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Holyoke mayor lifts head from the sand

To the editor:

Whether you are for or against casino gambling located in western Massachusetts (I am against it) you have to admire the leadership of Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. According to the mayor he has changed his strategy. He says: “… in order to mitigate the effects of having a casino in western Massachusetts, it is not enough to oppose one in our boundaries ... The best way to control the outcome of this process … is to ensure that we negotiate a host agreement that best addresses our concerns and our values; and then, once such an agreement is reached, to put it before the voters.” This change in strategy has opened him up to strong attacks and charges of “flip-flopping.”

He is, in fact, demonstrating brave leadership by taking the heat for taking a stand for the economic well-being of his city. To pretend that a casino a few miles away (in, say, Springfield or Palmer) will have any less-deleterious impact would be tantamount to sticking your head in the sand and pretending it is not happening. Eventually the citizens of Holyoke will decide whether to proceed. They will do so after a transparent public discourse and as players sitting at the table.

Northampton has no intention of being a possible site for a casino, nor should it. But it would be wise to take a lesson from Morse and bravely begin a broad public discussion. Whether a casino is eventually located 20 miles away in Holyoke or a little bit further in Springfield or Palmer, it certainly will have a major impact on our restaurants, stores and hotels and our general economic well-being. It is time for us to find a way to protect our interests by being part of the discussion. Pretending it will not happen is not an effective strategy.

Bob Brick


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