Monday, December 12, 2005

Berkeley Honors Maudelle Shirek


At 94, Maudelle is still a great and influential member of the Berkeley community. I am honored to know her. This great article from the Oakland Tribune by William Brand says it all.
BERKELEY — In the two decades Maudelle Shirek served on the Berkeley City Council, she never forgot the hard years during the Great Depression and she never hesitated to speak out for social justice and for what she believed was right.

Now 94 and in frail health, her many Berkeley friends and supporters filled St. Paul AME Church on Saturday evening to salute Shirek and celebrate her long service to Berkeley's progressive politics.

When Shirek arrived, looking cool in sunglasses with bright blue frames, a wool suit and beret, the crowd stood and began shouting, "Maudelle! Maudelle!"

The event, a benefit for the Maudelle Shirek Scholarship Fund for deserving South Berkeley young people, drew at least 400 and a long line of officials, including Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, state Assembly member Loni Hancock,

D-Berkeley, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and several present and former councilmembers.

Meanwhile, the Berkeley City Council in a unanimous vote has decided to rename Old City Hall in honor of Shirek.

"Maudelle always had her priorities right," said Hancock, who served as Berkeley's mayor while Shirek was in office. "She was always a fighter for what she believed was right."

Hancock's husband, Tom Bates, said Shirek made a great contribution to the city. "It's absolutely fitting that the community honor her."

To read the rest of the article... click here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

We're Gaining Momentum!


As you know I am sponsoring legislation to create a "Clean Money" system of funding political campaigns in California (view the bill by clicking here).

The idea is gaining momentum and we are really on a roll! Check out this great article in the Los Angeles Times:
Buying back government
AS IF THE RESULTS OF LAST month's special election weren't convincing enough, there is new evidence that the public is fed up with Sacramento. The Public Policy Institute of California surveyed 2,002 voters in the 12 days after Nov. 8 and, in various ways on various issues, it's clear: They're not happy.
More than three-quarters of them, or 76%, don't like the way the governor and Legislature are working together. Three-fifths thought the special election was a bad idea. More than two-thirds, or 68%, think California is headed in the wrong direction. Barely one in five, or 17%, say they can trust public officials to do what's right most of the time. It was, as the poll's director said, "a vote of no confidence for state government." Public financing of elections would go a long way toward restoring that confidence.
Regardless of what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature (disapproval ratings of 56% and 66%, respectively) may accomplish in the coming year, the state's basic political system remains broken and in serious need of repair. And the biggest evil is the dominance of big money in California elections. More than $250 million was spent on ballot measures this year. Essentially, it was provided by the Democrats' supporters in organized labor and, on the Republican side, by business interests.
It's a system that invites corruption and compromise of political principle. Almost four-fifths of voters in the survey, or 78%, think state government is controlled by a few big interests. One way to take control from these interests is to provide public financing of elections, from the Legislature through the statewide offices, up to and including governor. Arizona and Maine have done this with considerable success. Last week, the Connecticut Legislature passed a "clean money" bill that the governor has pledged to sign.
The clean-money law being proposed by Assemblywoman Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) would provide up to $10 million for a qualifying candidate for governor, while Assembly candidates would get $150,000 and Senate contestants $300,000. Candidates could choose to finance their campaigns the traditional way, but the clean-money candidates would get enough to remain competitive.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I hope you can come out and join us!
CBS 5: More than 45 Berkeley community leaders will join in reading sections of the book "The House on Mango Street" at a community reading event on Saturday.
The event is part of the "Berkeley Reads Together" initiative launched in October with Mayor Tom Bates and Library Director Jackie Griffin.
Officials say "Berkeley Reads Together" is a program to encourage all Berkeley residents to read the same book at the same time and then discuss it with their families, friends and neighbors.
This year, Bates and the Berkeley Public Library have selected "The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros.
Berkeley officials say that "The House on Mango Street," which consists of 44 short stories, is a powerful book told by a young girl named Esperanza Cordero. Each chapter tells a gripping story about the girl's childhood on Mango Street.
Readers at the community event include Mayor Bates, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock - a former Berkeley mayor who is Bates' wife - Councilmember Darryl Moore, School Superintendent Michelle Lawrence and Chamber of Commerce President Carolyn Henry Golphin, as well as city staff, teachers and many others.
The reading event will take place at the South Berkeley Senior Center at 2939 Ellis St. in Berkeley from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Friday, November 18, 2005

It's an Educational Crisis!


The number of young people dropping out of California schools has reached the crisis stage. In particular, the number of African American and Latino youth who have dropped out or simply walked away from school is alarming. According to a recent Harvard Civil Rights Project Report, approximately 40% of African American and Latino students drop out of high school.

At our Select Committee on Bridging the Achievement Gap hearing in Richmond this week, we heard from researchers about the failure of California schools to graduate large numbers of students, in particular low income students of color. To further complicate the issue, the California High School Exit Exam requirement for the class of 2006 will mean that more than 50,000 current seniors who have failed at least one section of the test will not get their diploma next June. (Some estimates are as high as 100,000 students won’t graduate because of the Exit Exam.)

At the hearing we also focused on collaborative solutions to this crisis facing our community. We heard the latest research on “school to career” programs such as ACME Animation, the San Francisco Law Academy and the Berkeley Biotechnology Education, Inc. ACME Animation is a series of interactive courses linking professionals from PIXAR, Disney, Warner Brothers and other smaller companies with animation students in 27 high schools in California. The programs, most of which are offered in schools with high dropout rates, give students real hands-on skills development opportunities that can lead them to community college, CSU or the work world.

The San Francisco Law Academy and the Berkeley Biotech programs give young people internships with mentors to help them experience the work world along with the related academic classroom instruction. These two programs have been in existence for more than a decade and have graduated students capable of working in office or lab environments.

For more information about the Berkeley Biotechnology Education, Inc. go to and for the San Francisco Law Academy to

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Assemblywoman Loni Hancock will chair a hearing of the Select Committee on Bridging the Achievement Gap:

Seeking Solutions to California’s High School Dropout Crisis
School-to-Career: A Pathway to Success

Featured panelists include Dr. Russell Rumberger, Linguistic Minority Research Institute/UC Santa Barbara and Paul Warren, Principle Analyst, Office of the Legislative Analyst, who will examine the many challenges currently facing California’s high schools and how to improve them. Other panelists will explore school-to-career programs and the state’s role in providing multiple pathways to success for California’s students.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Richmond High School (Little Theater)
1250 23rd Street, Richmond

Please call (510) 559-1406 for more information.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

We Are On the Cutting Edge!

The Contra Costa Times did a great article on "new" trend towards political Blogs and how much we are able to accomplish together with this great forum.

You can read the article at Contra Costa Times.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Clean Money System In California!


Hardly a day goes by without an article in the news about “contributions” of millions of dollars flowing into campaign coffers or out-of-state fundraisers provided by major corporate contributors with an interest in legislation or thoughtful public policy.

The time, energy and money spent in fundraising shifts the focus of government from working on solutions for everyday people to focusing on solutions for special interests. It is because of this dysfunctional system that I have made campaign finance reform a top priority of my legislative agenda. This year, I introduced legislation to establish a “Clean Money” public financing system for all California elections. A Clean Money system, based on the successful Arizona model, would allow anybody to run for office without taking a single dime from special interests.

Clean Money is the only solution that eliminates the corrosive influence of money on public policy. It is the only solution to deal with sneak attack ads by independent expenditure committees. It is the only solution that will make legislators beholden only to the people that elected

The LA Times editorialized in favor the Clean Money system in California. Here is the link,0,3701374.story?coll=la-news-comment-editorials

You can also see a copy of my legislation at

Monday, October 24, 2005

Governor, Recall the National Guard!


Here is a local article on a press conference held with Cindy Sheehan, myself, Assemblyman Mark Leno, Gold Star Families for Peace and Code PINK. We have joined together in a growing Coalition to support Assembly Joint Resolution 36. I introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 36 to request the Governor to recall the California National Guard from Iraq. Once home, they can act and function in the manner they were originally designed for, namely, domestic security and serving in relief efforts during national emergencies. Please read the following article about this important resolution.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"Bay Plan Connects the Dots..."

Another great article about our Bay Trail Bill by Herbert Sample of the Sacramento Bee...

