Right Decision on Casino Mitigation: Town Needs Advice for a Complicated Issue

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
By Transcript Staff

Town Manager James McKenna once again has the town traveling on the right path with his decision to bring in a well-established law firm to sit down with Suffolk Downs officials and execute a casino mitigation package. The Council approved by an 8-0 margin (with one abstention) McKenna’s recommendation of the firm of Pannone Lopes Deveraux & West to handle the negotiations with Suffolk.

McKenna also took the initiative to invite two partners from the law firm, Teno West and Bruce Tobey (the former mayor of Gloucester), to Tuesday’s Council meeting to meet the Council and answer questions. The firm has prior experience in casino mitigation negotiations and we’re confident that Jim has done his homework and brought forth the best possible negotiating team for our town.

Councilor-at-Large Larry Powers, chairman of the council’s casino committee, and Councillors Russell Sanford and Craig Mael have done outstanding work in getting the public’s input about the casino for the past several months. Council President Peter Gill has also been very involved in the process, joining the councilors in watching out for the best interests of our town and the impact a casino would have on our residents. Powers, who has been at his best moderating these meetings and gaining opinions from all residents on the casino issue, said he supports bringing in a law firm for its expertise and guidance on such an important issue to the town.

The last time that the town engaged in such a monumental matter was the mitigation agreement with the MWRA in 1988 prior to construction of the sewage treatment plant on Deer Island. Although our selectmen at the time did a fine job, we’re sure they would agree that it would have been advisable to have had outside counsel to handle the negotiations.

Suffolk Down now has a competitor, Wynn Resorts, which is hoping to build a casino/hotel in Everett, and thus could make a mitigation agreement for Winthrop a moot issue. But our town manager, Jim McKenna, has done his job well in making sure that we receive the best mitigation agreement possible from Suffolk Downs, which has been an accessible and professional organization throughout the casino process.

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