November 17, 2005

Casino on the Brink

Carroll Andrew Morse

The infamous Guy Dufualt/Michael Levesque exchange began with a reference to lethal implications arising from a difficult situation

Dufault: Well, I did send a little note to Jan and Dave basically saying that, ya know, this is a very, very difficult situation. Michael and myself are on top of it but this, ya know, this could have lethal implications for us. Cuz I, ya know, who.... even if Jeannie.... even if she cracked up and stepped down. I mean we gotta make sure we win that seat.
Tracy Scudder’s coverage of the West Warwick Town Council in today’s Kent County Times gives us a pretty solid hint as to what the lethal implications are. At present, there are 2 votes on the West Warwick Town Council ready to kill the casino…
West Warwick Town Councilman Leo J. Costantino Jr. (R-Ward 4) put forth a resolution that would withdraw support for the casino. It was voted down 3-2 with Costantino and Councilman Peter F. Calci Jr. (D-Ward 5) voting in favor of withdrawing support....

Costantino said it is time for a reality check and that the issue is "Dead, dead, dead. The question is what to do with the corpse."

Jeanne DiMasi, the recently outsted former council president, voted in favor of the casino. As town council president, DiMasi had been working closely with the state-level casino advocates. If she were to lose her seat to a casino skeptic, then the West Warwick Town Council would be aligned 3-2 against a casino.

The problem for casino advocates is even deeper. Though Councilman Edward Giroux did not vote to withdraw support, he did clearly state that he believes that the casino’s time is running out…

Council Vice-President Edward A. Giroux said he realizes that the chances of a casino going into the industrial park are "fairly slim."

"Personally, I will be giving it one more year," said Giroux. But if that year passes and progress has not been made then he said he would join Costantino in withdrawing support.

This is a significant indicator. Giroux has received campaign contributions from the big state-level players in the casino effort: Guy Dufault, Michael Levesque, Steven Alves, and Timothy Williamson. Is Giroux worried that in his next campaign, solid fundraising won't be able to make up for popular dissatisfaction with the direction that the casino wheeling and dealing has taken? Constantino explains why town residents might be souring on the casino deal…
Costantino questioned the motives of a company that is willing to pay consultants $210,000 but not pay the town $25,000 to do impact studies. "To quote John Flynn, 'If you can't trust them during the honeymoon period, you can't trust them during the marriage'.

The courts keep rejecting casino legislation. The residents of West Warwick seem to be growing tired of having their town viewed as a subsidiary of Casino Inc. Yet, according to Jim Baron in the Pawtucket Times, Williamson will file another casino bill in the next legislative session. If the pro-casino forces think that their window of opportunity is closing, how far will they go to get what they want? I suspect we will find out in the upcoming legislative session.