Thursday, May 13, 2010

Follow the money

A friend who works at an East Boston non-profit recently told me that it has become more difficult to get MassPort to drop a contribution on the place, and the agency doesn't even return phone calls like they used to. He added that Suffolk Downs has become much more accessible and willing to make donations.

Of course, it all makes sense. MassPort doesn't need us much any more. They got almost everything they wanted in the past decade (additional runway, centerfield taxiway), so there's not as much motivation to smooth over ties with the neighborhood. There is still the consolidated rent-a-car facility, but it seems that there is less of an activist mindset in Eastie anyway. The Latino community here doesn't see Logan Airport as the encroaching beast that Italian-Americans of older generations did because the newer residents haven't been mowed over in a battle with MassPort yet.

Suffolk Downs, on the other hand, needs us. Multi-millionaire Richard Fields bought the track to build a casino there once the state's political establishment came around to approving expanded gambling, and now they're almost there. In order to quiet those in the neighborhood who might raise a ruckus, it helps to give cash to local non-profits. Community agencies can always use the help, and the total is just a tiny percentage of what Fields will make once the slots and table games start raking it in.

The East Boston Times is doing its part to support the racetrack. There have been nothing but pro-Suffolk Downs and pro-casino gambling stories in the local weekly, and this week the paper published a Suffolk Downs press release, also available on the track's web site, verbatim on the front of the sports section. Shouldn't readers be made aware that this material is written as marketing pablum?

2 comments:

Matthew said...

I couldn’t agree more about the East Boston Time’s unabashed support for a casino at Suffolk Downs. Balanced reporting? Hardly. According to Mr. Boston, the casino won’t create any additional traffic and “that’s a fact.” Ok, I guess that ends the debate since Mr. Boston, King of the Tired Cliché, has apparently conducted an exhaustive study of this issue.

On a different note – both the Times and The Hubster really dropped the ball (hopefully just an oversight on your part, Jim) on the Carlo Basile incident in Revere a few weeks ago. Our State Rep and his wife (with small children at home) were involved in a late night fight at a bar, during the work week, in which two people are assaulted and injured. Better yet, neither party will cooperate with the police to identify the assailants. The Herald runs a story on the incident, but there’s nothing in East Boston’s “paper of record” or even The Hubster? What gives? Too close to home?

Jim said...

Well, to be honest, it was not an oversight on my part. I didn't have the stomach to jump on the Rep. Basile fight story, as it seemed clear that it's part of a painful personal episode. I have known Carlo since he was a kid, as I've said before, but further, this blog mainly serves as an outlet for my opinions and I had nothing really to add on the topic.

I do think the Times should have covered the story. Of course, they did as I expected, and I made no attempt to call them out because of my reticence to write anything on the matter. I'm sure some think me a hypocrite, but I'm not a paid journalist -- just a guy with a blog. The Times is, in theory, the community's "paper of record," as you said. They are clearly too close to the politicians they cover.