Friday, November 9, 2012
Foxboro Selectmen Now Totally Transparent
AN INSIDE LOOK
by Bill Gouveia
When the Kraft Organization, owners of Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place, announced they were pulling out of "negotiations" with the Town of Foxboro, it seemed like a negative for all parties. But this may be a good thing, especially for the town.
You see, the term "negotiations" has not fit this situation for some time now. The truth is Foxboro stopped "negotiating" with the Kraft Group when selectmen decided to not even allow the presentation of a casino proposal. That was not negotiating - that was dictating. Since that time, Foxboro officials have adopted that as their official policy.
Maybe it's because it worked with the casino. It helped get one selectman booted out, one elected, one reelected, and brought forth a tremendous election turnout. The selectmen who prevented discussion were certainly riding high afterwards. Perhaps some of them decided this "get tough with Kraft" policy was the politically wise way to handle all dealings with the town’s single largest taxpayer.
So since that time they have been tough. They stalled talks with the Kraft Group over future development at Patriot Place for well over a year. They formed at least two different negotiating teams, and then disbanded them. They insisted on negotiating with Kraft officials in public, and then canceled several meetings with little notice. Some publicly stated they will not make any agreements with Kraft until they get what they think they are owed from the last negotiations. Unfortunately, their argument they are owed anything is based on what their former attorney called “a social contract”.
They failed to adopt a plan put forth by their own attorney placing their professional administrator Kevin Paicos in charge of negotiating a deal which they and/or Town Meeting would have ultimately approved or rejected. They claim to do this in the interest of "transparency" for their citizens.
Recently the Kraft Group became tired of the political posturing. They decided "negotiating" in this manner was a waste of everyone’s time and effort. So they pulled out, saying for now they will restrict the future development of their property to what they can do without "help" from the selectmen or other officials.
This might cost the Kraft organization a chance at more liquor licenses. It might prevent them from expanding their retail space along Route 1. It may well restrict their ability to create additional profits from their business interests there.
But it will undoubtedly cost the Town of Foxboro the additional tax revenue they would have received with any expansion. It also eliminates the opportunity for the town to try and get back the $7.5 million the Kraft Group pledged for the building of a sewer plant last time, which Town Meeting turned down when they decided not to build it. That is a huge potential loss for Foxboro's property taxpayers as well as their current and future sewer ratepayers. The money has gone away, but the pressing need remains.
Selectmen and Town Administrator expressed surprise over the Kraft Group decision to no longer participate in the painstakingly difficult process. Paicos said the board had been ready to once again reconstitute a bargaining committee. He also reiterated the selectmen were right to insist the alleged and dubious terms of the first agreement be honored before any new one is created.
So now there are no “negotiations”. There are no talks. There are no expansion plans, at least none being discussed publicly. There is no $7.5 million for sewer construction, nor the current possibility of obtaining it. There is no public/private collaboration on creating a brighter future for a wonderful community.
There is just the selectmen and their toughness. They really showed that Kraft Group who’s boss, right?
Yep, that’s total transparency. The citizens of Foxboro can clearly see that absolutely nothing is happening. Their elected leaders have created a situation where they isolated themselves from their largest property taxpayer. It will now fall to Foxboro’s residential taxpayers to shoulder the burden of unavoidable future costs. And the philanthropic Kraft Organization might be a little less so inclined in the future.
Clearly, this was a good thing. The selectmen have gotten their wish and created total “transparency”.
Now everyone in town can hopefully see right through them.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at #billinsidelook.