Bay plan connects the dots for paddlers
Trail: Plan could eventually include adding launch points
BERKELEY - With an eye on education, environmentalism and a little bit of commerce, efforts have begun to link several dozen locations along San Francisco Bay's shoreline where kayakers, canoeists and human-powered watercraft enthusiasts can launch into the bay.
A measure recently passed by legislators and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger kick-started the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail. Much as bicyclists can find their way around the region via the San Francisco Bay Trail, the water trail will eventually provide nonmotorized watercraft users with information on where to enter or leave the bay, as well as improvements to those sites.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Great Article About Great Community Activism

This article in the Berkeley Daily Planet is a great piece on local level community involvement... go skaters!
Skate Park Wins Lease Agreement
By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor

The Caltrans sign at the end of the back road out of the Best Buy electronics store parking lot in Emeryville gives an odd command: Left Turn Only. The odd part is that the sign sits in front of a two-way street, Hollis Street, where a right turn appears permissible.

To the left of the Caltrans “Left Turn Only” sign is the East Bay Bridge Shopping Center and the gleaming condominiums and auto-packed streets that mark the entrance to Emeryville. To the right of the “Left Turn Only” sign is Oakland.

The Oakland side is a community so much in transition it cannot be easily characterized.

The neighborhood is evenly divided between small, well-painted, older Victorian houses where old black women still put out neat flower gardens—blocks that once housed Oakland’s thriving middle class African-American community—and gritty, dirty industrial buildings. A demolition contractor’s headquarters sits on one corner. A recycling center—featuring cash for aluminum cans—sits on another.

Two churches—one a solid-built Baptist, the other a ramshackle put-up—sit a couple of doors down from the combination liquor store and check-cashing establishment. In front of the store, two black men sit on a concrete wall, drinking beer from cans barely hidden inside paper bags. Around the corner are two tiny, triangle-shaped parks where the homeless sleep and addicts come at night to shoot or snort their dope.

Intermixed with all of this is the sign of the North Oakland-West Oakland coming gentrification: condominiums, newly painted, with “For Sale” signs on their fences. One of the rows of two-story condominiums shows the schizophrenia of the area: they are made of corrugated tin, purposely constructed to look like the side of an industrial building.

This is Bordertown, the center of all the conflicting social and economic and racial trends blowing across the northwest section of Oakland where it intersects with Emeryville. In the middle, in the shadows under that part of the freeway where I80 splits east and west, Sacramento and San Francisco, sits the Bordertown skatepark.

Earlier this year, Bordertown was a rogue squatters development on vacant Caltrans land where local skateboarders had built themselves an acre-wide skate park, complete with concrete ramps and metal framework. Last July, Caltrans officials discovered the illegal park while preparing plans for construction of a new freeway on-ramp, fenced off the property, and announced they were demolishing the park. But Bordertown quickly became a political issue after the skateboarders took their story to the local media, and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente—both with tough election campaigns next year—jumped in to save it. Also intervening in negotiations with Caltrans were U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, State Senator Don Perata (D-Oakland), and State Assemblymembers Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) and Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley)....

Read the rest of the article in the Berkeley Daily Planet by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Break out the kayak!

Good article about legislation helping create a new & beautiful way to see the bay.
Bill will boost access to the Bay for boaters
By Denis Cuff of the Contra Costa Times
California is blazing a new path to recreation on San Francisco Bay.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that will create the San Francisco Bay water trail, a network of launching, landing and camping spots for kayakers, canoers and others in small, nonmotorized boats.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here Contra Costa Times

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Governor, Recall the National Guard!


The national disaster of Hurricane Katrina cannot be measured. The lack of a response by the federal government compounded the problem risking the lives of thousands of Americans. This is unacceptable! In addition, the relief effort required necessitates substantial public infrastructure investment to levees, ports, roads and the rebuilding of homes. This effort requires all the resources at the federal and state government's disposal. To this end, I introduced an Assembly Resolution to request the Governor to recall the California National Guard from Iraq. Once home, they can act and function in the manner they were originally designed for, namely, domestic security and serving in relief efforts during national emergencies. Please read the following article about this important resolution.

Friday, September 09, 2005

With your help... we will keep winning!

The fight isn't over... This article is from the San Francisco Chronicle...
Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, asked state Attorney General Bill Lockyer on Monday to investigate the new video bingo machines at Casino San Pablo, charging that they were nearly identical to slot machines.

Hancock, whose district includes Casino San Pablo, said the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians had taken advantage of a loophole in state law when it added 500 video bingo machines in August.

"Technology has blurred the lines between traditional slot machines and bingo," she said Monday. "These electronic bingo machines are exactly like slot machines, and therefore I'm asking the attorney general to investigate it. If we don't do something, we're totally vulnerable to casinos' taking advantage of this loophole."

Bingo and card games are legal across California, and, with state permission, Indian tribes may install slot machines on federally recognized sovereign land.

California's Legislature last year rejected the Lytton Band's plan to install 5,000 slot machines at Casino San Pablo, based on its location in an urban area.

"Bingo is supposed to be a communal game. But with these, who do you play against? I don't know, and the player doesn't know either," said Hancock aide Armando Viramontes. "The whole experience -- the spinning reels, bars and cherries, lights and sounds -- is like a slot machine. Not bingo."

View the rest of the article here: San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, September 02, 2005

Investors, Lawyers, Lobbyists... oh my!

Here is a great article in Gambling Magazine that shows the slow evolutionary process of how investors, lawyers, and lobbyists use their collective influence to build casinos.  This is what we have witnessed in the Bay Area, in California and throughout the nation. It is because of these abuses of federal law, that has prompted investigative hearings in Congress and legislation by Senator Diane Feinstein and Richard Pombo. Read the article by clicking here.

Monday, August 29, 2005

More on Campaign Finance Reform...

Here is a great article that expresses the need for real campaign finance reform. Public financing of elections or what is commonly referred to as the "Clean Money" system is the only reform that will deal with the impact that special interest money has in campaigns. Please read this inspiring article, and join me in creating real reform.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"Clean Money" Real Campaign Finance Reform

Not a day goes by that you don't read an article in the news about “gift giving” by special interests, millions of dollars flowing into campaign coffers or out-of-state fundraisers provided by major corporate contributors with an interest in legislation. The time, energy and money spent in fundraising shifts the focus of our representative democracy from working on solutions for everyday people to focusing on solutions for special interests. It is because of this dysfunctional system that I have made campaign finance reform a top priority on my legislative agenda. This year, I introduced legislation to establish a “Clean Money” public financing system for our elections. A Clean Money system, based on a successful Arizona model, would allow anybody to run for office without taking a single dime from special interests.

Clean Money is the only solution that eliminates the corrosive influence that money has on cogent public policy. It is the only solution to deal with sneak attack ads by independent expenditure committees. It is the only solution that will make legislators beholden to the people that elected

Join our growing Coalition of Clean Money supporters in California! Here is sample list of our growing supporters:

* California Clean Money Campaign

* Common Cause

* League of Woman Voters

* National Organization of Woman

* Grey Panthers

You can see a copy of my legislation at

Friday, August 19, 2005

Our Efforts Are Being Heard!

Our efforts in the Bay Area to curb the rampant abuses seen in urban casinos are being heard around the nation and across our state. This article from LA's City Beat details how effective our efforts have been and what they are similarly facing in Southern California. A great read. But the moral of the story is simple: we must not let up.
Indian gaming interests are working to create gambling sites in urban areas far from any reservation

To critics of urban gambling, this was almost the attack of the killer casino: a roughly 65,000 square-foot, four-story gambling venue to be located in the congested middle class Bay Area community of San Pablo, directly off the heavily traveled Interstate 80, and down the block from Doctors Hospital, where emergency vehicles already have trouble plowing through traffic. But when the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians rolled out its 500 bingo machines in an expanded San Pablo card club on August 1, it was a far cry from the gambling Mecca of the west, and the 5,000 Vegas-style slots originally negotiated with the governor.

But the San Pablo Casino opening was not entirely without fanfare. It came just days after U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s bill to halt the casino hit the senate floor. It fueled a growing national debate about “reservation shopping” – the process by which tribes can acquire off-reservation gambling sites, sometimes in heavily populated urban areas.

Read the rest of the article from LA City Beat.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

This is Happening Everywhere!

It is not just in our neighborhood, or even in California that we are experiencing this uncontrolled casino growth. It is happening everywhere. This opinion piece in The Advocate details the continuous problem.
Vitter pushes casino curbs

The law of unintended consequences never was demonstrated more vividly than when the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988. Then, gambling on Indian reservations was a tiny industry based mostly on bingo.

It is a behemoth today.

At about $18 billion a year, with 400 casinos in 30 states, the tribal casinos are not only ubiquitous. They are also a considerable political force, having contributed very heavily to campaigns for Congress.

