January 29, 2010 -- Sort of an odd foretelling of the current situation as reported in the papers. Very odd how the writing was so clearly on the wall, but those in power and those representing them could not see the forest for the trees.
"The deal with Middleboro is contingent on the land being taken into federal trust and the high court's decision puts that arrangement in peril, said Adam Bond, a former Middleboro selectman who helped negotiate the contract. If the Supreme Court ruling stands, it may qualify as an "impossibility of performance" and give the tribe leverage to walk away from the deal, Bond said.
It's leverage that Bond has been urging selectmen to use for months to sweeten the town's deal with the tribe. One of the areas the board could have targeted is easing the $250 million infrastructure improvements, he said. "The tribe has done all its negotiating with everyone else," Bond said. "The board of selectmen has done no negotiating."
But Dennis Whittlesey, the Washington-based attorney who specializes in Indian gaming law and was hired by Middleboro to craft the deal, said the pact is still binding, despite the court decision.
"The town does have a valid and enforceable agreement with the tribe," Whittlesey said yesterday. "If the tribe chooses to go somewhere else, then the town would have to consider its options under the agreement."
Middleboro town leaders did not return requests for comment yesterday.
"All of their assurances of being partners to the town are ringing pretty hollow right now," said Mark Belanger, a Middleboro resident and staunch casino critic.
What Belanger calls a rushed agreement between the town and the tribe set off years of bickering between pro- and anti-casino factions."