Mr. Bond started his coffee talk by asking Mr. Hendricks to tell us all who is the real Sean Hendricks? Sean Hendricks was born in Cape Cod Hospital, raised in Mashpee where he currently lives and has been a tribal member since the day he was born….he is a tribal member, father and a family man who is trying to do the best for his tribe and his family.
You know what – I can respect and totally relate to that! I think we all can. Who doesn’t want the best for their family? More importantly, don’t we all desire the opportunity to provide the best for our family? You bet we do! As a family chick myself, I can understand his desire to provide the best for his family and his Tribe. I just happen to not agree with the whole casino part of his desire. Here is what he had to say……
There’s that catchy phrase “economic engine” that seems to be the poster phrase of the casino supporters for both the Tribe and the Governor’s three(+) casino plan.
Mr. Hendricks went on to explain that “with Federal recognition does not come health insurance automatically, and people automatically think kids get to go to school for free” but that is just not true…he said, "kids do get State tuition waivers for State schools – that’s all....the fees are higher than the tuition."
Mr. Hendricks went on to explain that with new Federal recognition status come a lot of work. The Tribe is desperately trying to build a government. In his words he said “we are a separate country so to speak, within a country”…. does he mean like…England?? Whoops!... I bet Mr. Bond didn’t like that statement at all.
He continues to explain that building a government takes a lot of money, they are a sovereign nation within the U.S. (this appears to be backtracking on Mr. Hendricks’ part to the country within a country statement)... ”we are equal to a State, we’re still under Federal Government to an extent”. Yes, you read, and if you listened to the show, heard correctly... .he said to an extent…which is quite true! See, this is exactly why I liked listening to Mr. Hendricks…he is telling it like it is, no holds barred. How can you not respect that?
At this point, Mr. Bond takes over the conversation and steers away from the “under Federal Government to an extent” comment – good save Mr. Bond!
Quickly moving forward, Mr. Bond asks another question: "What are you trying to accomplish with the casino?". Mr. Hendricks explains that he wants health insurance, small housing grants and in-house services for his tribe however, since they are a newly recognized tribe, they are not eligible for services until 2010.
Okay, two years can be considered a long time, but later in the interview when asked about timelines, he stated that the Land-In-Trust process will take 18 months. From there, they will begin construction immediately and expect the doors to open "in two years, to 18 months" from the first shovel full of dirt. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t that bring us way past 2010….more like 2012?? My point here is that it seems to me he is justifying the casino route because waiting for the BIA to get it’s act together and give them money for the things they need will take much too long. The only way to acquire these things is to build a mega casino resort. Sorry, but I can’t bring myself to agree with that....
Mr. Bond then reminds us all about how … "IN THE BEGINNING….New Bedford was sold us as lead horse when Middleboro jumped in, no one gave Middleboro much of a shot at this…two questions come to mind"..(at this point of the show, I’m thinking “uh-oh….this should be interesting” boy, what I right!)
Here is how the conversation went….
Mr. Bond asks, "Why NOT New Bedford?".
Whoa…did he just say what I think he did??? Not a word about heritage here…or any statement about the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe wanting to come home to their ancestral lands. I am envisioning a look of alarm on Mr. Bond’s face at this point. I admit I was mildly amused, but Mr. Bond is, if anything, the consummate public speaker. He calmly goes with this attempt at another save….He asks,
“Okay then, why Middleboro” to which Mr. Hendricks makes his oh so honest statement…."same answer…you have the LAND”…
Oooohhh....Mr. Bond is unsuccessful at the save! The Tribe needs to prove ancestral rights to take this land as an initial reservation – no mention of heritage in Middleboro…only land. Ouch! That must have hurt!
Mr. Bond does have a quick recovery though…I give him a lot of credit, he is really good at this radio thing….he moves on to the scenario in Connecticut and how the Tribe there is not limited to the amount of land they can buy and take off the tax rolls….but lucky Middleboro, because as Mr. Bond explains, there are supervisions within the contract that say if more land is taken there needs to be a renegotiation. Bad move Mr. Bond, the last thing you want to do here is remind everyone of the fact that the Tribe will have the opportunity to take even more land and take it off the tax rolls, expand the casino perhaps, renegotiation or not…
The discussion then naturally comes round to the infamous casino plans - or lack there of. Mr. Hendricks explains that the Tribe is not at the planning stage yet. They have preliminary plans for the Environmental Impact Study hearings, but they just show the footprint of where the Tribe can build the facility...and parking…and hotel…with the least amount of impact.
Here, Mr. Bond asks a great question: "any of that you can talk about?". At first, Mr. Hendricks says, "yeah, some of it" …but instead of letting Mr. Hendricks talk to us about some of the plans, Adam can’t resist and just has to ask…
"Is there going to be a 30-50ft tower sticking out of the middle of Middleboro, on the property……I keep hearing the size of the Hancock…" I can only assume here that Mr. Bond meant to say 39-50 story tower….39-50 feet is hardly a tower in my eyes….and is certainly significantly much shorter than the Hancock.
