, Newburyport, MA

July 12, 2013

Selectmen made right call on casino

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the Editor:

I would like to add my kudos to those that The Daily News gave to Salisbury selectmen Don Beaulieu, Freeman Condon and Henry Richenburg for their courageous vote in rejecting an invitation from the Cordish Companies to prepare a slots only casino hosting agreement. As a former Salisbury selectman, I know how hard it is to vote in favor of what you believe is right for the town when you know it’s contrary to the opinion of some, possibly many, residents.

The slots only casino was a bad bet for the town. As the Daily News rightly said we are seeing a leveling off, if not a contraction, in the gaming industry. Let’s suppose the slots parlor was built and revenues did not meet required minimums. What would become of the 139,000 foot complex at one of the gateways to the town? What would become of the many employees who work there? If, as the proponents say, the casino is an economic boon to the host community, why do developers feel the need to bribe the community with promises of contributions to charities and education, partial funding for capital improvements, and the questionable promises of hundreds of temporary and permanent jobs?

The three selectmen who voted against preparing a hosting agreement did what the voters elected them to do; make tough decisions for the good of the town. It’s true that they were concerned about their ability to do a thorough job on such a complex matter in a mere seventeen working days and they had doubts about Cornish, but they could have voted to prepare the document and refuse to sign it if the result was unsatisfactory. They said no, we’re not going ahead and for this I commend them. Had the selectmen and the casino people signed an agreement, which included all the pork and incentives they could muster and had the Cordish team launched the inevitable expensive, high powered marketing campaign in favor of slots, the likelihood of the townspeople rejecting the proposal in a town wide referendum would be slim and none. As I said at the selectmen’s workshop, “If the camel gets his nose inside the tent, his body will soon follow”. Thank goodness, Salisbury has three upstanding selectmen unwilling to let the camel get his nose in the tent.

Bob Carroll