Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ask Twenty Questions About the Casino


I was on the BOS during the entire Resort process, and I kept track of what was going on--to the extent that I could. Selectmanship restricted my ability to discuss the issues fully...but behold, I am no longer bound by the Jacob Marley chains.

I want to try something novel. Twenty people ask twenty questions about the casino issues (e.g., who first had the idea, what happened between the first and second deal, etc...), and I will do my best to answer the question fully, say I don't know, or decline to answer. The first twenty questions placed on the blog will get answered IN WRITING on this blog. But be patient, I do have other things I do for a living and I will try to answer as quickly and completely as possible.

Have at it. But be careful what you ask, since you make not like the answer that you get.

If this works out, we can do another 20 questions.

Adam M. Bond

35 comments:

Bellicose Bumpkin said...

During June/July 2007, you and I spoke a number of times and were in agreement that the deal was worth north of $20M.

Why did you settle for so much less?

Moderator said...

I agree. I have always thought, and still do think that this deal should be worth between 20-40Million annually to the Town. The problem is how the negotiation came to pass.

Most people don't realize that Jack Healy and Jon Whitten had already negotited a deal with the Tribe prior to my ever being made point on the negotiation. My role actually was re-negotiation of the deal that Jack and Jon had already, unilaterally, and very absurdly, already negotiated. That is when I stepped in and demanded that we get expert counsel and all of that led to the first big meeting in the H.S.

By the time counsel had gotten involved, and I was made point--subject to taking direction from the BOS through Wayne Perkins--the amount of the deal had already been set for the Tribe psychologically, and they were not about to change it. That is the danger of having a first level of discussions, before you are really ready to talk.

As of the time for negotiations, I was given strict instructions by Wayne Perkins (on a phone call I made to him from Boston outside of the negotiation location)that walking away from the table was not an alternative, and that if we could not negotiate better than was on the table, then the BOS would be voting to take the first deal. Not a very good way to negotiate, but I had my marching orders.

To compensate for the weak position, we got in the local roads clause and we got the language about the expectation of further compensation from the State, based on the promises of the Tribe that we would get at least 2% from the State. My belief was that a strong BOS could get that 2% simply from the leverage provided by the local roads issue. Thus, my thought has been, and continues to be, that if the BOS had pushed this issue back in January, based on the Tribe's breach and on discussions of Carcieri, we could have leveraged exactly what was promised (2%), as well as the other items I previously posted.

My miscalculation was my belief that the problems with the deal would be generated from the Tribe and the investors. To coin Wayne's phrase, never in my wildest dreams did I believe the impediments to the Town's interests would come from my fellow BOS members. Live and learn.

We can still get what we are looking for if the BOS takes a hard line and is willing to let the whole deal go if they don't get the numbers. But this BOS does not seem to have the testicularity to push the Town's interests when their expert legal counsel says they should back in December 2008.

Deal making is an active process that is fluid throughout. Our Board thinks it is reactive, and that once written there is no deviation. They are wrong, and that is why this deal is quickly getting away from them.

Hope this answered your question. If not then be more specific.

bogofree said...

When you enter a billion dollar plus deal you have to know your partners. You know that from your days on The Street. The flags were already up on the Tribe management. There were internal issues and accusations that would lead any savvy investor (town) to dig a bit deeper - especially on the financials. Why was no investigation done on Glenn "The Raven" Marshall?

You were reported to have made some negative off-handed comments at the TMFH that were reported on various blogs. Is that correct? I believe it went something like "They are idiots if they don't accept this."

Sorry - two questions. Answer both or pick one.

Smoking Owl said...

After the Tribe received Federal recognition we seemd to have a casino agreement fairly quickly.

When was the original agreement negotiated and why the rush to approve the final agreement with disregard to casino opposition in town?

Moderator said...

Actually, the investigation that I did was relating to Herb Strather and his partner in Detroit Entertainment, LLC, Larry Deutsche (sp?)(one of the people who negotiated deal #1 and deal #2), and learned about their inability to get gaming licenses in Detroit. To me, this has never been about the Tribe, and they have little if any control over the deal--so, to me, Marshall was the salesman, and the investors were in control through SG. Marshall was a face, but not important to the process.

But, in hind sight, I agree that there should have been more investigation in a lot of areas.

One of the reasons that I pushed for Dickinson Wright to help the Town on this deal was precisely because that had a good knowledge of the Michigan investors. I wanted animals from the same jungle to be our attorneys. This is no substitue for good background investigation, but it helps to have people who know the players. I also note that my major concern was that the BOS and TM were so hyped on the deal, that if it did not get put together quickly, the 1st deal would get done.

