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Selectmen Vote 3-2 Against Being Foxborough Casino Host

The motion by Selectman Lorraine Brue was to send a letter to Governor Patrick, the state gaming commission, Robert Kraft and Steve Wynn stating the town doesn't know what to be a casino host town.

With cheers from hundreds in attendance, the Foxborough Selectmen voted 3 -2 Tuesday night to send a letter to Governor Deval Patrick, the state gaming commission and to the Robert Kraft and Steve Wynn organizations stating  Foxborough doesn't wish to be considered as a casino host.

Selectman Lorraine Brue put the motion on the table to write the letter stating that the town is not interested being host to a casino.  Selectmen James J. DeVellis quickly seconded the motion. Mark S. Sullivan cast the other vote, supporting sending the letter. Larry Harrington and Lynda A. Walsh cast the no votes.

As the vote is non-binding, it doesn't end the possiblity of a casino being built in Foxborough. The Kraft and Wynn organizations can still present their proposed plan.

The meeting at Foxborough High School was attended by a plethora of media outlets and approximately 700 people, from Foxborough and surrounding communities, many of whom reacted emotionally to the possibility of a casino coming into the region.  

The casino is proposed across the street from Gilette Stadium on Route 1 on property owned by  Kraft and would be developed by Wynn, a Las Vegas casino owner and developer.

The selectmen removed an item from the agenda in order to allow for a one hour public input session. 

The majority of the statements made at the selectmen's meeting were warning the board against how a casino would change the character of the town and lower property values.

During public comment, Chair of the Board of Selectmen Larry Harrington banged his gavel and asked an emotional audience, “to please be respectful,” several times throughout the evening.

At the end of public comment when Harrington wanted to move on in the agenda, Foxborough resident Helen Kotowsky Merigan wanted to speak. Harrington warned her that the Chief of Police Edward O'Leary would remove her if she did not leave.  After the crowd asked her to let her speak, Harrington allowed the five left in line to the podium to have one minute each to speak.

Merigan said “outsiders” would not care for the community they way residents do.  She said, referring to Kraft and Wynn, “Two great white sharks are circling Foxborough.”

She said property values would decrease as the town budget increased. As Merigan went over her time and continued to speak, O’Leary asked her to step down.

Resident Andy Stone said, “Financial gambling is what got us into this why do we think it will get us out?  Gambling is not recession proof.”

He noted that Atlantic City casinos are cutting their wages by 40 percent. 

Walpole selectman Nancy Mackenzie said, “I have a huge concern about the negative impact a casino will bring to Walpole.

“We have all chosen to raise our families in suburban New England. A casino will change the character of all of our towns.”

Mackenzie asked them to consider what it will do not just to Foxborough but to the surrounding communities as well.

Harrington said he had never seen a more emotional topic in his 18 years serving the public of Foxoborough.  He said he has received “hundreds of e-mails.” Many of those e-mails he said asked why the selectmen previously voted 5-0 in opposition of a casino in Foxborough and were now discussing the idea.

Harrington said some have accused him of being swayed by Wynn and Kraft with lure of a new position in one of the companies. 

“No one from Kraft or Wynn has pressured me. I have a fantastic job and hope to keep until I retire. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Harrington said that the selectmen should listen to the casino proposal and those against it should not intimidate those who are open to the idea.

In his statement DeVellis said, “If we have an opportunity to end it tonight that’s what we should do”.

Sullivan said the pressure, constant phone calls and e-mails, “ruined my Christmas.”

“I put my phone in the garage,” he added.  Sullivan said he was so upset with how the community became divided over the issue he went to Robert Kraft’s office and asked him to remove his proposal.

“It’s tearing my community apart,” he said. 

