VIEWPOINT: The Good, Bad, Ugly … and Absurd

News continues to swirl around Wynn Boston Harbor, the extravagant, gold-colored casino that presently feels a bit like a sick joke.

Two weeks ago, word spread that installation has begun on the $5.4 million curved escalators that will adorn the lobby. “That’s one of the themes of the entire project – turning ordinary things into art,” Wynn Resorts spokesperson Greg John told a local newspaper. “That’s the difference in a five-star, $2.4 billion resort.”

Escalator art? We don’t really see it. Then again, we’re not trying to spend $2.4 billion on a gambling venue. From where we sit, the beauty of the place will blossom when they plug in the bloody slot machines and roll out the felt tables, thus beginning the flow of money from customers’ wallets into our city’s treasury. Use the dough to hire police officers, fund our schools, lower taxes, fill potholes, and so on. The rest of it? Well, let’s just say we don’t care if a gambler from Topsfield, Topeka, or Tahiti takes a curved escalator or a rope ladder to the craps table.

If escalators don’t float your boat, there’s been some chatter recently about a proposed pedestrian/bike bridge that would connect the casino to Assembly Row, the retail-residential-entertainment behemoth located across the Mystic River in Somerville. But details are sketchy about who will foot the bill for the $23 million expanse. (Hey, Mr. John: If we call it a public art project, would your employers pick up the tab?)

It wasn’t so long ago that Somerville was dragging the Gaming Commission to court over the Wynn project. Now we’re talking about building a 780-foot connector. Who says politicians can’t build bridges?

Oh, and Steve Wynn continues to make headlines. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with art or grand visions for the Mystic.

The list of allegations of sexual misconduct against the casino kingpin is growing. Early last week, the Associated Press obtained police reports filed by women about incidents dating back to the 1970s. According to the story, one woman told officers that Mr. Wynn raped her “at least three times around 1973 and 1974 at her Chicago apartment. She said she became pregnant and “gave birth to a girl in a gas station restroom.” Why Wynn was inside her apartment on multiple occasions is unclear, although the victim said she hadn’t given him a key. Wynn denies the charges.

These allegations are added to earlier ones detailed by the Wall Street Journal. “From bad to worse,” we believe is how you term it.

And, so, the story lingers, the odor persists, the questions mount. Officialdom has entered the fray: Regulators from Massachusetts and Nevada are nosing around. Lawyers are involved: Shareholders have filed lawsuits in Vegas accusing Wynn and board members of fiduciary misdeeds relating to the decades-long pattern of alleged sexual harassment; and last week a massage therapist filed a civil suit against Wynn for, among other things, “assault, breach of contract, and civil conspiracy.”

Calls for Wynn’s name to be erased from the project are intensifying. Gov. Baker says a name change is “one of the things that should be on the table.” Attorney General Maura Healey was blunter, issuing a statement that read, in part, “It’s clear to me, if what’s being alleged is true, that the casino cannot bear Wynn’s name. I’m not convinced the company should have a license at all.”

Concerns about the name are reasonable, no? After all, if the script “Wynn” name remains, it will tower above Greater Boston, visible from vantage points near and far. It will greet people as they enter the region from 93 South.

Classy.

Wynn has resigned his post as the CEO Wynn Resorts Ltd., replaced by Matthew Maddox, who will have to convince the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that he knew nothing about the charges against his former boss and any payouts/settlements that were made to alleged victims. Until he does, we are reluctant to accept the notion that Wynn’s out/Maddox’s in/Everything’s fine/Let’s move on.

This story is, as they say, advancing. The Gaming Commission will do its thing. Reporters and news outlets will do theirs. In the meantime, please forgive us for not being overly excited about escalators, even curved ones.

Leave a Reply