As to number two, I did say things, at various times, that I should not have said, and some that were in the heat of the moment that were inappropriate. That is all part of being fallible. I, however, do not recall making the idiots comment, and noone has come up with the audio. I do admit that the comment is within my vocabulary (e.g., I have used the term idiots before), but I do not remember ever making that comment at the TMFH, nor do a number of others I spoke to who say they did not hear such a comment.

Moderator said...

The original "agreement" was negotiated by Jack and Jon Whitten with SG and LD at Town Hall--I do not know the dates and times. It was greatly inferior to the final agreement. My concern was that without outside expert counsel, that agreement would be passed through--all of which led to the HS meeting where Dennis was first introduced.

As to your second question, quite frankly, I differed from the antis only based on my firm belief that once the land got sold, the Resort was inevitable. I was wrong on that point, but believed it based on what I believed to be the facts at the time. I could not have predicted Carcieri. The "need for speed" in my opinion came from the fear that if no deal was struck (now that they owned the land), then we would be left to the good graces of the Tribe/State compact. The view was to get a bird in the hand and deal with the State issues later.

Finally, the anti casino opinion was not disregarded. In fact, there were many issues raised by the antis that actually caused there to be better provisions in the final Agreement. For example, the issue of the Tribe buying up Middleborough with their profits was taken care of by a provision that did not allow the Tribe to take any more than a specific amount of land into trust, without reopening negotiations.

We did not accept the anti position, but the antis provided a massive amount of info that helped improve the final agreement.

Anonymous said...

What did you want to renegotiate in the current casino agreement? If the investors told you to go shit in a hat, would you still support the deal?
Will you support more changes in the BOS in the future? (of course the last one's casino related, it woke up the dragon) Thanks.

Moderator said...

I previously posted the things I think need to be renegotiated on a prior blog (sorry that my computer skills are not sufficient to post the link right here). If they told me to go to heck, I would hold the door for them to go there first--but I think that their choices are limited. I think this BOS needs to chnage further, and that a proactive BOS is needed. But let's give Steve and Al a chance to get their sea legs, and see if they can get the others to do their duty.

AMB said...

I think that's 8 questions.

BolshoiBob said...

Recently, after Glenn Marshall plead guilty, how do you think the Town could have improved the agreement? And what do you think the Town could have realistically improved the deal?

Moderator said...

The deal could have been re-looked at based on a potential fraudulent inducement to contract. In other words, that there were omissions of fact that the Tribe and its council had in their possession that were material to any decision as to whether the Town would enter into an agreement with the Tribe, and that the Tribe etc. failed to disclose those facts.

For example, would it have been material to the Town vote had the Town known that there had been campaign finance fraud relating to the push for recognition. Would it have been material to the Town's risk/reward assesment of the deal. My gut is that all that information provided a good basis to claim a fraud by omission, and a good basis to reopen discussions. That didn't happen, because I lacked the ability to find a way to get the BOS to act, even with DW's December 22 letter saying a discussion should be had.

Would we win a lawsuit of that sort? Can't say, since all litigation is unpredictable. Would it have caused a discussion to happen and cause some of the things I have brought up to be discussed? Most definitely.

Would we have been able to get all the things that I posted as changes...no. But, we would have gotten some, and then we would not have had to depend solely on the local road issue to get ALL of the promised items.

A negotiation also would have given Middleborough the opportunity to discuss how the Carcieri case might effect the Resort if it Carcieri won, and to craft language to protect Middleborough if the deal was essentially made impossible to perform by a Carcieri win.

Now that the deal is, in my opinion, rescindable by the Tribe as a mistake of law or based on impossibility of performance, will they want the planning monies back? Should we be spending any more of the planning monies? Do they intend to rescind? Will they commit to the fact that if they do recind that the monies we have are non-refundable? Where is it that we stand if there is some Carcieri fix that is inconsistent with the current IGA?

Time is running short, and the BOS needs to get on this horse and ride it...or we are all going to get trampled.

That's 10 Questions.

Bellicose Bumpkin said...

I'll chime in to answer Bolshoi Bob.

From day one, through now, and until the land goes into trust - they need us more than we need them. If you remember what I said at the MHS meeting ... this was the meeting to present the Healey agreement where you brought Dennis for the first time. "We are driving this bus".

Until the land goes into trust, they depend on us to play nice. ANY serious upset from us will tip over that apple cart.

Town: "Hello Cedric. Amend the IGA to guarantee us 2% or we're going to oppose LIT".

Cedric: (2 seconds of silence). OK.

Nocasino said...

Mr Moderator,

Instead of dealing with the past, lets deal with the future.

Seems to me that the only reason you want to have the BOS meet with the tribe is to try and save the deal from the fallout of Marshall and the ruling of the SCOTUS.

Let them walk. If they want the planning money back I think it would be hard to prove that most, if not all, wasn't used according to the deal. I seem to remember a power point show at MHS where a member of the BOS sold the town on the fact that if for some reason the land was not taken into trust than we were guaranteed the planning money anyway. If we have to give some back it is worth the price, and far less than it will cost if we end up with a casino in our town.

