|Contra Costa Times Editorializes on Point
November 30, 2009
The following editorial appeared in today’s Contra Costa Times. For my part, I have been consistent. Disappointing more than a few people, I voted for the project in 2004, and I continue to support it (see Point Molate Update, November 12, 2009). In fact, I am one of only three people still on the City Council who voted in favor of the Upstream Land Development Agreement in 2004 (Bates, Butt and Rogers). See Point Molate is a Go, November 10, 2004.
My support, however, depends on the delivery of substantial revenue to the City of Richmond and jobs for Richmond residents as well as other guarantees that ensure preservation of the Winehaven Historic District, a design that is appropriate for this world class site and completion of the shoreline park, Bay Trail and public access to nearly a hundred acres of open space.
My worst fear is that a City Council majority will pursue the worst of outcomes; they will sell the property to Upstream without the protections needed to ensure the project meets the objectives that best meet the interests of residents who are not fundamentally opposed to a casino but want a project that delivers all that was promised. That would be a double whammy.
What can you do? Stay in touch with your City Council members, and ask them to support the contractual protections I outlined in Point Molate is a Go, November 10, 2004.
Editorial: Politicians cave in to interests for a San Francisco Bay shore casino`
Posted: 11/30/2009 12:01:00 AM PST
Updated: 11/30/2009 07:36:13 AM PST
THE POLITICAL BATTLE over plans for a Nevada-style casino on the shores of San Francisco Bay demonstrates that our elected leaders cannot be counted on to maintain a consistent principled positions.
The hypocrisy stretches from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to Rep. George Miller and Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia. They've all indicated opposition to massive Indian gaming in such an urban area, yet, by their action or their silence, they are enabling plans for a casino on Point Molate in Richmond that would have more slot machines than the largest facility in Nevada.
The plans by the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians for a 4,000-slot-machine facility just north of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge would reshape the character of the region and leave a wake of gambling addiction and poverty in the community. The ultimate decision lies at the Interior Department, where the Obama administration will decide whether the small band has a modern and historical connection to the land, and weigh community support for turning the parcel into an Indian reservation. Without that federal approval, the casino plan is dead in the water.
And loud voices from the governor, the congressman of the district and the county supervisor from Richmond could go a long way toward showing that community support is lacking. Too bad we can't count on them for any consistency.
Schwarzenegger has expressed his opposition to the plan, writing in October to the federal government that California voters never intended to permit urban gaming when in 2000 they approved tribal gaming on reservations. He's right.
Unfortunately, a few weeks earlier, the same governor helped the project along by signing off on a transfer of some of the needed land before environmental cleanup was completed.
In other words, the governor had another vehicle to block development of the land. But rather than stand up for his purported principles, he jumped to the other side and accelerated the move toward gambling on the site.
As for Miller, his silence is deafening. After all, it was the congressman who in 2000 helped another Indian band turn the Casino San Pablo card room a few miles away into a tribal gaming facility. It was all made possible by Miller's surreptitious tweak to a massive federal Indian bill.
But when the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians tried to massively expand its gaming operation, Miller turned from supporter to opponent, rightly denouncing and helping kill a deal that would have allowed up to 2,500 slot machines.
Now that the Guidiville Band wants to build a much-larger casino, Miller is mum. "Members of Congress and senators do not have a role in that process," Miller chief of staff Danny Weiss said in an e-mail.
Coming from Miller's office that's on one hand laughable and on the other hand appalling. If anyone in Congress has demonstrated that members can have a role, it's Miller. In the case of the Lytton Band, no one else had more influence enabling the project and then curbing its size. But now the congressman, who has mastered Washington in his 34-year career, suddenly pretends he's helpless.
Perhaps he should consult with Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, who at least have taken the time to sign a letter to the Interior Department opposing the plan.
Finally, there's Gioia, who led the opposition on the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, which had put up the strongest fight against the casino. Then, Gioia said, he started to read the political winds and sensed that the Guidiville Band might get its way in Washington. Suddenly, rather than fight, he and his colleagues on the board caved, dropped their opposition and cut a deal with the Indians that produced money for the county. Simply put, the supervisors sold out.
But, to add insult to injury, Gioia then submitted an opinion piece to Bay Area News Group in which he said the decision "doesn't mean I support urban gaming." If only that were true. If only the county officials had decided to remain neutral, perhaps the voices of opponents could be heard in Washington.
But, contrary to Gioia's claim, he and his fellow supervisors approved a deal in which they promised that the county "no longer opposes the Pt. Molate Project ... and now supports the Pt. Molate Project and its approval." They may have sealed the deal.
To the governor, to the congressman, to the supervisor, we acknowledge that we might have differences with you on this project. But, at least, be honest with your constituents about your actions.