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If You See Something, Say Something #4

A Weekly Media Criticism from The Shoestring

In a new weekly media column, The Shoestring will reflect on recent local news.

MGM’s Latest Gamble: Downsizing Workers

MassLive writer Jim Kinney reported this Friday that MGM Resorts International, parent company to the casino in Springfield, plans to cut $100 million in U.S. payroll over the next two years. While Kinney covers the story admirably, the possible outcomes, political antecedents, and MGM itself deserve even more and closer scrutiny.

For years, the casino has been touted in the press as a great job creator and boon to the community. Scores of state and city officials lined up to help roll out the red carpet for the $960 million resort in August, with Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno even going so far as to describe the casino’s opening as “a Phoenix” rising. Perhaps it is pertinent to note that many of the politicians who publicly touted the casino as a great hope for the city’s revival also revived their own campaign coffers with large sums in casino crony campaign contributions. But was MGM’s intention ever to enrich the community and its people or was it simply to turn a large profit for its shareholders?

In a recent Las Vegas Review-Journal press release, the latter seemed to be indicated. MGM CEO Jim Murren bragged about “MGM 2020,” a cost savings plan that will lay off up to 2,000 workers, including the unionized workers of MGM Springfield. “We are building on the strong foundation that we have solidified over the past few years, to deepen our efficiencies and achieve sustained growth and margin enhancement.”

Part of that margin enhancement has included suing the victims that were massacred from one of MGM’s luxury suites in 2017. The almost unbelievable lawsuit was called a “stunt” by survivor and current defendant Brian Claypool, but the truth is worse—it is actually best practices for the predatory hyper-capitalist mega-corporation.

It is heartening to finally see reporting that is critical of MGM’s failure to deliver on the humanitarian ambitions they’d promised during their Western Mass wooing process. Even better? Reporting how those ambitions were antithetical to their business model all along. — HG

Trading Cards: Walmart’s Gift to the NPD

In Andrew Smith’s letter to the editor in Friday’s Gazette, Smith lauds the NPD broadly and suggests that he supports all public funding for the police. Where he digresses is in his support for accepting gifts from corporations — namely, Walmart — because they do not represent Northampton’s values in terms of supporting a diverse local economy.

In closing he asks that as a community we think of policing in nuanced terms and then states: “For the record, I thought “High-Five Fridays” was a great idea, and I also had my kids chasing down police officers to get trading cards last summer when they were handing them out to children.” What he doesn’t mention, however, is that the trading card program that he says he supports was also funded by Walmart through a grant to the police department. In sum, by omitting this detail, Smith’s position on accepting Walmart funding for the police ultimately contradicts itself.

Will Meyer and Harrison Greene are co-editors of The Shoestring.

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