Two cents – Tonight’s your chance to voice your opinion on gaming

There are two schools of thought on placing a resort-style casino at Suffolk Downs in East Boston. Supporters believe it will bring much needed jobs to the area while opponents feel expanded gaming will lead to an increase in social ills like gambling addiction and crime in the neighborhood.

On Wednesday, June 30 (tonight) the East Boston Times will sponsor a forum at the Don Orione Madonna Shrine so both opponents and proponents of the casino debate can be heard. The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. and moderated by Times Editor Joshua Resnek and will feature a new group of casino opponents calling themselves Neighbors of Suffolk Downs as well supporters of gaming legislation.

Both sides of the casino debate will be heard with the proponents represented by Frank Callahan, President of the Building and Trades Council and Jay Ash, Chelsea City Manager.

The opposition will be represented by Tom Larkin, a licensed psychologist and a member of the Board of Directors of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts and John Ribeiro, a concerned, lifelong East Boston and Winthrop resident and member of the newly founded, Neighbors of Suffolk Downs.

Each side will present their point of view on the subject. Local politicians will be provided an opportunity to present their views and the public will be invited to ask questions of the panel.

The State’s House of Representatives has already passed their version of legislation allowing casino gambling in Massachusetts and the Senate is formulating their version that officials say should be finalized by the end of July.

One side promises jobs and a much needed boost to the sagging Massachusetts economy. The other is concerned about the social cost to families, the negative impact on businesses and the expected increase in traffic.

This promises to be a lively and spirited debate on an issue that will shape the Massachusetts economy for generations.

List of panelists

Opponents of Casino Gambling at

Suffolk Downs

Tom Larkin, member of the Board of Directors of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts

Tom Larkin is a licensed psychologist and a member of the Board of Directors of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, a non-profit organization. Larkin is a political activist and a member of the Democratic State Committee.

Before his retirement, he worked as a School Psychologist at the Barnes Middle School, East Boston High and the McKay School in East Boston.

He currently facilitates SMART Recovery groups at the Billerica House of Corrections, MCI Shirley Medium, the Bedford VA Hospital and in the community.

John F. Ribeiro, Lifelong East Boston and Winthrop resident, Founding Member of “Neighbors of Suffolk Downs”

John Ribeiro grew up in East Boston, attended Boston Public Schools and graduated

from Boston Latin School. Ribeiro has since moved to Winthrop where he resides with his wife Melanie and three daughters.

Ribeiro served during peacetime in the Massachusetts Army National Guard for nine years (1990 – 1999) where he achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant and the position of Battalion Construction Supervisor for the 101st Engineer Battalion in Reading.

Ribeiro works as a database architect, providing consulting services to Fortune 500 companies.

Ribeiro currently serves as: President of The Empire of the Holy Ghost of East Boston founded in 1938, a.k.a the Portuguese Club; Chairman of Sacred Heart’s Pastoral Finance Council and as a coach of Tee Ball and Girl’s Softball in East Boston.

Proponents of Casino Gambling at Suffolk Downs

Francis X. Callahan Jr., President, Massachusetts Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO

Frank Callahan began his career in the labor movement with the Pioneer Valley Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO in 1990.

After holding a variety of offices with the Pioneer Valley Building Trades, including Research Coordinator, Executive Director, and President of the Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Callahan was appointed Legislative Director for the Massachusetts Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO in 1996.

In 2007, Callahan was elected President of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council. Callahan is a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98.

He is an Executive Board Member of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Delegate to the Greater Boston Central Labor Council, Vice President of the Construction Institute, a faculty member of the Boston Labor Guild School of Labor Relations, a member of the UMass Building Authority, a member of the School Building Advisory Board of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends For Children and serves on the Blue Cross Blue Shield Labor Advisory Committee.

Callahan received a B.A. in Economics/Political Science from Providence College, and a M.S. in Labor Studies from the Labor Relations Research Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Callahan and his wife Mara live in Arlington and are the parents of three daughters.

Jay Ash, City Manager, Chelsea, MA

Jay Ash was appointed in 2000 to be City Manager of his native Chelsea, MA, where his leadership has produced model municipal management and development. Ash has secured credit rating increases and unprecedented economic development for Chelsea, including a sizeable investment from GE Capital and a Hilton hotel scheduled to break ground later this year.

Outside of Chelsea, Ash has led statewide initiatives on health insurance, youth violence, transportation infrastructure and expanded gaming in Massachusetts.

Before working directly for the City, Ash served his community from the State House as the Staff Director to the then House Majority Leader.

During his nearly thirty years of involvement in local affairs, Ash has been central to many community-building efforts, including the construction of new schools, a new senior center and other municipal buildings; the campaign that resulted in a spectacular new Boys & Girls Club; the city’s first domestic violence transition home, and a new Head Start facility.

Ash’s affiliations include President of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the regional planning agency responsible for 101 communities in Greater Boston; Board Member of MassINC, a public policy think tank, and elected Trustee of his alma mater, Clark University. Among his numerous recognitions, the Boston Business Journal named Ash one of Boston’s 40 most promising up-and-coming businesspeople under the age of 40 back in 1999.

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