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Sonoma County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Smart Voter

Position on Proposed Casino

By Jake Mackenzie

Candidate for Member, City Council; City of Rohnert Park

This information is provided by the candidate
The actions of the majority on The RP City Council epitomize their "Imperial" approach to Government.

YES, I was the first person to mention the word "casino" and many people have taken me to task for that. I admit it, I said it. The context was a City Council Budget Session in June, 2003, where we were trying to come up with ideas for solutions to our financial problems. Most Council Members laughed when I "sent up this trial balloon."

MY VERY TENTATIVE THOUGHT for a casino we MIGHT consider was for a small, inside-the-City-limits casino, located in a commercial area and integrated with our other tourist offerings - our hotels, golf courses, etc. This would have been a complement, not a competitor, to our existing facilities. However, unbeknownst to me, other conversations were already taking place - for something quite different.

SUDDENLY, the proposal for a huge casino-hotel-resort complex OUTSIDE the city limits was unveiled, and very quickly, behind-closed-doors meetings between the Tribe, city staff and two Council members (Flores and Vidak-Martinez) led to a rushed MOU, (or "Memorandum of Understanding".)

DESPITE MY PROTESTS, the Council majority refused to allow RP residents the opportunity to vote on a referendum regarding this MOU, although citizens had worked hard to gather the necessary signatures to do so. The other four Council Members also refused to discuss in detail, IN PUBLIC, the terms of this potentially long-lasting and profoundly important agreement. I was the only council member to vote against it.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW will be determined as future events unfold. Will the Federal Government take the land into trust for the Federated Indians? Will the Governor then negotiate a compact with the Federated Indians? Will other Casinos be built in Sonoma County? Much remains unclear, and yet the City Council majority just voted to spend money we may never receive from this possible casino by giving substantial retirement benefit increases to City employees. Do you wonder why the City Employee Bargaining Units worked so vigorously against the Recall of two Council members and why they will be so active in this Council Race?

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