Read the rest of the story by Clicking Here.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Study Reinforces Concerns About Casino Expansion

This is a great article from today's edition of the Berkeley Daily Planet.
Expansion of Casino San Pablo Could Pose Major Problems, Study Charges

Should Casino San Pablo eventually win approval to expand to a full-scale casino with 2,200 regulation slot machines, the result would cost Contra Costa County medical services a minimum of $3.6 million annually, according to a study released Monday.

The report comes on the day that the casino opened for play with 500 electronic bingo game machines, an interim measure installed after the Lytton Band of Pomos shelved an application to install 2,500 regulation slot machines at the site.

That proposals could be reactivated at any time. The county commissioned the study earlier this year when the larger casino proposal was still pending before the state legislature.

Doug Elmets, the Sacramento-based publicist for the tribe, ridiculed the study.

“Government, academic and industry studies have repeatedly refuted tired and inaccurate studies like this that are always trotted out when casino proposals are made,” he said. “This is just one more ‘the sky is falling’ scam. It isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. There aren’t 2,200 slots. There are 500 electronic bingo games.”

Bad location

“We are very concerned about the public health impacts of an urban casino,” said county Public Health Director Wendel Brunner in a prepared statement. “This is especially troublesome because the negative impacts would be concentrated in San Pablo, Richmond and North Richmond, communities that already have severe community health problems.”

Read the rest of the article by Clicking Here.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Protestors Gather Outside Casino San Pablo!!

This is how it is done! One way or another they are going to get the message that we do not want casino expansion on any front.
(KCBS) SAN PABLO A coalition of groups opposed to the Indian run casino in San Pablo held a protest Saturday outside the urban casino complaining the new outlet for gambling is not a positive development for the community.

"This is all based on greed," said one of the protestors. According to KCBS reporter Henry Mulak a few dozen people gathered down the road from the casino to hear speakers and march in protest over the casino expansion.

In particular the group is opposed to the addition of 500 video bingo machines which critics say are really just slot machines.

Read the rest of the story by clicking here.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bingo Games "Confusing" and "Addictive"

Here is a great education as to why Video Bingo has the same impact on the community as the highly regulated slot machines they are intended to replace. Read the article below and pay close attention to the responses of some of the patrons who spent good money, while not even really understanding the machines. Because, in one man's words it's "kind of addictive."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Gambling Opponents (that's us!) Criticize Electric Bingo

This article from the Associated Press appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on Monday. As you can see we are NOT going to let them sneak anything through this loophole. Gambling machines are gambling machines, no matter how they are built, maintained, operated or provide revenue to their owners. We need to continue to make our voice heard until they remove these machines.
SAN PABLO, Calif. - Electronic bingo machines may be popular with gamblers, but they've raised the ire of critics who claim they are slot machines in disguise.

The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians on Monday began offering 500 electronic bingo machines, the first in the state, at its Casino San Pablo. The tribe was previously rebuffed in its efforts to turn its cardroom into a Las Vegas-style casino, and the machines are seen by many as a way to entice more gamblers.

"They're still one-armed bandits. They're still raking in dough at players' expense. There's no difference," said Dean Marshall, a nine-year San Pablo resident and co-chair of the East Bay Coalition Against Urban Casinos.

Critics say the video terminals look, sound and act like slot machines. They say they'll also lead to the same problems: crime, traffic, and addictive gambling.

"Technology has created a loophole big enough to drive a truck through in that these electronic bingo machines really are slot machines, and they are totally unregulated," said Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley.

But Casino San Pablo spokesman Doug Elmets said electronic bingo and slot machines are "inherently different."

Elmets said video bingo players play against each other and not the house, though the house takes a cut. The bingo machines also "operate more slowly and generate substantially less revenue" than slot machines, he said.

The Lytton initially proposed building a casino with as many as 5,000 slot machines on the site of its cardroom near Interstate 80. The tribe couldn't rally enough support for a casino in the state legislature.

Monday, August 01, 2005



You may have heard the Lytton tribe plans to put in electronic "bingo" machines at Casino San Pablo.  These machines look, act and feel like slot machines. Many of my constituents have expressed to me their opposition to the casinos expansion. Unfortunately this is another attempt by the proponents of the casino to expand against the objections of the local community. Federal law allows for unlimited and unregulated "bingo" machines. Therefore, it is vital that we support Senator Feinstein's Senate Bill 113. This bill would require the Lytton tribe to go through the standard public process that every other tribe has gone through to open a casino.

This article in the San Francisco Chronicle tells the story:

Friday, July 29, 2005

Casino expansion has additional health risks.


Today Contra Costa County released a study that shows the substantial health risks associated with the expanded casino at Casino San Pablo.These health risks include increases in gambling addiction and the impact of second hand smoke. Here are quotes from two of our local County Supervisors on this issue:

“The bottom line is that this proposal has not demonstrated that it is good for the local community,” says Supervisor Gayle B. Uilkema, whose district includes the impacted communities. Pointing to a recent policy approved by the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor John Gioia says, “No matter what dollar amount is suggested, the negative affects from casinos would conflict with our Environmental Justice Policy. We don’t want to do anything to increase the environmental burden that low-income communities already face. This would be a step in the wrong direction.”

The study on health impact of Casino San Pablo can be found at

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bi-partisan Bay Bridge Solution


Here is a succinct overview of the Bay Bridge legislation by a local columnist Lisa Vorderbrueggen. Read on and let me know... "How do you feel about the Bay Bridge Deal"?

Click here to read the article.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Sorry for the absence...


The blog has been down for the last two weeks and we apologize for the delay . We  are now back on track! 

Friday, July 08, 2005

Bay Bridge Deal


As you may know I am carrying the Bay Bridge Bill. Here is a great article on where the process currently stands and what obstacles stand in the way.

Click here to read the article in the Contra Costa Times.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Breaking NEWS!!!

Senator Dianne Fienstein's legislation on Casino San Pablo passed the Senate Indian affairs Committee today! With a 10-3 bipartisan vote this legislation would require the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians to go through the standard BIA process before opening a casino at Casino San Pablo. More updates to come on this breaking news!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

It's Time to Come Together as a Community...

The City of Richmond has been suffering from a cycle of chronic systematic violence. In order to survive, we must come together as a community and support the families who have lost loved ones. Additionally, we must begin to work constructively and develop a regional crime prevention plan that will stop this cycle of violence. Crime prevention programs including seamless technology sharing among law enforcement are vital in addressing this problem.

But as a community, to achieve healing, we must set aside our differences and, working together, we can stop this senseless violence.

Please read this article in the Contra Costa Times

Monday, June 20, 2005

Bay Area message gets through to urban gambling

From the Oakland Tribune...

THE Koi Nation will have to go shopping elsewhere for a "reservation" on which to build an urban casino.

The Oakland City Council and an unhappy public have sent the tribe packing with its plans to build a 2,000-slot casino near the Oakland International Airport.

Even the tribe's offer to pay the city $30 million a year for 20 years wasn't enough incentive to get the city's support.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Special Interest Spends Millions and the People Lose.


On Monday night, the Governor called a special election in November. As a result, political observers have estimated close to two hundred million dollars will be spent by “special interests” to promote or defeat the proposed ballot initiatives. The Governor will undoubtedly use his pulpit and his ability to continue raising millions of dollars from the business and corporate interests that support his agenda. On the other side, grass roots organizations and labor groups whose members include nurses, teachers and firefighters will be raising millions of dollars to combat these initiatives. Unfortunately, in the midst of this special interest arms race, the people lose. 

Unfortunately, not one of the Governor’s proposed ballot measures will bring real reform to California. In fact, only one of as many as ten ballot measures even attempts to address the elections system – the proposal to have redistricting conducted by retired judges. But even the redistricting proposal will not touch the issue of “special interest” money that the governor claimed he came to Sacramento to “sweep away. 

Until we have a serious discussion about publicly financing elections we will continue to see abuses by the Governor and special interests in our Initiative and legislative process. I oppose this special election because it special interest driven....

Read more about it here.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Koi Nation Deal Highlights Needs for Prop 1A Reform


Last Week the Koi Nation agreed to withdraw their proposal for a casino at the Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland. I applaud their response to community opposition to the casino. The casino proposal at Oakland is yet another attempt by Las Vegas developers to put casinos in California urban areas. These projects are often put forward over the objections of the local community and represent how Prop 1A needs reform to clarify that urban casinos were never intended when Prop 1A was passed by the the voters.

Read more about it in the Oakland Tribune.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Breaking News!!!


Today Legacy Partners announced it will withdraw its proposal to build a massive 200,000 square foot casino with the Koi Nation at Oakland International Airport. We applaud Legacy Partners and the Koi Nation's response to the overwhelming opposition in the community to the casino at Arrowhead Marsh. Thanks to grass-roots organizing by concerned citizens, advocates in the environmental community, the faith-based community and strong opposition spearheaded by Jean Quan of the Oakland City Council, we have strongly and successfully opposed the construction of one more controversial casino with long-term detrimental and negative impacts on the Bay Area.

