Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Loophole Narrows

The latest clarification of Section 20 of the IGRA will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to claim the 500 or so acres in Middleboro as an initial reservation, primarily because of provision (d) of this newly-revised section (emphasis mine):
(d) If a tribe does not have a proclaimed reservation on the effective date of these regulations {5/23/08 – fiferstone}, to be proclaimed an initial reservation under this exception, the tribe must demonstrate the land is located within the State or States where the Indian tribe is now located, as evidenced by the tribe's governmental presence and tribal population, and within an area where the tribe has significant historical connections and one or more of the following modern connections to the land:
(1) The land is near where a significant number of tribal members reside; or
(2) The land is within a 25-mile radius of the tribe's headquarters or other tribal governmental facilities that have existed at that location for at least 2 years at the time of the application for land-into-trust; or
(3) The tribe can demonstrate other factors that establish the tribe's current connection to the land.

The Mashpee Wampanoag application for land into trust for the Middleboro parcel fails on all of the points above. I’ll examine them point-by-point:

(1) The land in Middleboro is NOT where a significant number of tribal members reside. Most of the members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe reside in and around Mashpee. I will now quote the relevant sections from the Mashpee Wampanoag’s application to take lands in both Mashpee and in Middleboro into trust as the “initial reservation” now under review in the Department of the Interior. In the executive summary of the Mashpee Wampanoag application to take land into trust as their initial reservation, page 7, paragraph 2, the following is stated:

…The tribe currently has 1,531 members, of whom over half—826—live in Barnstable County (i.e. within approximately 10 miles of the Town of Mashpee). Another 88 tribal members live within Plymouth County (which includes Middleborough) and 70 live in neighboring Bristol County for a total of 984 members living within an approximate 50 mile radius of Mashpee Town.

The tribal population pie chart looks like this

(numbers are the number of tribal members indicated in the application for each county, the “Elsewhere” figure has been arrived at by subtracting the sum total number of tribal members residing in both Barnstable and Plymouth counties from the total number of tribal members cited in the above quote from the application).

I don’t think you can call 5% of the tribe’s overall membership (the 88 tribal members living in Plymouth County, which includes Middleboro) a “significant number of tribal members” as required in item (1). However, you can call the 53% of the tribe’s overall membership (the 826 who live in Barnstable County and in and around Mashpee), a “significant number.”

(2) The Land in Middleboro is not located within a 25-mile radius of the location of tribal headquarters (483 Great Neck Road in Mashpee). The land in Middleboro is located within 44.53 miles of the location of the tribal headquarters. The Tribe’s application includes a Mapquest printout that gives the distance between the tribal headquarters at 483 Great Neck Road and the Middleboro parcel at 438 Plymouth Street as 43.46 miles, the application also includes a Google map printout that gives that same distance as 40.2 miles, see application, tab 10 for both maps. None of the maps provided by the Tribe as documentation of the distance between their tribal headquarters and the Middleboro parcel indicate a distance within the new 25-mile radius guideline.

The Middleboro parcel is also not within a 25-mile radius of the location of any of the Tribe’s other governmental facilities in Mashpee. See the application, tab 7, Chart—“Lands to Be Taken Into Trust in Mashpee” showing parcels and maps for lands to be taken into trust in Mashpee.

(3) Other Factors: Although the tribe can point to the IGA signed by the now-deposed rapist-congressional liar and the Middleboro BOS as an “other factor” that establishes a current connection for the tribe to the land in Middleboro, that connection can and should be challenged. At the same meeting at which the town voted to allow the Board of Selectmen to sign the IGA, it also indicated, by a majority vote, that it did not want to have a casino in Middleboro.
Finally, the most important issue is that the land in Middleboro DOES have significant and documentable historic ties to the Massachuset tribe. It was part of the 26 Men’s Purchase parcel acquired in 1661 from Wamatuck, a direct descendent of Chickataubut of the Massachuset tribe.

Shown on the map below are the 26 Men’s Purchase and the area occupied by the Initial Reservation & Destination Resort Casino, superimposed over a map of Modern-day Middleboro. (Thanks to CDPLakeville for permission to use this graphic)

Obviously, the 539 acre +/- parcel the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe wishes to take as an initial reservation in Middleboro is located within the boundaries of the 26 Men’s Purchase acquired from Wamatuck of the Massachuset tribe. For this reason alone, it should be impossible for the Department of the Interior to approve the Mashpee Wampanoag request to take the land in Middleboro into trust for an initial reservation and Destination Resort-Bingo Hall.

