Monday, January 31, 2005

Community town hall meeting

Here is a great article on the hearing held at Contra Costa Community College. It describes each speaker and includes a great synopsis of the event itself. Read on, especially if you could not make it to this informative hearing.

Click here to see the article.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Casino workers not breathing easily

In today's Contra Costa Times, we read,
Tens of thousands of Californians work without the protection of the state's smoke-free workplace laws and their number is growing as more casinos open in the state, a panel of Indian and non-Indian experts told the Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Coalition on Thursday.

The problem looms large in Contra Costa County, where at least three casinos are in various stages of planning.

The project furthest along is a 2,500-slot machine casino in San Pablo authorized under a compact between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, which awaits ratification by the state Legislature.

Go here to read the rest of the story.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Pechanga Indians also oppose San Pablo Casino Explosion

Friends, here's a statement from California Senator Dianne Feinstein. We support her, and enjoy her support, as well, as we stand against this unfair scheme.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Statement of Senator Feinstein on Pechanga Band’s Opposition to San Pablo Casino Project

“I am pleased to hear that the Pechanga Band of LuiseƱo Indians has stated its opposition to the proposed casino in San Pablo.

The Pechanga band stated in a letter this week that the proposed San Pablo project ‘is not what we promised the voters of the State (in advocating for Propositions 5 and 1A) and it has the potential to have an adverse and unfair effect on tribes who have had no choice but to develop economies with the land where their reservations were established. In short, it provides an unfair advantage for tribes that have circumvented federal and state procedure in acquiring tribal lands.’

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 has laid out a clear process for siting tribal casinos. The Lytton Band’s agreement with Governor Schwarzenegger for a San Pablo casino would and may still short-circuit this process, hurting the many tribes who have followed the IGRA process, while at the same time eroding the confidence of California voters who authorized gaming on tribal lands.

For that reason, I will continue to push for legislation requiring the Lytton Band to adhere to the regular process laid out in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.”


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Selling the Scheme to Seniors? Say it ain't So!

We read in today's Contra Costa Times about San Pablo casino supporters fanning out to try to sell senior citizens on the benefit of a big new casino in their backyard, pushing a vision of making our town into the next Reno.

Go here to continue reading "Casino promoters visit San Pablo senior center".

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Now it's gone national

In today's Contra Costa Times is a story that delves deeper into the bill Senator Dianne Feinstein will be pushing to help us fight off attempts to drop a piece of Las Vegas into our community. Loopholes and loose laws must be closed so that government does not sacrifice our quality of life on an altar of greed.

Go here to read the article.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Foes outnumber supporters at packed hearing

Here are excerpts from yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle article describing the hearing held this weekend, where the truth came out. The article says,
"More than 400 people packed a standing-room-only public hearing on the plan at Contra Costa Community College. Organizer Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, said local residents and community leaders have been left out of the process in which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger crafted a gaming compact with the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians..."

"While the Legislature weighs the proposed compact, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is hoping to kill the deal by reintroducing legislation Monday that would reverse a controversial amendment by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, that turned the cardroom into a reservation for the Lytton and allowed them to seek a full-fledged casino.
Despite strong support from the city of San Pablo leaders and the union representing casino workers, residents and leaders of nearby cities are concerned about the traffic, public safety impacts and social ills a casino could bring to the region. They also worry about access to Doctors Medical Center, adjacent to Casino San Pablo."

Infrastructure obstacles were analyzed, too.
"... a traffic engineer hired by casino opponents said it could cost more than $90 million and take 10 to 20 years to widen Interstate 80 and make changes to San Pablo Dam Road..."

"Traffic on San Pablo Dam Road would more than double."

What about the economy? That was also addressed.
"William Thompson, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said that the casino would not help the region's economy because the gamblers would be local people who could spend their money on other things.
He likened the casino not to those on the Las Vegas strip, where 95 percent of gamblers are tourists, but to slot machines in grocery stores played by locals.
"Your economy loses," he said. "Urban casinos do not make sense."
Other speakers warned that the Casino San Pablo deal should be considered in conjunction with proposals for Indian casinos in Richmond and Oakland."

You were heard!
"Casino opponents outweighed supporters among the public speakers. Among them was Carol Manahan of Richmond, who lives near Casino San Pablo. She said she has been solicited for prostitution and had two women come to her door late at night asking for money because they'd lost theirs in the cardroom."

Click here to continue reading "Clashing opinions at casino meeting".

Senator Feinstein sticks up for San Pablo residents

If you didn't happen to see KRON's news broadcast, go here and click on the right side news story link, "Feinstein Vows Casino Fight."