Read more about the breaking news here!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Actions of GOP Operatives Illuminates Needs for Reforms

This is an article that reports on the scandal of two key GOP operatives pressuring tribes for money and campaign contributions in exchange for political favors. Read on about how this scandal has prompted hearings in Washington DC and further illuminate the need for greater transparency with respect to tribal gambling operations and necessitate a serious look at real and substantial campaign finance reform through publicly financing campaigns.

Read the article by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Congress is working to resolve the issue...

Congress is working diligently to resolve the issue of off-reservation casinos. They are currently seeking legislation that will address the very important issues and concerns we have brought to their attention.
Pombo's bill hearing draws debate on East Bay casinos

SACRAMENTO - The East Bay took center stage Monday in a brewing political debate over American Indian tribes pushing for casinos in prime gambling markets, and whether local communities should have the power to stop them.

Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, chairman of the House Resources Committee, drew a packed crowd near the state Capitol for a field hearing on his bill to change the 17-year-old federal law that laid the foundation for a vast expansion of Indian gaming.

The controversial draft bill would grant a local jurisdiction veto power over tribes seeking "off-reservation" land for gaming. It also would create two "Indian Economic Opportunity Zones" in each state, where tribes could cluster casinos.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Let the Hearings Begin...

Here is the agenda for Congressman Pombo's hearings on Off Reservation Gaming. We will continue working with the Committee in looking at these controversial issues and we will follow the Senator Feinstein's legislation (S 113) closely. Please continue to check this blog for updates. For a copy of S 113 please CLICK HERE.
California State Library
914 Capitol Mall, Room 500
Sacramento, CA
Monday, June 6th, 2005
12:00 p.m.


The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Resources will hold an oversight field hearing on “A discussion draft bill regarding Indian gaming and its need and effects in Northern California.”


Chairman David Beltran
Lower Lake Rancheria of Koi Nation

Supervisor Valerie Brown, Sonoma County
Northern California Counties Tribal Matters Consortium

Assemblymember Loni Hancock
14th Assembly District, State of California

Tribal Treasurer Leslie Lohse
Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians

Chairwoman Margie Mejia
Lytton Rancheria

Supervisor Mike McGowan, Yolo County
California State Association of Counties
Chairman, Indian Gaming Working Group

Chairman Wayne R. Mitchum
Cachil Dehe Band of Winton Indians (Colusa Indian Community)

Chairman Virgil Moorehead
Big Lagoon Rancheria

Pat O’Brien, General Manager
East Bay Regional Parks District

Cheryl Schmit, Director
Stand Up for California

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Urban Casino's Do Not Bring the Economic Prosperity Promised

This excerpt is from an article in the Chronicle by David Lazarus showing just how much San Pablo would benefit from a casino... not at all.
The Lytton Band's tribal chairwoman, Marjie Mejia, reiterated in testimony before state lawmakers in January that the casino will create jobs and bring prosperity to the area.

"As people who understand what it is to be poor, we are committed to providing our fair share to the people of the East Bay and California," she said.

But Bill Thompson, a professor of public administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sees things differently.

He's done extensive work on the economic impact of urban casinos, including a recent analysis of the proposed 2,500-slot-machine San Pablo complex. His study was commissioned by opponents of the project.

"For a casino to boost the local economy, it has to bring in money from other places, and that money needs to be spent outside the casino," Thompson told me.

"I don't see a deluge of outside dollars into the Bay Area by putting a casino in San Pablo. I see money being taken from other parts of the town. I see stores and restaurants closing.

"I don't see Las Vegas," Thompson said. "I see Atlantic City."

I know what he's talking about. I visited Atlantic City recently and saw for myself how the glittering mega-casinos looming over the boardwalk stand apart from the rest of the town.

Inside the casinos, I saw thousands of seniors and working-class people pumping coins into slots and gambling away money at green-felt card tables.

I saw restaurants, shops and entertainment with prices that were low enough to discourage visitors from ever going elsewhere.

Outside the casinos, I saw boarded-up storefronts and neighborhoods that had clearly seen better days, with none of the vitality of, say, Las Vegas' commercial and residential areas.

Read the rest of the Chronicle article by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

They just can't take a hint...


The casino proposals are not gone. As this article by John Simerman of the Contra Costa Times shows, we are winning, but the battle has just begun. I will continue to keep you informed of the ongoing hearings and issues as they develop.
Long odds for casinos in East Bay

Scotts Valley, the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians and Lower Lake Rancheria-Koi Nation face long odds for casino rights in North Richmond, Richmond and Oakland -- even if the local communities warm to the idea.

"What people don't understand is how difficult this really is," said Michael Derry, who heads the Guidiville band's economic development company. "Not everybody's going to make it."

Most likely none of them will, said George Forman, an attorney for several California tribes.

"A 50 to 1 shot just won the Kentucky Derby. I don't have a way of putting a number on it," said Forman, "except to say that what is being asked hasn't really been done before."

The tribes' chances didn't improve any last week, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fired a warning shot at a raft of urban casino proposals in California.

The governor formally pledged to oppose all of them -- except for two tribes that already have federal rights to gaming land.

One of the two is the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, which has a deal with Schwarzenegger for a casino with as many as 2,500 slots in San Pablo, but no approval from the Legislature. The other, Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria, hopes to build a casino near Rohnert Park in Sonoma County.

Read the full article by clicking here.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Study: Tribal bingo no better than slots

This article by Josh Richman of the Oakland Tribune reinforces the need for a full moratorium on new casinos of any type.
After two months of relative silence, the war over Casino San Pablo revved up again Wednesday as foes claimed the Bay Area should worry just as much about electronic bingo gaming as it did about true slot machines.

Bingo machines the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians could install in the Casino San Pablo card room are almost indistinguishable from slot machines, with spinning reels, flashing lights and multiple play lines, according to a study commissioned by local card room owners....

...Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, an opponent of the proposed Lytton compact, said [the] study underscores the need for a moratorium on new Indian casinos — as suggested in a pending constitutional amendment authored by Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-San Rafael — while California and the federal government re-examine their policies and laws.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Here's to the Power of the People - The Power of You!


C.W. Nevius of the San Francisco Chronicle writes:
Casino train off tracks in East Bay

A funny thing happened on the way to turning the East Bay into a mini-Las Vegas.

A civics lesson broke out. And the result is that the power of the people seems to have prevailed over some of the wealthiest and most influential interests in the state.

Late last year, the Indian casino bulldozer seemed unstoppable. Back in 2000, California voters overwhelmingly (64 percent to 36 percent) approved Proposition 1A, which allowed casino gambling "on tribal lands.'' It sounded like a nice idea. As supporters of the measure put it, this would "preserve the only option most tribes have to get off welfare.''

And that's when everything went off the rails. Suddenly, "tribal lands'' turned out to mean almost anywhere an Indian tribe could declare itself grounded. Berkeley Assemblywoman Loni Hancock said in testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians' claim toCA was "50 miles from ... the traditional ancestral territory of their tribe. ''

That was just the start of it. Plans for Indian casinos popped up everywhere. Hancock calculated that there were five proposed casinos "within a 15-mile radius'' -- from Vallejo to Oakland.

"All of a sudden,'' Hancock said by phone this week, "it looked like the East Bay was going to be casino central.''

Read the rest of the article by clicking here

Friday, May 20, 2005

Governor draws the line....?

The Governor has made a glaring contradiction with his recent statement on urban gambling, taking a strong stance against casinos in urban areas and then exempting the largest, most controversial urban casino proposed in the state...Casino San Pablo.

From an editorial in the Chronicle:
Schwarzenegger draws the line

GOV. ARNOLD Schwarzenegger this week issued a clear proclamation of his opposition to the expansion of tribal casinos into urban areas.

His words would have been more convincing if they were accompanied by a withdrawal of his longstanding support for one of the most egregious examples of "reservation shopping" -- a plan by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians to put a 2,500-slot casino in San Pablo.

Read the rest of this great editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle bly clicking here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Richmond leaders have agreed to support our request!

It is very important to me that a site as contaminated as this one is properly handled with all the resources and expertise the state can provide. I am very proud that my colleagues in the Richmond City Council and the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors are supporting my request.