Therefore, the Middleboro “initial reservation” fails on all 3 of the points outlined in Section 20:

(1)The overwhelming majority of the members of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe live in and around Mashpee, not in and around the proposed “initial reservation” in Middleboro. A fact stipulated in several places within the application for land into trust submitted by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe themselves.

(2) The land in Middleboro lies well beyond the 25-mile radius limit from the location of the Tribe’s headquarters or other governmental facilities imposed by the newly-adopted guidelines in Section 20. This application is currently under review and must meet these new, more stringent Section 20 guidelines.

(3) No only do the Mashpee Wampanoag have no significant historical and cultural connections to the proposed land in Middleboro, and not only do they not claim to have any significant historical and cultural connections to that land within their DOI application, they are also overstepping the historic and cultural connections of another tribe in making their claim on the Middleboro land. Finally, the Mashpee Wampanoag’s only modern connection to the Middleboro parcel is tenuous at best and remains sharply contested.

It should now be clear to all why the hurry last summer. The hope of the backers and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was that the land into trust process could be well underway (with the initial DOI review completed?) before the revisions to Section 20 were signed into law. However, the horse has left the barn, the new standards have been approved and are now part of IGRA, and the Mashpee Wampanoag’s application must meet them. When it comes to the Middleboro land, it should also be abundantly clear that as far as the land in Middleboro is concerned, it cannot.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008





TIME: 7:00 P.M. TIL ?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Town Meeting Warrant Article 30 - This Land is Your Land, No Now It’s My Land


Article 30 passed unanimously, after having been amended to include a conservation restriction. The Gibbs land has been preserved in perpetuity as open space, and my thanks go to the Town Planner, the residents of Thompson Street, and the voters who wrote and called to voice concerns about the future of this property. Thank you one and all for a win-win resolution--Fiferstone


The "architecturally and historically sensitive" area that I live in is in danger of being toasted by a bingo hall at one end, and creeping expansion of Oak Point at the other end…and both may become nearer neighbors to me than I originally thought.

On Friday night, Judy Gibbs advised several people in CasinoFacts of the latest developments on the purchase and sale of her land. Her own words tell the sad tale best.

Dear friends,

I can now tell you what Dick & I have been doing for the last several weeks. We have had many meetings with our lawyer and Timothy Hashem, (TNT Excavating), and his lawyer Craig Medeiros. Tim is the person who was buying our land, however we have to let the town have first refusal, this is a legal deal that we have always known and always agreed with, if this is what the town residents vote for so be it.
No problem!! We're just as happy to have it for conservation/protected land & still sell.

HOWEVER, after hearing from two different people some weeks ago, that Ruth had her own plans to have town buy our land, (again OK with us, no surprise, this is what we signed up for), and then in 5yrs. sell it to the tribe!! NOW I HAVE A PROBLEM, being a member of cfo.org since April/May of 07 to fight this casino which I still am fighting now, as of May of 08, this news ate away at me, day & night, I have been sick, it has bothered me so much to know not only were they planning to give my land to the tribe, but to make it even worse Ruth and the BOS were not being honest with the town residents, this fact was & never has been given to the residents. Dick, to save my sanity, so I could finally sleep through the night, decided that we would see about rescinding the "deal" meaning NO ONE BUYS OUR LAND. We took it off the market. We would let it sit and be OURS, no money, but no casino will ever own it!!!!

After spending much money, going back & forth w/Tim, & lawyers, (Tim who has been wonderful and very understanding), FINALLY, legal letter was ready & FINALLY everyone signed off on the purchasing sale agreement, so now our lawyer could legally rescind the whole deal, and FINALLY the letter was ready this Thursday morning so Dick picked up the 4 letters that needed to go to 4 different dept.'s to be legal and delivered them, well 3, the BOS room was closed & locked for the afternoon, so he went back Friday morning & successfully dropped it off. FINALLY!!

