The Dual Personalities of Palmer, Mass Concerning Mohegan Sun

As I was reading the article in the morning paper about Mohegan Sun’s new vision to partner up with Suffolk Downs in Revere, the comments coming out of Palmer Mass reminded me of childlike interactions on the playground at recess time. You remember, don’t you? One kid says to their project partner their mommy told them not to work with him anymore, so he finds another partner. Then the previous partner talks trash about their ex-partner to the teacher as if any problem was all his fault.

It reminded me of the soap opera in Palmer after the past week’s happenings.
First, let’s take a look back and check a little timeline:

  • On August 2, 2007, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority purchased 150 acres of land in the town of Palmer, Massachusetts, with plans to build a retail center – it was unknown at the time if a casino or any type of gaming would be allowed to occur.
  • In November 2011, Governor Patrick signed a bill allowing three full-scale casinos and one slot machine parlor in the state. (four years of on again / off again legislation for casino gambling had occurred)
  • Last week, Palmer citizens voted down the Mohegan Massachusetts project by only 93 votes, making it apparent that the squeaky wheel of opposition got the grease, but just under half supported the project.

Sure Sounds Like Sour Grapes to Me!
Mohegan Sun had worked tirelessly over five years to bring a world class facility to Palmer by investing millions of dollars into this project with a transparent process of explaining the project to the community, only to be told “Sorry, the city of Palmer won’t play with you anymore. Bye-bye!”

Palmer Mass is a New England mill town with great tradition in it’s workforce that has been hit hard by the economic recession. According to City-Data.com, their housing market continues to weaken, with housing costing half of the Massachusetts mean and this is accompanied by unemployment doubling between 2000 and 2013 close to 9.5%! Is this a community that can say no?

In August, 2013, Charlie Blanchard, town manager of Palmer, Mass, said “It’s a very good deal for the town (and)…It’s a fair deal for Mohegan (Sun)” Mohegan’s proposal would drop a larger casino in a smaller city as compared to other plans in the region, and developers say their proposal represents the highest value per capita and per household than the other proposals.

So why was it good then and not in November – the proposal didn’t change!?!

So why do they wish to smear the Sun’s new prospects at Suffolk Downs? The Palmer proposal was deemed suitable by the The Massachusetts Gaming Commission on October 3, 2013 – and we all know how their scrutiny sent Hard Rock, Penn Gaming and Caesars’ Entertainment home earlier in the process. But it wasn’t good enough for Palmer, eh?

You want to hear about dual personalities speaking? Check this out….

  1. James L. St. Amand, community liaison for Northeast Realty, which owns the property where Mohegan wanted to build the casino on Route 32, congratulated the anti-casino group for its “passion and commitment” in defeating the casino proposal. Then said that “The town needs all the help it can get.” I guess not just help from Mohegan Sun.
  2. Jennifer L. Baruffaldi, a longtime casino supporter and head of Citizens for Jobs and Growth in Palmer, a pro-casino group, said “Could Mohegan have done a better job? Yeah, I think so….Shame on them for not really stepping up to the plate and hitting it out of the park.” Really? any stepping up against the casino-naysayers would only have polarized the situation more. Too bad the pro-casino groups didn’t notice the surge in anti-casino groups across the state and step it up themselves.
  3. Now, we hear the bitter accusations by Palmer bussiness groups of Mohegan Sun’s abandonment and betrayal. Equally interesting is their accusation that Mohegan Sun is holding the land (you know the land they bought in 2007!) hostage so no other casino can use it. LOL Palmer doesn’t want a casino, but they want to keep that land they don’t own for another casino or business. I hope you can figure it out, because it boggles my mind.
  4. And finally, Palmer town counselor and anti-casino leader, sent a letter to the Gaming Commission a letter complaining about Mohegan Sun’s business practices, calling Mohegan Sun “…a conflicted casino company more focused on ensuring their financial viability….than they were securing a (casino license.” First of all, it’s “business, not personal” (thank Godfather). And, The Massachusetts Gaming Commission already said it was a suitable proposal – the same commission that even had the powerful Steve Wynn angered by the incredible scrutiny brought upon the casinos? Does Mr. Burns think he knows more than the Massachusetts Gaming Commission?

Remember that school playground at recess I alluded to in the beginning of this post?

With so many flips and turns in Palmer these days, maybe Mohegan Sun is the real winner.

That’s all for now. I will continue tomorrow on more sedate info concerning promos, entertainment and dining in New England casinos. I’ve had enough soap opera stuff in Massachusetts for a while.

Binbin