Union seeks jobs with new casino
Friday, January 21, 2011
By JOHN APPLETON
PALMER - Construction union leaders urged their members Wednesday to contact legislators to push for passage of a law allowing casinos in the state and one specifically in Western Massachusetts.
"This is our time. This is the last shot we are going to have. Call your elected officials," said Daniel D'Alma, the business manager of Local 7 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
D'Alma said 120 of the 450 members of his electrical workers local are out of work and they need a major project like the proposal to build a resort hotel and casino in Palmer across Route 32 from the Massachusetts Turnpike toll plaza.
"This should happen this time around," D'Alma said during a rally that attracted more than 60 members of local construction trade unions to the Steaming Tender restaurant Wednesday night.
Palmer Town Councilor Paul Burns, a strong advocate of the Mohegan Sun proposal for a casino in Palmer, spoke openly during the rally of his frustration over the collapse of legislative efforts in Massachusetts last year to legalize casino gambling.
But Burns said that in the first weeks of this year's legislative session the leaders of the Senate, House of Representatives and Gov. Deval L. Patrick are already talking compromise.
Legislation was approved by both houses in July authorizing three casinos and stipulating that at least one be located in the four westernmost counties of the state, but ultimately that bill died because Patrick objected to permitting slot machines at race tracks without bidding, a measure pushed by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo.
Burns said the potential for a compromise that would lead to a law authorizing a casino in Western Massachusetts is good news for Palmer, a town that for years has seen majorities favor having a casino.
"The people in Palmer understand this issue and they are ready to move forward," Burns said. "If the casino moves east, the jobs will move east with it. Instead of having a seat at the table, we will be eating crumbs off the floor again."
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Will Native Americans get priority on contracts if the casino is Built? Where will the Mohegans get the money to do such a project? Will the Mohegans purchase the land or will they lease it? Will this ever happen or is another pipe dream of the MTGA (Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority)? What do you think?'