Vancouver City Council opposes Cowlitz casino 5-8-07

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) - The city is urging the federal government to
reject plans for a $510 million tribal casino less than 20 miles
north, saying it would be a detriment to surrounding communities.

A federal decision on the Cowlitz tribal casino, hotel and resort
isn't expected until 2008, but the Vancouver City Council on Monday
unanimously approved a formal resolution authorizing legal action if
the proposal is accepted.

“It hopefully would carry power with the secretary of interior who
would consider the feelings of the largest city near the proposed
casino site,” said Brent Boger, the assistant city attorney who drew
up the resolution.

The proposed 134,150-square-foot casino resort would be built along
Interstate 5 two miles west of La Center, population about 1,900,
where four non-tribal card rooms are the biggest employers, taxpayers
and utility customers.

A draft environmental impact report estimated that the casino would
generate $415 million annually in gambling revenue and employ 3,151
people earning an average of $28,000 a year, including tips, for a
total annual payroll of $88.1 million.

Councilman Dan Tonkovich said the casino would hurt surrounding
communities through such things as increasing bankruptcies and other
social problems associated with compulsive gambling.

“They are devastating to families,” he said. “They are devastating
to individuals. They are devastating to children.”

The city's resolution states that the Cowlitz has refused to consider
alternate sites north of Clark County that are closer to the tribe's
“ancestral home” and current population.

That stance drew angry rebuttal from tribal representatives.

“It is offensive to every Cowlitz tribal member that the city would
try to tell the tribe where our homeland is,” said Phil Harju, a
member of the Cowlitz Tribal Council.

Other casino supporters have questioned why the city would rezone
industrial property to accommodate retail projects like Fred Meyer
and Wal-Mart, but dismiss the casino complex.

The city appears to be making a political decision instead of an
economic one, said Mike Phillips, secretary-treasurer of the
Clark-Skamania-West Klickitat Central Labor Council.

“This entire scenario smacks of greed and bigotry,” said Patricia
Giles of Vancouver. “The city has stooped to a new low. Shame on