Mr. Hendricks reply to the tower question is “I honestly don’t know the exact size of the tower…I don’t know…what can I tell you? It’s set in the middle of the property. 50 acres...your not gonna…if you go to Foxwoods, you’re gonna drive a long way before you see that and their tower is…pretty big – I don’t know how tall it is, but you don’t see it until you come around that last corner.”
The discussion turns to jobs, and how the project will be an enormous undertaking. Mr. Hendricks seems to say there will be 10,000 construction jobs, but I highly doubt that especially if you consider that the Big Dig, the most expensive public works project in US history, peaked at 6,500 construction and related jobs, according to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. That or if you agree with Robert Band, president of Framingham-based Perini Corp., the casino industry's go-to contractor, who estimated it would take between 1,000 and 2,000 construction workers about 30 months to build a casino like the one the Mashpee Wampanoag’s are planning in Middleboro. As far as actual casino jobs, Mr. Hendricks says there will be a need for cleaners, laundry….Mr. Bond offers pit bosses…yes, there will be a need for pit bosses, and security. The Tribe has not worked out the details for police, fire and other support as of yet.
No, the Tribe won’t cut deals with other towns, which is understandable, but they certainly have no problem applying for State and Federal grant money - our tax dollars - to pay for improvements to roads that really don’t need improvements…unless of course, there is a casino. Also, the Tribe desires open communication with the surrounding communities, but if any of these surrounding communities have issues after the casino is built, they need not bother the Tribe….they can go bother the State.
There is a brief discussion about land-in-trust process and how the Tribe needs to have a compact with the State for class III gambling (yes it is gambling, so why even call it gaming at this point?) which eventually gets around to this question posed by Mr. Bond:
"If the State isn’t reaching a compact with the Tribe, doesn’t that put you guys out of business?" To which Mr. Hendricks replies, "not really – would not rather go in that direction but we have the option to go class II in Middleboro".
Mr.Bond asks the following question, which can only be a clever ploy to debunk Bellicose Bumpkins blog, Its the Slots Stupid; he asks, “there is a fair amount of competition
floating around Rhode Island, Connecticut, would a class II survive?” To which Mr. Hendricks confidently replies, "if it is done right…it will be built the same way as a destination resort. Class II is…Seminole’s in Florida is the perfect example."
Okay, so the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe will build a Class II facility if they can’t reach a compact with the State. Soooo…..since Class III gambling is currently illegal we can expect a mega bingo hall resort with no State mitigation fund if this land is allowed to go into trust. With all due respect, I think I will stick with Bellicose Bumpkins view on this issue, but just in case, we need to ensure no gambling is allowed on this site, and the only way to accomplish that is to write a letter to the Department of the Interior (DOI) and oppose the land-in-trust in Middleboro.
So there you have it straight from the horses mouth: The Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe is a sovereign nation, much like a country within a country, with limited Federal oversight who want to take 350 acres of land in Middleboro in trust as an initial reservation for one reason, and one reason only….LAND…land specifically slated in the application to be used to build a mega-casino resort.
There is no mention of ancestral ties of the Mashpee Tribe in Middleboro by Mr. Hendricks, or any indication of the Mashpee Wampanoag’s desire to come home - neither in this interview, nor in the final determination statement sent to the DOI with the Land-In-Trust application. The final determination is an extremely important document that requires the Tribe show that a distinct community has existed from historical times until the present on lands up for “initial reservation”. The final determination that was sent as part of the land-in-trust application talks at great length about ancestral ties to Mashpee but not one mention of Middleboro. I know this to be true…I have a copy in front of me as I write this. Considering the fact that the Tribe is requesting the land in Middleboro to be established as an “initial reservation” this is quite interesting, and problematic at best. I cannot see how the Secretary could possibly approve this application based on this alone, never mind the myriad of other issues associated with this entire process.
Also straight from the horse’s mouth is the fact that if the land-in-trust application is approved, the Tribe plans to build a mega bingo-hall resort using the same footprint as a class III mega casino resort….oh, and there will be a tower…perhaps one like Foxwoods in Connecticut? There will be no compact with the State, and they are confident they will succeed with a class II mega bingo hall resort because of what the Seminoles in Florida were able to accomplish with a class II facility. Gee, I don’t really get a warm and fuzzy feeling about that at all. Good thing it is all about the slots….that, and not allowing the land to go into trust. If you agree and want to be heard, please write to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior. Information on where to send your letters can be found on the CFO website.
It may not seem like it at this point, but I really did enjoy the show, and coming straight from this horse’s ..eeer…chick’s mouth, I sincerely thank Mr. Hendricks for accepting Mr. Bond’s invitation to be on the show. Mr. Bond himself did an excellent job identifying and asking the questions that have been on all our minds. The interview itself was long overdue, but as I like to say….better late than never!
- be the change you want to see in the wold -