Exclusive Interview with Mayor of Revere Dan Rizo
By Alberto Vasallo/ Colin Stoecker
Following years of intense lobbying by the casino industry and several near misses in the Legislature, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill legalizing casinos in Massachusetts on Nov. 22, 2011. The law allows for one casino in each of three regions in the state.
The legislation also created a five-member gambling commission to select and implement casino gambling in the state.
Since then, the issue of a casino in this part of the state has been a very hot topic. In the next few weeks the discussion will heat up as Mohegan Sun, in tandem with Suffolk Downs, faces a Feb. 25 vote in the City of Revere, where voters will need to give their approval for the project in Revere to be considered by the commission, along with the Mystic River project in Everett being put forth by Wynn Resorts.
The 5 member gambling commission will then decide later this year who wins the high-stakes battle to open a casino in Eastern Massachusetts.
Earlier this week, El Mundo Boston sat down with Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo for an interesting Q&A about the project, as he offered his views on why this is good for his community.
EM: Why do you feel so strongly about this project?
Mayor Rizzo: it’s about the creation of nearly 4,000 new jobs for our community with good paying wages. It’s also about tax relief for Revere residents and homeowners, and, just as importantly, it allows me to take on more capital improvement in the city such as the building of youth centers, playgrounds, parks and a new Revere high school, which we certainly need. There is no doubt in my mind that the benefits are going to outweigh any potential cons.
EM: What are those cons?
Mayor Rizzo: Well, in reality there is a myth going around that casinos bring more crime and more traffic. But if you look at where we would put our new resources to work, you will see that this is not accurate. First off, I would be able to hire 20-25 more police officers, not to mention the police force that the casino will employ. Our Chief of Police (Joseph Cafarelli) is endorsing this project and is very excited.
Secondly, if you look at the structural plans, with $40 to $50 million of private funds for new ramps and additions to the highways, this will actually take traffic off of our roads and alleviate, not worsen the problem.
EM: What economic impact will this project have on the Latino community?
Mayor Rizzo: This project will allow me to reinvest in Revere with more money for major improvements to the city in many, many areas. I know there is a growing Latino population here and I would never do anything to hurt this city and this community needs to know I am sincere about this. Many hard working Latino families have decided to bring up their families here, many have started new businesses here and I have a responsibility to all of them to make this city the best I can. The extra revenue generated by the casino will help me do this.
EM: How have you come to see this change in Revere?
You can’t help but notice the diversity in Revere and it heartwarming for me. Revere has always been a welcoming community. The 2013 graduating class of Revere High School represented 33 different countries! I am also proud of the fact that we have the Office of New Revere Residents, which is going into its third year. This informal group of Revere residents is the future of our city and I recognize that.
EM: Any final words for our readers?
This casino project is an important step forward for our city. Not only does it have a major economic impact which is the most important, but it also has a social impact too. Revere has a history of being an entertainment host and I believe we can be that again with a casino bringing a little bit of “Hollywood Entertainment to Revere!” Why does everyone have to go all the way to Connecticut this week to see a Mark Anthony concert? With this casino we can bring these shows to Revere and bring a great deal of excitement, new visitors and tourists to our great city and what’s wrong with that?