All those left-leaning folks in Massachusetts aren’t too happy with their native Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) these days. At issue is the building of a Native American casino in East Taunton – after state officials stopped another from being built just 20 miles away in Brockton.
Known as the “City of Champions” for native sons Marvin Hagler and Rocky Marciano, and with a population just under a hundred thousand, Brockton is in for a real fight. The question is: How many rounds will they go and who will be down at the final count?
Fauxcahontas Enters the Ring
Ms. Warren is backing a plan for a $1B Native American casino by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. Her plan, however, was blocked by a federal judge last year. But that hasn’t stopped the Massachusetts Senator from trying to get her way by pushing a new law through Congress.
The town of Brockton wants the casino. Mayor William Carpenter was quoted in the Washington Times saying the struggling town needs the cash:
“Year after year we’re running multimillion-dollar deficits in our budget. We’ve laid off schoolteachers for three years in a row. We desperately need the revenue.”
Brockton’s request to build a casino was denied two years ago because of the possibility that the tribe’s request might be approved. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will only grant three licenses across the state, and if East Taunton gets one, Brockton won’t.
If the Mashpee Wampanoag casino is approved, there are plenty of locals who won’t be pleased. East Taunton boasts Massasoit State Park: a hot spot for fishing, kayaking, and bike trails. Thus, a casino seems almost antithetical to East Taunton residents.
A Town Cast Aside
Attorney for the East Taunton residents, David Tennant, sees Senator Warren’s plan to work around the judge’s order as a threat. “There’s been this kind of perpetual, ‘Hey, maybe the tribe can get qualified in some other way, maybe on remand with Interior, maybe Congress can step in and do something for them,’” he said. “And all of this is to the detriment of Brockton, which lined up its ducks years ago and had somebody ready to go. This kind of perpetual preference for a tribal casino is now running well past the clock that the federal court said would be an equal protection violation.”
Mayor Carpenter says that while the people of East Taunton might not want a new casino, his town would happily take one, and laments the way he and his have been cast aside. “The whole thing just seems unfair to me,” he said. “I don’t know if Brockton will ultimately be granted a license or not from the state gaming commission, but I know our opportunities should not be taken away by a piece of special-interest legislation.”
Special Treatment for Special Interests?
That “special-interest legislation,” as he calls it, reaffirms the build site as reservation land held in federal trust, granting the tribe a way around state licensing regulations and the federal court. Given that she previously opposed legalized gambling, Warren’s support of this bill represents a complete 180 on the issue. One must wonder if it has anything to do with her alleged Indian heritage being questioned of late.
Or perhaps, as the Brockton mayor believes, it’s all about the special interest groups. The bill is reportedly being lobbied by the Genting Group. They’ve invested around $400 million in the tribe’s First Light Resort and Casino and stand to lose it all should the federal government refuse the land grant. How much money might a few senatorial votes be worth, with so much on the line? Either way, it’s easy to see how Mayor Carpenter and the residents of Brockton feel they got the short end of the stick.