By Laura Krantz
HOPKINTON, Mass – A small rural Massachusetts town determined to ward off a casino in its backyard got stonewalled this year by a state commission and the secretary of state, but the fat lady hasn’t sung yet for Hopkinton.
After eight fruitless months battling the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for records, the town this month sued the commission for withholding records about the people who want to build a Las Vegas-style gaming complex nearby.
The lawsuit is the town’s last possible hope at forcing the commission to turn over documents about Foxwoods developers.
I have covered this saga since January and I’m excited to see where it ends. It is astounding to watch public officials go to such lengths, and stall for so long, to protect the interests of developers who choose to do business with the government. I’m not hopeful the records will ever see the light of day.
Technically, the town already has the documents it requested. But the commission redacted them using giant blue and red squares that cover entire pages, leaving almost nothing legible.
The Secretary of State’s public records chief in August sided with the commission. He conducted an in camera review, looking at the documents himself, and said the commission was reasonable with its redactions.
The commission, a new state board charged with licensing up to three casinos in the state, is withholding the records because a clause in the gaming law protects “competitively sensitive information.”
The commission has said “the public interest in obtaining this information does not substantially outweigh the seriousness of the invasion of privacy.”
Laura Krantz writes for The MetroWest Daily News. Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.