Steve December 29, 2011 at 07:25 PM
Sorry Buck not buying it. We put “major” projects up for a vote of the public because it is the right thing to do. These issues are too important for a board of five members that change there votes from week to week. Could you think of any major project done in this town where a public vote was not taken? I really can’t. I know the idea of a new town hall being built without a vote from the public was brought up by Ms.Brue. I would be so upset if anything like this occurs. There is no need for it. We have at least two town meetings a year and important issues like this casino deal or a new town hall should be put in front of the voters. If the town is so against this casino, like you claim, it will go down in flames and that will be that and there will be no casino. What are you afraid of??
Fed up December 29, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Buck, what makes you think I'm a "fella"?
Jacob December 29, 2011 at 07:32 PM
Well put my friend. $1billion is too big for 5 people to decide. A prop 2 1/2 to raise a budget even $10 millionfor a school or public safety project would call for a town wide vote.
Michael Chang December 29, 2011 at 07:41 PM
@Buck, you actually may want to reread the legislation, considering I pulled this directly from the State House website. (13) have received a certified and binding vote on a ballot question at an election in the host community, in favor of such license; provided, however that the vote shall take place after the effective date of this chapter; provided further that upon receipt of a request for an election, the governing body of the municipality shall call for the election to be held not less than 35 days but not more than 90 days from the date that the request was received; If you dont believe me here is the link: http://malegislature.gov/Bills/187/House/H03702 Look in Section 15(13)
Moe December 29, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Read sections above that in chronological order where it states that the first step is to negotiate a "HOST COMMUNITY AGREEMENT" with the Governmental Body (Board of Selectmen).... Follow along: 1.) Reach an agreement with the BOS 2.) Go to a vote of the town 3.) Get State approval Kraft / Wynn sent a letter to the BOS to request they begin Step 1. The BOS voted the other night to say that they choose not to enter into a Host Community Agreement....In simple words. They voted that they will not start Step 1, which means that you can't just jump to step 2. The process that the legislature laid out is exactly what is happening here.
Buck Farack December 29, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Michael, I read the legislation... there's nothing in it that says a town HAS to vote on it or that it is the method the town must use to determine if they want a casino. It's a necessary step IF the town decides it wants to proceed with a casino but it's not a requirement if they don't ; )
Buck Farack December 29, 2011 at 08:03 PM
Thanks Moe
Moe December 29, 2011 at 08:05 PM
We really should vote on things this big. Remember when we all went to the polls and voted on the Casino bill that we are talking about? Oh wait, our elected Representatives did that. Remember when we all went to the polls and voted on the Patriot Place development? Oh wait, our elected Representatives did that (We voted on a Liquor Lic.package) The legislature thought about this process and debated it and they passed a law that first requires the Board of Selectmen or City Council or Town Council or Whatever come to an agreement first with the Casino Developer. Our board voted as they are obligated to do as our elected representatives. It was 3 - 2 against entering into discussions. Pretty simple I think. Why did we not hear abrout process when the board voted 3-2 to continue the process with the developer?
Buck Farack December 29, 2011 at 08:05 PM
Fed up, good question. It was just the impression I got from the manner in which you post.
Michael Chang December 29, 2011 at 08:07 PM
The selectmen are free to change their opinion on this. The legislation states the timelines apply only after a formal proposal has been submitted. The selectmen have 90 days to make their final decision after the proposal is formally introduced. So until the bill is introduced all of the votes that have happened so far are moot. Hopefully some of the selectmen who have come out against this will realize that a project with potentially millions of dollars in revenue deserves a vote from the full town.
Michael Chang December 29, 2011 at 08:10 PM
Well what moe said speaks to my post, the Selectmen have changed their mind in the past. Who knows what could happen once a formal proposal has been submitted.
