Anti-slots movement a diverse gathering Coalitions absorb political opposites.

Position:NEWS
 
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Byline: Shaun Sutner

COLUMN: NEWS ANALYSIS

WORCESTER - It is a political alliance so rare it is nearly unimaginable.

Try to envision, for example, left-wing activist Kevin Ksen and conservative think-tank chief Roberta Schaefer together in the same movement, mapping out strategy for a political campaign.

An implausible scenario, yes, but one that is playing out now as a stunningly diverse coalition of gambling opponents - ranging from left to right, young to old, and religious to secular, united with a common goal - tries to defeat a slots parlor proposed for a vacant industrial lot near downtown.

Even two political antagonists who squared off in a bitter fight for a City Council seat two years ago - District 4 Councilor Sarai Rivera and former councilor Barbara G. Haller - have found new harmony in their shared abhorrence of slots.

And there is At-Large Councilor Konstantina B. Lukes, a perennial contrarian and critic of the city's Democratic establishment who was also a leader of other unlikely grass-roots coalitions in decades past that shot down well-funded campaigns to fluoridate the city's water.

At an anti-slots rally on the Patriot's Day holiday at City Hall, Mrs. Lukes mingled with liberal Democrats such as David Coyne, leader of Clark University's Jewish group, Hillel, and local blogger Nicole Apostola.

At the same time, Joseph Pagano, a registered Republican and co-owner of a video and Web production company, recorded the rally, which featured an impassioned speech by Colin M. J. Novick, executive director of the Greater Worcester Land Trust and a deacon at St. Paul's Cathedral on Chatham Street.

Mr. Novick says he's amazed at the unusual assortment of political types gathered under the anti-gambling banner and working to kill the slots plan in a citywide referendum widely expected to be held this summer or fall. If approved at the polls, the plan would then have to be green-lighted by the state Gaming Commission.

"These are not normally people who hang out together," said Mr. Novick, one of three co-chairmen of the most prominent anti-slots group, Vote No Slots. "This is the oddest (coalition) I've ever seen. Oddly enough, we work well together."

The founder of the group, Edward L. Moynihan, is also an active lay Catholic. Owner of a local constable company, he received the Catholic Layperson Award in 2009 from the St. Thomas More Society of Worcester County. Kathleen O. Pagano, Mr. Pagano's wife, is the other co-chairman.

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