Now comes the popular real estate web site Zillow with an analysis of how HQ2 would affect housing prices in each of the 20 finalist cities.

If Boston were to win the HQ2 competition, Zillow is projecting that, by 2028, the average home/apartment renter in the area would be paying $1,501 more per month in rent; whereas, if Boston were to lose the competition, the average renter would be paying $1,015 more per month.
Here’s another way to frame that estimate: with Boston hosting HQ2, renters could be paying $5,832 more per year in 10 years’ time than they would in a city lacking an Amazon mega-works.

No place on this earth can (or should) be frozen in time for the comfort of a previous generation.  It’s impossible to stop change in a free economy.  But shouldn’t we at least be trying to shape change in areas like the cost of housing, where a large part of the population will otherwise emerge from that change in much worse shape?

Guv Candidates Who Won't Take Fossil Fuel Bucks Shouldn't Stop There

Friday, April 13, 2018

Each of the three Democrats running for governor of Massachusetts has pledged not to take certain campaign contributions from the oil, gas and coal industries, the State House News Service (SHNS) reported yesterday. 

Jay Gonzalez, Bob Massie and Setti Warren are among the latest candidates for public office in this nation to take the "No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge," which has been conceived and promulgated by a group called 350 Mass Action. 

350 Mass Action bills itself as "a statewide volunteer network dedicated to eliminating the influence of fossil fuel special interests over our political process and advancing a fair and speedy transition beyond fossil fuels towards a 100% clean, renewable and just energy future." 

The pledge requires Messrs. Gonzalez, Massie and Warren not to "accept knowingly" any contributions exceeding $200 from the political action committees, executives or "front groups" of companies whose primary business is extracting, processing, distributing or selling fossil fuels.  (Knowingly.  Isn't that a great lawyer word?)

In 2016, the SHNS informs us, 350 Mass Action put forward a similar pledge, asking candidates to forswear donations of over $200 from executives, lobbyists or others employed by 10 specific companies: British Petroleum, Chevron, Eversource, Exxon/Mobil, Global Partners, Global Petroleum, Kinder Morgan, National Grid, Shell and Spectra Energy. 

Seventy-five candidates for the Massachusetts legislature ultimately signed that pledge, and 40 were elected, 350 Mass Action says.

I’m kind of impressed that three would-be governors of a major state have taken such a bold position against the oil, gas and coal industries. 

I'd be seriously impressed, though, if this trio swore off using fossil fuels ever again.  No cars.  No train, bus or airline trips.  No furnaces or boilers for home heating, etc., etc.


It Will Be Too Bad If Clock Runs Out on Bill to Squelch Bogus Service Animals

Friday, April 6, 2018

It doesn’t rank up there with the abuse of overtime by State Police officers, but allowing pretenders to go places they shouldn't with bogus service animals cries out for government action.  Which is why I am hoping House Bill 2277, An Act Relative to the Misrepresentation of a Service Animal, soon receives a favorable report from the legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary. 

H.2277 would make it a civil infraction to misrepresent a pet dog as a service dog.  Violators would be subject to a fine of not more than $500 and/or 30 hours of community service for an organization that helps persons with disabilities.  A violation of the law would occur under the following conditions:
ONE, “An individual expressly or impliedly represents that a dog in his or her possession is his or her service dog or a service-dog-in-training for the purpose of obtaining any rights or privileges afforded disabled persons accompanied by service dogs, but unavailable to people and their pets…”

TWO, “Said individual knew or should have known that the dog in question did not meet the definition of a service animal or service-animal-in-training.”
THREE, an intentional misrepresentation occurs when someone takes a non-qualifying dog “into a place of public accommodation where pets are not permitted, and the dog is wearing a cape, vest, special leash, or other form of identification that states or implies that the dog is a service dog entitled to be present, even if the individual makes no affirmative statements (that the dog is a legitimate service animal).”

Rep. Kimberly Ferguson of Holden, the four-term Republican who filed H.2277, enjoys wide legislative support on this issue. Fifty-two members of the House (33% of representatives) and six members of the Senate (15% of senators) have signed on as bill co-sponsors.
Among the good things the bill would do is have the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development Business produce: (a) decals for businesses that say service dogs are welcome and misrepresenting a service dog is a violation of law, and (b) brochures “detailing permissible questions a business owner may ask...to determine whether a dog is a service dog, proper answers to those questions, and guidelines defining unacceptable behavior.”

If Rep. Ferguson’s bill becomes law, any police officer or animal control officer in the Commonwealth would have the authority to investigate possible violations.  And any service dog owner who refused to answer the permissible questions concerning a possible violation would be presumed to be violating the law.
The Judiciary Committee has until Wednesday, May 2, to report the bill out favorably or unfavorably.  Its third (and final) option is to send it “to study,” which is not as bad as an unfavorable committee report; however, a study order would effectively kill the bill for this legislative session, which runs until July 31.

If, on May 2, Judiciary gives the bill a favorable report, the odds would still be against enacting it, all those co-sponsors notwithstanding, because there will be less than two months left in the session and higher-priority (and often contentious) bills will be eating up more of the precious legislative calendar with each passing day.  It could get passed this session.  But I kind of doubt it.
So we can expect the fakers in our midst, those selfish souls who have no qualms exploiting legal protections for persons with disabilities, to increase in number and grow shamelessly bolder in their exploits.