Social and Political Commentary

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A casino question is buried at Alderman's meeting

... no mention that the presentation of casino agreements was made by the City Solicitor Rob Van Campen formerly an Alderman in
Everett cite of one of the proposed casinos.

by Joe Sullivan



The Board of Aldermenís regular meeting on April 22 called for an ďinformalĒ presentation by Mayor Dolan and other city
officials regarding Melrose Gaming Establishment Agreements. The presentation was about the two agreements, one with Mohegan Sun
Massachusetts and the other with Wynn MA LLC.

These agreements, one from each casino candidate, are to compensate the city for the anticipated impact which either casino will
cause.

The presentation was requested by a Special Order from the Board. Although the Order cited Mayor Dolan as the presenter it was
the Cityís top legal person, City Solicitor Robert Van Campen who did most of the presenting according to Michelle Viscoís
front-page story in the April 25 edition of the Melrose Weekly News.

Although Van Campenís name appears nowhere in the Order he did submit a letter to the Aldermen, referencing the presentation.

Agreements accepted in January.

The city consented to both the Mohegan and Wynn agreements in January of this year. The casino that receives the gaming license
will determine which of the agreements will be used.

The casinos have been accepted enthusiastically by both competing cities Everett and Revere. In a city-wide referendum in
Everett last year only 833 of the 6,153 voters voted no.

There has been no referendum but it is fair to say that the voters in Melrose donít feel the same way about a casino in Everett
the way that Everett voters feel about a casino in Everett.

An unsuccessful mayoral run.

This is an important consideration because Solicitor Van Campen was also a candidate for Mayor of Everett last year. A long time
Alderman in Everett, Van Campen lost to incumbent Carlo DeMario, Jr. A casino was a popular issue supported by both candidates.

Alderman Van Campenís Website ďRobert Van Campen a mayor for a Better EverettĒ cited a number of advantages that a casino would
bring to Everett:  new tax revenue in the millions, new jobs, and a remedy for the cityís three critical challenges-public
safety, taxes, and education. He emphasized the benefits that the $30 million payment to the city would bring.

Van Campen is no longer an Everett Alderman but that doesnít mean he no longer has an interest in those beneficial issues. They
didnít go away when he lost his bid to be mayor.

Itís fair to ask when Van Campen was participating in the negotiations with the casino agreements who did he represent, the
people in Everett who will reap the multi-million dollar benefits of a casino or the people in Melrose who will get
substantially less?

Mohegan Sunís agreement provides an annual payment of $50,000. Wynn Resorts agreement provides no money payments. If Melrose
gets $50,000 it means no casino for Everett. If Melrose gets no money Everett gets a casino.
Isnít this clear evidence of a conflict of interest?

Who tells Melrose voters about Everett relationship?

When the voters in Melrose learn of Van Campenís ties to Everett do our Aldermen think that the voters will believe Van Campen
is impartial? The problem, of course, is who tells them? As the minutes of the April 22 Aldermen meeting show it wonít be
anybody on the Melrose Board of Aldermen.

Some Melrose voters will speculate the reason Van Campenís Everett connection was never mentioned at the Melrose Aldermenís
casino meeting was that the Aldermen agreed beforehand not to bring it up during the Meeting.

Isnít the last statement very unfair and really only a suspicion? Does that mean itís not an appearance? It would be wrong to
think that an appearance is only trivial.

An appearance with consequences    

Stephen P Crosby is Chairman of the State Gaming Commission the organization that is conducting the business of selecting from
one of the final two contenders to receive a gaming license. The recipient, either Mohegan Sun in Revere or Wynn Resorts in
Everett will be able to open a casino. The one who doesnít goes home.

Crosby recused himself from a Commission vote resulting in the denial of the City of Boston to be designated a host city to both
casinos. Before the  vote Crosby attended a party marking the opening day of Suffolk race track where he partied with people who
were among those operate the proposed casino in Revere.

When his attendance became a public issue he recused himself from the Commissionís vote on the City of Bostonís host city
request. His reason was to avoid any appearance that the Commissionís impartiality would be in question.

Itís important to note that he was withdrawing was not because of any evidence of impartiality. Attending the Suffolk Downs
party, though, could create an appearance of impartiality. Eliminating his vote eliminated the appearance.

That was not the end of things. Five of the stateís candidates for governor said Crosby should resign. Appearances can be a very
big deal as Crosby can tell you.

Melrose citizens are entitled to know who represents them. The Aldermen have the obligation to tell them. After the Aldermenís
casino meeting there is an appearance that this is not happening.          

    


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