From the Contra Costa Times...
Critics of the cleanup at the former Stauffer Chemical plant in Richmond are cheering a state decision to place full authority for the project with the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The department, whose mission it is to regulate hazardous waste, oversee cleanups and prevent pollution, will assume the role of lead agency for the Stauffer/Zeneca site, and the UC Richmond Field Station, CalEPA Secretary Alan Lloyd said in a prepared statement Monday.

The Richmond City Council and the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors had each voted to support a request by Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, to give the toxics department ultimate oversight for the project.

Read the rest of the article here...

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Result of Community Organizing & Community Action!


You have done well!

Hollister - The California Valley Miwok tribe and its investors from Game Won have announced they are ditching plans to build a resort/casino in San Benito County, ending one of the region’s most controversial development proposals.

Read more about our success here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Finally, Much Needed Reform Could be Just Around the Corner...


We all know of the need for reform and now it looks like, because of your help, reform may be forthcoming.

WASHINGTON -- The thirst for lucrative Indian casinos can taint the tribal recognition process, which is too slow and costly, state and federal officials told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee Wednesday.
And the panel's chairman, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., signaled a greater willingness to tackle reform of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' recognition process.

Please read the rest of the article on

Monday, May 09, 2005

Lafayette City Council Meeting -- PLEASE ATTEND.


Tonight the Lafayette City Council will debate a resolution to oppose the expansion of Casino San Pablo. I urge you to attend this meeting and express your views on this controversial project. The meeting with be held at

Lafayette City Council, 7 p.m., Manzanita Room, Lafayette Community Center, 500 St. Mary's Road. Consider resolution opposing the expansion of Casino San Pablo.

Thank you. We will be closely following this Casino project and you continue to give you updates.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Forum Tonight on Problems at Alta Bates Medical Center

If there any questions about location or if you are interested in attending the forum call Terri Waller at 510-559-1406

OAKLAND -- A public forum will be held tonight on accreditation problems at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, one of the East Bay's largest hospitals.

Inspectors from the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which certifies that hospitals meet a broad range of standards, issued a preliminary denial of accreditation to Alta Bates in February.

Read more about it in the Chronicle.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

RAW DEAL: Measuring The Toll Of Connecticut's Casinos

This is an interesting commentary by Jeff Benedict on the country's two largest casinos.

$400 million. That's about how much Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun paid the state last year in slot machine revenue. It's the result of a deal struck in 1993. In exchange for the right to operate slot machines, the Mashantucket Pequot tribe offered the state 25 percent of the slot revenue from Foxwoods. In 1996, Mohegan Sun opened under the same arrangement.

The casinos have not stopped adding slot machines since. Payments to the state have gone up for 10 straight years, making legislators increasingly dependent on the slot revenue to balance the state budget. Today, the two casinos have 13,732 slot machines between them - nearly 5,000 more than five years ago.

Legislators and most taxpayers probably see this as a painless way to raise revenue: All the money comes from people who choose to play. But 12 years into the deal, the state doesn't really know what social cost it's paying.

Read the rest of the commentary at by clicking here...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

BREAKING NEWS! - McCain is Moving Forward to Block the San Pablo Casino...

WASHINGTON — John McCain, chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, indicated support Wednesday for committee passage of a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein that would block an Indian tribe from building a Nevada-style casino in San Pablo.

McCain, R-Ariz., said he would poll fellow committee members on their views on the legislation, and if a majority wanted a committee vote he would schedule one.

But he added his own preference would be to move the bill out of his committee and get it a vote in the full Senate.

"I'd just as soon move it forward and let the full Senate decide on an issue such as this," McCain said

Read the rest of the story...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Let’s encourage woman to run for elected office!

From a Contra Costa Times article:

"It's a matter of real concern to think about the possible loss of 16 women next year," said Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, who will term out in 2008. "We already know there tends to be fewer women as you go up the political ladder and without the experience, confidence and contacts you gain at the state level, there will be even fewer women to run."

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

California's Attorney General is Taking a Stand Against Unwarranted Casino Development

It looks like our Attorney General has joined in our fight to ensure that the widespread destructive effects of rapid casino development comes to a halt. We applaud the action.
It is precisely this kind short-cutting, rule-ignoring methodology that created the San Pablo problem. We won that battle, but there are more to fight. Thank you for your help!

In a rare move, the state Attorney General's Office has joined two East Bay groups in suing Richmond, which they say flouted state law in selling Point Molate to a casino developer without first conducting an environmental review.

Citizens for East Shore Parks, which had lobbied the state office for its support, cheered the news.

"They clearly saw this as an instance where the process was flawed," said chairman Robert Cheasty.

"It's a rare event when an attorney general intervenes in an existing lawsuit to confirm the position of petitioners," said Stephan Volker, lawyer for the citizens group. "It does assure we won't run out of legal fire power."

The other group suing is the East Bay Regional Park District.

Read the rest of the article here...

Friday, April 22, 2005

East Bay cities, agencies unite to oppose casino plan

Tribe wants to build 230,000-square-foot facility near airport

An article by Jim Herron Zamora, Chronicle Staff Writer
Several East Bay jurisdictions announced Thursday that they would present a unified front in their legal and political fight to prevent a proposed Indian casino near the Oakland International Airport.
The five public agencies -- Oakland, San Leandro, the East Bay Regional Park District and both the city and county of Alameda -- signed an agreement that allows them to pool resources and develop a joint legal strategy to fight a proposal by the Lower Lake Rancheria-Koi Nation on a 35-acre site adjacent to the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park.
"Individually, many of us have been working to stop the casino from being imposed upon our city," said Oakland City Attorney John Russo, who attended a news conference along with elected representatives from each agency. "However, there is often a limit to what an individual can do. Collectively, we have a lot more power."
The Koi Nation, a band of Pomo Indians based in Santa Rosa, announced plans in October for a 230,000-square-foot hotel and casino. Unlike similar urban casinos proposed in Richmond and San Pablo, there is no local jurisdiction supporting the Koi Nation's plan. The decision on the casino will ultimately be made by the federal government.
Koi Nation Chairman Daniel Beltran said in a statement that the public officials who agreed to oppose the casino plan do not have a "clear understanding of the many benefits that Indian gaming has brought to many communities throughout California."
The tribe also offered Oakland an annual payment of $30 million a year that was spurned by the City Council in January.
"Oakland is not for sale," said Council President Ignacio De La Fuente. "The reality is that the benefits do not outweigh the problems." Both Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson and San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young emphasized that traffic and crime from the proposed casino would spill into their cities without any accompanying benefit. "It's a regional problem," Johnson said.
The opponents held their news conference with a vista of nearby Arrowhead Marsh as a backdrop. In addition to the reasons many people oppose urban casinos, Koi Nation's site is bordered on three sides by the marsh -- a wildlife refuge that is a nesting ground for several endangered bird species, including the California clapper rail and brown pelican.
"We're standing on an international highway" for birds, said Doug Siden, who represents the surrounding area on the East Bay Regional Park Board. "This is an urban oasis."
Arrowhead Marsh, which was once an unused industrial space and illegal dumping ground, was gradually transformed and restored over the past 15 years through the efforts of hundred of students and other volunteers as well as public and private grants. The marsh serves as an environmental education center for students from all over the East Bay.
Park Supervisor Joan Suzio said that the proposed casino would "totally dominate the entrance to the park."
"I'm not sure parents would want to send their kids here with a casino so close," she said.
Russo said his office intended to challenge the process by which the Bureau of Indian Affairs approves the land for trust and warned that a drawn-out legal battle to stop the casino could cost millions.
"This alliance is a smart use of taxpayer dollars," said Russo. "Only by cooperating and sharing resources will we be able to defeat this casino."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sweep out the special interests!

Here is a great article on AB 583 the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act of 2005. This bill would provide clear and innovative alternative to the special interest driven system in Sacramento. We can no longer afford to not to look at the corrosive influence the amounts of special interest money has on public policy. Even more so the perception of influence by campaign contributors erodes the trust in our government and our democratic process. The only solution is to publicly finance elections. Ultimately, if we want government for the people campaigns have to be paid by the people.

