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Lytton Indians strike back at Loni Hancock

(A hearty hat-tip to Oakland environmental and land-use attorney Stuart Flashman, who noticed this and posted a comment about it elsewhere on this blog.)

hancock.jpgDemocratic voters in the 9th State Senate District recently received a mailer — see it here, pages 1, 2, 3 and 4 — accusing Assemblywoman Loni Hancock — who’s opposed by former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan in the June 3 state Senate primary — of having lowered educational standards, supposedly making it harder for children to reach their chosen career. The mailer was paid for not by Chan’s campaign but rather by Education Leaders for High Standards, an independent expenditure committee.

Check the Secretary of State’s office and you find Education Leaders for High Standards was created May 14 and has no visible support from anyone in the education community, be it teachers, administrators, parents or what have you. Rather, the committee’s entire $49,000 bankroll — of which it spent $47,900 on this mailer — came from one source: the California Tribal Business Alliance independent expenditure PAC.

That PAC, in turn, has received $75,000 each from the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians (Tehama County’s Rolling Hills Casino); the United Auburn Indian Community (the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln); the Pala Band of Mission Indians (San Diego County’s Pala Casino); the Pauma Band of Mission Indians (San Diego County’s Casino Pauma); and the Viejas Tribal Government (San Diego County’s Viejas Casino).

AND… wait for it… $164,000 from the Lytton Rancheria of California in San Pablo.

The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, you’ll recall, operates the San Pablo Lytton Casino (formerly known as the Casino San Pablo card room), which sits both in Hancock’s current Assembly district as well as the state Senate district she aspires to represent. Hancock has been an outspoken opponent of the Lytton Band’s plan to vastly expand and outfit the casino with house-banked, Nevada-style slot machines; public criticism and opposition from state and federal lawmakers eventually convinced the tribe to abandon the plan.

But it seems Hancock and the Lytton Band still haven’t kissed and made up. Expect some unkind words in return when Hancock, backed by local elected officials and anti-casino community activists, holds a news conference about this at noon tomorrow at Oakland City Hall.

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Sparks still fly over Casino San Pablo

casino_front_sm.jpgJust because the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians backed off its hopes to install Nevada-style slot machines at its San Pablo Lytton Casino (formerly the Casino San Pablo card room) doesn’t mean its opponents have stopped taking potshots.

A spokesman for the East Bay Coalition Against Urban Casinos — a group of concerned citizens whose effort has been bankrolled by local card rooms who don’t want an Indian casino’s competition — sent out this release yesterday:

Casino San Pablo’s numbers are in: Estimated at $132 million for 2007. These numbers are unreleased but we expect them to be released formally in a few weeks. Tack these onto $140 million in 2006…

Did you hear that sucking sound? That was over a quarter of a billion dollars being drained out of the East Bay community in two years!

If it is true that the population within a five and 10 mile radius provides a casino with its most frequent player pool, then Casino San Pablo is winning on the backs of the East Bay.

At $33,192,867 for the quarter (Confirmed with Bradley Ward, Finance Director of the City of San Pablo), or $132,770,000 on an annual basis, Casino San Pablo is celebrating their most prosperous holiday season ever. This is representative of the enormous amount of income they have generated since installing the slot machines in August 2005. They win!

It is common knowledge that gambling rates go up during the holidays. The increased financial challenges of holiday gift giving and celebrations lead many to turn to gambling to help pay off debts (From Michigan Dept. of Health). People also gamble more when they are under stress, some do it as an escape, but more than often, it is an attempt to take a little bit of money and win a lot.

The trouble is, in order for a casino like Casino San Pablo, which attracts mostly lower-income clientele who live in the area, to make a lot of money, many people have to repeatedly lose lots of money.

Despite what the Prop 94-97 TV ads in favor of the casino propositions are spinning, most people would honestly say that the people who are losing their money this Christmas at Casino San Pablo probably need it a whole lot more than the already-rich Lyttons do.

Replied Doug Elmets, spokesman for the Lytton Band:

Of course, the Card Clubs don’t mention the hundreds of new living wage, full benefit jobs that the Casino has created; the millions that the Casino contributes to the City of San Pablo which keeps the City from spiraling into bankruptcy; the millions that are pumped into the local economy through vendors that service the casino; the millions that go to public safety to make San Pablo a more protected community; the hundreds of local non-profits and disadvantaged citizens who benefit from the Lytton Tribe’s generosity; and the members of the Lytton tribe who now have housing, health care and educational opportunities, something that has eluded them for generations.