The endless litigation and haggling over traffic mitigation might discourage a lesser mogul.
Not Steve Wynn.
“The chances of us leaving are zero,” said Wynn about his plan to build an Everett casino.
But when it comes to walking away from Mayor Martin J. Walsh? That’s another matter.
“I’ve had enough of Mayor Walsh,” Wynn declared during a telephone interview.
“I can’t negotiate with him. The man is obviously irresponsible,” he added later in our conversation. And followed up with this: “The mayor has to get off his butt.”
When Wynn called Walsh during the last week of July, it looked like he was trying to end the ongoing war over what Boston gets out of an Everett casino. The two agreed to talk after Labor Day. Then, on July 31, Walsh told Jim Braude and Margery Eagan during a radio appearance that Wynn “threw a figure at me.” Walsh went on to describe it as “a nine-figure sum.”
An angry Wynn called Walsh to dispute his account.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t end well,” Wynn said of that conversation. Among other things, he said he told the mayor this: “I’m told you want the citizens of Charlestown to vote. . . . That will happen over my dead body.” According to Wynn, the mayor replied, “ ‘Then we have nothing to talk about.’ And he hung up.”
Their very personal battle plays out as Boston asks a court to invalidate Wynn’s casino license, arguing in a lawsuit that the state gaming commission manipulated the process to favor Wynn. The city cranked up the pressure by issuing subpoenas to more than a dozen current and former state troopers and others associated with the Everett casino project. As reported by the Globe, some of the subpoenas involve a 2013 incident in which two former state troopers were allegedly allowed into a secure room in the attorney general’s office to review confidential files. The city contends the two retired state troopers were working on behalf of Wynn and were given access to files related to Charles Lightbody, a felon who owned a piece of the property where Wynn Resorts plans to build its casino. Wynn denies it.
The Suffolk Superior Court judge who is hearing the Boston case ruled that those who received subpoenas don’t have to give depositions until she determines if the case should go forward. Afterward, Judge Janet L. Sanders also rebuked the Walsh administration for using the litigation as a PR tactic. That followed a harshly worded court filing by the office of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, which said the city “spewed and spun” rumors into false allegations about the two retired state police officers. The city sticks by its charges.
During our interview, Wynn repeated his threat to sue Walsh for defamation for putting out what Wynn contends is false information. Noting that Massachusetts does not have a shield law to protect journalists, Wynn said, “I will find out who leaked to the newspapers. I will do that.”
He also insisted he had no prior knowledge of an improper ownership in the Everett land. It came to light, according to Wynn, when “this moron Lightbody called some hoodlum in jail. . . . These two idiots had a conversation.” During that conversation, Wynn said, Lightbody said he had not really sold his ownership shares in the land. When Karen Wells, the gaming commission’s investigator, found out about it, Wynn said, she told one of his representatives that “they tried to trick you.” Now, asks Wynn, “Should we be punished for that?”
As Wynn sees it, he’s the one “taking abuse” as project costs grow. “Everybody is involved with us. We’re tagged with solving traffic problems that have existed for decades,” he said.
Of the casino’s projected $1.7 billion price tag, he said, “It’s a lot to me, too.” He spent $1.75 billion on the Bellagio in Las Vegas, with its 3,000 rooms, top-billed entertainers, interior botanical gardens, and outdoor waterfalls. And now, he said, “I’m going to spend that on 600 rooms in Everett.”
But Wynn’s not walking away.
There’s too much at stake on the other side of the aggravation.