Read about it in the Sacramento Bee

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Explosion of gambling has come at a high cost

Published in the SF Chronicle on Sunday, April 17, 2005. Written by Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va) who is the author of the legislation creating the National Gambling Impact Study Commission.
Only 30 years ago, gambling was illegal in most states and was generally considered to be a vice contrary to the American work ethic. Serious gamblers had to travel to Nevada to visit a casino and the states had not yet plunged into lottery mania.
Today, more than 800 casinos operate in 28 states. The lottery is played in 37 states, plus the District of Columbia, and all but two states -- Hawaii and Utah -- have legalized some form of gambling. Gambling expansion has swept the nation, with revenues jumping from about $1 billion in 1980 to well over $70 billion today, according the National Council on Problem Gambling. That means Americans lose on average more than $191 million every day of the year from gambling.
What has the spread of gambling meant for this country? According to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, some 15.4 million Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling. The National Academies of Science found that pathological gamblers engage in destructive behaviors: They commit crimes; run up large debts; damage relationships with family and friends; and commit suicide.
Youths introduced to gambling are particularly at high risk, and the percentages of young people who are pathological and problem gamblers are double the adult rates. The earlier children start to gamble, the more likely they are to develop a gambling problem. More than 70 percent of kids between ages 10 and 17 have gambled -- on bingo, lotto tickets or poker with friends -- in the past year, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. That's up from 45 percent in 1988.
The National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which I pushed Congress to establish, estimated that direct gambling costs (bankruptcy, drain on social services, etc.) borne by the government are about $5 billion per year. That does not count the indirect costs of compulsive gamblers, such as divorce and the breakup of families. Then add the human-misery quotient derived from the explosion of various forms of gambling across America, and you get a vicious cycle as the need for social services dramatically increases.
Small businesses are also losers as consumer spending shifts away from goods and services. The political process also can be tainted. The National Gambling Commission concluded that local and state governments tend to become "dependent" partners with the gambling industry, relying on its vast funds and influenced by campaign contributions and program support. In state after state, the gambling industry bankrolls local politicians from both parties in hopes of advancing its interests, leaving opponents out-financed, out-gunned and out- manned.
Gambling often leads to corruption. The Washington Post last month reported that less than six months from the date Pennsylvania legalized the expansion of slot-machine gambling, the mayor of Erie was charged with criminal conspiracy, conflict of interest and other corruption-related counts for allegedly trying to enrich himself through a land deal at a proposed gambling site.
The fact that gambling has not spread further is a tribute to the tireless efforts of a few grassroots activists. These citizen advocacy efforts -- regularly outspent -- have held the levy against further encroachment by the gambling industry into every community in America.
But over the last decade, the gambling industry has often played another card. Instead of going through the normal legislative channels, it has enlisted our nation's Native Americans, who, because of their sovereignty, can operate casinos on their land. Indian casinos are the fastest growing form of gambling today.
Our federal policy toward Native Americans is troubling. While a few tribes have become enriched, nearly 80 percent of all Native Americans receive nothing from gambling. The vast majority of Native Americans live in areas where casinos are simply not viable. What kind of federal policy rewards a few people living in population centers while the rest languish? One casino in Calaveras County actually has only one adult member of the tribe. Thousands of Native Americans live in the Great Plain states and receive nothing.
Defenders of Indian gambling never seem to talk about this disparity. It is time to face the evidence that gambling is bad for families, bad for business and bad for communities. More important, it is time for America's leaders to step forward and seriously address the proliferation of gambling, as laid out in the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Hancock Waste Site Bill Set for Assembly Hearing

An article by Richard Brenneman

At least two East Bay residents will testify later this month on two bills that would transform regulation of toxic waste sites.
Inspired by ongoing events at Campus Bay, a hazardous waste site in Richmond proposed as the grounds for a 1,330-unit housing development, the measures were written by Assemblymember Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley-Richmond.
The measures, designated Assembly Bills 1360 and 1546, go before the Assembly’s Committee of Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials on April 23.
Sherry Padgett, an outspoken critic of events at Campus Bay and the adjacent UC Berkeley Richmond Field Station, said she has been invited to testify, along with Contra Costa County Public Health Director Wendel Brunner.
Brunner has expressed concerns about the way demolitions were handled on the site under the aegis of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and plans to build housing atop 350,000 cubic yards of buried industrial waste at Campus Bay.
A hearing on the site conducted by Hancock and Assembly Rules Committee Chair Cindy Montanez last year ended with the water board surrendering jurisdiction over most of the site to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The handover came after the water board’s top official acknowledged his agency didn’t have a toxicologist on its staff. DTSC is a statewide agency well-staffed with toxicologists and other experts.
“I am trying to end the practice of agency-shopping,” Hancock said.

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Mural Depicting Peace Unveiled In Richmond

(ABC 7) --In Richmond on Sunday afternoon, a new mural promoting peace and an end to gun violence was unveiled.
The mural is the second one placed on the walls outside the Nevin Community Center in the heart of Richmond's so-called Iron Triangle. That's an area often plagued by gun violence.
The mural depicts an end to that violence and the impact the change would have on the community.
Teenagers from the area worked with a professional artist to create the mural.

Diversity is our strength...

We need no other weapon to succeed.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

People speaking out against Urban Gambling!

Support fight to end Casino chaos in area

It's a tragedy that there are officials who believe gambling is the "holy grail" for solving the economic woes of their communities.
Generating tax revenues by preying on the pockets of their citizenry through gambling is truly a form of legal extortion. Too bad these officials are "running on empty" in the creativity department.
What does it say about our society when training future card dealers is applauded as a noble effort toward reducing unemployment? Is that the best we can come up with?
The reality is, urban casinos are nothing more than a big box of false promises and chaotic problems; open it at your own risk. Don't be deceived by this "wolf in sheep's clothing." Support Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Assemblywoman Loni Hancock in their efforts to restore order out of chaos.
Say no to urban casinos and make a stand for your community.

Dean Marshall
San Pablo

Well said Dean.
See Dean's actual letter here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

An Article From the Berkeley Daily Planet

Contra Costa County, Orinda Say No to Urban Casinos; Senate May Act
By Richard Brenneman

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Contra Costa County and the City of Orinda joined the ranks of East Bay casino foes last week, while a Washington D.C. hearing targeted Casino San Pablo.
Meeting in Martinez on Tuesday, Contra Costa Supervisors voted 4-0 to oppose new or expanded casinos anywhere in the county. The Orinda City Council voted their own opposition that evening, joining the Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, El Cerrito and San Leandro city councils.
But the biggest action that day was in Washington, where East Bay Assemblymember Loni Hancock was one of the four witnesses to testify before Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and his fellow members of his Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
The Senate panel is considering legislation by Sen. Diane Feinstein of California that would strip the Lytton Rancheria of Pomos of the special status granted when they acquired the Casino San Pablo card room.
Rep. George Miller (D-East Bay) wrote special legislation that backdated the tribe’s acquisition of the card room, exempting it from the review required of other tribes with newly acquired land which must undergo extensive public review before gaming is approved.
“It was a fascinating experience,” said Hancock, an ardent opponent of urban gambling. “Senator McCain seemed very interested in the legislation.”
Marjorie Mejia, the Lytton tribal chair, defended her band’s right to gambling and the legitimacy of the Miller measure.
However, Mark Maccoro, a Native American who appeared in advertisements supporting Proposition 1A, an unsuccessful measure defeated by California voters last November, testified in support of Feinstein’s bill. Maccoro’s opposition was based on the unfair disadvantages faced by other tribes in comparison with the Lytton’s, Hancock said.
Joining Mejia in supporting Miller’s measure was San Pablo Councilmember Sharon Brow, who praised the tribe. Miller has stated that he never intended that his amendment would give rise to plans for the 5,000-slot-machine gaming operation jointly proposed by the tribe and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
That plan was later reduced to 2,500 machines when legislators and the public came down solidly against the original plan. Mejia later abandoned that plan too in the face of ongoing opposition. The tribe now plans to offer a 1,000 coin-operated bingo machines, which can be installed under the current law.
Sen. Feinstein told the panel that if her law is enacted, it “would simply return the Lytton tribe to the same status as all other tribes seeking to game on newly acquired lands.”

Friday, April 08, 2005

It is time for an investigation...

Friends, the bridge fiasco is heating up again. The potential risk to the safety of our citizens and the continuous claims of mis-management of such and important project are unacceptable. Therefore, I am calling the establishment of an investigative committee to investigate these claims. Read more about it in the Chronicle article quoted below.

THE PEOPLE AT Caltrans responsible for the multibillion-dollar Bay Bridge-rebuilding fiasco probably thought the news couldn't get any worse. Then, this week, it did.

Just as the cost of the bridge redesign project has shot up to a mind- numbing $6.2 billion, officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation now say they are looking into allegations that the span is riddled with defective welds, the result of shortcuts reportedly taken by one of the contractors.

Read the rest of the article...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

We're back....


We just returned from DC where we had the unique opportunity to testify on Casino San Pablo. What follows is one of the many articles that are resulting from these hearings.

San Francisco Chronicle

We will be posting additional articles in the days to come.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Contra Costa County shows a winning hand opposing urban casinos

Contra Costa County, led by Supervisors John Gioia and Gayle Ulkema will be joining other impacted municipalities in opposing urban gambling in the Bay Area. The County, like other communities, shares the same concerns about the impact urban casinos will have on congestion, crime, local businesses, not to mention the social impacts for the community at large.