HOWEVER, back up, Thur. afternoon, our lawyer received a call from Dan Murray, Town Counsel, the town will go ahead and buy the land anyway. In the legal document for chapter 61 land, the process for selling has two short lines in the part of "the sale of" the town will proceed anyway and use this confusing piece to legally purchase it anyway. Our lawyer who does this on a daily basis was very surprised that the town will really push this for only 12.2 acres (when he knows they don't have the money) and we're not going to sell it anyway, it would sit there in chapter 61 as it has been for the last 20 yrs, US paying the taxes on it, and now the town will buy it and the residents will be paying taxes on it, it didn't make sense to him, unless this is a very rich town!! He knew a casino could, his words, possibly come to Middleboro. but didn't put the two together, casino - our land, Ruth's plan. I told him the "whole" story, what I have been told by these two reliable people who are on the "inside." When we first started this saga I didn't feel it necessary to tell him about the casino & Ruth, small town politics wouldn't matter to him on the why, just asked him to do legally what we had to do to get out of agreement w/poor Tim.

Now, our last word from the town, via Dan Murray, it looks like they are confident they have the votes, they will purchase our land!! I wanted all of you at CFO board of directors to know, we tried to take it away from the town by taking it off the market, meaning Tim loses, we lose, but it was that important to me ONLY because of the REASONS THEY ARE PURCHASING THE LAND. YES I DO BELIEVE THE CASINO IS NOT COMING!! BUT, I COULDN'T LET THIS CORRUPTED BOS/RUTH, GET AWAY WITH THE LIES AND SUCH DISHONESTY, WE WERE WILLING TO GIVE UP THE MONEY TO DO THIS, AND KEEP PAYING THE TAXES, (GRANTED IT IS NOT A LOT), BUT IT WOULD BE "OURS" & NOT THEIRS!! AND I COULD NOW SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. SO I THOUGHT.

I have one last thing to say, yes Tim was going to build houses. Before we decided to sell, we had to know how many, after surveyors, engineers, conservation people had been all over our land, the count was 5, with a possibility of 6, but very unlikely. That didn't seem like many to us, as our neighbor on the right side of us, Bonfigleoni already has the OK for 21 houses, which at this time he only completed 3, it appears he has started building again and will eventually in time complete the rest. Now, on our left side, we have the owner of Oak Point, who, we strongly feel, has already purchased all of the Cumberland Farms land from the corner of Plain St. right up to the edge of the Blanchard farm, (in our opinion this will be Darmen's next purchase), for many, you know this to be true, many mobile homes!! So ok, we shouldn't build 5 more houses, but why don't they stop the growth of Oak Point, which is now filtering down Thompson St? How can Ruth justify 12.2 acres for conservation when the town gave away many more acres, the Striar land, to casino backers!! so it's bad to have 5 homes as neighbors but it's OK to have a casino as a neighbor?? it's Ok for Darmen to "keep" growing w/huge amounts of homes? on Ruth's beloved rural Thompson St. ?

Fiferstone here. How can the Board of Selectmen and the Town Planner justify forced acquisition of 12.2 acres from Dick and Judy Gibbs for “conservation” of open space, when the town practically gave away 10 times as much existing open space to foreign reservation bingo hall backers so that more wetland could be lost, and when it has thus far approved every expansion of Oak Point to date? As Judy says, it’s OK to have a bingo hall as a neighbor in a rural-residential zoned designated historic district, away from the proposed “commercial development area” and in the middle of a watershed. It's also OK to grant repeated approvals for the seemingly-endless expansion of Oak Point. But by all means, let’s not have 5 more houses on Thompson Street.

Well in my heart we did the right thing, we tried, the letters were delivered, we have our receipts for each one, we so wanted to NOT let them, get away with being a casino town, we know they are purchasing our land for the wrong reasons!! We will have our money, but I'm sad about who it will come from, the residents.

