Tribe Leader Presents “New and Novel” Argument for Rohnert Park Casino

“We created something that will indeed benefit Indian and non-Indian alike,” says Greg Saris, chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria

In hearings before the state Senate committee meeting regarding the compact between the Graton Rancheria Pomo and the State of California authorizing a casino to go forward under "urgent" status, chair man of the tribe Greg Sarris made his first public statements about the agreement, according to an article in the Press Democrat.

The tribal chairman of the Indian tribe that wants to build a Las Vegas-style casino outside Rohnert Park said Tuesday morning the controversial project will be good in a “new and novel way” for both the tribe and the North Bay.

"We created something that will indeed benefit Indian and non-Indian alike,” he said about the agreement by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The because of the developer's funding efforts. Station Casinos has been in bankruptcy proceedings since last year.

Although proponents of the argue it will bring more than 2,000 permanent jobs to the area, as well as 750-900 construction jobs while the casino is being built.

Opponents focused on potential impacts on traffic, groundwater and other einvironmental effects, as well as popular opposition. by the Stop the Casino 101 Coaltion said 68% were opposed to the project.

The compact requires the tribe to funnel $100 million into Sonoma County in its first seven years of operation, with more after that. The money would offset impacts on the environment, criminal justice and social service systems and traffic, among other areas.

According to the project proposal, it would eventually have as many as 3,000 slot machines, 5,500 parking spaces, a 200-room hotel, restaurants and bars. But John Maier, a tribal attorney at the hearing, indicated the first phase of the development would not include the hotel.

The bill under discussion, AB 517 (Hall-D Compton), has been given an "urgency" status to accommodate Station Casinos' funding efforts. If passed, it would go into effect immediately. If the bill had non-urgency status, it wouldn't go into effect until January 2013.

There will be a second hearing before an Assembly committee Wednesday. The bill needs a two thirds vote of the full legislature to become law.

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