This evening the opposition group Citizens Against Casino Gaming will host a public discussion on next week’s ballot question on MGM’s proposed casino.
The event will take place at 7 p.m. at the home of member Colleen Moynihan, at 15 Birchland Ave. in Sixteen Acres.
According to an announcement from organizers, tonight’s discussion will focus on a series of “what if” questions: “What if the vote next week for the urban MGM casino does not pass? What if the Massachusetts Gaming Commission does not select MGM during its selection process in April, 2014? What if the paralysis in Springfield's economic development does not abate?”
CACG invited city councilors to attend but says that, so far, only one has even responded: Council President Jimmy Ferrera, a casino supporter who has committed to attend the meeting. Ferrera won fans this spring for calling on the Council to slow down its rush to approve the host-community agreement negotiated between MGM and the Sarno administration. Ultimately, the Council unanimously approved the deal.
So where are Ferrera’s 12 colleagues? Surely not everyone’s on vacation this week. Could, perhaps, they be wary of facing the casino opponents, who’ve been fighting to get out their message in the face of MGM’s massive and well-funded public-relations campaign?
They wouldn’t be the only ones dodging casino opponents, of course; Mayor Domenic Sarno, who’s been aggressively promoting the casino project, declined an invitation to debate CACG. (He also did not respond when I called him recently for comment on an article about the casino opposition.) MGM also declined to debate the opposition, and when asked by WGBY to participate in an on-air discussion about the issue opted to film its segment separately rather than sit for a debate with CACG members. (The company, through a spokeswoman, declined to speak to me for my article.)
Meanwhile, a group of casino supporters will hold its own event today: the Black Leadership Alliance and the Political Action Council of Greater Springfield will hold a joint press conference to endorse MGM’s plan. Among those expected to attend are community activist Dora Robinson of the Black Leadership Alliance and City Council Vice President Bud Williams.
That event takes place this afternoon, at 4 p.m. at 33 Oak St.