Council President Peter Gill has been very fair about the five-minute time limit rule for speakers during the public comment period at Town Council meetings.
In preparation for what should be a very well-attended meeting Tuesday (April 1) with representatives from Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs, the Council voted to allow Gill to determine time limits “at his discretion.”
The possible construction of a $1.3 resort/casino at Suffolk Downs is a hot topic. Gill and Councilors Linda Calla, Rick Boyajian, Craig Mael, and Paul Varone attended a Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting Tuesday to express their displeasure with the stalled negotiations between Mohegan Sun and the town for an impact mitigation package. Several Winthrop residents also addressed the Commission at the meeting.
Gill said Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs representatives will be the first item on the agenda at the Council meeting, preceding the public comment portion.
“Mohegan will have 30 minutes to make their presentation to the public,” said Gill. “I expect it will be an uninterrupted presentation.
After the presentation, Gill will proceed to the public comment period. Councilors and residents will be allowed to ask questions or make comments.
At Gill’s discretion, a speaker may be allowed to exceed the customary five-minute limit.
“If any councilor or I feel it’s appropriate to extend the time limit, the time limit can be waived,” said Gill.
The Council leader said while he’s pleased to have Mohegan Sun coming to Winthrop to make a presentation, “We’re not pleased at all with their lack of negotiation. Their offer is insulting and their recognition of the impacts to our community is insulting.”
Gill said he and Councillors Calla, Mael, and Boyarjian spoke at the MGC meeting Tuesday. Attorney Bruce Tobey, who is representing the town in its negotiations with Mohegan Sun, also spoke at the meeting.
“The message was that we were not pleased with their lack of negotiation and their breaching of the confidentiality agreement. My point was that we are not only a ‘surrounding community’ but we are ‘surrounded community and our two exits/entrances to the town are less than a mile away from the casino. Traffic is a major issue which Mohegan and Suffolk are minimizing. They don’t believe that traffic is a huge issue.”