We welcome Senator Feinstein's help in protecting our community!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Everyone likes a compliment

I'm not going to toot my own horn, but I was pleased to see this morning that the editors of "Political Pulse" and have named my blog the best in Legislature. Thanks you, friends, for making it such a successful tool!

Feinstein to attempt to block big tribal casino in San Pablo

As you may have read in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning, United States Senator Dianne Feinstein is introducing legislation to repeal the amendment that allowed Casino San Pablo to skirt the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs process. I support this legislation.

I also would like to thank all of you who have posted on my blog. As many of you know, I will be holding a hearing on Casino San Pablo and urban gambling tomorrow- please come by and voice your opinion. Here's the text of the invitation that's been released to the public:
Assemblywoman Loni Hancock will be holding a town hall meeting to discuss concerns about Casino San Pablo and urban gambling. Please come to learn more about how proposed casinos may impact our community.

Saturday, January 22, 2005
10:00am to 2:00pm

Contra Costa Community College- Knox Center for Performing Arts

Entrance at El Portal Drive and Castro Street
San Pablo, CA 94806

For more information, please call (510) 559-1406.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

District survey verifies strong community opposition to casino

In this morning's Contra Costa Times we read,
Results of a mail survey by Assemblywoman Loni Hancock released Wednesday showed the vast majority of the 10,000 respondents oppose establishment of an Indian casino in San Pablo.

Within the city, nearly two-thirds of respondents opposed the expanded casino proposed by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, the survey shows.

Residents of surrounding cities and towns voiced even stronger opposition, with responses against a casino hitting 85 percent in Richmond and El Sobrante, more than 93 percent in El Cerrito, more than 94 percent in Kensington and Berkeley and more than 95 percent in Albany.

And, as a reminder, don't forget to come speak up on the Las Vegas-type proposal this weekend:

• WHAT: Legislative hearing on Casino San Pablo

• WHO: Assemblywoman Loni Hancock

• WHERE: Contra Costa College, Knox Theater for the Performing Arts, El Portal Drive at Castro Street, San Pablo

• WHEN: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Real people speaking out

Last week in Sacramento, there was legislative hearing on Casino San Pablo and the Compact. As you may have read in the local newspapers, I will be having a hearing on Casino San Pablo this weekend on Saturday, January 22nd at Contra Costa Community College. In my view, it is vitally important that the people directly impacted have the opportunity to speak on this proposed Casino expansion.

Also, we have nearly completed the tally of the mailer I sent to every household in the district. We have received so many responses we have had to spend hours over the last two weeks to count all of them. And, more continue to come in everyday. We will release the final tally later this week. In the meantime, read this article on the hearing from last week, and let me know what you think about the issues it raises.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Community voices

In today’s Contra Costa Times, a letter to the editor from Jeanne Bruns of Richmond states:
“No slots, please.

I live within one mile of Casino San Pablo and hope the casino is left as is.

Please, don't allow the 2,500 slots to be put in there. It will destroy this area with traffic, crime, trash and some gamblers who can't afford to lose their rent money.”

Thank you to Jeanne Bruns for organizing, and expressing herself about this controversial project. Jeanne and other member of our community are the reasons that I am holding a town hall hearing on Casino San Pablo and urban gambling next Saturday, January 22, at the Knox Theatre at Contra Costa College from 10:00am to 2:00pm. Join me and give your views on the proposed expansion of Casino San Pablo.

The benefits are not as visible as the risks

The Oakland Tribune describes the inability by casino gamblers to given an account for the economic hit our region would take from the ripple effect of a casino. And equally troubling was the mysterious benefits that were alluded to, but have yet to present themselves convincingly. The Legislature, for those reasons, remains skeptical about the scheme.
Get the rest of the article here.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Serious questions loom

Did you see today's San Francisco Chronicle? Read an excerpt, with my italics...
Schwarzenegger administration officials appealed to lawmakers Wednesday to ratify a deal with an Indian tribe to build a large casino in San Pablo, while acknowledging that they do not know how much the state stands to gain financially or what impact the casino will have on the Bay Area.

Go here to read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Oakland's Leaders Stare Down Casino Invasion

Yesterday, Oakland's city council stood with its citizens and against a large casino proposed by the Koi Nation tribe. This morning's Oakland Tribune reads,
Unmoved by an offer of $30 million a year, the Oakland City Council voted Tuesday to oppose a 2,000-slot casino planned near Oakland International Airport that has drawn widespread criticism.

No matter how much money the Lower Lake Rancheria Koi Nation offered the city, which is facing a budget deficit of more than $30 million, it would not be enough to offset the damage the casino would do to Oakland, the council agreed.

"There is no free lunch," said Councilmember Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel), choking back tears. "I won't take $30 million and trade for abused children, broken families and bankruptcies."

