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Selectmen Pushing for Repeal of State Gambling Legislation

With a petition to repeal the Massachusetts gaming laws nearing the threshold to be considered for the 2014 ballot, it should come as no surprise that the Foxboro Board of Selectmen are looking to join the effort to repeal the laws passed in 2011.

The board, which has taken a stance against gaming in the past, voted recently to have selectman Ginny Coppola and acting town manager Bob Cuter write a letter to write a letter to state Senator Jim Timily and Rep. Jay Barrows to encourage them to allow a ballot question to repeal the legislation for the 2014 elections.

The Sun Chronicle added that four members of the board have signed the petition and a fifth member, John Gray, said he would sign if more signatures are needed.

A petition needs 68,911 signatures to be considered as a ballot question. If the state legislature does not address the petition, an additional 11,485 signatures can automatically put the question on the ballot.

While the office of the Secretary of State did receive more signatures than needed, Attorney General Martha Coakley ruled the question unconstitutional because it would mean taking property from casino developers without compensation according to the Boston Globe.

Former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger however, disagreed Coakley and hopes the state's judicial supreme court hears an appeal next year.

While an effort to bring a casino to Route 1 in Foxboro proved to be unpopular, a slots only casino may appear at Plainridge Raceway in neighboring Plainville. 

Of the four towns in Massachusetts that surround Plainville, only Foxboro has yet to sign their host agreement with facility operator Penn National.

Dennis Naughton December 06, 2013 at 07:42 AM
I opposed a casino in Foxborough and oppose casinos in MA. However, I question whether it is the role of the Selectmen to take an active role supporting or opposing any statewide ballot question.
Chris A December 06, 2013 at 08:50 AM
I agree Dennis. I was open to hearing more info on the Wynn casino and I'm fine with Foxboro turning it down. However, to get involved in an issue which has already been passed on a state ballot is just ridiculous. What may not be good for Foxboro isn't always the same for other less prosperous towns. I know Middleboro passed a town vote in support of it. New Bedford and Fall River have problems and have also been mentioned at one time or another. Not sure why these BOS keep making casino news.
Bob O'Rourke December 06, 2013 at 09:55 AM
I also agree 100% The goal of the BOS, should be to do what is best for the Town of Foxboro, the repeal is irrelevant, they should be more concerned with adding tax revenue to the town so our taxes don't go up every year!
Steve December 06, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Chris I was unaware that there was a ballet question on gambling or maybe I'm just getting old!! I thought the bill was passed in the legislature. Robert it doesn't seem to matter how much revenue our town raises we tax to the max every year anyways!!!! Look at the growth Foxboro has experienced over the last decade and yet, as we read this week, "We continue to tax to the limits allowed by proposition 2-1/2 for the 17th consecutive year"
Chris A December 06, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Steve, You may well be right. I thought there was a state ballot question one year tied to gaming before legislature approval but my memory may not be right. Regardless, I see this as a town-by-town issue...not state. I know some towns are hurting financially.
Dennis Naughton December 06, 2013 at 01:22 PM
Just to be clear, sufficient signatures have reportedly been gathered across the state and submitted for to the Office of the Secretary of State for certification. They were due by December 4th. If there are sufficient signatures certified, the question would be placed on the 2014 ballot to repeal the law that created casino gambling in MA. Four of the five members of the BOS signed that petition as private citizens, something that they have every right to do as individual citizens. However, the BOS also voted to lobby Senator James Timilty and Rep. Jay Barrows, on behalf of the town, to support the repeal casino gambling in MA. In my view, that crosses the line in terms of what the BOS should be doing. If, as a group, the selectmen take a position on this ballot question, it sets a precedent. What would prevent them from adopting a position, representing the whole town, on any and all ballot questions in the future? That could be very divisive. With regard to taxes, Foxborough's budget has been and is based upon maintaining the current level of town services. If one wants to cut services, then it would be productive for him or her to specify what he or she proposes to cut. Complaining about taxes without contributing specific ideas does not lend itself to a dialogue.
Steve December 06, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Dennis, to play devils advocate it kind of makes sense given the way the law was written. The Law gave selectmen the power to entertain or not entertain a specific proposal (as we all saw a couple of years ago) so I can see how a vote from the BOS to support or not support a repeal of this law is relevant. Believe me I don't like it, I think an issue of this importance should have, A- gone to a state wide ballot and then if approved, B- a town ballot for specific proposals. the BOS should represent the will of the town and there is no better gauge of public sentiment than a town wide ballot.
Dennis Naughton December 06, 2013 at 02:43 PM
I take your point Steve. I guess the key would be for the BOS minutes to show that the particulars of the casino law was the context for their vote to lobby Sen. Timilty and Rep Barrows to support the repeal of the casino law. That may be the case. I'll check.
Dennis Naughton December 06, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Latest BOS minutes online are Aug 24th. Will take longer to get the answer.
Steve December 06, 2013 at 08:44 PM
i doubt they put that much thought into it.
Dennis Naughton December 07, 2013 at 06:55 AM
It was reported this morning that Secretary of State William Galvin has stated that the ballot question seeking to repeal the MA casino law has more than enough signatures to be on the 2014 ballot.

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