Calif. Assembly Governmental Committee Hears Opposition on Fast-Tracked Elk Grove Casino Indian Gaming Compact

Elk Grove resident Suzanne Pecci expresses concern abouth the effects the Wilton Rancheria casino could have on the city's rural resi...

Elk Grove resident Suzanne Pecci expresses concern abouth the effects the Wilton Rancheria
casino could have on the city's rural residents who are dependent on domestic water wells.  

August 30, 2017 |    

As part of legislation sponsored by California Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove), an informational hearing was held in the Assembly's Governmental Organization Committee.

The hearing was regarding Assembly Bill 1606 which seeks to approve the gaming compact agreed on by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Wilton Rancheria. The compact is part of the administrative process for the Wilton Rancheria's proposed $400 million casino resort on the site of the unfinished Outlet Collection at Elk Grove.

Last week the California State Senate approved the compact by a 37-0 vote. As with the Assembly, the Senate held an 
 the Governmental Organizational Committee was for informational purposes only before the floor vote.

Also, like the Senate committee hearing, yesterday's hearing included compact proponents from the Governor's office, Cooper, Elk Grove Council Members Pat Hume and Stephanie Nguyen, and Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond Hitchcock. Unlike the Senate committee hearing, Assemblymembers heard more opposition to the gaming compact.

Appearing again in opposition to the compact was Lisa Jimenez, Chair of the Historical Disenrolled Families of the Wilton Rancheria. Jimenez said there were more than 100 members disenrolled based on a new constitution.

"Most tribes want to preserve their heritage," Jimenez said. "Not this tribe."

She added, "They are disenrolling because less is more, I don't care about the casino, I care about our people."

Jacob Aaronson, who spoke on behalf of casino watchdog group Stand Up For California and other Elk Grove citizens opposed to the casino noting the Bureau of Indian affairs rushed their procedures to place the land into federal trust in the waning hours of the Obama administration. 

"They violated multiple federal laws when they took the Elk Grove site into trust," he said. "And we have challenged that decision in federal court."

Aaronson went on to say the process by the Elk Grove City Council "blindsided the citizens of Elk Grove." He noted for two-and-a-half years the process for finding a site for the casino focused on a 282-acre parcel in Galt, but in June, 2016 the location was suddenly changed to Elk Grove which should have required a new environmental review process. 

Longtime Elk Grove resident Suzanne Pecci, who often appears before the Elk Grove City Council on environmental issues, questions the effects the proposed casino will have on wells serving the city's rural residents. Specifically, she addressed the sustainable ground water management act.

"I feel in rushing this bill through it could impact the ability of the Sacramento central basin to achieve groundwater sustainability, due to the tribes right to exert its sovereign water rights," she said. "This casino project is not included in any water management plan for the region, water management is not included in the MOU memorandum of understanding) signed by the City of Elk Grove and the County of Sacramento." 

Another Elk Grove resident speaking in opposition to the casino was Leon King. Identifying himself as a licensed certified public accountant with over 37-years experience, King noted the current unemployment rate in Elk Grove is 3.9-percent .

" I could hardly keep myself still as I heard people talk about the economic benefits," King said. "I don't think there is an economic crisis for jobs." 

King also noted that among his several clients is a tribal member, one of whom receives about $2,000 annually from gaming. 

"I don't know what the intended benefits for the tribal members of the Wilton band is, but I don't think this is a big economic boost for any tribe." he added.

Following yesterday's hearing, an Assembly floor vote is scheduled for Thursday, August 31. 



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D.J. Blutarsky said...

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