12 Mayors (or Individuals?) Express Support for Casinos in Massachusetts

According to a letter distributed to the media by Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, 12 mayors have expressed their support for DeLeo’s expanded gambling plan that includes adding slot machines at the state’s racetracks. This is big news. Or is it? There are 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and mayors representing 3.4% of those municipalities were signatories to this letter. They included Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan (the John Hancock of the group), along with Joseph Sullivan of Braintree; Lisa Wong of Fitchburg; Richard Howard of Malden; William Scanlon of Beverly; Thomas Ambrosino of Revere; Thomas Koch of Quincy; Carlo DeMaria of Everett; Kevin Dumas of Attleborough; James Fiorintini of Haverhill; Charles Crowley of Taunton; and Michael Bissonette of Chicopee. Who are these elected officials who are attempting to sway votes and public opinion on a controversial issue, and are they acting in a personal or an official capacity? Is the letter the result of resolutions passed by the city councils or boards of aldermen in their respective jurisdictions? I can only presume that, because they are presenting themselves as a group, these 12 are at least attempting to convey the impression that they are acting in some sort of official capacity and not simply as private citizens. I wonder if Speaker DeLeo would be distributing a letter signed by 12 opponents of his hair-brained obsession with casinos.

I do not know these individuals, although I have indirectly crossed paths with Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonette on the casino issue, when I wrote to his office regarding a pro-casino mailing that I had received in late 2007, at a time when I was a property owner in my hometown of Chicopee. My conclusion at that time – and since – has been, to put it quite politely, that Mayor Bissonette is an elected idiot. The following was the exchange of e-mails at that time.

My e-mail to the Mayor’s chief of staff, dated December 29, 2007:

Dear Mr. Ritchott,
It seems highly unusual that the City of Chicopee’s website does not provide a direct e-mail link to the mayor. In the absence of such a link, I am writing to you as the mayor’s Chief of Staff. Until late this week, I was a property owner within the City of Chicopee, a fact which may explain why I was included in Mayor Bissonnette’s recent direct mailing promoting resort-style casinos. (See attached PDF files.) As an opponent of casino gambling in Massachusetts, I would like to know the source of funding for this mailing, certainly hoping that my tax dollars were in no way involved. I find it curious that a mailing which contained “A Message from The Mayor of Chicopee” has a Boston mailing permit. I can only presume that this mailing is part of an elaborate and expensive campaign on the part of casino proponents which is designed to appear to have originated from the offices of various municipal officials throughout the state who have at least approved of their participation.


Please get back to me as soon as possible to confirm that tax dollars were not the source of financing for this ill-advised political lobbying. I further request that you identify the source of this campaign within your response. I am taking the liberty of cc’ing two reporters from The Boston Globe who have written recent stories covering the current casino gambling issues in Massachusetts. Please “reply to all” since I am sure that they will share my interest in your answers to these questions.

Peter Pelland

The response from Scott Szczebak, dated December 31, 2007:

As you know, Mayor Bissonnette is a supporter of casino gaming. The mailing is from a private organization.

Scott Szczebak
City of Chicopee
Office of Mayor Michael D. Bissonnette
(413) 594-1500

My reply to Scott Szczebak, dated December 31, 2007:


Since the mayor obviously did not mind invading my privacy with the mailing (despite the fact that I am on all DMS “do not mail” lists), could you please pay me the courtesy of identifying the “private organization” behind the mailing, as I had originally requested? As you can probably surmise, I am an opponent of casino gambling. I will await the courtesy of your reply.

Peter Pelland

The response from Scott Szczebak, dated December 31, 2007:

Since it is a private matter and not a city issue, I do not know of any more information than what was published in this article:

Something seems mighty fishy to me across the Commonwealth. Would anybody care to request a copy of the actual letterhead used in this week’s letter to House Speaker DeLeo? Would anybody like to take the time to look into some campaign contribution reports? Is there a connection with the “private organization” referenced by Mr. Szczebak in 2007?

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