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Menino announces picks for advisory committee on casino

A partner at the law firm McCarter & English will be heading up Mayor Thomas Menino’s advisory committee on a Boston casino. Brian Leary, a former reporter and anchor for WCVB-TV, will join five others on the committee as City Hall is expected to negotiate a mitigation agreement with the owners of Suffolk Downs, which is seeking to open a destination resort casino in East Boston.

The other members include Lisa Calise, Menino’s former budget chief and now the chief financial officer for the Perkins School for the Blind; David Fubin of McKinsey & Company, who also serves on the Boston Green Commission; Ronald Walker II, president and founding partner of Next Street, a local merchant bank; and Sarah Barnat, vice president of development at National Development, an East Boston resident, and a former employee at Trinity Financial.

At a City Hall press conference, which was attended by City Council President Stephen Murphy and East Boston’s Councillor Sal LaMattina, Leary told reporters he did not view himself as a gambler, but he “can see the romance and attraction” of gaming, along with the “instant gratification” that comes with it.

Leary did not express an opinion on whether there should be a citywide vote on a casino in Boston. The default, as laid out in the state law authorizing three destination resort casinos, is a vote in the ward where the casino is located. In this case, it would be East Boston. It is possible to open the vote up to the entire city, but it would require action from the mayor, who is opposed to a citywide vote, and the City Council, with members are split on the issue.

“We really don’t have a say in that,” Leary said.

Asked whether he has a personal view on whether there should be a citywide vote or a ward-only vote, Leary said, “I don’t really.”

He added: “This is fairly new to all of us.”

City Hall has set up a website for the committee: http://www.cityofboston.gov/gaming/

The City Council, through its economic development committee, is expected to also tackle the issue of an East Boston casino after votes on the city budget in June.