The reason I voted for Steve M is that I believe he will make them follow the letter of the agreement. That means no use of local roads, no concessions on infrastructure and no reductions in payments to the town.

This means no casino.

This was a bad deal and no amount of lipstick on this pig makes it a good one.

Moderator said...

That is also a position that can be taken. But I respectfully still disagree--for the moment. Although I am reserving judgment until I see what happens at the meeting Monday. At this point I could easily be swayed to becoming anti-casino based on the total inability of the BOS to ever understand how to handle a deal of this size and kind. I certainly do not have all the answers, and never did. But, if my past mistakes teach me anything, I don't think the BOS is up to the task--but it may have a shot with SM and AR, if the oothers listen.

You and I have spoken on several occassions, and you are an intelligent man. So I am not dismissing your opinion. I am just disagreeing for the moment. However, you may ultimately be proven to be right.

Moderator said...

That is also a position that can be taken. But I respectfully still disagree--for the moment. Although I am reserving judgment until I see what happens at the meeting Monday. At this point I could easily be swayed to becoming anti-casino based on the total inability of the BOS to ever understand how to handle a deal of this size and kind. I certainly do not have all the answers, and never did. But, if my past mistakes teach me anything, I don't think the BOS is up to the task--but it may have a shot with SM and AR, if the oothers listen.

You and I have spoken on several occassions, and you are an intelligent man. So I am not dismissing your opinion. I am just disagreeing for the moment. However, you may ultimately be proven to be right.

Anonymous said...

During the negotiations why were the surrounding neighbors of the casino forgotten? How come we do not have a clause to protect the home values, quality of life and general happiness of the houses immediately surrounding the casino? Were they simply forgotten? What will happen to the people who live in the direct neighborhod of the casino?

Moderator said...

The surrounding neighbors were left to cut their own deal with either the Tribe or the State. They needed to put their impacts together, come up with a number, and demand that the Governor get them at least that amount to mitigate impacts if the Casino came. They were not forgotten, they already were represented by other officials. We represented the Town of Middleborough, not the surrounding towns.

As to home values, quality of life and general happiness, I don't know how you would craft a clause that would accomplish what you are asking. If you had a way to do that, that would be a great clause to try to negotiate into the IGA upon any renegotiation, and you should offer it up. I mean, other than simply forcing the Tribe to buy up all surrounding land and homes (and taking it off the tax rolls), I don't know how you would accomplish that.

I also suspect that the people in the direct neighborhood are going to have to make a decision as to whether to stay or sell. I have seen that there is casino housing slated to go down at the end of my street in Town, which will take my quiet little street and probably triple the traffic and create nighttime parking issues just on my street. It doesn't make me happy, and I think that will certainly effect my value. However, the vast majority of the Middleborough populace will probably not see the same impacts.

I can't change the anwer, and I suspect that you knew these were the answers you would get. All I can say is that this is part and parcel of any development that comes in, where the immediate neighborhood is impacted and the rest of the Town wants it because it is not effected.

AMB said...

That's 14 questions.

Anonymous said...

Adam,

I reviewed the posted Executive Sessions minutes for April through September. None of the minutes contain any mention of the Selectmen's discussion of the deal or negotiating points.

How was the deal discussed if no minutes are available?

Rich Young

Moderator said...

It is not in Executive Session minutes, because it would not have been appropriate for Executive Session--does not fit an exception that I can think of.

While there may not be much, any discussion of the terms that was had as a BOS appears in the regular minutes. DW was in the lead as counsel. I was point for the BOS and if an update was needed or asked for, I gave it at a public meeting. Otherwise the BOS wanted me to have at it and bring back a final proposed product with DW for the BOS to review.

Not much input from other BOS members was ever really given or offered. There was lots of reliance placed on counsel.

Anonymous said...

As a follow up, what would you do if you were a neighbor of the casino and did not want to live in the shadow of the largest casino in the world?

Would you hire a lawyer? Would you contact the tribe directly through the phone number listed on the tribe website?

Moderator said...

Both. First I would contact the Tribe after having an appraisal done of my home (taking the casino into account in such appraisal. I would let the Tribe know that I was exploring legal options, but that I wanted them to have the first opportunity to resolve the matter, as their former Chairman had publicly promised.

If negotiations begin, I would use the appraisal as the base point, and then add in other issues such as moving costs, and the difference in cost to purchase a comparable home in another location.

If negotiations did not happen, I would probably seek legal counsel and an attentive reporter.

Please be aware that this is not intended as legal advise, nor does this constitute the creation of an attorney/client relationship; particularly as I do not even know who you are.

Anonymous said...

4 More questions left

Anonymous said...

After the initial meeting with the tribe - where the Precinct St. land was discussed, who came up with the idea of auctioning off the land?