Read all about these efforts...
San Francisco Chronicle

Contra Costa Times

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Urban areas are wrong place for tribal casinos

An Editorial in today's Torrance Daily Breeze...

Moves by Indian tribes to build gambling palaces in urban areas have rightly raised concern among legislators. Given the enormous profits that casinos can reap and the social ills that expanded gambling can bring, it's now up to lawmakers to put reasonable restrictions in place.
Los Angeles County must take the trend among tribes to "casino-shop" seriously. Copley News Service's Jim Sweeney has reported on the efforts of a Los Angeles resident to sell shares in an Indian casino that he claimed would be built in northern L.A. County. The man told potential investors he was seeking funds for a casino project for the Shasta Nation, a tribe based in Yreka. Shasta Nation denies involvement in the venture, and state regulators have ordered the man to desist.
The impacts of a tribal casino in the county would be decidedly negative: traffic, potential criminal activities, the need for more policing and more competition for existing gaming establishments such as card clubs and race tracks.
Legislative remedies, however, seem to be plentiful. Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, drafted a bill that would toughen restrictions on tribes that want to build casinos far away from their ancestral homelands. But the bill would allow exceptions for landless tribes.
A proposed state initiative called the "No Urban Casino Act" would simply ban tribal casinos within 15 miles of urban areas as defined by the 2000 census.
And a proposed constitutional amendment by Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-Santa Rosa, would allow the state's voters to put a moratorium on gaming compacts until 2008. In the interim, the state would carry out a wide-ranging review of California gaming, including issues such as public safety, environmental impacts, local government oversight and financial effects.
Whichever course lawmakers decide to take, they need to ensure that L.A. and other urban areas have the power to blunt efforts to place mini-Las Vegases within their borders. That's clearly not what most California residents envisioned when they voted to allow expanded reservation gambling.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Thanks to your help...

In our local Daily Cal...
Plans to expand an East Bay card room located less than 10 miles from UC Berkeley halted last week when the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians agreed not to install 2,500 slot machines at Casino San Pablo, after facing heat from state legislators.

The tribe’s plans to install slot machines and expand from 70,000 to 600,000 square feet will be abandoned. Instead, the tribe will install fewer than 1,000 gaming machines, including electronic bingo, for which they will not need state approval.

Read all about it...

Friday, March 25, 2005

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Hearing Scheduled on Lytton Gaming Plan

Friends, I would like to share this press release with you from Senator Feinstein. I have the honor of being asked to testify at the hearing.

San Francisco – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today announced that the Indian Affairs Committee, chaired by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), has agreed to hold a hearing April 5 on her legislation concerning the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians.

The bill would require the Lytton Band to undergo the same regulatory oversight process for gaming as any other tribe that acquired land after October 17, 1988 – the date the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was enacted.

The following is a statement from Senator Feinstein on the hearing and an announcement by the Lytton Band that it would shelve  plans for a Las Vegas-style casino on property in San Pablo:

“I am pleased that the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians has announced that they are shelving plans to open a massive urban casino in the Bay Area.  I think they saw the writing on the wall and backed down.  It is the right thing to do. It is clear to me that when Californians voted to approve Propositions 5 and 1A to allow Indian gaming on Indian lands,  it was not to support off-reservation casinos and ‘reservation shopping.’

I also want to commend members of the California Legislature, and particularly the efforts of Assembly Member Loni Hancock, for their refusal to support a compact that would have been a bad deal for everyone.

However, the Lytton Band has not abandoned pursuing a compact that would sidestep the normal federal regulatory process – and their letter to the Governor holds out hope for approval either by the current State Legislature or a future Legislature.

I remain strong in my belief that they should have to pursue the regular process for gaming on newly acquired lands like all other tribes. That is why I am pleased that Senator John McCain, chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee has agreed to hold a hearing on the bill on April 5.” 

“ I have serious concerns about the expansion of Nevada-style gaming – with its slot machines and in-house banking – into urban areas,” Senator Feinstein said.  “This legislation is designed to prevent the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians from short-circuiting the process laid out in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act for gaming on newly acquired lands.”

Last year, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger entered into a compact with the Lytton Tribe that authorized 5,000 slot machines in a 6-8 story casino in the city of San Pablo. The proposed facility would have been the largest casino outside of Connecticut, including those in Las Vegas. Alarmed by the size of the proposed project, the Legislature refused to take up and approve the compact, even after the Governor scaled back the proposal to include only 2,500 slot machines.

Senator Feinstein’s bill would strike a provision in the 2000 Indian Omnibus Advancement Act – inserted by Congressman George Miller (D-Calif.) – which allows the Lytton Tribe to sidestep gaming requirements in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The provision required the Secretary of Interior to backdate the acquisition of a card club property in San Pablo to October 17, 1988. 

If the legislation is approved, the Lytton tribe would be required to go through a two-part determination process that requires both the Secretary of Interior and a State’s Governor to sign off on plans to build a gaming facility. This process also provides for consultation with local communities and nearby tribes prior to its completion.

Please make sure and continue to share your thoughts and comments with me and my staff. We will be sure to let Congress know how you feel.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Casino backers fold on Las Vegas Casino!

Yes, my friends, we won!

"I welcome the fact that they pulled their compact back, I think it was the right thing to do. It would've had very negative impacts on the community and it had little chance of passing the Legislature,"- Assemblymember Loni Hancock

Thanks to community opposition, and bi-partisan opposition in the State Legislature the Casino proposal at Casino San Pablo has been withdrawn by its proponants.

I will release more information on this new development on “Class II” gaming and what this card room means for our community But for now read more about it In LA Times, SF Chronicle and Oakland Tribune.

Los Angeles Times
San Francisco Chronicle
Oakland Tribune

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Doubts on Casino Growing Stronger...

Friends, our persistence is getting the message across. Thank you.

From the Opinion Section of The Argus...

Hancock says it's "a bad idea for the state, East Bay and city of San Pablo." She rightfully says that the intent of state ballot measures approved in 1998 and 2000 was to locate casinos on tribal lands where they would be economic engines for tribes seeking to escape poverty.

Hancock has submitted a bill to delay legislative approval of gambling compacts until 60 days after they're negotiated. She's also adopted this newspaper's stance that expansion of gambling into urban areas should be put to a public vote. That remains fair given the intent and wording of the original ballot measures.

Click here for the rest of the story...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Congress is fueling the casino debate...

From today's San Francisco Chronicle:

Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, a critic of the new proposals for casinos in the Bay Area, said she wants to take a closer look at the gaming- zones provision to make sure it would not allow more urban gaming.

But she said she was pleased that Pombo had started a debate in Congress over the issue.

"It's still very much a draft and a work in progress, but I welcome the fact that there will be real scrutiny of reservation shopping and urban gambling," Hancock said. "Large scale urban casinos are not the way the people of California want to go."

Read all about Pombo's legislation and its potential impact.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Location, location, location...

From today's Oakland Tribune:

But state Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, who has taken a lead role in opposing the compact, took a page from Sollitto's comments, saying she "would hope the governor would have some seller's remorse" for foisting this raw deal on West Contra Costa County.

Location, location, location

"The governor proposed a 5,000-slot-machine casino, the third-largest in the United States, two blocks from a freeway that is in gridlock for large parts of every day and in the middle of a low-income community," Hancock said, expressing disdain for Schwarzenegger's ability to assess casino impacts.

As for Miller, she said, "he had every reason to expect something smaller. The letter that the Lytton Band sent to Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1999 clearly stated they had no intention of enlarging the existing building."

Read the rest of this article in the Oakland Tribune

More in the San Francisco Chronicle

Even more in the Oakland Tribune!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Breaking News: Congressman Miller Urges Opposition to Compact

According to the San Francisco Chronicle,

Rep. George Miller, who got the Lytton Indian tribe the right to build an urban casino in San Pablo, wrote to California lawmakers Friday urging them to reject the casino plan...

"I believe that the current proposal is inappropriately sized for the local community and far exceeds what was originally proposed and what was originally expected by all parties involved," Miller wrote.

Click here for all the details.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


In Tuesday’s CC Times, in the 'Letters from our Readers' section, Bronson Frick of Berkeley wrote a thoughtful letter about Casino San Pablo and second-hand smoke. Here is the text of the letter:

“Recently labor leaders gathered at Casino San Pablo to announce their support for expanding that facility. We hope labor unions will seek to protect their members’ health, safety and well being by insisting on a smoke-free workplace policy as a part of any expansion discussion.