Moe December 29, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Correct Michael. Boards are free to change their mind at any time and take votes. Which is why this will play out during the annual election this year. No doubt, Kraft and Wynn's consultants will be busy on blogs and coffee shops to influence the election. The 90 days is actually the time they have to schedule a Referendum vote of the town after a "request for election" is made. But as was pointed out before, it cannot go to a referendum until there is an executed Host Community Agreement which again, is negotiated with the Board of Selectmen. The majority of the board voted to inform the potential developer that they choose not to negotiate that agreement. So it is dead. no way around that. Unless of course the board takes another vote and a majority choose to begin negotiating a Host Community Agreement. They are definitely not obligated under law to do that though.
jenny December 29, 2011 at 11:23 PM
I wrote to ALL of the Selectmen in Foxboro and only one replied: Selectman Harrington. He was more than responsive to my many concerns and although I sent all my emails/replies to every one of the Selectmen, he replied to me privately; he alerted me to the fact that the Plainville Racettrack (down the street from Patriot Place) was being looked at for a possible Racino too. I thanked him immensely and if the vote went the other way was planning on getting this info. out in a public way- I'm not sure whether a Selectman can talk about rival gambling entities. Also, I think Selectman Sullivan did the right thing based upon how this subject is tearing neighbors, church memebers apart- the Projobs Chairman claims he was spat at at Church! I mean what further evidence do people need that this community will get ugly if more talk continues.
Janet Kennedy December 30, 2011 at 12:01 AM
It is my feeling that I would like to hear what Mr. Kraft and Mr Wynn have to say. Stop worrying about keeping the old character of foxboro alive. The old old selectmen blow that when they didn't let Michael Jackson play. That is why Mr Kraft was able to buy the team. How come no one complains about the Country Music Fair. Also Foxboro had a racetrack and you know they did gamble plus you have the lottery at the stores . Also the Schools have fairs plus the church's do also. Also one person doesn't speak for foxboro. Let us hear about the casino. With no money coming no Town Hall
jenny December 30, 2011 at 12:39 AM
Also, I am going to suggest that ALL of the schools' PTOs should strongly encourage parents to INSIST that ANY soliciting done by contracted people on behalf of Kraft-Wynn have CORI checks! To send random, low paid men (I've only seen men) come to families' doors , as well as targeting the elderly, is very scary. What an easy way to scope out homes and children.
angelfox December 30, 2011 at 04:50 AM
Where is the outrage that you were not invited to the Kraft/Wynn meet & greet back in December?. They only chose a select # of Foxboro elite to join them. You are mad at the selectmen? Blaming others for being more vocal? Pathetic! No body asked for the town's opinion back in Dec. Oh, But now because casino plan A did not go so well.. on to plan B(a trap to pit town folk against one another). No one's rights were violated it was a non binding vote! These selectmen were given an impossible job and can only be vilified by this huge mess. Please place your blame on Kraft/Wynn for going about the casino plan all wrong from the start!
Dave December 30, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Well said angelfox. If this whole proposal is "so good" for the town, why is it being met with such outrage by the majority? Remember Foxboro, this casino is FOREVER. You can't go back. No one in their right minds wants a Casino in their own town.
Buck Farack December 30, 2011 at 04:00 PM
Michael, I'm not sure what you mean by "So until the bill is introduced..." With the recent vote and the current bylaws in effect Wynn cannot apply for a gaming license or do much of anything else. IF the BOS changes their mind (that's a big IF) then they can start the process. If that process ultimately leads to an agreement by the town to a proposal by Wynn, then a vote would be required. Moe is right, this will play out in the election this year assuming someone runs against the one pro-casino selectman and the one anti casino selectman who are up for re-election. Basically, two pro casino candidates would need to win in order for there to be any change. Given the current environment I think that's a long shot at best. I'm sure the Wynn group will do what it can to support the pro casino candidates but their bungling of the PR battle so far doesn't really cause much worry, in fact I think any candidate perceived to be supported by outside interests will be soundly defeated. The anti casino folks are angry & motivated; make no mistake, they'll show up at the polls in numbers. The supposed "silent majority" we keep hearing about but which hasn't materialized anywhere just won't get the numbers out in a mid-term type election.
Michael Chang December 30, 2011 at 04:47 PM