To me the HUGE point in this, is that the Town Counsel (at the behest of the Town Planner and the BOS) is going to bulldoze the rights of Dick and Judy Gibbs as a property owners, in all probability so that the proposed reservation bingo hall can have a bigger parking lot or an access road or a sewage pumping station or what-have-you five years from now. Because the Gibbs land land is chapter 61 land, town counsel is going to invoke a rarely-used clause to force Judy and Richard to make a sale they no longer wish to make—to anyone—for any purpose, and we are going to pay for that sale. Think such a thing cannot happen to you because your property is not Chapter 61 property? Think again! Remember the City of New London in Connecticut? (a state which offers two examples of how casino development ought not to go), New London trampled the rights of longstanding property owners in Fort Trumbull, a neighborhood, in favor of a private developer, in the name of “revitalization,” the property owners resisted the taking of their property by eminent domain, and the case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the city and the developer, with some dissenting opinions. The net result for New London? Several lifelong residents of Fort Trumbull, who owned their homes outright and who paid their taxes, were done out of their homes. Yet, instead of “revitalization,” the city got nothing. The project for which they were evicted never materialized (does that sound familiar? It ought to. This reservation bingo hall has as good a chance of coming to fruition as the New London revitalization). The city of New London created some lovely attractive nuisances (see the picture at the beginning of this post), and the developer defaulted.

Given the precedent set by the Supreme Court in 2005, what chance would a homeowner here have, who stands in the way of a private developer that this town wishes to partner with in the name of economic development and revitalization? Slim to none, and slim left town. Unless you vote against article 30 on Tuesday, May 13, at the High School, starting at 7:00 p.m. PLEASE PEOPLE, COME TO TOWN MEETING AND STAY AS LONG AS IT TAKES TO VOTE NO ON ARTICLE 30! This bingo hall madness must stop.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Peace Breaks Out??

Please check out the following post on cranberrycynic's blog, in which it is pointed out that the comments on the news story on WickedLocal: Weymouth are themselves illuminating. Judging from these comments, many of the commenters who have identified themselves as members of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe appear to condone physical violence and attempted destruction of private property as a means of defending their spiritual heritage against exploitation and profiteering.

I have read the information available on the web about the person giving the demonstration at which the brawl erupted. I followed the link provided by one of the commenters, to a site that watches and reports fraudulent new age practitioners and I checked out the foundation's website. I would be hesitant to patronize the services offered by the foundation. For one thing, their prices are indeed awfully high. I can see why Native Americans would find this foundation and its program director and president deeply offensive and repugnant, but there are ways to register one's displeasure that do not involve violence. How about an e-mail campaign to area school superintendents, asking them not to patronize this foundation's services and advising them of the issues you have with this foundation and its director and president? How about offering an alternative program of instruction to area schools as a public service or community outreach endeavor?

As someone who could soon be a near-neighbor to the Mashpee Wampanoag Bingo Hall in Middleboro, I hope that the events of April 4 in Weymouth are not a harbinger of things to come.

Slot Machines - Pay No Attention to That Man Behind The Curtain

The legislature will soon vote on Rep. Flynn's two bills to bring machine gambling to area racetracks, including Raynham Taunton Greyhound Park. In Indian Country, several tribes have gone on record opposing the "bright line" that National Indian Gaming Commission Chairman Phil Hogen plans to draw, to reinforce the distinction between class II electronic bingo games and class III slots.

Look into machine gambling, and how these machines are designed to separate the player from their money as swiftly and efficiently as possible, and I am confident that you will come to the conclusion that introducing machine gambling to Massachusetts will likewise have negative effects on hundreds of individuals and by extension, the economy. This negative effect will more than offset any "benefit" of revenue captured from taxing this income stream. This video is very instructive and quite easy to understand

Modern computerized slot machines with their virtual reels and their reel-mapping practices are inherently deceptive and ultimately cause harm to the consumer. They hide the rules of the game, and the true odds of winning from the player while appearing to be transparent (i.e., to behave in exactly the same manner as the earlier mechanical devices they appear to emulate). These machines are designed to optimize the money captured from the player, ultimately distorting the player’s perceptions of their odds of winning, and encouraging the player to chase and play to extinction – until all of their cash, and their available credit, is exhausted.

Equally if not more troubling is the fact that practical oversight and consumer protection standards are currently up to the manufacturers, and their customer – the gaming industry – to set.

All expansion of slots should be halted until the Federal Trade Commission can investigate their legality. Electronic gaming machines would not pass muster if held to the standards of consumer protection laws, but if they are approved and regulated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, they become exempt from MA state consumer protection law. Please, tell your elected officials that you do not want to open up the economy of the Commonwealth to an industry that will not have to abide by our consumer protection laws. Ask them to vote against Rep. Flynn's slot machine bills.

I thank you for your support.