I want to commend Secretary Beaton for his common sense approach in denying Wynn Everett its MEPA certificate yesterday and Director Buckley for finally putting a stop to a disturbing pattern of behavior. As the Secretary and his staff pointed out, the project still does not do enough to mitigate its impacts and the illegal land deal between the MBTA and Wynn makes it impossible for the project to proceed. It’s a refreshing change from what until now, has appeared to be an assault by the Commonwealth and its agencies on the Cities of Revere, Boston, and Somerville.
I and others have been asking questions about the illegal land transfer since last year. Despite our pointing out to the MBTA on multiple occasions the severe problems with the deal including the lack of public review, violations of the T’s own procurement requirements, and the lack of compliance with MEPA, the T and Wynn went ahead with the sale anyway. With all respect to Secretary Pollack, who inherited this mess, it is simply not credible that this was an administrative or mere procedural mistake. It’s part of a blatant pattern of behavior that has plagued Wynn’s project from the start. Wynn is no victim here. Wynn and his legal team set the price and terms of the sale, designed the proposal process that somehow permitted Wynn to not have to submit a bid, and clearly had to be aware it was illegal all the while. One of its key lawyers in the process was a former MEPA Director who had an unfortunate e-mail exchange with his former agency. It’s time to get to the bottom of this matter and find the truth.
It’s obvious that the T’s agreement in August of last year to sell the land, cut just weeks before the award to the Region A gaming license, and also not subject to MEPA, was an attempt to aid the Wynn bid, and in turn, harm my city.
It’s also obvious that this knowing and willful lack of compliance with the law by Wynn and the T in conveying the land, was an attempt to avoid the required analysis of alternatives that hurt Boston’s position as to whether it was deemed a host community and whether its zoning applied to the site. As for the T’s current option for a suggested remedy, how does putting into escrow land that has already been sold, a deed that has already been recorded, begin to address this harm? This is no mere technicality. It goes to the heart of the gaming licensing decision. To remedy it, we need to return to the beginning and determine the full impact of this illegal activity.
To the Gaming Commission, I’ll remind you that concerns over permitting were a major issue during your licensing discussion. You put a deadline in place regarding permits in Sullivan Square that have still not been met and cannot possibly be met for a long, long time. In fact, outside analysis has indicated that the problem may not be solved. I implore you to honestly evaluate the status of the project and the decision making that has led to this moment. How, precisely, can you expect the conditions of the license to be satisfied? What are you going to say about Wynn’s role in this latest illegal activity? And how does it affect your ongoing review of its suitability?
Lastly, by now, it must be obvious to everyone that we cannot trust what the Wynn people are telling us. Yesterday, they said that the Secretary’s Certificate was a confirmation of their mitigation plans and a new incremental step in the process. They then proceeded to blame Secretary Beaton and the Baker administration for their own incompetence and inability to
adhere to the Commonwealth’s laws. They must not have actually read the document, which calls for far more work and mitigation and, which, as a supplemental filing of a supplemental filing of a “final” environmental impact report, is unprecedented, I’m told by local permitting experts.
I am renewing my call for a full investigation by the attorney general and the inspector general. Given the additional delays, uncertainties and serious questions that have arisen as a result of the illegal land deal, I am also requesting that the Mass Gaming Commission hold a public hearing on these issues.
Dan Rizzo is the present Mayor for the City of Revere.