1/31/08

Teddy Kennedy: Union hack in tribal Casino War

As the saga of the Mashpee Wampanoag casino venture grinds slowly forward there is time to ponder some of the finer details of this story. One of these is the issue of how much help and support can the tribe expect from its elected representatives when tribe members bring up what they feel are irregularities in tribal management. Normally, one would expect that as soon as he receives communications from, say, a tribal elder asking for a federal investigation of tribal finances and contracts, Ted Kennedy, the new American Moses would leap into action.

Some of the charges leveled by tribe members at former tribal council chairman Glenn Marshall are serious; charges such as misuse/diversion of grant monies, conflict of interest and fraudulent contracts. Certainly, the most-senior member of the United States Senate -- a man who lives on Cape Cod himself and who has long been an effective voice for fair dealings with minorities -- would take action.

The silence is deafening

But, while Kennedy comes down from the heights of Capitol Hill bearing tablets of the law and presidential campaign endorsements, he has been dead silent on matters concerning the Wampanoag situation. And, whatever influence he brought to bear among federal agencies seems to have been wasted. Outside "investors" continue their drive to reap huge profits from a gambling development in Middleboro that would have no chance at all of being built were it not for the use of Wampanoag federal sovereignty. While it is known that at least two federal agencies -- the IRS and the FBI -- were investigating Marshall and others last fall, nothing has happened to date. Nothing.

Is Hyannisport next?

Could there be unseen hands at work in this situation? Kennedy recently told one tribe member, in response to a letter asking for help, that he could not become involved, that his ownership of property on Cape Cod poses a conflict of interest for him in view of the possibility that some of the Wampanoag descendants might attempt to reopen an earlier land suit. To date, the senator's neighborhood of Hyannisport has not been mentioned as a potential target for tribal interests, but one can never be too careful.

A question of influence

Perhaps we are looking in the wrong places for an answer to the question of why Kennedy has been so unwilling to help the members of the Wampanoag tribe deal with those who want to treat the tribe as their private piggy bank. Remember Scott Ferson? He’s the white man from Belmont -- paid directly by outside investors – who serves as spokesman for the tribal council. He also used to work for Senator Ted Kennedy … as his press secretary.

One does not have to be a fingerprint expert to see what is going on here. Perhaps the senior senator from Massachusetts has been more involved than we all thought. He is just not playing for the home team. Would it not be wonderful to have someone in the press ask Ferson, "Have you ever spoken to the senator about anything concerning the Wampanoags?" Then, of course, we could ask the senator himself if Ferson has ever contacted him to discuss Wampanoag matters.

To be clear, I am not saying that this game has been in the bag from day one. And I am not saying that Ted Kennedy is just another long-winded veteran hack, doing favors for other hacks and special interests while claiming to champion the cause of the little guy. And, I am certainly not saying that Scott Ferson was hired by the tribe's exploiters/investors because of the backroom influence he can muster in their behalf.

Most of all, I want to avoid saying that Ferson is actively working in favor of those who want to exploit the tribe and against the actual tribe members for whom he claims to speak. It would be reckless of me to claim that Ferson had any part in the shunning of tribe members, the removal of others from the tribal rolls or the adding of new names and faces to the tribe's rolls. For me to do so would be unconscionable and perhaps defamatory...or, perhaps, true?

Sorry, the agenda is full

For some reason, whenever I think of Scott Ferson, Bill McDermott (the tribe's lawyer), Glenn Marshall, council chairman Shawn Hendricks and the investors -- Herb Strather, Sol Kirzner and Len Wolman -- the same little word comes to mind and I cannot understand why. That word is RICO.

For all his family glory and his Harvard education and his five decades in the senate, Ted Kennedy is still just another Boston Irish political hack. I guess helping the Wampanoags receive fair treatment does not fit into the good senator's Democrat agenda.

(capecodtoday.com)

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