@ Buck, I used the wrong words when I said once the bill is introduced, I meant the formal proposal is introduced to the town. If the proposal answers the towns concerns of increased traffic and crime, the amount of expected revenue, as well as the mitigation process that could come to Foxboro (power and water issues just to name a few) some of the selectmen might just change their mind.
Michael Chang December 30, 2011 at 04:50 PM
@Dave arent their like 10,000 registered voters in Foxboro? I dont know about you but I havent seen over 5,000 voters at any of these meetings. The "majority" that you speak of, even at the highest numbers I have read, is 600 people at the meetings, and I think thats a bit high. The real majority of voters in Foxboro havnent put out their opinion one way or another. Hopefully the selectmen realize this and give the people a chance to decide
Monica Staaf December 30, 2011 at 06:10 PM
Who is stopping you from hearing more about the casino? Bob Kraft & Steven Wynn have already spent money on mailings, media advertising, including their informercial on Foxboro Cable Access, in which they promised thousandas of jobs, public relations, door-to-door campaigns, pro casino signs, etc. They have space and funds to host their own forum, hire their own lobbyists to override the town on Beacon HIll, make independent expenditures to lnfluence the outcome of the selectmen's race in May, You'll hear plenty about the casino; perhaps they'll even include some data next time to back up their promises.
Buck Farack December 30, 2011 at 07:16 PM
Michael, thanks for the clarification. I think the only way the selectmen change their mind at this point is if there are new selectmen elected in May. We'll see.
Janet Kennedy December 30, 2011 at 07:38 PM
Monica calm downand angelfox calm down also. I want to see the plans and see what they might offer . We needed the facts. Plus the ones that went to the meeting have lived in foxboro for years. I am just annoyed at some people who think they speak for everyone in foxboro.
angelfox December 30, 2011 at 08:27 PM
Janet stop being apathetic. There is a lot to be annoyed and worried about regarding this topic. You want your opinion heard. Join the club.
Mike December 30, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Mr. Kraft is an honorable man. He said he would not pursue the casino if the town did not want it. He will stand by his word.
Buck Farack December 31, 2011 at 12:10 AM
Michael, even during a presidential election you're lucky to get 50% turnout. When one side shows up 6-7 to 1 and when the selectmen report an overwhelming constituent email/telephone response against the casino, when social media and traditional media bear out those numbers, when every board in town is against it one doesn't need a town vote to know that 2/3 is never going to happen. You don't put a town through this ordeal to satisfy the few who aren't happy about it.
Dave December 31, 2011 at 06:13 PM
town Manager Kevin Paicos calls on Kraft and Wynn to drop casino plans calling a further push 'Outrageous' http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2011/12/31/news/10730060.txt
Chris A January 01, 2012 at 02:33 AM
What's "outrageous" is Kevin Paicos asking for a raise and bonus after telling town employees no raises or new hires.
Jeanne Dyer January 01, 2012 at 06:20 PM
It saddens me to see reports of increasing polarization in Foxboro given that each side is driven by the same instincts. One side cries for tax relief and is desperate for jobs to restore their quality of life while the other fears loss of a lifetime investment in property value and maintaining the quality of life here in Foxboro. Can't we see a way clear to help each other? That's what community means to me. What are the No Casino folks doing to help that valued minority of underwater and out-of-work neighbors? What are the Pro-Casino folks doing to protect the community from the harmful side effects of a short-term decision with long-term consequences? A Sophie's choice: one side fears risking the future while the other side is worried about making it to that future. The most polarized citizens need to take a moment to live in the other guy's shoes. His concerns could just as easily be theirs one day. The quality of life in this town is not only determined by outside forces. I submit that how we treat each other is far more central.
Buck Farack January 01, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Jeanne, while I applaud your sentiment there's nothing the no casino crowd really can do to help the underwater out of work neighbors - they're busy enough making their own lives, paying taxes ect. There's absolutely nothing the underwater out of work neighbors can do to protect the community from the harmful side effects of a casino because the have no control over them, the side effects will come regardless.

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