There are already dozens of Casino San Pablo employees putting their health at risk each day just by going in to work. An expanded casino would employ more than 2,000 workers, workers who will have to make a choice between their health and their job.

Casino workers are at greater risk for lung cancer and heart disease caused by secondhand smoke. Workers should not have to sacrifice their lives for their livelihood Ventilation systems, no matter how advanced they claim to be, do not protect people from health hazards caused by tobacco smoke.

There should be a new sign on the door: Welcome to Casino San Pablo. You have now forfeited your right to work in a smoke free workplace.

A 100% smoke-free workplace policy should be a term of agreement within the compact. Anything less would be a step backward from a smoke –free California and would cause irreparable harm to Bay Area workers, residents and visitors.”

Monday, March 07, 2005

This is what is known as 'bad news'

Did you see the Tri-Valley Herald? I was interested by an article about a recent study published on the effects of gambling, particularly the statistics about crime. We've heard how crime increases in areas where urban casinos exist, but here's some of the data, according to the Herald:
Grinols study shows that 9 percent of all serious crimes can be connected to gambling in counties with banked card games, slots, craps, electronic and video gambling and parimutuel horse race wagering.

That accounts for 615 more larcenies, 325 more burglaries, 272 more auto thefts, 10 more rapes, 65 more robberies, and 100 more aggravated assaults in an average county with 100,000 population, according to the study.

Another study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has a completely different take. The study analyzed social and economic changes between 1980 and 1997 in 100 non-tribal sample communities within a 50-mile radius of a casino.

Get the rest of the story here.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Still a bad deal...

... says the San Francisco Chronicle. Reminds the editorial,

The band's latest proposal is to install 2,500 slot machines in a 342,000- square-foot building -- which is five times the size of the current cardroom. The new proposal, with half as many slots as the one that created an uproar last year, is projected to generate more than $150 million a year in profits. The Lyttons have offered to give Caltrans $25 million for I-80 improvements as soon as the casino gets its approvals.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he has no choice but to negotiate a compact with the tribe because of the land's federally recognized ancestral status. But it's important to note that it has that status only because of a three-sentence amendment that was slipped into a 150-page bill that was being rushed through Congress at the end of session in 2000. Rep. George Miller, the Martinez Democrat who authored the amendment, has said he knew the Lyttons were planning a casino, but he had no idea it would be on the scale of something on the Las Vegas Strip.

He, and the world, now know differently.

Continue reading the editorial here.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

But, they don't have the authority

The Contra Costa Times reveals an attempt today by the Lytton Band to sweeten the plan for a bloated casino by offering to drop a chunk of change in an agency's direction. My office responded to the news,
"Once this money goes into the general fund, every special interest across the state will try to get a chunk of it for transportation projects in their area," Viramontes continued.

"The tribe can't dedicate the revenue to the interchange; they don't have the authority. The San Pablo city manager can't dedicate the revenue. Only the bureaucrats at Caltrans have that authority."

Click here to continue reading the story.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Albany City Council Remains Firm

Berkeley's Daily Planet announces the vote by Albany's city council to oppose plans for the huge casino proposed nearby in San Pablo. The article also details some of the payoffs for those who are behind the scheme (and here's a hint- they aren't members of any tribe):
In exchange for running Casino San Pablo, the four managing partners will receive a quarter of the net profit.

Those opposed to the casino include the owners and operators of Bay Area cardrooms, which, along with the state lottery and charity bingo games, offered the only forms of gambling allowed in California on non-tribal lands.

The next moves are in the hands of the legislature and of the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, where Chair John McCain is holding hearings on the legality of legislation that gave the Lyttons a retroactive title to the land after the cutoff date that allowed automatic entitlement to a casino.

Get the rest of the article here.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

That's pretty clear

When the headline says something like, "Bigger Casino Would Hurt Economy," that doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room, exactly- no matter how many expensive consultants your organization hires to spin the truth.

And that's exactly what a Daily Californinan article said this week. From the myths of business development to job creation, revenue income and quality of life, misconceptions are shattered by the study research. Read on.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

As the San Francisco Chronicle reveals...

... a sprawling, huge monster compared to an even more of a sprawling, huge monster is still a monster.

The Lytton tribe's hired consultants' plans for a so-called "slimmed down Casino" look like it ate a city, instead of a metropolis.

Read the Chronicle story about it here.

Monday, February 21, 2005

A short history

Sunday's Contra Costa Times takes a look at how the issue of Indian gaming has developed through recent years, where it went from something broadly popular among the public to a divisive issue that grew and stretched and alarms many communities throughout our state. Here's an excerpt of the article:
Five years ago, California voters overwhelmingly approved Las Vegas-style casinos on Indian lands, an idea fueled by a desire to help Indians overcome centuries of injustice and become self-sufficient. Bay Area voters supported Proposition 1A by 62 percent.

Since then, tensions have occasionally arisen as mega-casinos sprouted alongside communities in rural areas of the state. But it wasn't until proposals to build casinos in urban areas began to surface that the alarm spread. Now, the strongest opposition since the California Indian Self Reliance Initiative passed in 2000 is targeting proposals to build casinos in the East Bay cities of Oakland, Richmond and San Pablo as well as near Hollister and in Marin County. The backlash here could slow down Indian gaming statewide.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein has introduced a bill to prevent what is intended to be the state's first urban casino in San Pablo. The matter has attracted the attention of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the new chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, who has promised to hold a hearing on Feinstein's bill and the attempt by some tribes to build casinos on non-ancestral lands.

A Marin County city councilman is working to qualify a statewide initiative calling for a five-year moratorium on new casinos. Two Bay Area anti-gambling activists have registered a second ballot measure with the state attorney general's office, seeking to ban casinos in urban areas.

And around the Bay Area, residents worried about a mega-casino moving into their neighborhoods are packing town hall meetings.

``What you're seeing is a grass roots reaction,'' said Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-El Cerrito, who has voiced opposition to the San Pablo casino, submitted by the Lytton band of Pomo Indians, who want to open a 2,500-slot machine casino. ``I think it's time for a second look at this and I think it's a pretty broadly shared view.''
Surf over here to continue reading "Casino Criticism Grows".

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

More join our side

Now, Senator McCain is requesting federal hearings on the issue of Casino San Pablo. This is good news, because more people will discover the truth of casino sprawl, and hopefully do something to fight in. The Berkeley Daily Planet has the story:
Charging that the Lytton Band of Pomos acquired Casino San Pablo “the wrong way,” maverick Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain announced Thursday evening that he’ll hold hearings on a law that would reverse part of the tribe’s special status.

According to the Associated Press, McCain will hold special hearings on the casino in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee which he now chairs and take up legislation by California Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein that would reverse an earlier law written by East Bay Congressional Rep. George Miller.

California Assemblymember Loni Hancock, whose district encompasses San Pablo, welcomed the decision.

“I fully support the hearings being held by Sen. McCain and I fully support the legislation by [Feinstein]” which seeks to reverse the tribe’s special status, Hancock said.

A leading opponent of the casino proposal, Hancock said, “It’s great to hear that we’re finally going to sit down and have a serious conversation about urban gambling in California.”

Continue reading Sen. McCain Calls Hearings to Derail San Pablo Casino in the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Feinstein describes her legislation

"I have serious concerns about the expansion of Nevada-style gaming -- with its slot machines and in-house banking -- into urban areas," Feinstein said Monday in a statement. "This legislation is designed to prevent the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians from short-circuiting the process laid out in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act for gaming on newly acquired lands."

To continue reading about her leadership, go here.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Breaking news

Popular U.S. Senator John McCain is joining our fight against the San Pablo Casino, and casino sprawl so many communities like ours are facing in their own backyard.

The AP is running with the story, and the Contra Costa Times has more about it:
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Thursday said the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians should not have been allowed to skirt federal law to establish an urban casino in the Bay Area.

The tribe and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have signed a compact for a 2,500-slot machine casino that awaits legislative approval.

McCain announced he would hold hearings on a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would undo the legislation authored by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, in 2000 that allowed the tribe to buy 91/2 acres in San Pablo as a reservation for gambling.

Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, welcomed McCain's move.

"I think this is just another example of the rising tide of concern about urban gambling getting out of control, and operating in a way that was never expected by the (state's) voters when they voted for Prop. 1A enabling gambling on Indian reservations," Hancock said.

Continue reading, "McCain leads fight against urban casino".

As this struggle 'goes national', we welcome the support of Senator McCain, and all who are willing to take a stand with us against this growing trend of backyard casino gambling. I'm amazed to see how this issue has grown larger and larger, thanks to your involvement and willingness, and know his help is going to be a boost to our efforts.