Related question - Was there any discussion(with whom) about this being a dumb idea?

I guess what I'm looking for: Was there any collusion between the town and tribe with regards to the land sale?

AMB said...

This is the short version:

I was at one meeting with GM, SG, WP,and JH where the large Middleborough map was taken out, put on the table, and at least four different locations were discussed regarding where a possible casino might make sense. As of the time I left the meeting, no one spot had been identified as the place, and Precinct Street was one of the four.

When the land sale came up, I did, along with Ruth, raise the issue of whether that land should be sold. I also had conversations with the TM at the time and said it was a bad idea. Ultimately I did vote to auction the list of parcels (otherwise it would have been a 4-1 vote), but unlike Wayne, I did believe that it was a possibility that the Tribe would buy the land.

That was the moment that I came to the conclusion that the Town's initial leverage was gone. No land, no casino. With land, possible land into trust.

Anonymous said...

From the previous post about the original meeting with the map out.

How early on did town officials know this was going on?

What was the time period between when town officials first considered selling to a casino and public disclosure that the tribe was buying the land?

bogofree said...

What concessions were you aware of that were given to local businesses to either get their support or quell their fears that a Casino-resort would impact on their bottom line?

Maybe not a question but a statement. I suspect the first issue that started to separate you on the BOS regarding the casino was your support of a referendum.

AMB said...

To Anon 6:21PM:
The meeting relating to potential site came just after Jack's "Casino Anyone...?" Town Manager's report discussed at a Selectman's meeting. I believe that at that meeting my suggestion was that Ruth be used to make contact with the Tribe. The BOS voted to have Jack make the contact. I don't know how long the Precinct Street land was on the auction list--if it even was at that time.

I know that in this time frame there was some discussion about selling a list of parcels of Town owned land, but I don't recall if the list already existed by the time the meeting with the Tribe occurred, or whether Judy and Jack created the list after, or whether the list was modified after having had the meeting. All I know is that selling the land first, and negotiating second was not a smart move.

There also never was a disclosure that the Tribe "was buying" the land (future tense). The Tribe bought it at an auction, not as an outright transaction.

AMB said...

I am not aware of any concessions given to local businesses in that regard. When local business people asked me about the Resort, my discussion was always pro-casino, and that activity breeds activity. The deal was negotiated to include a preferred local vendor provision that is a "concession." The only kind of salesmanship that would fall into the category of the concession you are talking about is Marshall's rather silly claim that he would write a check.

My first issue that split me with the BOS was the slae of the land. My second was the allowance of Jack and Jon to begin "discussions" with the Tribe. My third was the BOS being ready to formally discuss the first deal (The Jack and Jon version) without first hiring a specialist in the area of gaming law to negotiate the deal. Several others followed.

AMB said...

I believe ther is only one questions left.

Nocasino said...

Ok, Here it is.

After last nights meeting it seems we are looking at a project that is not going to happen anytime soon. Can we get out of this deal? Is there a time limit by which they must start or are we committed for however long it takes?

Joseph Falconeiri said...

If you could do one thing over throughout this process what would you do and why?

AMB said...

At the moment, I don't see a reasonable way to end the deal, nor do I support doing so right now. We have t see this processthrough, and we need a BOS that is willing to question and probe and fight for the rights of the Town. Both Steve and Al showed me that they are not araid to ask the right questions and for that I am hopeful. Good work Steve and Al.

There are at least three things I would change if I could go back in time.
1. Negotiation first, land sale second, if at all.
2. No first negotiation by Jack, which left us stuck in many ways with what he negotiated.
3. A more open process of discussion and debate on the issue before TMFH.

I think that is 20+ questions.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bond,

I realize this forum has long been concluded, but in the event you read this, I have a much more general question, and one that does not necessarily relate directly to the casino issue.

In your view, does the appointment of Bruce Gates to the Chief of Police position at all speak of "a little too convenient?" Given the fact that at least to the extent of my knowledge on the topic, his family was at least one benficiary of the land sale on Precint Street, it seems to be that it's more than a coincidence. Maybe we can chalk it up to Conspiracy Theories 101, but for me it's a little too close for comfort.

Thoughts?

I must say that I do enjoy your blog. Though I often find myself on the other side of the issues more often than not, I do appreciate your ideas.

Best,

Tom Pratt (tjp1717@yahoo.com

AMB said...

On those days where I let the cynic in me take over, you might get me having some of the same issues you have raised. Today, however, I feeloptimistic, and can only say that I have gotten to know Chief Gates, and find him to be competent and professional in all of his dealings with me. Whether there is any so-called conspiracy, or not, I think that the BOS had a no lose situation in selecting either Andrade or Gates. All I knew is that an inside choice was the right choice. But ask me tommorrow, and I may have a different opinion.