Mohegan Sun Massachusetts, one of two casino groups vying to build large gambling and entertainment facilities in Western Massachusetts, has run afoul of the Springfield chapter of the civil rights organization for not addressing the group’s concerns about “diversity issues,” particularly around the issue of hiring minorities for the proposed Route 32 casino.
The Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP, took aim at Mohegan Sun for failing to respond to the chapter’s request for “specific diversity information” regarding the casino operator’s commitment to hiring minorities, among other issues.
“I suggest that the courtesy of a professional response and follow-through on a commitment to supply the requested information would have given our branch a better understanding of your project and eliminated the need to seek further clarity,” Swan wrote in an Oct. 27 letter to Paul Brody and Chuck Bunnell, Mohegan Sun’s vice president for development and chief of staff for external and government affairs, respectively.
“The NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization and has affiliate branches across the length and breadth of the nation and abroad. Our organization influences policy and advocates for civil rights from the White House to the Supreme Court to the U.S. Congress and to every state, city and town across the country. Surely we can expect a response regarding our concerns on a casino project in Palmer … that will affect residents across the Western Massachusetts region,” Swan said.
Mohegan Sun officials, who could not immediately be reached for comment, said Swan had previously announced his support for the Springfield casino plan backed by MGM Resorts International, Mohegan Sun’s only rival in the race to secure the sole state casino license reserved for Western Massachusetts.
“In a previous meeting with the Rev. Swan, he communicated his support for the MGM project in Springfield,” Bunnell said in a statement issued to 22News.
“We are not engaging with our competitors or their supporters as we continue to work with the residents of Palmer in advance of our Nov. 5 referendum vote. Mohegan Sun is proud of its longstanding commitment to diversity in hiring. We look forward to future discussions with interested parties throughout the region,” Bunnell said.
Swan took issue with Mohegan Sun’s response, stating he was “somewhat surprised” by the company’s “inaccurate commentary” and “lack of courtesy” regarding its failure to address the NAACP’s concerns.
Swan said in March that if the civil rights group had to back a casino gambling plan, it would recommend MGM’s proposal for downtown Springfield, citing what he claimed was MGM’s good track record on diversity issues and minority hiring. But, he added, that acknowledgement was not tantamount to an endorsement of the Springfield project.
“You noted that I, specifically, had ‘communicated my support for the MGM project’ in a previous meeting. Please be advised that no such communication…..
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