The article went on to describe the payoff the casino backers used as bait for political support:
Nearly 100 residents of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro pleaded with the council to lead the effort to scuttle plans for the urban casino, saying it would create a raft of social problems, exacerbate East Oakland's crime problem and decimate the adjacent and newly restored Arrowhead Marsh, a bird sanctuary.

"I am aware of our budget problems," Oakland resident Beth Weinberger said. "But this issue is about more than money. Thirty million dollars will not pay for the deterioration of our quality of life."

It was quite a meeting, and I'm proud of Oakland's courageous leaders that took a stand for the city's quality of life and stood strong against the unpopular urban community casino explosion happening in our own backyard. Go here to read the rest of the article.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Even the animals don't like it

Kudos to the Oakland City members for proposing a resolution this evening opposing the construction of a Casino at the Oakland Airport. This proposed 250,000 square foot casino would located right next to Arrowhead Marsh one of the few remaining wetlands in Oakland. The arrowhead marsh is home to numerous species including waterfowl, shorebirds and functions as seasonal habitat for these species.

Go here for the article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Turning up the heat on a half-baked idea

There are two especially worthwhile articles in the news today. One is in the Contra Costa Times, and the other is an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle. Once again, we hear echoes of the concerns surrounding Casino San Pablo.

As you know, I will be having a hearing in our community on this controversial project and will be inviting all stakeholders, interested advocacy groups, and policy experts to present their views on Casino San Pablo. I have also nearly completed my district wide survey, which was sent to 150,000 households in the district. Stay tuned, because we will release the official tally of responses later this week.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

A statement on public financing of elections

“If you want the special interests out of government…you have to take the special interests out of the government…” – Assemblywoman Loni Hancock

Today, I want to more formally share with you my plans for improving the system of elections in California.

This year, I will introduce the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act to create a system of public financing of elections similar to systems in place in Maine and Arizona. The idea is simple. This legislation allows any candidate who raises a substantial number of small contributions from the people residing in their district and agrees to not accept additional money from any special interest, to receive full public financing of their campaigns.

Over the last two decades we have seen the escalating influence of money and special interests in campaigns shift the focus from spending time with the voters to spending to time at fundraising events. At the same time, with the astronomical rise of money and the influence of special interests in campaigns, we have seen public opinion of government and confidence in elected officials plummet. We have also seen voter anger and distrust fueled by a perception that "everything in Sacramento is for sale".

My legislation provides the most comprehensive and common sense solution to the influence of money and special interests in politics. Simply put, public financing of elections provides for a better democracy, by stripping out the factors that weigh it down.

The publicly financed systems in Maine and Arizona have seen bi-partisan support and have been overwhelming favored by the people of those states. Evaluations of these Clean Money public financing systems have proven that voter turnout has increased, less money is spent in campaigns and, most importantly, public trust and faith in government has flourished.

We have to have serious discussion about the influence of money and special interests in our election process. At a time when we are making budget decisions that will shape the future of every human being in our state, we cannot afford the distortion and pressures of constant political fundraising.

The idea is simple. The bill is simple. Ultimately, if we truly want a government by and for the people, our campaigns have to be paid by the people.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Proposition 71 money

In November's election, voters approved the stem cell research measure, Proposition 71. It's set to raise a lot of money, but the committee overseeing that end of it is yet undeveloped.

The election is done, and the political committees should be wrapping up their business.

It's time to get on with the process of implenting 71, and doing so responsibly.

Go here for the San Francisco Chronicle article.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Clean Money for Cleaner Elections

Last year, I introduced AB 2949 that would have created the “Clean Money” system for public financing of elections in California. The Clean Money system allows a candidate to run for office with without taking a dime from special interests or wealthy contributors to fund their campaign. The idea is simple. Any citizen who wants to be a candidate must receive a small number of $5 contributions from people in their community. Once the candidate meets that requirement, they receive full public financing of their campaigns.

These Clean Money systems are already in place in Maine and Arizona. Studies have shown increased voter turnout and more candidates willing to run for office. In those states, such publicly financed systems have turned around the cynicism about government and our political process.

It is time that we removed the corrosive and corrupting influence of special interest money and campaign contributions on the public policy process. With Clean Money, we can say “Goodbye and Good Riddance” to big-money campaign contributors. No more $1,000-per-plate receptions. No more fat-cat lobbyists pushing special interest legislation.

Publicly financing elections ensures that the candidates that run for office represent the people that paid for their campaign: the public at large.

There is a saying, “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” With Clean Elections and publicly-financed campaigns, the people will be calling the tune

Today the Los Angeles Times agreed, saying,
Consider the value of having officeholders beholden to actual voters. That's priceless. Why wait?

Go here to read the rest of the story.